Articles | Volume 9, issue 5
23 Sep 2009
 | 23 Sep 2009

Monitoring and forecasting Etna volcanic plumes

S. Scollo, M. Prestifilippo, G. Spata, M. D'Agostino, and M. Coltelli

Abstract. In this paper we describe the results of a project ongoing at the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV). The objective is to develop and implement a system for monitoring and forecasting volcanic plumes of Etna. Monitoring is based at present by multispectral infrared measurements from the Spin Enhanced Visible and Infrared Imager on board the Meteosat Second Generation geosynchronous satellite, visual and thermal cameras, and three radar disdrometers able to detect ash dispersal and fallout. Forecasting is performed by using automatic procedures for: i) downloading weather forecast data from meteorological mesoscale models; ii) running models of tephra dispersal, iii) plotting hazard maps of volcanic ash dispersal and deposition for certain scenarios and, iv) publishing the results on a web-site dedicated to the Italian Civil Protection. Simulations are based on eruptive scenarios obtained by analysing field data collected after the end of recent Etna eruptions. Forecasting is, hence, supported by plume observations carried out by the monitoring system. The system was tested on some explosive events occurred during 2006 and 2007 successfully. The potentiality use of monitoring and forecasting Etna volcanic plumes, in a way to prevent threats to aviation from volcanic ash, is finally discussed.