First of all, I would like to thank all of you for visiting my photostream, bringing the total number of visits to 50,000 (fifty thousand) today, four years after my first post on Flickr. Amazingly, each new photo that I post is now scoring hundreds of visits in a few days, and the more dramatic ones of Etna's continuing episodes of lava fountaining even get thousands of visits. Some of my older photos, some of which I do like a lot, have not gone beyond a few dozen visits, so I invite you all to go through the earlier parts of this photostream, there are a few little gems in there, too!
This photo was taken today (16 August 2011) by our friend Francesco at the Pizzi Deneri Observatory, on the upper north flank of Etna, of my lovely little family in front of Big Mamma Etna and her summit craters. Dozing today, the New Southeast Crater is the dark hump at left, below the taller, inactive cone of the Old Southeast Crater Cone; above our heads is the Northeast Crater, at 3330 m the tallest point on Etna, and constantly releasing dense plumes of gas.
We made a Grand Tour of Etna today, driving up the south flank and then taking the dirt road leading around the western side of the summit area, then down the northeast flank toward Piano Provenzana and on to our friends of the Rifugio Ragabo where we had a tasty lunch in a most pleasant environment.
This was the first time in a year that the ladies were up to Etna's summit with me; we obviously dedicated special attention to the New Southeast Crater, and the large cone that has grown around it. Little Ida collected tons of volcanic rocks that had been thrown out during the latest paroxysm only four days earlier, and noted that even the larger ones were very light (because they are extremely porous).