Growth, the alkaline period

Growth, the alkaline period

Mount Etna grow through a succession of volcanic structures. Each of these formed apparatuses signified the birth of a real volcano. Following tens or thousands of eruptions it grew, ceased its activity and became eroded and destroyed by exogenous agents. Its remains were thefoundation of another structure with its own eruptive axis.

There are about ten volcanic structures defined as such, however lots more are probably unrecognisable as they are completely buried by later structures.

The larger structures include “Trifoglietto II” (from 70 to 50 thousand years ago) which must have reached a height of circa 2,400 m. This structure is currently completely dismantled. The beautiful side of “Valle del Bove” hosts pyroclastic rock that highlights its particularly explosive activity. Explosiveness is probably linked to the large quantities of water in the structure that on vaporising caused the magma to fragment.

About 30 thousand years ago the eruptions moved towards the eastern axis, unlike previous eruptions, and the most important and impressive of the alkaline, volcanic structures began to grow and became known as the Ellittico. Its products, both lava flow and pyroclastic rock, form a structure of considerable size which, before the collapse of the caldera 15 thousand years ago, must have reached more than 4,000 m. Today, the Ellittico structure forms the morphological frame of Etna, even if it is seriously eroded. Among the products at the centre of the Ellitico we encounter the most differentiated terms of the entire volcanic alkaline series which covers a compositional interval which ranges from alkaline basalt (rare) to trachyte. The most significant apparatus products are found in the eastern walls of Valle del Bove, at “Punta Lucia” and “Pizzi Deneri“. The name Ellittico derives from the elliptical shape (2 km major axis and 1 km minor axis) of the caldera which marked the end of its activity.

Dott. Ferlito Carmelo

Mount Etna’s History

Mount Etna’s History

"Smoky Etna, column of the sky, perennial nurse of shining snow, among whose secrets grow the purest sources of horrid fire" - With these verses Pindar, in the fifth century BC, expressed his admiration and his profound respect for that unfathomable phenomenon of...

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The beginning, the tholeiitic period

The beginning, the tholeiitic period

Mount Etna is located in a geologically complex area. Its geo-dynamic outline is dominated by subduction of the African foreland and the Ionian oceanic crust under the Apennine chain. According to classic thought and the most accepted theory, Etna is located on the...

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The modern period and present day

The modern period and present day

The products ejected after the formation of the caldera on the plain form the “modern Mongibello” and include all the historical flows around Etna and the current summit craters. The products from the recent Mongibello were subject to a general transition in the most...

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Origin of the valley “Valle del Bove”

Origin of the valley “Valle del Bove”

Your first impression when you see Etna by plane or looking at a plastic scale model is that it is a perfect volcanic cone with a huge piece the size of an entire slope missing, as if a huge dessert knife took away the entire eastern side of this huge mountain. What...

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