, Volume 74, Issue 4, pp 787-793
Date: 03 Dec 2011

Lava discharge during Etna's January 2011 fire fountain tracked using MSG-SEVIRI

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Etna's January 2011 eruption provided an excellent opportunity to test the ability of Meteosat Second Generation satellite's Spinning Enhanced Visible and InfraRed Imager (SEVIRI) sensor to track a short-lived effusive event. The presence of lava fountaining, the rapid expansion of lava flows, and the complexity of the resulting flow field make such events difficult to track from the ground. During the Etna's January 2011 eruption, we were able to use thermal data collected by SEVIRI every 15 min to generate a time series of the syn-eruptive heat flux. Lava discharge waxed over a ~1-h period to reach a peak that was first masked from the satellite view by a cold tephra plume and then was of sufficient intensity to saturate the 3.9-μm channel. Both problems made it impossible to estimate time-averaged lava discharge rates using the syn-eruptive heat flux curve. Therefore, through integration of data obtained by ground-based Doppler radar and thermal cameras, as well as ancillary satellite data (from Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer and Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer), we developed a method that allowed us to identify the point at which effusion stagnated, to allow definition of a lava cooling curve. This allowed retrieval of a lava volume of ~1.2 × 106 m3, which, if emitted for 5 h, was erupted at a mean output rate of ~70 m3 s−1. The lava volume estimated using the cooling curve method is found to be similar to the values inferred from field measurements.

Editorial responsibility: M. Manga
An erratum to this article can be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00445-012-0614-0.