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Finally, the lava appeared! It did it without any stress, without particular excitement. After three months of modest puffs, rings of vapour and tensions that almost all came from the Bocca Nuova crater, on the evening of November 10th it was the South East crater (SEC) that gave life to lively lava fountains. Small ones, that barely surpassed the edge (now very high !) of the youngest crater of Mount Etna. Is this a new eruption about to start, after almost three months of apparent calm?

Strombolian activity and lava flow

The Institute of Volcanology INGV follows the situation carefully, because Etna takes you by surprise and you never know when and how it might do so. At the moment we only see “a modest Strombolian activity at the top of the SEC and a lava flow, a <<tiny one>>, which descends and then stops, still undecided on which path to take” volcanologist Boris Behncke tells us.

The small lava flow is visible from the southern side of the volcano, i.e. from the towns of Trecastagni, San Giovanni La Punta, Nicolosi and obviously from Catania. It appears like an overflow starting from the brand new “rift” that formed at the South East crater in August. And which has continued to emit steam and gas ever since.

etna new eruption 2It’s not an eruption yet but…

It is not yet a real eruption and could remain an “attempt” at an eruption for days or weeks yet. Or, as it was in the summer, things could evolve suddenly and start a spectacular paroxysm. At the moment therefore there are only signals that need to be monitored and all the staff of the Institute of Volcanology of Catania is already ready for action. We asked them: what should we expect? The answer was quite generic: we’ll see.

The eruptions of 2023

During this year 2023, Mount Etna seemed to take a sabbatical. After having accustomed us to constant paroxysms, even at the ferocious rate of one every month, between 2021 and 2022 and after having driven tourists crazy with very high lava fountains and powerful roars, a sudden… stop!

During 2023 the volcano erupted only twice, in spring and then on August 15th. Furthermore, it did so in totally different ways, with the August eruption which started without even giving warning signals to the instruments! Could a similar situation happen again? In part yes, because the volcano is changing, as volcanologists say “it is maturing”,finally entering its “adolescence”.

We can’t help but wait and understand what “tantrums” this angry “teen-ager” wants to do… who can say if 2024 will have a new series of shows in store for us?

See the eruption up close

If a new eruption starts, the spectacle will be guaranteed, but be careful not to venture on the volcano alone. Precisely because it is unpredictable, a volcano like Etna must always be respected and approached conscientiously. Authorized guides – used to taking tourists close to the lava flows – are indispensable  as well as obligatory, if you want to go and see an eruption of Etna up close. So stay tuned and… ready to climb to altitude with us! (photos by G Musumeci)

Autore: Grazia Musumeci

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