Location and geography of Stromboli

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Stromboli volcano, Aeolian Islands (Isole Eolie), Sicily, Italy


This nice old map is from Anderson (1905) and shows the location of Stromboli as well as many of its features (such as valleys, ridges, capes) in a manner as precisely as to justify putting it here as a reference, even though it was published 90 years ago. The inset on the lower right shows the configuration of the crater area and the Sciara del Fuoco after the 1891 eruption.

Stromboli is the northeasternmost of the Aeolian Islands (Italian: Isole Eolie, or, more rarely, Isole Lipari) and lies about 50 km NE of Lipari. The island rises from a depth of about 2000 m, thus the entire edifice of Stromboli ranges in height next to Etna (about 3340 m). The highest point of the volcano ("I Vancori") lies at 924 or 926 (according to various sources) above sea-level whereas the place commonly described as "the summit" (also on this website!), named Pizzo sopra la Fossa, reaches 918 m elevation.

The island of Stromboli, viewed from the north, with Strombolicchio on left margin of the image, during approach with the ferry from Napoli, March 1992. Craters are visible below Pizzo sopra la Fossa to the right.

The island has an area of 12.6 km^2, most of which is made of the volcano itself, with two more plain areas allowing the establishment of settlements. The larger of these is usually called Stromboli but in fact is a conglomerate of two communities, San Bartolo and San Vincenzo. Even smaller parts of the village have their own names like Ficogrande, Piscità, etc... The village extends from the northern part of the island to its northeastern tip. Stromboli village has about 350-400 inhabitants while Ginostra, on the SW side of the island, has only about 30, and there have been articles in the local press recently, reporting the imminent total abandonation of that place.

This photo shows well the relative position of Pizzo sopra la Fossa and the crater terrace. Vertical distance from the craters to the Pizzo is 100-150 m. Photo taken on 10 March 1994.

Aerial view of Stromboli's summit area, taken in the late 1960's or early 1970's, showing the craters and Pizzo sopra la Fossa. View is from W. Scanned from a postcard.

The active craters do not lie, as one would suspect, at the summit (even though from a distance the volcano has the characteristically truncated form of a classical stratovolcano with a summit crater), but they lie some 100-150 m below Pizzo sopra la Fossa in a large horseshoe-shaped depression open to the northwest. This depression formed by the collapse of a portion of the volcanic edifice maybe no longer than several millennia ago. The post-collapse activity built a new volcanic edifice within that depression, similar to the recent cone of Vesuvio that grew within the Somma caldera. However, no conspicious central cone has formed at Stromboli, but the feature filling the collapse depression rather consists of a large talus scree, named Sciara del Fuoco, that has the active craters at its upper end. "Sciara del Fuoco" probably means something like the "fire street"; the most common explanation holds that "Sciara" derives from the arabian word "Shari'a" (street) (Pichler 1981). An origin from the Italian word "sciare" (skiing) seems unlikely (M Riuscetti, personal communication, 1995).

The Sciara depression is bounded by two conspicious cliffs, or scarps, the northeastern one called "Filo del Fuoco" while the southern one is called "Filo di Baraona". Both form immense natural barriers protecting the outer slopes of the volcano (beyond the Sciara depression) from lava flows and smaller pyroclastic flows as well as avalanches of material ejected from the craters.

There are three craters presently at what is commonly called the "crater terrace", a feature constatly changing and gradually growing upwards. Its longitudinal extension runs approximately NE-SW, but the craters are somewhat aligned in an en-echelon pattern. Until the mid-20th century, the crater terrace was bounded on its NE and SW ends by two conspicious, spine-shaped rocky promontories. Numerous various names have been used to denote these features. (I will create a small glossary of these names sometime in the future.) The most used names are "Filo dello Zolfo" for the one in the northeast, and "Torrione" for the southwestern one. Use of these names has been so confusing in the literature that I cited the "Torrione" as "Filo di Baraona" in the April 1995 Stromboli report to the GVN Bulletin and even in some of the images scanned and annotated first for this WWW site. In fact, Filo di Baraona applies for the entire scarp on the southern side of the Sciara del Fuoco.

The Filo dello Zolfo and Torrione have lost much of their prominence in recent decades due to partial entrainment in the 1930 explosion and burial by the growing cones at the active craters. While the former has almost completely vanished, the latter still forms some rocky outcrops on the southwestern flank of the cone at Crater 3.

This is a rough sketch of Stromboli as if viewed from the north. The most important features are indicated. I hope that I will be able to substitute this figure by a more sophisticated and precise one; however, the general morphologic characteristics of the volcano appear adequately in this sketch.

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