1989-1990 eruptions of Etna
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Etna volcano, Sicily, Italy

The 1989-1990 SE Crater eruptions

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Powerful eruption from Southeast Crater on the morning of 27 September 1989, seen from Nicolosi (15 km distant). Vigorous lava fountaining feeds an ash and steam column rising about 4 km above the summit.

One of the most spectacular eruptions during recent decades began in early September 1989, culminating in a series of violent lava fountaining episodes from Southeast Crater (SE Crater) that were followed by a flank eruption in the upper N part of Valle del Bove (called Valle del Leone), and, later, by more fountaining episodes from SE Crater. The main phase of the eruption occurred during the declining tourist season when there were still many observers around, and therefore it was very well observed. I was among those observers and thus lived the first major eruption of my life.

Summit activity, 1987 until August 1989

Following the end of the 1986-1987 Valle del Bove eruption (summary will soon be available), there was little magmatic activity from Etna's summit craters through mid-1988. Bocca Nuova and Voragine craters displayed mostly phreatic activity with a powerful explosion from Voragine on 8 April 1987. There was continuous gas emission with a few weak ash emissions from NE Crater which had erupted vigorously on 24 September 1986 (see the photos of the 1986 eruption at Istituto Internazionale di Vulcanologia).

SE Crater was the site of a strong phreatic explosion on 17 April 1987 that killed two nearby tourists and injured seven others. One week after this event, weak Strombolian activity began at the same crater, lasting only one night. Similar activity occurred again on 10-16 May 1987. For the remainder of 1987, there was no eruptive activity from SE Crater.

(1988-mid-1989 activity will be described here soon)

Lava fountaining episodes from SE Crater, 11-26 September 1989

The flank eruption in Valle del Leone, 27 September-9 October 1989

Lava fountaining episodes from SE Crater, January-February 1990

Continue with The 1991-1993 eruption

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Last modified on 22 February 1996