Steam from Etna's Tremendous Pit, 6 January 2011
This is a zoom on the Southeast Crater at Etna's summit as seen from my home in Trecastagni, on the southeast flank of the volcano, on the morning of 6 January 2011. This morning there is a lot of gas coming from the summit craters, like the Bocca Nuova (the huge plume coming from the extreme left) and the Northeast Crater, which is chugging away with explosions deep within its conduit that generate small mushroom-shaped puffs every few minutes. But the object that all attention is fixed on in these days is the strangely shaped, reddish-brown area on the eastern (right) flank of the Southeast Crater cone, from which two plumes of white vapor are issuing in this image - a small one from the eastern rim of what I have repeatedly called "The Tremendous Pit" in this photostream, and another, broader column of steam from the active vent that lies within the pit on its western side. It is this vent that has produced intermittent Strombolian activity since late-December, and an episode of more vigorous Strombolian activity during the night of 2-3 January 2011. Weather conditions have improved considerably today, so I guess there would be overall happiness if renewed Strombolian activity were to occur from this pit sometime like at nightfall today. For the moment, though, the volcano appears content with itself; the levels of seismic activity are relatively low (as they were before the 2-3 January episode), and we are waiting, on this sunny day of the Epiphany when the Befana brings sweets for the children.