May 2001 Photo Page
After minor paroxysms occurred at SEC, Etna's activity stabilized at quite high effusive rates during May. Roberto Carniel and Marco
Fulle, with the inavluable support of local volcanologists of the Catania sections of INGV, visited Etna together with Tom Pfeiffer
and other scientists from the Universities of Florence, North Carolina and Hawaii, and Alaska Volcano Observatory. Further details
about this field work: Volcanologists At Work.
Here we present some photos showing details of the eruptive activity. To give a sense
of the perspective, camera lens focal lengths are given (i.e. f=28mm). As usual the pictures on this page link to larger photos (about
40 to 100 KB). All times are local (GMT + 2 hr). Abbreviations: BN = Bocca Nuova; SEC = South East Crater; NEC = North East Crater.
30 May 11h, f=28mm. At Pizzi Deneri Observatory we meet the Volcanologists At Work studying the effusive SEC activity. In exactly five years SEC has impressively grown. Below SEC's top the active vent steams on the top of a tumulus on the NNE fissure of SEC. Lava flows towards Valle del Leone at the lower left.
28 May 19h, f=135mm. On the top of the tumulus vent on SEC's NNE fissure (named «Levantino» by the guides) a huge flow of orange lava fills a skylight. The wall of the lava tube melts in lava stalactites. The lava flows at about 3 m/s. The effusive rate is estimated at 5-10 cubic meters per second, rather high for a summit eruption on Etna.
28 May 19h, f=135mm. A few hours before our visit, the same lava flow poured out of the vent, so that the skylight walls were covered by wonderful hairs of very young pahoehoe lava: calcium sulfates reflect the sky's colour, causing a wonderful contrast with the orange lava.
28 May 21h, fish-eye photo (diagonal 180°) from the SE BN rim. Panoramic view of lava flows (lower left) issued by the Levantino. SEC's top (center) is in mild strombolian activity. Calabria and Taormina (far left), Catania (right); the sky from Lyra (left) to Corvus (right). Mars (center) just rises below Antares in Scorpius.
28 May 19h, fish-eye photo (diagonal 180°). The Levantino is a hornito split by the skylight containing the main lava flow. On the top right background, SEC top is at only 300m from us.
28 May 20h, f=28mm from BN SE rim. The Levantino (right) releases many lava flows towards Valle del Leone. The background view spans from Calabria and Taormina (left) to Giarre (right).
28 May 19h, f=50mm. Close-up view of the skylight on the Levantino. Its walls are covered by calcium sulfates, which reflect the blue colour of the twilight sky.
28 May 19h, f=28mm from the Levantino. Roby films the lava flows fed by the main lava flow subdivided in several branches which exit from their lava tubes. Pizzi Deneri in the background.
30 May 13h, f=28mm on the eastern slopes of NEC. Marco Neri (INGV Catania) points out the steaming vent on top of the Levantino.
30 May 14h, f=28mm. Meter high lava waves travel on the lava flow, which exits from its channel with wonderful pahoehoe flows.
30 May 14h, f=135mm. After the lava wave has passed, the level in the channel decreases. Solid object emerging from the wave remain covered by a «lava mushroom».
30 May 16h, f=50mm. The main lava flow, about ten meters wide, divides into two branches towards Valle del Leone. Minor flows in the background.
31 May 14h, f=135mm from BN center. A new vent has appeared on the eastern wall of the BN E vent, just below the 1964 cone renmant. It is incandescent in daylight and ejects powerful gas jets.
31 May 16h, f=135mm. Another skylight below the Levantino ejects terribly hot, burning gas, making it impossible to face towards it.
31 May 18h, f=135mm. Also on this day some lava overflowed the main lava flow: the lava exiting from the main channel becomes a wonderful pahoehoe flow.
31 May 20h, f=50mm. The effusion rate becomes more constant, thus favouring the formation of lava tubes. Here a flow reappears from its tube, from where the photo was taken.
31 May 20h, f=50mm. Etna's shadow above the lava flows issued below SEC.
31 May 21h, f=50mm. A lava flow disappears into its tube, while red gas is ejected by the Levantino (top right).
31 May 21h, f=50mm. The main lava flows disappear towards Valle del Leone, with the lights of Taormina (left) and Giarre (right) in the background.
31 May 22h, f=50mm. A moonlit night view of the lava field, with the steaming Levantino in the top left background.