June 2001: Five Consecutive Paroxysms of SEC
In June 2001, South East Crater restarted a cycle of spectacular paroxysms like in the first six months of 2000, although less intense
but much longer and regularly spaced. These differences made monitoring the volcanic activity much easier compared to last year, and,
thanks to excellent weather conditions, SOL photographer Marco Fulle, together with Tom Pfeiffer, was able to observe five consecutive
paroxysms under the best viewing perspectives. Here we present some photos of paroxysms 6 and 7, while on page 2 those of the paroxysms
8, 9 and 10. 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; TDF = Torre del Filosofo.
27 June 12h, f=28mm from Padellazza (500m North of Belvedere). Like «Old Saturn», SEC is accompanied on each side by his sons, Sudestino (South, left) and Levantino (North, right).
17 June 12h, f=135mm from E slope of NEC, 800m North of SEC. Paroxysm 6. Tom Pfeiffer observes lava spattering from Levantino, which releases a huge lava flow towards North.
17 June 13h, f=135mm. The entire fissure (right) between Levantino and SEC's top becomes active, first with dust and blue gas, and then with mild spattering of very hot lava.
17 June 14h, f=135mm. The fissure becomes active over all its length of 100m. Levantino ejects a lava fountain 50m high. Both the fissure and Levantino release smaller lava flows besides the main one.
17 June 14h, f=135mm. The red lava fountain ejected by Levantino reaches a height of 100m. So much lava is erupted that five flows develop, two on the left, two on the right of the main one in the center.
17 June 15h, f=50mm. Strombolian jets from SEC's top increase in density and are now mixed with ash. The fissure between Levantino and SEC top ejects jets of red lava to heights of 300m.
17 June 15h, f=135mm. Abundant steam from the fresh lava and the dust of the falling bombs reduces visibility of the huge Levantino fountain 150m high. Strong image processing was applied to increase contrast in the picture.
17 June 15h, f=50mm. Towards the end of paroxysm 6, SEC's top ejects dense clouds of ash. The eruption loses strength at the fissure first, while remaining the same at Levantino.
17 June 19h, f=135mm from the North Rift of Etna. Like after many SEC paroxysms in 2000, NEC (right) ejects dense clouds of ash which are carried by a strong wind towards Pizzi Deneri (left).
19 June 21h, f=135mm from TDF. Like the previous ones, paroxysm 7 starts with lava fountains from Levantino, which however are less vigorous and stop when SEC's summit crater increases its activity.
19 June 21h, f=135mm. An interval between two summer snowstorms (!) allows us to observe paroxysm 7. SEC's top ejects many strombolian bursts, showering its slopes with thousands of bombs.
19 June 21h, f=135mm. The strombolian fountains become denser and denser, however without becoming a continuously sustained lava fountain as during the paroxysms in 2000.
19 June 22h, f=50mm. Towards the end of the paroxysm, SEC's top ejects spectacular «magma bubbles» with tremendous bangs, showering its flanks with meter-sized and even larger bombs.
19 June 22h, f=50mm. Like «Old Saturn», SEC tries to kill his sons covering them with bombs: Sudestino is showered by red lava, which illuminates the fresh snow on BN's slope and in foreground.
19 June 23h, f=50mm. The North wind drags the ash column over TDF, showering us with ash and lapilli. It also removes BN's gas on the left, thus opening the view to the constellation of Ursa Major.
22 June 14h, f=50mm. Almost all these paroxysms are monitored by volcanologists from INGV. Here they analyse the gas released at the beginning of paroxysm 8 by means of a spectrometer.