Part 1: The paroxysm on 15 February 2000

Bocca Nuova (left) and SEC (right) on both fotos. It's about sunset, but nothing has happened so far... The majestic shadow of Etna on Calabria and the Tyrrhenian Sea


Then SEC suddenly awakes: modest strombolian explosions illuminate the crater of the cone. After 10 minutes a second vent, located on the fissure that cuts through the cone opens just below the main crater. A small fountain of lava starts there. What's next ??


The explosions are getting more intense and a lava flow begins to leek out from the lower vent. Soon, the flanks of the cone (about 250-300 m high) are all hit by showers of bombs.



The activity suddenly begins to increase at an incredible speed. A large glowing fountain rises hundreds of m above the cone and our heads... my film is finished, and I am too excited to manage to change it. 2 minutes after I took the last foto we are forced to escape from a giant jet of lava directed just towards us and look for some shelter beneath the roof of the Torre del Filosofo mountain hut.

Then bombs are falling all around us, but this lasts but 1 or 2 minutes- thanks to the strong wind. 
Then we witness a spectacle that probably cannot be given in pictures. We stand just in front of a large column of yellow, orange and red fire. I still am too surprised to think clearly, wondering if this was true. How and that I took the last pictures I don't know...

After 15 long minutes while we witnessed this extreme fountain of fire- it suddenly stopped. SEC was still all red, one burning mass. The lava flow still poured out for a while from the enlarged fissure and formed a flat pond at base of the cone.

A large impact crater (ca. 150 cm diameter) from a bomb from the eruption was found far from SEC and about 700 m beyond the Torre del Filosofo (upper right) where we were...