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Authors: Coltelli, Mauro* 
Del Carlo, Paola* 
Title: Explosive eruptions of Etna Volcano seriously threaten aviation safety in the central mediterranean region
Issue Date: 2004
Keywords: Etna, explosive eruptions, aviation safety
Subject Classification04.08. Volcanology 
Abstract: Since 1979 explosive activity of Etna produced many short-lived ash-plume forming eruptions that created several problems to the operations of Catania and Reggio Calabria airports. The most relevant accident occurred on April 2000 when a commercial airplane departing from Catania airport encountered Etna’s ash cloud damaging cockpit windshield and one engine. However, in 2001 and 2002 a prolonged explosive activity, forming a 4-7 km high ash column, caused continuous tephra injection in the atmosphere for several weeks. Lapilli and ash blanketed the volcano slopes down to Catania airport 18 miles from the vent, and fine particles reached hundreds of km of distance up to northern Africa coast. The effects have been very serious disrupting the Catania airport operations for many days during three months as never was happened in Italy since the last Vesuvius eruption occurred in 1944. Italian Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV) is in charged for monitoring the eruptive phenomena of Etna volcano. It worked with Catania International Airport Direction, Italian Agency for Civil Aviation (ENAC), Meteorological Office of Italian Air Force and Italian National Civil Protection for warnings continuously the aviation authorities about the incidence of the ash cloud on Sicilian airspace and the ash fallout on Catania airport depending on the intensity of the eruptive plume and the wind direction. The lessons learned during this crisis was used to improve our volcanic ash cloud monitoring system and transferred to ENAC for editing an official procedure for air-traffic and airport operations management in case of future crises at Etna and in any case it has broad applicability worldwide.
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