Italy’s Etna Volcano Erupts On Sicily, Disrupting Flights

Europe’s biggest active volcano, Mount Etna, erupted early Saturday with fiery explosions and lava flows, the Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology said (INGV).

Plumes of ash prompted authorities on the island of Sicily to close the Fontanarossa and Comiso Airports in the city of Catania, local media reported.

La Repubblica newspaper said a Ryanair flight from Rome was diverted to Palermo on Friday night, while several flights were delayed from landing or taking off on Saturday.

Airport authorities said flights had returned to normal at 11 a.m. local time (0900 UTC), but stressed that there may still be disruptions and delays.

According to the INGV, the lava was spurting from one of the craters on the volcano’s desert-like southeastern face, and then traveling around 1.5 kilometers (1 mile) down a barren escarpment called the Valle del Bove (Ox Valley).

The most recent Etna activity follows an eruption in December as well as “lively spattering” recorded by the institute in June.

At 3,300 meters (10,826 feet), Etna is the largest active volcano in Europe.

‘Crystal Clocks’ Used To Time Magma Storage Before Volcanic Eruptions

The molten rock that feeds volcanoes can be stored in the Earth’s crust for as long as a thousand years, a result which may help with volcanic hazard management and better forecasting of when eruptions might occur.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge used volcanic minerals known as ‘crystal clocks’ to calculate how long magma can be stored in the deepest parts of volcanic systems. This is the first estimate of magma storage times near the boundary of the Earth’s crust and the mantle, called the Moho. The results are reported in the journal Science.

“This is like geological detective work,” said Dr Euan Mutch from Cambridge’s Department of Earth Sciences, and the paper’s first author. “By studying what we see in the rocks to reconstruct what the eruption was like, we can also know what kind of conditions the magma is stored in, but it’s difficult to understand what’s happening in the deeper parts of volcanic systems.”

“Determining how long magma can be stored in the Earth’s crust can help improve models of the processes that trigger volcanic eruptions,” said co-author Dr John Maclennan, also from the Department of Earth Sciences. “The speed of magma rise and storage is tightly linked to the transfer of heat and chemicals in the crust of volcanic regions, which is important for geothermal power and the release of volcanic gases to the atmosphere.”

The researchers studied the Borgarhraun eruption of the Theistareykir volcano in northern Iceland, which occurred roughly 10,000 years ago, and was fed directly from the Moho. This boundary area plays an important role in the processing of melts as they travel from their source regions in the mantle towards the Earth’s surface. To calculate how long the magma was stored at this boundary area, the researchers used a volcanic mineral known as spinel like a tiny stopwatch or crystal clock.

Using the crystal clock method, the researchers were able to model how the composition of the spinel crystals changed over time while the magma was being stored. Specifically, they looked at the rates of diffusion of aluminium and chromium within the crystals and how these elements are ‘zoned’.

“Diffusion of elements works to get the crystal into chemical equilibrium with its surroundings,” said Maclennan. “If we know how fast they diffuse we can figure out how long the minerals were stored in the magma.”

The researchers looked at how aluminium and chromium were zoned in the crystals, and realised that this pattern was telling them something exciting and new about magma storage time. The diffusion rates were estimated using the results of previous lab experiments. The researchers then used a new method, combining finite element modelling and Bayesian nested sampling to estimate the storage timescales.

“We now have really good estimates in terms of where the magma comes from in terms of depth,” said Mutch. “No one’s ever gotten this kind of timescale information from the deeper crust.”

Calculating the magma storage time also helped the researchers determine how magma can be transferred to the surface. Instead of the classical model of a volcano with a large magma chamber beneath, the researchers say that instead, it’s more like a volcanic ‘plumbing system’ extending through the crust with lots of small ‘spouts’ where magma can be quickly transferred to the surface.

A second paper by the same team, recently published in Nature Geoscience, found that that there is a link between the rate of ascent of the magma and the release of CO2, which has implications for volcano monitoring.

The researchers observed that enough CO2 was transferred from the magma into gas over the days before eruption to indicate that CO2 monitoring could be a useful way of spotting the precursors to eruptions in Iceland. Based on the same set of crystals from Borgarhraun, the researchers found that magma can rise from a chamber 20 kilometres deep to the surface in as little as four days.

The research was supported by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

Volcano Erupts On Italian Island Of Stromboli, Killing One Person

A volcano on the Italian island of Stromboli erupted Wednesday, releasing hot trapped magma in a powerful explosion, killing one person and enveloping the popular tourist destination in ash, witnesses and local officials said.

The one fatality, believed to be a tourist, was killed by falling stones during a hike, a rescue service official said. A second person was injured.

Italian news agency ANSA says the blast sent about 30 tourists jumping into the sea for safety.

The unexpected eruption started fires on the western side of the small Mediterranean island, which lies north of Sicily, off the toe of Italy. Fire crews were being called in from nearby locations and a Canadair plane was already in action.

“We saw the explosion from the hotel. There was a loud roar,” said Michela Favorito, who works in a hotel near Fico Grande, on the east side of the island.

“We plugged our ears and after this a cloud of ash swept over us. The whole sky is full of ash, a fairly large cloud,” she told Reuters.

Fiona Carter, a British tourist on the island of Panarea, some 17 miles from Stromboli, heard the blast.

“We turned around to see a mushroom cloud coming from Stromboli. Everyone was in shock. Then red hot lava started running down the mountain towards the little village of Ginostra,” she told Reuters.

“The cloud got bigger, white and gray. It enveloped Ginostra and now the cloud has covered Stromboli entirely. Several boats set off for Stromboli,” she added.

According to the geology.com website, Stromboli is one of the most active volcanoes on the planet and has been erupting almost continuously since 1932.

Papua New Guinea’s Mount Ulawun Volcano Erupts And Sends Thousands Of Residents Fleeing

More than 5,000 people have been forced to flee their homes after a volcano erupted in a remote part of Papua New Guinea’s West New Britain, local media have reported.

Eyewitness accounts online showed people evacuating their homes, as a large column of black smoke and red lava spewed from the crater of Mount Ulawun, known to be one of the most hazardous volcanos in the world.

Satellite imagery showed the eruption plume reaching heights of between 13 and 15 kilometres.

Volcanic activity began around 7:00am on Wednesday, with rumbling and booming noises heard throughout the day and an eruption warning was issued prompting an evacuation.

Flights have been cancelled into nearby Hoskins Airport and lava has cut off the New Britain Highway in three different locations, according to local media.

Pilot Eroli Tamara took images of rising smoke as she flew past yesterday afternoon.

“The top of the ash cloud did look to extend well up to 30,000-40,000 feet [10-12 kilometres],” she told the ABC.

Papua New Guinea Post Courier reported that more than 5,000 people have been evacuated so far, but a shortage of vehicles has slowed down the process.

A local community leader told the Post Courier that only five vehicles had been working non-stop to ferry people from the danger zone.

“The Government did not come to help and we had to use whatever means we had to move people,” Christopher Lagisa, a village elder and local palm oil estate owner told the ABC.

Mr Lagisa said that due to lava flows and ash, the local community had to be moved around 20-30 kilometres from the base of the mountain.

He said government disaster officials did not arrive until the evening and foreign companies working in the area did not offer their vehicles to assist in the evacuation.

“I don’t know why the Government came in very late,” he said adding that officials were now arranging for supplies of food and water that will hopefully be delivered today.

Mr Lagisa said the volcano had been monitored all night, but so far there were no reports of injuries or damage to homes.

He said the evacuation notice was expected to last about a week, but the eruption was already appearing to dissipate.

Ulawun is the highest and steepest of all the volcanoes in PNG and is considered to be one of the six ‘high-risk’ volcanoes in the country, according to the Papua New Guinea Geological Survey.

While Ulawun has produced small eruptions periodically for the past few decades, the last eruptions of this scale occurred in September 2000 and again in May 2001.

NASA Captures Spectacular Images Of Raikoke Volcano Spewing Ash Into The Atmosphere After Huge Eruption

An astronaut aboard the International Space Station has captured a spectacular image of a volcano with a 2,300ft-wide crater spewing ash into the atmosphere after a powerful eruption.

The Raikoke Volcano—located on an island in the northwestern Pacific’s Kuril archipelago—has been dormant for roughly a century. But this quiet period came to an abrupt end in the early morning of June 22, when Raikoke blew its top sending a vast ash plume up to 8 miles into the sky, according to the Volcanic Ash Advisories Center (VAAC).

In the picture, you can clearly see how the cloud rises up in a narrow column before coming to a stop when it meets air of similar density.

“What a spectacular image. It reminds me of the classic Sarychev Peak astronaut photograph of an eruption in the Kurils from about ten years ago,” Simon Carn, a volcanologist at Michigan Tech, said in a NASA statement.

“The ring of white puffy clouds at the base of the column might be a sign of ambient air being drawn into the column and the condensation of water vapor,” he said. “Or it could be a rising plume from interaction between magma and seawater because Raikoke is a small island and flows likely entered the water.”

Much of the plume is now drifting eastwards over the Bering Sea and authorities are warning aircraft in the region to be careful of volcanic ash. This could pose a danger to aircraft because it contains small pieces of rock and volcanic glass.

Satellite data also indicates that the eruption has spewed out large quantities of gas, namely sulfur dioxide, which may have reached into the stratosphere—the second main layer of Earth’s atmosphere which starts between 4.3 and 12 miles high depending on the location above the planet.

“Radiosonde data from the region suggest that the eruption cloud is mostly in the stratosphere,” Can said. “The persistence of large sulfur dioxide amounts over the last two days also indicates stratospheric injection.”

It is important to closely monitor ash plumes that reach the stratosphere because they have the capacity to stay in the atmosphere for much longer than those which stop at lower altitudes.

Indonesia Warns Of Further Eruptions After Volcano Spews Ash

KARO, Indonesia – Indonesian officials warned on Monday against the prospect of further eruptions from an active volcano on the island of Sumatra after it emitted a huge column of ash, causing panic among residents.

Mount Sinabung, which has seen a spike in activity since 2010, erupted for around nine minutes on Sunday, sending clouds of volcanic ash 7 km (4.4 miles) into the sky.

Although no casualties were reported, officials monitoring the volcano warned of possible fresh eruptions.

“After the eruption, from midnight until 6 a.m., there were a few aftershocks,” said Willy, a scientist at a Sinabung observatory post, who uses one name, like many Indonesians.

Authorities left unchanged the alert level for Sinabung, but urged residents to use face masks and keep indoors to guard against volcanic ashfall.

Mount Sinabung, which is 2,460 m (8,071 ft) high, is among Indonesia’s most active volcanoes, but had been inactive for four centuries before its 2010 eruption. Indonesia has nearly 130 active volcanoes, more than any other country.

Extinct Volcano Has Woken Up And Scientists Say It Could Erupt ‘At Any Moment’

A volcano in the far eastern corner of Russia that was previously considered extinct may be waking up — and an eruption could be catastrophic.

The Bolshaya Udina volcano — part of the Kamchatka Peninsula’s Udina volcanic complex — was believed to be extinct until 2017, when increasing seismic activity was detected beneath it, scientists say.

Now, Ivan Koulakov, a geophysicist from Russia’s A.A. Trofimuk Institute of Petroleum Geology and Geophysics who led a study into the volcano, believes it should be reclassified as active.

“At any moment, an eruption can occur,” Koulakov told CNN.

Between 1999 and September 2017, about 100 weak seismic events were detected beneath the volcano, which stands at 9,590 feet above sea level.

An “anomalous increase” in seismicity, however, began in October 2017. Between October 2017 and February 2019, about 2,400 seismic events were recorded.

February saw an earthquake of 4.3 magnitude occur under Udina — the strongest seismic event ever to occur in the area.

Researchers from Russia, Egypt and Saudi Arabia conducted a study of the volcano last year between May and July, which was published in the Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research.

Installing four temporary seismic monitoring stations around Bolshaya Udina, the researchers recorded and analyzed 559 seismic events.

An “elliptical cluster” of seismic activity had formed around the volcano, they determined, with seismic events taking place more than three miles beneath the surface.

“These seismic properties may indicate the presence of magma intrusions with a high content of […] fluids, which may justify changing the current status of this volcano from ‘extinct’ to ‘active,'” the researchers wrote.

Moreover, they observed that the cluster of seismic events connected the volcano with the Tolud zone, to the south of the volcano, a region believed to store magma in the Earth’s lower crust. The Tolud zone was now feeding Bolshaya Udina with magma, they concluded, thanks to a new pathway that developed in 2018.

Bolshaya Udina shares structural characteristics with another formerly extinct volcano in the region, the Bezymianny, which erupted dramatically in 1956, Koulakov told CNN.

There is around a 50% chance that Bolshaya Udina will erupt, he said.
“Or it could just release the energy smoothly over a few months, or it may just disappear without any eruption,” he said.

If the volcano does erupt, it could pose a significant threat to the small villages nearby, he said, though he added: “There are not many people around.”