A new vent opened today on Etna in Sicily with lava flows and an ash plume from the new vent near the Southeast Crater. The eruption started after over 100 earthquakes up to M4 rattled the volcano on December 24. People (mostly skiers) on the volcano were evacuated as the eruption began. The ash plume from the eruption prompted the airspace around Catania to close as well. From the look of the ash plume, some is being produced by the eruption but part of the plume may be coming from the interaction of lava and snow on the slopes of the volcano.
Today’s pass by NASA’s Aqua satellite got a shot of the ash plume from the eruption drifting to the southeast:
The ash plume from the December 24 eruption of Etna in Italy, captured by Aqua’s MODIS imager. NASA.
The volcano had been producing lava over the past few days from the southeast crater and in the image taken by Dr. Boris Behncke (INGV; below), you can see how active the volcano had been on December 23 and earlier in the week. What is different now is that a lava appears to be coming from a newly-active vent on the volcano. The recent lava flows and this new fissure all suggest that Etna might be entering a renewed period of eruption after a few years of relative quiet (for Etna’s standards).