Bulletin of Volcanology

, Volume 65, Issue 7, pp 517–529

What makes flank eruptions? The 2001 Etna eruption and its possible triggering mechanisms

Research Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00445-003-0280-3

Cite this article as:
Acocella, V. & Neri, M. Bull Volcanol (2003) 65: 517. doi:10.1007/s00445-003-0280-3


Most flank eruptions within a central stratovolcano are triggered by lateral draining of magma from its central conduit, and only few eruptions appear to be independent of the central conduit. In order to better highlight the dynamics of flank eruptions in a central stratovolcano, we review the eruptive history of Etna over the last 100 years. In particular, we take into consideration the Mount Etna eruption in 2001, which showed both summit activity and a flank eruption interpreted to be independent from the summit system. The eruption started with the emplacement of a ~N-S trending peripheral dike, responsible for the extrusion of 75% of the total volume of the erupted products. The rest of the magma was extruded through the summit conduit system (SE crater), feeding two radial dikes. The distribution of the seismicity and structures related to the propagation of the peripheral dike and volumetric considerations on the erupted magmas exclude a shallow connection between the summit and the peripheral magmatic systems during the eruption. Even though the summit and the peripheral magmatic systems were independent at shallow depths (<3 km b.s.l.), petro-chemical data suggest that a common magma rising from depth fed the two systems. This deep connection resulted in the extrusion of residual magma from the summit system and of new magma from the peripheral system. Gravitational stresses predominate at the surface, controlling the emplacement of the dikes radiating from the summit; conversely, regional tectonics, possibly related to N-S trending structures, remains the most likely factor to have controlled at depth the rise of magma feeding the peripheral eruption.


Central volcanoesSummit and flank eruptionsDikesTectonicsVolcano loadMount Etna

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dip. Scienze Geologiche Roma TRERomaItaly
  2. 2.Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e VulcanologiaCataniaItaly