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Authors: Behncke, B.* 
Neri, M.* 
Sturiale, G.* 
Title: Rapid morphological changes at the summit of an active volcano: reappraisal of the poorly documented 1964 eruption of Mount Etna (Italy)
Issue Date: 6-Dec-2004
Series/Report no.: 3-4/63(2004)
Keywords: Mount Etna
Summit eruption
Crater morphology and Lava overflows
Subject Classification04. Solid Earth::04.08. Volcanology::04.08.03. Magmas 
04. Solid Earth::04.08. Volcanology::04.08.06. Volcano monitoring 
05. General::05.02. Data dissemination::05.02.03. Volcanic eruptions 
Abstract: While the eruptive record of Mount Etna is reasonably complete for the past 400 years, the activity of the early and late 1960s, which took place at the summit, is poorly documented in the scientific literature. From 1955 to 1971, the Central and Northeast Craters were the sites of long-lived mild Strombolian and effusive activity, and numerous brief episodes of vigorous eruptive activity, which led to repeated overflows of lava onto the external flanks of the volcano. A reconstruction of the sequence of the more important of these events based on research in largely obscure and nearly inaccessible sources permits a better understanding of the eruption dynamics and rough estimates of erupted volumes and of the changes to the morphology of the summit area. During the first half of 1964, the activity culminated in a series of highly dynamic events at the Central Crater including the opening of a fissure on the E flank of the central summit cone, lava fountains, voluminous tephra emission, prolonged strong activity with continuous lava overflows, and growth of large pyroclastic intracrater cones. Among the most notable processes during this eruption was the breaching of a section of the crater wall, which was caused by lateral pressure of lava ponding within the crater. Comparison with the apparently similar summit activity of 1999 allows us to state that (a) lava overflows from large pit craters at the summit are often accompanied by breaching of the crater walls, which represents a significant hazard to nearby observers, and that (b) eruptive activity in 1999 was much more complex and voluminous than in 1964. For 1960s standards however, the 1964 activity was the most important summit eruption in terms of intensity and output rates for about 100 years, causing profound changes to the summit morphology and obliterating definitively the former Central Crater.
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