Mama Etna is back!

One big reason to go into geophysics is pretty obvious:


I got to know Boris Behncke during my high school years. He’s a geophysicist situated in Sicily, Italy. And to our fortune he’s quite keen on photography and shares these gems on various platforms.

The latest paroxysm produced a very special event:

That moment
That moment, by etnaboris – Source

It’s the moment when everything just fits. He’s got his camera, the angle and the timing. The timing? you might wonder. Well the NorthEast crater hasn’t been erupting for years, it was just sitting there, rumbling away. Then this huge black cloud of ash is erupting.


So in the course of following Boris on a number of social media networks, I stumbled over the term paroxysm.
If you simply translate it to German, it translates to something like a tantrum that really didn’t make to much sense to me. However, the explanation is quite close to the translation in a figurative way.

You have to make the distinction between a paroxysm and an paroxysmal eruptive episode. In the case of the Etna you have a certain pattern that becomes eminent. This pattern is the paroxysmal eruptive episode.
It first starts with the build-up. Small (StrombolianA Type of Eruption) explosions and an increase in volcanic and seismic activity mark this phase. Experts call this phase the prelude and waxing. It can span from less than an hour to a couple days. The transition to phase 2 is marked by almost continuous Strombolian activity.
Phase two marks the paroxysmal episode and is called the climax. This is marked by ash columns and often accompanied by lava fountains up to hundreds of meters high. Usually lava flows are generated during this phase. The transition to phase three is marked by a rapid decrease in activity.
This last phase in a paroxysmal eruptive episode is called the diminution and cessation. The effusion of lava will cease completely and some Strombolian explosions will still take place.What is a paroxysm: Source

So in the end a paroxysm is kind of like a volcano throwing a tantrum.

Time for a video

Now that we know how to identify paroxysms at the Etna. We might as well watch this Youtube-video of fresh paroxysms, also provided by Boris.

More news from Etna

I really enjoy the content Boris provides, so have a look at his different profiles on the web:

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... is a geophysicist by heart. He works at the intersection of machine learning and geoscience. He is the founder of The Way of the Geophysicist and a deep learning enthusiast. Writing mostly about computational geoscience and interesting bits and pieces relevant to post-grad life.

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