Photos 1. May 1999
All photos were taken on 1. May 1999 during a quick visit to Etna by Marco Fulle and Jürg Alean.
Special thanks to Boris Behncke for invaluable information about the «path» leading over some very difficult terrain right up to the
active lava flows. We owe further thanks to the unknown person who left a newspaper lying below «Belvedere». We used various bits of it
to mark what we later on called the «highway». This made it possible for us to find our way back to safety in the middle of the night ;-)
View from Belvedere: Above Marco Fulle is South East Cone, the source of the great eruption of 4.2.1999 when the lava flows started. The red arrow marks the position of the ephemeral vent which feeds the flows descending towards the lower right into Valle del Bove (f=14mm, JA).
Valle del Bove, 18h local time; from the top of the tumulus at the ephemeral vent. The flow is 2m wide and has a velocity of about 0.3 m/s. Taking such photos was very difficult because of the intensive heat radiated by the lava (f=50mm, MF).
Just below the vent the lava descended over a steep slope nearly forming a «lava fall». Despite the «liquid» appearance, the lava was remarkably tough: Stones thrown onto the flow would roll down the slope as if it were solid rock (f=135mm, MF).
Jürg Alean (left) taking video footage of lava flowing down the slope of Valle del Bove. In order to avoid overheating the video camera could only be exposed to the flow for a few seconds at a time. In the background Monti Centenari (bright spot son the left) and Serra Giannicola Piccola (right). f=28mm, MF
Jürg with his new toy, the digital video camera. Access to the active flow was over hundreds of metres of fresh, unconsolidated aa-lava like in this picture (f=135mm, MF).
The ephemeral vent during evening twighlight. Despite the terrible heat radiated by he lava and some uncomfortably glowing cracks under our feet we just could not resist returning to this wonderful spot time after time (f=14mm, JA).
The same spot as in the image on the left, but from even closer. Note the lines along the wall on the right indicating previous, higher levels of the flowing lava. Just two metres from the lava we literally had to use cameras to protect our faces from getting burnt (f=50mm, JA).
Valle del Bove, 19h local time. The lava fall during an exposure of 10 seconds. A second, smaller flow branches off the main one (top left) and follows the «horizon» (centre). The Ionian sea can be seen in the background (f=50mm, MF).
Valle del Bove, 20h local time, from the top of the tumulus: The two flows, after emerging from the ephemeral vent, engulf an «island» and then, about 200m downslope, reunite (f=14mm, JA).
20h30 local: Behind the flows the cities of Giarre (left) and Aci Trezza (right). The moon is rising over the Ionian sea, and a faint Mars is visible up and right of the Moon (f=15mm, MF).
20h30 local: Notice how small, glowing bits of lava fall off the edge of one of the flows. After spending too much time in the heat near the flows, we run out of drinking water. Despite the wonderful spectacle we were forced to leave, climb back to Belvedere and return to Rifugio Sapienza (f=50mm, JA).
22h00 local: Overview from Belvedere (same location as first picture on this page. Although the view is very impressive, only quite small amounts of lava, probably less than one cubic metre per second are discharged (f=50mm, JA).