Over the last 2 years, the south east crater (SEC) at Mt. Etna (Italy) has been characterised by the intermittent emission of lava flows, often accompanied by paroxysmal episodes with violent strombolian activity and/or lava fountains. One of the most intense and intriguing episodes occurred on November 16, 2006 during strombolian and effusive activity from the very top of the SEC. At the eastern base of the crater, a violent and short-lasting outburst generated a 300-m-high eruptive curtain of finely fragmented magma and steam, which collapsed in a few seconds giving rise to a small but significant pyroclastic flow. The paroxysm was preceded by progressive sliding of the eastern flank of the SEC edifice, which led to the formation of a large niche. Previously published models explain the outburst as due to rapid vaporisation of water contained in sediments on contact with hot lava flowing along the flank of the SEC or, alternatively, to gravitational collapse of a destabilised portion of the eastern flank of the crater. However, several lines of evidence suggest that these models do not adequately explain the paroxysm, which we propose was associated with the explosive emission of magma during the rapid opening of an ESE-WNW-oriented fracture at the eastern base of the SEC. Moreover, geochemical data of the products associated with this episode show that they are the most primitive and gas-rich among those erupted during the entire 2006 period. We suggest that the paroxysm of November 16, 2006, which occurred at base of the SEC, was a magma outburst due to rapid ground fracturing related to a drop in confining pressure upon the underlying dyke consequent to the sliding of the eastern flank of the SEC cone. Specifically, the unloaded shallow portion of the feeding dyke did not restrain the arrival of a new batch of gas-rich magma, which worked its way out by fracturing the base of the niche at its weakest point. This paroxysm appears significant because it reveals the potential development of syneruptive dynamics acting directly on the uppermost portion of the plumbing system which is able to generate pyroclastic flows even on basaltic volcanoes such as Mount Etna.
|Titolo:||Relationship between the flank sliding of the South East Crater (Mt. Etna, Italy) and the paroxysmal event of November 16, 2006|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2010|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||1.1 Articolo in rivista|