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Authors: Bailey, J. E.* 
Harris, A. J. L.* 
Dehn, J.* 
Calvari, S.* 
Rowland, S. K.* 
Title: The changing morphology of an open lava channel on Mt. Etna
Journal: Bull Volcanol 
Series/Report no.: 6/68 (2006)
Publisher: Springer-Verlag
Issue Date: 2006
DOI: 10.1007/s00445-005-0025-6
Keywords: Etna
Lava channel
Unsteady flow
Subject Classification04. Solid Earth::04.08. Volcanology::04.08.06. Volcano monitoring 
Abstract: An open channel lava flow on Mt. Etna (Sicily) was observed during May 30–31, 2001. Data collected using a forward looking infrared (FLIR) thermal camera and a Minolta-Land Cyclops 300 thermal infrared thermometer showed that the bulk volume flux of lava flowing in the channel varied greatly over time. Cyclic changes in the channel’s volumetric flow rate occurred over several hours, with cycle durations of 113–190 min, and discharges peaking at 0.7 m3 s−1 and waning to 0.1 m3 s−1. Each cycle was characterized by a relatively short, high-volume flux phase during which a pulse of lava,with awell-defined flow front, would propagate down-channel, followed by a period of waning flow during which volume flux lowered. Pulses involved lava moving at relatively high velocities (up to 0.29 m s−1) and were related to some change in the flow conditions occurring up-channel, possibly at the vent. They implied either a change in the dense rock effusion rate at the source vent and/or cyclic-variation in the vesicle content of the lava changing its bulk volume flux. Pulses would generally overspill the channel to emplace p¯ahoehoe overflows. During periods of waning flow, velocities fell to 0.05 m s–1. Blockages forming during such phases caused lava to back up. Occasionally backup resulted in overflows of slow moving ‘a‘¯a that would advance a few tens of meters down the levee flank. Compound levees were thus a symptom of unsteady flow, where overflow levees were emplaced as relatively fast moving p¯ahoehoe sheets during pulses, and as slow-moving ‘a‘¯a units during backup. Small, localized fluctuations in channel volume flux also occurred on timescales of minutes. Volumes of lava backed up behind blockages that formed at constrictions in the channel. Blockage collapse and/or enhanced flow under/around the blockage would then feed short-lived, wave-like, downchannel surges. Real fluctuations in channel volume flux, due to pulses and surges, can lead to significant errors in effusion rate calculations.
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