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A new mountain out of nowhere | by etnaboris
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A new mountain out of nowhere

While scanning my last few hundred slides remaining to be scanned, I came across a fine series of photographs taken during my ascent of the Southeast Crater cone on 18 March 2004 - the first time I climbed the cone since 1999. Among these images was one taken from the bend in the dirt road leading up to Torre del Filosofo, where it comes closest to the "Belvedere" monitoring station; since then I have taken photographs from that spot every time I visit Etna's summit area. So I did also during my most recent visit to date, on 16 March 2012, nearly exactly 8 years after I took the upper photograph. The contrast between the two photos is striking - the cone I climbed on 18 March 2004 is now the "old Southeast Crater cone", it erupted once more in 2006-2007 and definitely retreated from the scene after its last paroxysmal eruptive episode on 6-7 May 2007. The view in 2012 is dominated by an entirely new feature, which started to develop shortly after the 6-7 May 2007 paroxysm when a collapse pit formed on the lower eastern slope of the old Southeast Crater; this collapse pit erupted three times between September 2007 and May 2008, underwent further collapse in 2009-2010, and finally began to erupt more regularly in January 2011, with 22 episodes of lava fountaining as of late-March 2012. These episodes have built up a new cone around the former collapse pit, a cone that we informally call "New Southeast Crater cone", and which stands more than 220 m above its base. Chances are that more episodes of lava fountaining will occur in the near future, and this new mountain will continue to grow. Yet, it will have to grow still more than 100 m in height to become Etna's highest peak - a privilege currently held (since the late-1970s) by the Northeast Crater, whose southwestern rim stands at 3329.6 m

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Uploaded on March 23, 2012