- flank eruption on both Etna's N and S side in 2002: the vent on the S side in early November -


3 November: ongoing pulsating explosive activity

The unusual explosive activity of the S vent continues and is only slowly decreasing. During a visit on 3 November, the intermittent fountains were still up to 300m high and the 2-3 km high ash plume was drifting towards the E.
Photo: Marco e Stephane at the ash-covered tourist complex La Sapienza on Etna's S flank. During the previous night, 2 cm of black, sand-sized ash has fallen. The ash-plume from the new crater and the Montagnola cone in the background. 

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Viewpoint is now from below the S vent. The ash-plume is much less vigorous and  smaller compared to 30 October.

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At sunset, the red 100-200m high lava fountain becomes visible. Glowing bombs covering the new cone.

6 November: snow and fire

On 6 November, the explosive activity is still going on! After a period of waning, the eruptive intensity of the active S vent has again reached a high level.

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A man is cleaning the roof of a house in Nicolosi from ash. Snow-covered Etna and the ash-plume  in the background.

After a day of bad weather, the first significant snow has fallen on Etna. Now, the black lava, white snow, steam, the blue sky and the gray ash make for incredible contrasts...

Stephane, Marco and two other observers resting on a warm, recent lava flow. 

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The majestic ash-plume rises over a virgin winter landscape.

Close-ups into the "cold" fountain of the new crater. Dust-trails of ejected blocks and some red lava boms are visible. Note the presence of many light solid blocks,- ejected fragments of the conduit walls and perhaps the magma chamber walls.

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Different to typical fluid lava fountains, most of the ejected material is not juvenile magma which appears as red glowing spatter, but fragmented blocks of older material.

These blocks were torn apart from within the conduit of the rising magma or the magma chamber itself. The most likely explanation for this rare phenomenon (for Etna) is sustained phreatomagmatic activity, i.e. (explosive) mixing of external (ground) water with the erupted magma. The other explanation is unusually high gas-contents of the erupted magma itself and implies explosive dissolution of these magmatic gasses. Further scientific studies will have to address this problem.  

6 November: evening

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The convecting ash-plume, anticrepuscular rays in the turbulent sky, and a winter landscape on Etna.

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At sunset, the ash-plume appears black against the white-bluish surroundings.

4 shots of the lava fountain,- after sunset, the red heart of the fountain is intermittently visible. But: the arctic cold on 2800m elevation is driving us back very soon...