Sitting in the Tyrrhenian Sea north of Sicily, the island of Stromboli is a uniquely beautiful place, draped with lush vegetation and graced with charming beaches. It also is home to the Stromboli volcano – a constantly restless volcano whose frequent, brief eruptions toss glowing fragments of lava into the sky so frequently it has earned the nickname of the “Lighthouse of the Mediterranean”.
Stromboli has been active for at least 2000, and is considered relatively benign – so much so that tourists often gather on the rim of an older, non-active crater less than 250 m (820 ft) away to watch the low-level volcanic activity. While typically gentle, Stromboli has had violent eruptions in the past which has destroyed property and even taken lives.
On August 5, deformation on the outer flanks of the northeast crater was detected, along with very high levels of explosive activity and strong degassing, leading the alert status to be raised to “elevated”. Access to the summit was closed to visitors. By August 7, an abundant effusive flow of new lava poured from northern side of the northeast crater, likely accompanied by a collapse of the crater as well as several landslides. The lava flow reached the sea on several fronts, according to Volcano Discovery. Stromboli has experienced effusive flows in the past, but they are not as frequent as the typical low-level explosive eruptions.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this true-color image of activity at Stromboli on August 9. A thick plume rises from the volcano and is blown to the southeast, towards mainland Italy. Ash and gas have also spread to the south and southwest, over the more southerly Aeolian Islands and towards Sicily.