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With the statement issued by the INGV (Geo-Volcanology Institute) on 29th June, the eruption at Mt Etna’s Voragine crater, one of the largest among the summit ones, seems to be coming to its top. “It seems”, we must say, because Etna does its own thing, and almost never respects the parameters and signals that it sends every day. In fact, at the moment, despite the roars and lava fountains filmed by more courageous people at high altitude (MICHELE MAMMINO’S VIDEO HERE), the volcanic tremor currently seems to be decreasing. A break? The end of everything? Still not easy to say.

The INGV press statement

The INGV press statement issued on the night between 29 and 30 June reads as follows:

INGV personnel, present in the summit area of the volcano, observed the emission of an intracrateric lava flow which from the Voragine crater (CVOR) flowed inside the Bocca Nuova crater (BN), and in particular inside the BN2 pit crater.
At the same time, the EO communicated that the weak Strombolian activity at the Voragine crater, which began on 13/14 June, continues, causing the launch of pyroclastic material within the crater area. The same release indicates that: the average amplitude of the volcanic tremor, following a gradual increase observed starting from the afternoon of June 23, currently stands at medium-high values. The source centroid is located in the South East crater area at an elevation of approximately 2.5 km above sea level. The infrasonic activity is low and the sources of the events are essentially localized to the South East crater. However, it should be noted that the rate of occurrence of the infrasonic events and their location may have been influenced by the high noise due to the presence of strong wind at altitude that characterized the week.
As regards ground deformations, the monitoring networks do not record significant variations.

High altitude excursions

Many tourists and locals are currently asking if it is possible to go and admire the lava fountains up close. There are actually organized excursions, led by expert guides who know well both the territory and the volcano, to reach the edge of the Voragine and look out towards the newborn eruptive cone – or cones, because there are two. These are very tough hikings, not suitable for everyone.

For those who want to enjoy the show without effort and without risking too much, we recommend positioning yourself on the south-west/west side of Etna. From Bronte, Belpasso, Adrano, Piano dei Grilli, Maletto it is easy to spot the lava fountains when they occasionally surpass the rim of the crater. The eastern side view is instead covered by the massif of the South East crater, and therefore visibility from here (Zafferana, Giarre, Acireale) is poor or non-existent. The only thing you can “enjoy” from every side are… the roars!

Future evolution?

If the gas manages to break the “cap” covering the Voragine, it could give rise to very high, very powerful lava fountains, visible from every part of Sicily… and beyond. But the eruption could also be limited only to the Voragine area, or end completely in a few days. Those waiting for the show hope for the first option. Everything else is in the hands… of the volcano!

Autore: Grazia Musumeci

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