Even when it's over, a paroxysm at Etna is still beautiful
The latest episode of lava fountaining at Etna's New Southeast Crater on the early morning of 1 April 2012 ended shortly before daybreak. For one-and-a-half hours, lava fountains roared hundreds of meters into the night sky, and a dense column of gas and ash rose much higher. Lava flows descended the steep western flank of the Valle del Bove. Shortly before 03:40 GMT (05:40 local time), the crater produced a series of loud roars, which usually mark the end of the main lava fountaining phase, and thereafter it continued to moan and growl at a lower level, and the lava fountains passed into occasional jets and ash emission.
Shortly thereafter, the first light of the new day began to appear, bathing the mountain in a dark blue light. The still flowing lava contrasted spectacularly with the surroundings - the largely ash-covered east flank of the mountain, and snow on the areas to the south and north. I had driven to the town of Santa Venerina, on the east-southeast flank of Etna, to get the frontal view on the lava flows at daybreak. While fine ash was still falling from the sky, I took this and numerous other photographs as the light gradually became brighter, and finally the sun rose from the horizon over the Ionian Sea, the huge ash plume emitted earlier slowly drifting away toward southeast.