Volcano above the city.. Etna's New Southeast Crater showing intense Strombolian activity and lava flow emission on the early morning of 30 December 2013, seen from the roof of the INGV-Osservatorio Etneo building in Catania. The distance from the viewing spot to the crater is nearly 30 km.: photo by Bruno Behncke, 30 December 2013
You look for life, you look, and a divine fire wells up and gleams at you from the deeps of Earth,
and in your quivering desire you cast yourself down into Etna's flames.
So did the Queen's exuberance dissolve pearls in wine, and well she might!
If only you, O poet, had not offered up your wealth to the seething chalice!
But you are holy to me as the might of Earth that bore you away, bold victim!
And, did not love hold me back, gladly I'd follow the hero down to the depth.
Das Leben suchst du, suchst, und es quillt und glänzt .Ein göttlich Feuer tief aus der Erde dir, ..Und du in schauderndem Verlangen ...Wirfst dich hinab, in des Aetna Flammen. So schmelzt' im Weine Perlen der Übermuth .Der Königin; und mochte sie doch! hättst du ..Nur deinen Reichtum nicht, o Dichter ...Hin in den gährenden Kelch geopfert! Doch heilig bist du mir, wie der Erde Macht, .Die dich hinwegnahm, kühner Getödteter! ..Und folgen möcht' ich in die Tiefe, ...Hielte die Liebe mich nicht, dem Helden. Friedrich Hölderlin (1770-1843), Empedokles (Empedocles), c. 1795, English prose version (relineated) by Michael Hamburger, 1961
Etna's fireworks continue. The latest eruptive episode at Etna's New Southeast Crater, which started on the morning of 29 December 2013, is continuing vigorously on the evening of 30 December, though weather conditions have deteriorated and visibility is very limited. Occasionally, though, a partly veiled view of the activity is possible, like this one seen from my home in Tremestieri Etneo, on Etna's south flank, on the evening of 30 December 2013. Low jets of lava rising from two vents within the crater are visible at left, and the lava flow spilling from the crater into the large Valle del Bove depression on Etna's east flank extends diagonally across the center of the view. Above the lava flow, a dense plume of ash and vapor rises into the sky, eerily illuminated by the glow of the lava below: photo by Boris Behncke, 30 December 2013
Multiple glows at night. While we still don't know whether the new episode of eruptive activity at Etna's New Southeast Crater will eventually culminate in some stronger and more spectacular activity, on the evening of 23 January 2014 the volcano is providing a suggestive, mysterious show of fiery glows. Lava is flowing from a vent at the eastern base of the New Southeast Crater cone, accompanied by mild Strombolian activity at the crater itself -- seen at left in this photo taken from my home in Tremestieri Etneo. The glow in the center is the vent from which the lava is issuing, and the active lava front is seen at right: photo by Bruno Behncke, 23 January 20
Lava in the morning. Throughout the night, Etna's latest episode of Strombolian activity and lava flow emission (from the New Southeast Crater) has continued; much of the time, bad weather has prevented observations. At dawn on 24 January 2014, the clouds partially opened, revealing a suggestive view of the lava flow moving down the steep flank of the Valle del Bove, a deep valley in the eastern flank of Etna, where most of the earlier lava flows from the New Southeast Crater have descended, too. Taken from my home in Tremestieri Etneo, 20 km south of Etna's summit: photo by Bruno Behncke, 24 January 2014
Infernal mornings. Always an incredible experience, after all these years, to wake up at dawn, look out and see an erupting volcano before your bedroom (and kitchen) window. Etna, 25 January 2014 seen from my home in Tremestieri Etneo: photo by Bruno Behncke, 25 January 2014
A fire in the clouds. Etna's latest episode of Strombolian activity and lava emission continues unabated, with a slight increase in the ash content of the emissions from the New Southeast Crater seen this morning (25 January 2014). The explosive activity is rather mild, quite different from the previous episodes of activity at the New Southeast Crater in the past three years, many of which produced awesome lava fountains and huge columns of gas and loose volcanic rock material (so-called tephra or pyroclastic material). But this time the quantity of lava that is being emitted seems somewhat more significant -- only that relatively bad weather is hampering observations of the activity a lot of the time. This view was taken at dawn on 25 January 2014 from my home in the village of Tremestieri Etneo, 20 km south of Etna's summit. At left is the silent, old cone of the Southeast Crater, and the erupting new cone is in the center; weather clouds surround the "volcanic siblings" to the left and right: photo by Bruno Behncke, 25 January 2014
Ash in the sky... On the afternoon of 26 January 2014, the amount of ash emitted from Etna's erupting New Southeast Crater increased -- interestingly this happened shortly after the Greek island of Kephalonia was shaken by a magnitude 6.3 earthquake (which luckily does not seem to have caused any deaths). The earthquake was also felt in eastern Sicily. This view shows continued ash emission at sunset on 26 January seen from the village of Aci San Filippo, on the lower southeast flank of Etna. Soon after sunset, the active lava flow running down into the Valle del Bove on the upper southeast flank of the volcano since three days became plainly visible...: photo by Bruno Behncke, 26 January 2014
... and lava in the backyard. When darkness fell in Sicily on the evening of 26 January 2014, the beautiful lava flow running down Etna's upper southeast flank became fully visible. This view was taken from the town of Zafferana, on the southeast flank of the mountain, with a power pole rising in the foreground. The lava looks close, but in reality is some 8 km away from the power pole. This lava flow is now going on for more than three days, and mild Strombolian activitiy, at times accompanied by minor ash emission, is continuing at the New Southeast Crater: photo by Bruno Behncke, 26 January 2014
The fires are dying. The latest episode of eruptive activity at Etna's New Southeast Crater is showing signs of coming to an end soon, one week after it started. Over the past two days, the activity has been progressively, albeit slowly, diminishing, and on the morning of 29 January 2014, only very rare, weak Strombolian explosions were visible. No Strombolian activity was seen after nightfall on the same day. Likewise, lava emission has diminished considerably: at nightfall on 29 January, the active portion of the lava flow was only a few hundred meters long, as seen in this photograph taken about 16:45 GMT (=local time -1) from the town of Santa Venerina on the southeast flank of the volcano. So Etna's fireworks may soon be over for this time - and we'll be wondering what the volcano will do next and when. This latest eruptive episode has been a rather low-intensity event compared to the previous episodes, most of which were brief, violent paroxysms with high lava fountains and abundant production of ash and lapilli. The last two episodes in December 2013 already showed a tendency toward weaker but more long-lived activity; this tendency has continued with the latest episode: photo by Bruno Behncke, 29 January 2014