A statistical analysis of eruptive activity on Mount Etna, Sicily



A rigorous analysis of the timing and location of flank eruptions of Mount Etna on Sicily is important for the creation of hazard maps of the densely populated area surrounding the volcano. In this paper, we analyse the temporal, volumetric and spatial data on eruptive activity on Etna. Our analyses are based on the two most recent and robust historical data catalogues of flank eruption activity on Etna, with one from 1669 to 2008 and the other from 1610 to 2008. We use standard statistical methodology and modelling techniques, though a number of features are new to the analysis of eruption data. Our temporal analysis reveals that flank eruptions on Mount Etna between 1610 and 2008 follow an inhomogeneous Poisson process, with intensity of eruptions increasing nearly linearly since the mid-1900s. Our temporal analysis reveals no evidence of cyclicity over this period. An analysis of volumetric lava flow rates shows a marked increase in activity since 1971. This increase, which coincides with the formation of the Southeast Crater (SEC), appears to be related to increased activity on and around the SEC. This has significant implications for hazard analysis on Etna.