One of the most reliable volcanoes for regular activity, was, well, being rather unreliable last week. For remote sensors who are there for just 3 days at the summit, this was most frustrating. On the first day the explosions were small, with 5 occurring in the space of around 4 hours. While on the next two days, one day we couldn't measure at all, and in total we maybe heard 4 explosions in 8 hours. It was relatively difficult to see whether explosions had occurred (i.e. the presence of ash emissions and visible ejectiles) because of the poor measurement conditions. All of this is visible in the pictures below. It was also incredible to see how much the summit had changed since my last visit in 2003. The activity of 2014 (see global volcanism program or INGV reports) has really had a marked visual effect on the summit area.
Stromboli is a very hot location to work in the month of July, as such, the morning climb was made bright and early at 5 am. Even so the morning sun begins to heat the morning air rapidly, needless to say, by the end of the 2.5 - 3 hour climb, a change of shirt was necessary! However, this does make for some fantastic morning views during sunrise (see photos below).
On the last night we ate at the Osservatorio Pizzeria, a fantastic restaurant with great views of the craters at night - lo and behold we saw 8 explosions in 2 hours! Given the low activity observed at the summit and lack of incandescent material I neglected to bring my camera and telescopic lens, a decision which I now rue. It could of course be that we just couldn't see or hear these explosions at the summit or the volcano was toying with us! I also had my first opportunity to travel around the island on one of the many boat tours to see the Sciara del Fuoco (the large scar on the side of the volcano) and visit Strombolicchio and Ginostra. Experiences I will blog about soon. For the meantime, this trip reiterated the unpredictability and the ability of a volcano to present, what I would describe in a human, as moods.