Lava flows flowing down the slopes of Etna, seen on February 21, 2013. Image: Dr. Boris Behncke / Osservatorio Etneo. It was a busy, busy week for the folks at the Osservatorio Etneo. Etna ended up producing four separate fountaining events that culminated in a number of new lava flows (see above) issuing down the flanks of the volcano from new vents below the New Southeast Crater. As of Friday evening, the flows were still moving into the Valle del Bove from this new period of vigorous activity at Etna. These eruptions were also producing a healthy ash plume that was detected up to 30,000 feet / 9 km over the volcano, drifting out over the sea, along with small lahars as well, likely produced by the lava interacting with the snow on the volcano. You can see how robust the activity was in this video of the eruption -- strombolian explosions sent large lava fragments far from the main vent while the lava fountains themselves were likely well over 100 meters tall. The NASA Earth Observatoryposted an infrared image of the activity on February 20 from Etna and you can clearly see the extent of the lava flow field on the southeastern sides of the edifice (especially well-contrasted over snow). Dr. Boris Behncke posted a series of pictures (see below) this morning of some minor new activity from the summit craters as well -- making for an all-around astonishing week of volcanism on Sicily.
Puffs from a small explosive at the summit Bocca Nuova crater on Etna seen on February 21, 2013. Much of the activity of the last week was from the new Southeast Crater area, so this activity was unexpected. Image: Dr. Boris Behncke / Osservatorio Etneo. After this week's noise, you never know what Etna might do next -- so keep an eye on all the webcams.