, Volume 69, Issue 1, pp 41-50
Date: 20 Apr 2006

Volcanic structure of the southern sector of Mt. Etna after the 2001 and 2002 eruptions defined by magnetotelluric measurements

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Abstract

Two magnetotelluric (MT) surveys were carried out on the Mt. Etna volcano after two of the most intense eruptions of the last 30 years which took place in summer 2001 and winter 2002–2003. Surveying was pursued for two main reasons. First, we sought to contribute to the definition of the first-order structure and physico-chemical state (temperature, fluids, melts) of a volcano that has been extensively explored and monitored by means of various geophysical methods, but where only few electrical and electromagnetic surveys have been performed. Secondly, we acquired MT data in the same sites in the two different surveys with the aim of monitoring the possible changes of the first-order structure, since conditions are expected to vary on an active volcano such as Etna, and are supposed to be linked to the eruptive events. Soundings have been acquired in an E-W 10 km-long profile across the southern flank of Mt. Etna, at a distance of almost 6 km south from the Central Crater. The first survey was carried out three months after the 2001 eruption. Inverse models define a pronounced (4 km thickness) low resistivity section at a depth of about 1 km b.s.l. to the west. To the east, a low resistivity section is still present, but appears deeper, thinner and more resistive, and a shallow low resistivity anomaly also exists. The shallow anomaly to the east is tentatively correlated with altered and clayey volcanic units and/or temporary groundwater storage. The deep anomalies are interpreted as being due to melt storage at shallow depths which was not exhausted during the eruption. This would be confirmed by the abundance of lava erupted within one year from the end of the survey. The few good sites retrieved in the second survey, carried out a few weeks after the eruption of 2002–2003, confirm the picture defined in the first survey, and provide a better definition of the bottom of the deep anomaly located in the sedimentary basement.

Ediorial responsibility: M. Ripepe