Bulletin of Volcanology

, 80:31 | Cite as

Changes in heat released by hydrothermal circulation monitored during an eruptive cycle at Mt. Etna (Italy)

  • I. S. Diliberto
  • E. Gagliano Candela
  • S. Morici
  • G. Pecoraino
  • S. Bellomo
  • M. Bitetto
  • M. Longo
Research Article


The shallow vertical temperature profile has been measured in the proximity of an eruptive fissure far about 4 km north-northeast from Mt. Etna central craters. The monitoring site was a steam-heated soil lying between a group of flank fractures on the upper northeast flank of Mt. Etna (Italy), i.e., on the northeast rift. We chose this area because it was close to an eruptive fissure, that opened in 2002 and extended from about 2500 to about 1500 m a.s.l., with our aim being to determine a connection between this fracture system and the ongoing volcanic activity. Heat flux anomalies from the ground from September 2009 to September 2012 were evaluated. Changes in the hydrothermal release—which can be related to variations in volcanic activity—are discussed and compared to the published geophysical data. The heat flux ranges varied during the pre-eruptive (from about 7 to 38 W × m−2), syn-eruptive (from about 3 to 49 W × m−2), and post-eruptive phases, with the heat released being lowest at the latter phase (from about 1 to 20 W × m−2). Moreover, the heat flux time variation was strongly correlated with the eruption rate from the new southeast crater between January 2011 and April 2012. The migration of magma through active conduits acts as a changing heating source for steam-heated soils located above the active fractures. Our findings suggest that tracking the heat flux above active fractures constitutes a useful investigation field for low-cost thermal monitoring of volcanic activity. Time variations in their emissions could highlight the relationship between a hydrothermal circuit and the local network of fractures, possibly indicating variation in the structural weakness of a volcanic edifice. Continuous monitoring of heat flux, combined with a realistic model, would contribute to multidisciplinary investigations aimed at evaluating changes in volcano dynamics.


Volcanic activity Ground temperature Heat flux Fumaroles Continuous monitoring 



The National Department of Civil Protection supported the acquisition of data presented in this work. We are grateful to A. Harris, T. Nishimura, and the anonymous reviewers for comments and excellent suggestions that improved our original manuscript and helped us to underline the results.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • I. S. Diliberto
    • 1
  • E. Gagliano Candela
    • 1
  • S. Morici
    • 1
  • G. Pecoraino
    • 1
  • S. Bellomo
    • 1
  • M. Bitetto
    • 1
  • M. Longo
    • 1
  1. 1.Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Sezione di PalermoPalermoItaly

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