A common feeding system of the NE and S rifts as revealed by the bilateral 2002/2003 eruptive event at Mt. Etna (Sicily, Italy)

P. P. Giacomoni, C. Ferlito, G. Alesci, M. Coltorti, C. Monaco, M. Viccaro, R. Cristofolini

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17 Citations (Scopus)


Mount Etna volcano is often characterized by bilateral eruptive events, involving both the south (S) and the north east (NE) rifts. The last event occurred in 2002-2003 from October 27 to January 28. A detailed, stratigraphically time-controlled sampling of lavas and tephra of the southern eruptive fissure was performed in order to (1) track the petrological features of products during the eruption and (2) integrate the results with those previously obtained on the NE rift. Whole-rock composition and textural observations were implemented by major and minor element analyses of plagioclases in lavas and tephra from both sides of the volcano. Fractionation models constrained by mass balance (major and trace elements) and Rayleigh calculations suggest that magmas are linked by the same liquid line of descent by fractionating 9. 11 % of a mineral assemblage of Cpx (52. 69 %), Plg (21. 41), and Ol (7. 46 %). These new data allowed us to identify at least two feeding episodes through the southern fissure and infer that high-K2O porphyritic magmas, emitted on both the S and NE rifts, derives by fractionation from the same parent magma. However, lavas and tephra from the southern flank were slightly more primitive. Textural and petrological study of plagioclase moreover indicates that chemical-physical conditions in the deep feeding system were similar for magmas erupting from both rifts as suggested by the presence of dissolved rounded cores in both lavas. Magmas evolved differently on the S and the NE rifts only at shallow levels. Comparison with published seismotectonic data supports the idea that the main magma feeding the eruption on October 27 ascended along the same pathway at depth and was intercepted by the fracture system of the S and NE rifts at shallow depth, between 6 and 3 km b. s. l.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2415-2433
Number of pages19
JournalBulletin of Volcanology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • 2002/2003 eruption
  • Fractionation model
  • Magma dynamics
  • Mount Etna
  • Plagioclase textures


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