Infrasonic gliding reflects a rising magma column at Mount Etna (Italy)
Mariangela Sciotto1*, Leighton M. Watson2*, Andrea Cannata1,3, Massimo Cantarero1, Emanuela De Beni1 & Jeffrey B. Johnson4
problematic: Infrasonic gliding reflects a rising magma column at Mount Etna (Italy)
description: Infrasound is increasing applied as a tool to investigate magma dynamics at active volcanoes, especially at open-vent volcanoes, such as Mt. Etna (Italy), which are prodigious sources of infrasound. Harmonic infrasound signals have been used to constrain crater dimensions and track the movement of magma within the shallow plumbing system. This study interprets the remarkable systematic change in monotonic infrasound signals preceding a lava fountaining episode at Mt. Etna on 20 February 2021. We model the changing tones (0.7 to 3 Hz fundamental frequency) as a rise in the magma column from 172 ± 25 m below the crater rim to 78 ± 8 m over the course of 24 h. The infrasonic gliding disappears approximately 4 h before the onset of lava fountaining as the magma column approaches the flare of the crater and acoustic resonance is no longer supported. The featured 20 February event was just one of 52 lava fountain episodes that occurred at Mt. Etna over the course of 9 months in 2021 and was the only lava fountain episode where dramatic gliding was observed as a subsequent partial collapse of the crater prevented future resonance. The results presented here demonstrate that analysis of infrasonic gliding can be used to track the position of the magma free surface and hence may provide information on the processes taking place within the plumbing system before eruptive activity.