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Mount Etna had announced a new event in preparation by the continuous oscillation of the volcanic tremor line. Since the beginning of  May, the line of vibrations had been rising and falling continuously, suggesting another violent paroxysm on the way. Instead, once again the unpredictable volcano amazed its “fans” – both locals and tourists – and gave birth to something new.

Fracture on the South East Crater

a fracture on the SEC

The South East crater, the youngest of the five top cones (1971), only last year had broken all height records. It had surpassed 3,340 meters of the nearby North East Crater and reached 3,357 meters. But, as if this victory had satisfied it, it has since begun a constant work of self-dismantling. Collapses, fractures, landslides … in a few months it has split so many times that it is now unrecognizable.

Every fracture and every collapse has always been the result of great – though short – eruptions. But in May 2022 the crater’s “style” also changes. After a series of more or less important signs, a sudden collapse allowed the opening of a fracture on the north side of the cone. From there a small lava flow emerged. It immediately took the direction to the valley Del Leone, just above the much larger valley Del Bove.

A lively fire stream

The small lava stream is very lively, richly fueled, and after its muted debut it still doesn’t seem willing to stop. Indeed, after three days it has lengthened a lot and seems to be definitely aiming for the deserted valley Del Leone. The outflow of the lava is accompanied by small and sporadic explosions from two of the many holes opened at the top of the South East Crater. Each explosion throws a modest amount of ash into the sky.

It goes without saying that the new eruption is already a super attraction for tourists who are in eastern Sicily these days. And the tour operators are organizing themselves to lead them to admire the show at high altitude. The points to better admire the lava, at the moment, are located in the east / north east side of the volcano. The best view is between Milo, Giarre, Giardini, San Giovanni

fracture on the sec 3

Montebello. Little or not at all visible from Catania, instead. Only at night you can sense the presence of the lava thanks to a red glow at the top.

Forecasts for the future

Despite the eruptive outburst, the volcanic tremor remains high – in the so-called “red zone” and therefore it seems that Etna has not yet fully vented its energy. Volcanologists are not unbalanced. This “quiet” eruption could last like this for weeks or months. Or, suddenly, a further collapse of the crater could occur. Or a more violent paroxysm, as well. As usual, Etna decides. And Etna always knows how to amaze. (photos by Grazia Musumeci for GO ETNA)

Autore: Grazia Musumeci

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