Mount Etna’s height has increased by more than 30 meters since 2018
After 50 paroxysmal episodes affecting the Southeast Crater of the volcano, Mount Etna’s height has increased reaching 3357 meters above sea level.
The events that occurred in 2021 have accumulated significant amounts of pyroclastic material and layers of lava on the cone of the Southeast Crater – the youngest and most active of the four summit craters of Etna -, leading to a conspicuous transformation of the volcano’s outline.
Thanks to the analysis and processing of satellite images, the Southeast Crater is now much higher than the Northeast Crater, for 40 years the highest peak of Etna.
This historical data, which has an uncertainty of 3 meters, was obtained through the processing of two triplets of images from the Pléiades satellite acquired on July 13 and 25, 2021, as part of the international partnership Geohazard Supersites and Natural Laboratories, allowing to update the digital model of Etna’s surface The two sets of satellite images acquired (DSM – Digital Surface Model), produced at a spatial resolution of 1 meter, were aligned with each other and with respect to a 2015 DSM taken as a reference model.
Scientists also had to overcome some problems for the correct topographic reconstruction. In fact, to eliminate the effect of cloudiness, as well as the plume of gas emitted from the summit craters, the DSM derived from the July 25 acquisition was integrated with the DSM derived from the July 13 acquisition for the southeastern portion covered by gas in the summit area.
The digital terrain model preliminarily shows that the highest point of the volcano is now located on the northern rim of the Southeast Crater at an elevation of 3357 (± 3 m). This new altimetric data is published in the Weekly Bulletin on Volcanic, Geochemical, and Seismic Monitoring of Etna Volcano of 10 August 2021.
The summit of Etna, since 1980, has always been considered the North-East Crater that with the paroxysms of September 1980 and February 1981 reached the maximum height of 3350 m. This height, decreased over the years due to the collapse of its edges, in the summer of 2018 settled at 3326 meters. This record, however, has now been surpassed by the cone of the Southeast Crater and, today, Etna has a new peak.
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