Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Spatial vent opening probability map of Etna volcano (Sicily, Italy)

  • 705 Accesses

  • 54 Citations


We produce a spatial probability map of vent opening (susceptibility map) at Etna, using a statistical analysis of structural features of flank eruptions of the last 2 ky. We exploit a detailed knowledge of the volcano structures, including the modalities of shallow magma transfer deriving from dike and dike-fed fissure eruptions analysis on historical eruptions. Assuming the location of future vents will have the same causal factors as the past eruptions, we converted the geological and structural data in distinct and weighted probability density functions, which were included in a non-homogeneous Poisson process to obtain the susceptibility map. The highest probability of new eruptive vents opening falls within a N-S aligned area passing through the Summit Craters down to about 2,000 m a.s.l. on the southern flank. Other zones of high probability follow the North-East, East-North-East, West, and South Rifts, the latter reaching low altitudes (∼400 m). Less susceptible areas are found around the faults cutting the upper portions of Etna, including the western portion of the Pernicana fault and the northern extent of the Ragalna fault. This structural-based susceptibility map is a crucial step in forecasting lava flow hazards at Etna, providing a support tool for decision makers.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9


  1. Acocella V, Neri M (2009) Dike propagation in volcanic edifices: overview and possible developments. Tectonophysics 471:67–77. doi:10.1016/j.tecto.2008.10.002

  2. Acocella V, Neri M, Scarlato P (2006) Understanding shallow magma emplacement at volcanoes: orthogonal feeder dikes during the 2002–2003 Stromboli (Italy) eruption. Geophys Res Lett 33: L17310. doi:10.1029/2006GL026862

  3. Acocella V, Neri M, Sulpizio R (2009) Dike propagation within active central volcanic edifices: constraints from Somma-Vesuvius, Etna and analogue models. Bull Volcanol 71:219–223. doi:10.1007/s00445-008-0258-2

  4. Bebbington M (2007) Identifying volcanic regimes using Hidden Markov models. Geophys J Int 171:921–942

  5. Behncke B, Neri M (2003) Cycles and trends in the recent eruptive behaviour of Mount Etna (Italy). Can J Earth Sci 40:1405–1411. doi:10.1139/E03-052

  6. Behncke B, Neri M, Nagay A (2005) Lava flow hazard at Mount Etna (Italy): new data from a GIS-based study. In: Manga M, Ventura G (ed) Kinematics and dynamics of lava flows, Spec Pap Geol Soc Am 396, pp 189–208

  7. Bonaccorso A, Bonforte A, Guglielmino F, Palano M, Puglisi G (2006) Composite ground deformation pattern forerunning the 2004–2005 Mount Etna eruption. J Geophys Res 111:B12207. doi:10.1029/2005JB004206

  8. Bonaccorso A, Bonforte A, Calvari S, Del Negro C, Di Grazia G, Ganci G, Neri M, Vicari A, Boschi E (2011) The initial phases of the 2008-2009 Mt. Etna eruption: a multi-disciplinary approach for hazard assessment. J Geophys Res 116:B03203. doi:10.1029/2010JB007906

  9. Bonforte A, Gambino S, Neri M (2009) Intrusion of eccentric dikes: the case of the 2001 eruption and its role in the dynamics of Mt. Etna volcano. Tectonophysics 471:78–86. doi:10.1016/j.tecto.2008.09.028

  10. Bonforte A, Guglielmino F, Coltelli M, Ferretti A, Puglisi G (2011) Structural assessment of Mount Etna volcano from Permanent Scatterers analysis. Geochem Geophys Geosyst 12:Q02002. doi:10.1029/2010GC003213

  11. Branca S, Coltelli M, Groppelli G (2004) In: Bonaccorso A, Calvari S, Coltelli M, Del Negro C, Falsaperla S (eds) Geological evolution of Etna volcano. Etna Volcano Laboratory, AGU 143, Washington DC, pp 49–63

  12. Burton MR, Neri M, Andronico D, Branca S, Caltabiano T, Calvari S, Corsaro RA, Del Carlo P, Lanzafame G, Lodato L, Miraglia L, Salerno G, Spampinato L (2005) Etna 2004–2005: an archetype for geodynamically-controlled effusive eruptions. Geophys Res Lett 32:L09303. doi:10.1029/2005GL022527

  13. Cappello A, Vicari A, Del Negro C (2011a) Assessment and modeling of lava flow hazard on Etna volcano. Boll Geofis Teor Appl 52(2):299–308

  14. Cappello A, Vicari A, Del Negro C (2011b) Retrospective validation of a lava flow hazard map for Mount Etna volcano. Ann Geophys 54(5). doi:10.4401/ag-5345

  15. Cardaci C, Coviello M, Lombardo G, Patané G, Scarpa R (1993) Seismic tomography of Etna volcano. J Volcanol Geotherm Res 56:357–368

  16. Clark J, Evans FC (1954) Distance to nearest neighbour as a measure of spatial relationships in populations. Ecology 35:445–453

  17. Connor CB, Hill BE (1995) Three nonhomogenous Poisson models for the probability of basaltic volcanism: application to the Yucca Mountain region, Nevada. J Geophys Res 100:10,107–10,125

  18. Corsaro R, Neri M, Pompilio M (2002) Paleo-environmental and volcano-tectonic evolution of the south-eastern flank of Mt. Etna during the last 225 ka inferred from volcanic succession of the «Timpe», Acireale, Sicily. J Volcanol Geotherm Res 113:289–306. doi:10.1016/S0377-0273(01)00262-1

  19. Crisci GM, Avolio MV, Behncke B, D’Ambrosio D, Di Gregorio S, Lupiano V, Neri M, Rongo R, Spataro W (2010) Predicting the impact of lava flows at Mount Etna, Italy. J Geophys Res 115:B04203. doi:10.1029/2009JB006431

  20. Diggle PJ (1985) A kernel method for smoothing point process data. Applied Statistics. J R Stat Soc Ser C 34:138–147

  21. Falsaperla S, Cara F, Rovelli A, Neri M, Behncke B, Acocella V (2010) Effects of the 1989 fracture system in the dynamics of the upper SE flank of Etna revealed by volcanic tremor data: the missing link? J Geophys Res 115:B11306. doi:10.1029/2010JB007529

  22. Ganci G, Harris AJL, Del Negro C, Guehenneux Y, Cappello A, Labazuy P, Calvari S, Gouhier M (2012a) A year of lava fountaining at Etna: volumes from SEVIRI. Geophys Res Lett 39:L06305. doi:10.1029/2012GL051026

  23. Ganci G, Vicari A, Cappello A, Del Negro C (2012b) An emergent strategy for volcano hazard assessment: from thermal satellite monitoring to lava flow modeling. Rem Sens Env 119:197–207. doi:10.1016/j.rse.2011.12.021

  24. Holcomb RT (1987) Eruptive history and long-term behavior of Kilauea Volcano. US Geological Survey, Professional Papers 1350:261–350

  25. Kiyosugi K, Connor CB, Zhao D, Connor LJ, Tanaka K (2010) Relationships between temporal-spatial distribution of monogenetic volcanoes, crustal structure, and mantle velocity anomalies: an example from the Abu Monogenetic Volcano Group, Southwest Japan. Bull Volcanol 72:331–340

  26. Lutz TM, Gutmann JT (1995) An improved method for determining and characterizing alignments of point-like features and its implications for the Pinacate volcanic field, Sonoran, Mexico. J Geophys Res 100(B9):17,659–17,670

  27. Marti J, Felpeto A (2010) Methodology for the computation of volcanic susceptibility: an example for mafic and felsic eruptions on Tenerife (Canary Islands). J Volcanol Geotherm Res 195:69–77

  28. Martin AJ, Umeda K, Connor CB, Weller JN, Zhao D, Takahashi M (2004) Modeling long-term volcanic hazards through Bayesian inference: an example from the Tohuku volcanic arc Japan. J Geophys Res 109. doi:10.1029/2004JB003201

  29. Monaco C, De Guidi G, Catalano S, Ferlito C, Tortorici G, Tortorici L (2008) Carta Morfotettonica del Monte Etna. Litografia Artistica Cartografica, Firenze

  30. Neri M, Acocella V (2006) The 2004-2005 Etna eruption: implications for flank deformation and structural behaviour of the volcano. J Volcanol Geotherm Res 158:195–206. doi:10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2006.04.022

  31. Neri M, Guglielmino F, Rust D (2007) Flank instability on Mount Etna: radon, radar interferometry and geodetic data from the southern boundary of the unstable sector. J Geophys Res 112: B04410. doi:10.1029/2006JB004756

  32. Neri M, Lanzafame G, Acocella V (2008) Dike emplacement and related hazard in volcanoes with sector collapse: the 2007 Stromboli eruption. J Geol Soc London 165:883–886. doi:10.1144/0016-76492008-002

  33. Neri M, Acocella V, Behncke B, Giammanco S, Mazzarini F, Rust D (2011a) Structural analysis of the eruptive fissures at Mount Etna (Italy). Ann Geophys 54(5):464–479. doi:10.4401/ag-5332

  34. Neri M, Casu F, Acocella V, Solaro G, Pepe S, Berardino P, Sansosti E, Caltabiano T, Lundgren P, Lanari R (2009) Deformation and eruptions at Mt. Etna (Italy): a lesson from 15 years of observations. Geophys Res Lett 36:L02309. doi:10.1029/2008GL036151

  35. Neri M, Giammanco S, Ferrera E, Patanè G, Zanon V (2011b) Spatial distribution of soil radon as a tool to recognize active faulting on an active volcano: the example of Mt. Etna (Italy). J Environm Rad 102:863–870. doi:10.1016/j.jenvrad.2011.05.002

  36. Newhall CG (2000) Volcano warnings. In: Sigurdsson H (ed) Encyclopedia of volcanoes. Academic, San Diego, pp 1185–1197

  37. Ruch J, Acocella V, Storti F, Neri M, Pepe S, Solaro G, Sansosti E (2010) Detachment depth of an unstable volcano revealed by rollover deformation: an integrated approach at Mt. Etna. Geophys Res Lett 37:L16304. doi:10.1029/2010GL044131

  38. Salvi F, Scandone R, Palma C (2006) Statistical analysis of the historical activity of Mount Etna, aimed at the evaluation of volcanic hazard. J Volcanol Geotherm Res 154:159–168

  39. Siniscalchi A, Tripaldi S, Neri M, Giammanco S, Piscitelli S, Balasco M, Behncke B, Magrì C, Naudet V, Rizzo E (2010) Insights into fluid circulation across the Pernicana Fault (Mt. Etna, Italy) and implications for flank instability. J Volcanol Geotherm Res 193:137–142. doi:10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2010.03.013

  40. Siniscalchi A, Tripaldi S, Neri M, Balasco M, Romano G, Ruch J, Schiavone D (2012) Flank instability structure of Mt Etna inferred by a magnetotelluric survey. J Geophys Res 117:B03216. doi:10.1029/2011JB008657

  41. Solaro G, Acocella V, Pepe S, Ruch J, Neri M, Sansosti E (2010) Anatomy of an unstable volcano through InSAR data: multiple processes affecting flank instability at Mt. Etna in 1994-2008. J Geophys Res 115:B10405. doi:10.1029/2009JB000820

  42. Sparks RSJ (2003) Forecasting volcanic eruptions. Earth Planet Sci Lett 210:1–15. doi:10.1016/S0012-821X(03)00124-9

  43. Tibaldi A, Groppelli G (2002) Volcano-tectonic activity along structures of the unstable NE flank of Mt. Etna (Italy) and their possible origin. J Volcanol Geotherm Res 115:277–302

  44. Vicari A, Ganci G, Behncke B, Cappello A, Neri M, Del Negro C (2011) Near-real-time forecasting of lava flow hazards during the 12–13 January 2011 Etna eruption. Geophys Res Lett 38:L13317. doi:10.1029/2011GL047545

  45. Wadge G, Young PAV, McKendrick IJ (1994) Mapping lava flow hazards using computer simulation. J Geophys Res 99(B1):489–504

  46. Weller JN, Martin AJ, Connor CB, Connor LJ, Karakhanian A (2006) Modelling the spatial distribution of volcanoes: an example from Armenia. In: Mader HM, Coles SG, Connor CB, Connor LJ (eds) Statistics in volcanology. Spec Pub IAVCEI, Geol Soc London, pp 77–88

  47. Worton BJ (1995) Using Monte Carlo simulation to evaluate kernel-based home range estimators. J Wild Manag 59:794–800

Download references


This study was performed with the financial support from the V3-LAVA project (DPC-INGV 2007–2009 contract). Comments by Editor Agust Gudmundsson and two anonymous reviewers greatly improved the manuscript.

Author information

Correspondence to M. Neri.

Additional information

Editorial responsibility: A. Gudmundsson

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Cappello, A., Neri, M., Acocella, V. et al. Spatial vent opening probability map of Etna volcano (Sicily, Italy). Bull Volcanol 74, 2083–2094 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00445-012-0647-4

Download citation


  • Flank eruption
  • Dike
  • Volcano structure
  • Susceptibility map
  • Spatial clustering
  • Back analysis