Right: The lava fountains from the lower part of the SE fissure at the beginning of the 16th paroxysm of Etna’s New SE crater, ca. 15h30, 8 Oct 2011
Following 10 days of quiet, a new paroxysmal eruption (nr 16 in 2011) took place from the New SE crater of Etna volcano during the afternoon of 8 October 2011.
Tom Pfeiffer and his group of VolcanoDiscovery’s Stromboli to Etna tour were lucky to be able to witness the eruption from close range. The activity started a slow gradual increase of volcanic tremor visible since around 9am, and with increasing and noisy strombolian explosions from one and later several vents inside the crater fissure of the New SE cone at around 1h00 pm; a lava flow emerged from the narrow SE directed channel aroud 3 pm, accompanied by a row of low liquid lava fountains just outside the gap of the crater, aligned on the SE trending fissure dividing it.
Heavy fog, hail, very cold temperatures and strong winds prohibited detailed observations of the main phase of the eruption between ca. 3 and 4 pm, when taller lava fountains could be heard. A dense column of ash was sometimes seen rising above the clouds and drifting east. The eruption was over by around 5pm, by which time, the summit area again cleared. By then, the lava flow had descended the steep wall of the Valle del Bove and reached its base.