Of Etna and Kizimen

There are some interesting stirings of volcanoes. Some that have been quite for a while are clearing their throats, while others that have always has some activity are singing harmony…

Mount Etna

Mount Etna

Original Image from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:EtnaAvió.JPG.

OK, there are always some volcanoes going off somewhere. For me it’s of interest when one that’s been quiet for a while starts being more active. Etna has been active on and off for a long time, so this isn’t all THAT big a deal, but still, things are waking up just a wee bit. One of the theories of climate cycling has a volcanic component. To the extent that theory is right, we ought to see increased volcanic and earthquake activity ‘a few years’ into this solar Grand Minimum. So I’d make that about now and for the next 20 years. Something to keep an eye on, but with a 20 year ‘time horizon’ we don’t need to check in too often.

These folks have a nice summary volcano status page:


From them:


INGV-CT reported that during the first few days of December gas emissions from a large pit crater on the lower E flank of Etna’s Southeast Crater cone nearly ceased. On 22 December at 0446 a strong explosion occurred at the W vent of the Bocca Nuova (BN-1). This event generated an ash plume a few meters high, which then drifted NE, causing light ashfall in areas as far as the town of Linguaglossa (17 km NE). On 23 December bluish gas rose from a vent at the base of the W wall of the pit, at the base of the Southeast Crater cone. Bright incandescence was intermittently visible on video footage. Inclement weather prevented clear observations that day and during the next few days. On 29 December extremely small amounts of incandescent material emitted from the pit crater were observed using visible and thermal cameras. The brief emissions (2-6 second intervals) were jets of mainly hot gas that barely rose above the rim of the pit crater. Inclement weather again prevented observations of the crater during 30-31 December.

During the late afternoon on 2 January, strong incandescence at the pit crater evolved into vigorous Strombolian activity. Frequent Strombolian explosions (1-3 per minute) ejected coarse-grained incandescent material a few tens of meters above the rim of the pit. On a few occasions, incandescent bombs fell outside the pit’s rim, mainly to the S and E. The activity continued into the early morning then decreased markedly. Negligible quantities of volcanic ash were produced.

Geologic Summary. Mount Etna, towering above Catania, Sicily’s second largest city, has one of the world’s longest documented records of historical volcanism, dating back to 1500 BC. Historical lava flows cover much of the surface of this massive basaltic stratovolcano, the highest and most voluminous in Italy. Two styles of eruptive activity typically occur at Etna. Persistent explosive eruptions, sometimes with minor lava emissions, take place from one or more of the three prominent summit craters, the Central Crater, NE Crater, and SE Crater. Flank eruptions, typically with higher effusion rates, occur less frequently and originate from fissures that open progressively downward from near the summit. A period of more intense intermittent explosive eruptions from Etna’s summit craters began in 1995. The active volcano is monitored by the Instituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Volcanologia (INGV) in Catania.

So just about the time we reached the 1998 temperature peak, this volcano starts acting up again. Hmmm….

If I lived in Italy, I’d start watching the quake reports for any nearby volcanoes. You don’t want to be hanging around too long if a load of harmonic tremor begins…

The 2002 eruption as seen from space:

Etna 2002 Eruption as seen from space

Etna 2002 Eruption as seen from space

Original source and larger image


Honorary Mention goes to Stromboli, but he’s always showing off:

STROMBOLI Aeolian Islands (Italy) 38.789°N, 15.213°E; summit elev. 924 m

INGV-CT reported that on 19 December a major explosion from a vent in the southern part of Stromboli’s crater terrace occurred at 0956, coincident with explosive sequence consisting of three discrete seismic events. During the last few days of December the “S1” vent produced frequent explosions of greater intensity than those of the preceding days. Jets rose 200 m above the crater terrace. On 27 December, the frequency of the explosions rose to 11-14 per hour. The “S1” vent is immediately next to the “S” vent, the source of the 19 December explosion.

Geologic Summary. Spectacular incandescent nighttime explosions at Stromboli volcano have long attracted visitors to the “Lighthouse of the Mediterranean.”Stromboli, the NE-most of the Aeolian Islands, has lent its name to the frequent mild explosive activity that has characterized its eruptions throughout historical time. The small, 926-m-high island of Stromboli is the emergent summit of a volcano that grew in two main eruptive cycles, the last of which formed the western portion of the island. The active summit vents are located at the head of the Sciara del Fuoco, a horseshoe-shaped scarp formed as a result of slope failure that extends to below sea level and funnels pyroclastic ejecta and lava flows to the NW. Essentially continuous mild Strombolian explosions, sometimes accompanied by lava flows, have been recorded at Stromboli since Roman times.

Then again, the most active ones might act as sentinels that the less active ones need watching…


There are several (I cound 4 at the moment) going off in Kamchatka lately. Something is afoot there… This one caught my eye today:

KIZIMEN Eastern Kamchatka (Russia) 55.130°N, 160.32°E; summit elev. 2376 m

KVERT reported that a thermal anomaly over Kizimen’s lava dome was observed in satellite imagery during 29 December-1 January and that an explosive eruption that began on 13 December continued. On 31 December seismicity increased and volcanic tremor was detected. Explosions occurred sporadically for a period of about 20 minutes. Ash plumes detected in satellite imagery rose to an altitude of 8 km (26,200 ft) a.s.l. and drifted SW. Ashfall at least 1 mm thick occurred in multiple areas 225-275 km SSW, including Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Yelizovo, Paratunka, and Nalychevo. On 1 January the Aviation Color Code was raised to Red. Ash plumes at an altitude of 4 km (13,100 ft) a.s.l. drifted 480-500 km SW; ash continued to accumulate in some areas. Seismic data indicated increased activity on 3 January. Explosions continued, and ash plumes drifted more than 200 km SE. A large and bright thermal anomaly was observed in satellite imagery.

Based on analysis of satellite imagery, the Tokyo VAAC reported that possible eruptions during 2-4 January produced plumes that rose to an altitude of 3-4.6 km (10,000-15,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted S, E, and NE. Subsequent images on those same days showed ash emissions continuing, then dissipating.

Geologic Summary. Kizimen is an isolated, conical stratovolcano that is morphologically similar to Mount St. Helens prior to its 1980 eruption. The summit of Kizimen consists of overlapping lava domes, and blocky lava flows descend the flanks of the volcano, which is the westernmost of a volcanic chain north of Kronotsky volcano. The 2,376-m-high Kizimen was formed during four eruptive cycles beginning about 12,000 years ago and lasting 2,000-3,500 years. The largest eruptions took place about 10,000 and 8300-8400 years ago, and three periods of longterm lava-dome growth have occurred. The latest eruptive cycle began about 3,000 years ago with a large explosion and was followed by lava-dome growth lasting intermittently about 1,000 years. An explosive eruption about 1,100 years ago produced a lateral blast and created a 1.0 x 0.7 km wide crater breached to the NE, inside which a small lava dome (the fourth at Kizimen) has grown. A single explosive eruption, during 1927-28, has been recorded in historical time.

So this one has been sleeping for a while, but looks like it might be getting ready to blow it’s top. Oh Joy….

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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16 Responses to Of Etna and Kizimen

  1. George says:

    @E.M. Smith,

    You might enjoy following this blog for volcano related information:


  2. E.M.Smith says:

    As I look at the history of Vesuvius here:


    and compare it to this graph of the past:

    It looks to me like Vesuvius takes a “pause” just at the top of each of the warm peaks. Then goes back to business as usual most of the rest of the time.

    It’s been ‘paused’ since 1944.

    So I’d suspect that as we’ve had our inflection in 1998, it ought to start having VEI 3 and 4 events “real soon now”.

    This would be better handled with actual data instead of eyeballing a plot, but you have to start somewhere….

    I’d originally been looking at “When does it errupt” and getting odd patterns of “during inflections” and “at the bottoms of cold” and “when warming” and….

    Eventually it occured to me to apply one of my favorite tools: The Negative Space question.

    When does it NOT errupt?

    That appears to be “at the warm peaks”.

    As they say “Hmmmmm….”

    It would be very interesting to take a set of ‘regularly errupting volcanoes’ and plot the average VEI of them vs time and see if they drop right at the times of max warming…

    But that’s going to take some time to dig up the data. So for now I’ll just put a “Dig Here” on it…

    @George: Looks like fun! Thanks!

  3. Pingback: TWAWKI » Earth Changes 2011 – what to realistically expect!

  4. It seems too much “fun” for me, but let’s wait for Katla :-)

  5. Tim Clark says:

    FYI, 3.5 quake 100 miles east of Mammoth lakes. And the University of Oregon intercepted . darn.

  6. boballab says:

    Phew as long it wasn’t Taal Volcano in the Philippines!

    A small, 3-km-wide caldera is located at the center of Volcano Island, in the Philippines’ southern Luzon Island. The 5-km-wide Volcano Island lies within a much larger, 15 x 20 km Taal caldera, whose low, western wall is seen across Lake Taal in the distance. The small island in the center of the photo, a remnant of historical eruptions on Volcano Island, is a geographical oddity–an island in a lake on an island in a lake on an island.


    Look at that photo, an eruption there would ruin that unique landscape

  7. kuhnkat says:

    It is hard to tell, but, it may be that the active volcanoes are more a cause than an effect. Heavy activity cools the earth. If they keep happening they keep cooling.

    I keep reading about low sun activity or low magnetic field activity somehow triggering, but, haven’t really seen anything that persuasive yet.

  8. It would be interesting to know, if there is any, information about changes in the acceleration of gravity on the world.

  9. P.G. Sharrow says:

    Actually it appears that cooling starts before an increase in volcanic activity. Large eruptions just make the cooling more intense. So not cause and effect but effects of some other cause. A puzzle that is being studied over at “Tallblokes” site.

  10. E.M.Smith says:

    @P.G. Sharrow:

    That’s where I think the “negative space” observation comes in. It’s not so much that the volcanoes CAUSE cooling, as that the absence of volcanoes is at the warm top. Instead of looking at when they start being active, look at when they STOP. So we have a load of volcanoes most of the time, but their absense gives the peaks a bit more peak to work with.

    FWIW, I suspect it is a general “spin” effect. The earth LOD and other “spin” things change, this stirs the magma flows and shifts the volcanic pattern. A side effect is on ocean currents and weather. Ian Wilson has a paper on the PDO and LOD connection. So we’ve got the “spin” issue identified. How LOD changes modulate volcanoes is the next step IMHO.

    (then what modulates LOD… and I don’t think it’s the wind… )

  11. vukcevic says:

    Tuesday 11th January 2011
    Krakatau Volcano, Indonesia
    Eruptions from Krakatau volcano, Indonesia have forced the evacuation of tens of thousands residents. Seven districts affected are Kalianda, Rajabasa, Katibung, Sidomulyo, Ketapang, Sragi and Palas. On Monday ash from Anak Krakatau continued to cover residential areas in parts of Banten province and South Lampung. Visual observations showed ash emissions reaching a height of 600 m and drifting east. Ashfall has affected the operation of seismometers on the volcano. Fisherman and tourists are advised to stay at least 2 km from the volcano.

  12. George says:

    “Visual observations showed ash emissions reaching a height of 600 m”

    Which would be consistent with a dome collapse or pyroclastic flow. In other words, that seems like a pretty tame eruption for that part of the world. If they are evacuating that many people, they must have some other indication (seismic?) that something bigger is brewing. You can get a 600m plume from a gentle “cough” of that volcano.

  13. E.M.Smith says:


    If that ash is headed over a population center of, oh, 20,000 folks; you get ‘evacuation of 10s of thousands’ just because you don’t want to be treating a load of silicosis from dust inhalation.

    Small burp, but big health risk.

    Yeah, just speculation on my part.

  14. George says:

    The thing is that A.K. can erupt like this for months or years. Silicosis actually is less of a problem in such cases as this as fluoridosis. Volcanic ash often has a large quantity of soluble fluorides which can get into the grasses that animals eat and into the water supply. This is what did the most damage in Iceland in the 18th century eruptions.

    Still, this might be a case of overreaction due to other recent events.

  15. vukcevic says:

    Last updated at 11:49 AM on 13th January 2011
    Mount Etna spews lava on the southern Italian island of Sicily yesterday evening

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