Bulletin of Volcanology

, Volume 72, Issue 10, pp 1191–1207 | Cite as

The dyke swarm of Mount Calanna (Etna, Italy): an example of the uppermost portion of a volcanic plumbing system

  • Carmelo Ferlito
  • Eugenio Nicotra
Research Article


A new multidisciplinary study, combining geology, petrography, and geochemistry, on the rocks of the isolated hill of Mount Calanna (Mount Etna, Italy) has provided evidence for the existence of a dyke swarm, formed by more than 200 dykes distributed over an area of ~0.7 km2, with an intensity of intrusion up to 40%. All bodies are deeply altered, and the geological and mesostructural surveying of 132 dykes revealed that they intruded in E–W direction, with an average dip of 60°. The faults affecting the outcrop have in general an E–W strike and dip of ~55°: these have all normal motion and have been interpreted as coeval with the dykes. This interpretation contrasts with the previous hypothesis that considered Mount Calanna as a thrust resulting from compressive deformation resulting from the gravitational spreading of the volcanic edifice. Mount Calanna is here interpreted as the uppermost portion of a vertically extensive magmatic plexus that fed the eruptive activity of one (or more) eruptive center/s sited in the Valle del Bove area. Measurements of the apparent densities on 23 dykes and host rock samples give an average value of 2,420 kg/m3 for the entire complex, ~15% lower than the density expected for hawaiitic magma, placing an important constraint on the geophysical identification of similar structures. Considering that Mount Etna is not an old eroded edifice but an active and growing volcano, the exposure of this subvolcanic structure can be regarded as exceptional. Its geometry and physical characteristics can be thus regarded as an interesting example of the present-day shallow plumbing system of Mount Etna as well as of other basaltic volcanoes.


Etna Shallow plumbing system Faults Gravitational spreading Magma density 



The authors are grateful to Renato Cristofolini for the productive discussions and to Carmelo Monaco for the critical reading of the manuscript. Raffaello Cioni, Carles Soriano, Massimo Pompilio, Agust Gudmundsson, and an anonymous referee are greatly acknowledged for their critical and constructive reviews and suggestions that highly contributed to improve the quality of this manuscript. We are also indebted to Elisabetta Giuffrida and Domenico La Rocca for their precious help in performing major element chemical analyses.

Supplementary material

445_2010_398_MOESM1_ESM.xls (504 kb)
ESM 1 (XLS 503 kb)


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© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienze GeologicheUniversità di CataniaCataniaItaly

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