Three days of fieldwork have passed since my last post, and what a mixed few days it has been. Sunday morning we got up to our previous measurement location on the flanks and the photo on the right was our view...not ideal measurement conditions for measuring a plume...especially if you can't see it! When faced with conditions like this in the field there are two options; either stick it out and see if conditions clear up or give up and clamber back down the mountain. This is the inspiration for my mildly creative blog title, it being the third post in my fieldwork series, as so far everything has gone well. That being said, we waited for three hours in the cold, wet and windy conditions till eventually the clouds cleared and we had a perfect(ish) view of the summit. Patience paid off!
Fieldwork on Monday brought back memories from a field-trip to Etna I took during my Masters course at Lancaster University. We needed a new spot to measure from because of a different plume direction. When remote sensing a volcanic plume it is best if the plume isn't grounding, which unfortunately it has been doing a lot of recently. We decided to try a new spot on the edge of the Valle del Bove, a quite familiar 3 km walk undertaken during the Masters field trip which ends in a stunning view of one of the most impressive features on Etna (see images below). It also happened to have a decent view of the degassing craters with the plume appearing to drift towards Rifugio Sapienza.
Apparently we missed a few ashy explosions on the Saturday from the New South East Crater, never mind, because we saw a couple during fieldwork on Tuesday, but they were quite minor (see image on the right). The arrival of colleagues from Palermo, with a 4 by 4 panda suitable of travelling to Pizzi Deneri provided an ideal location for remote sensing, and significantly less mileage by foot!
One more day of work tomorrow, before the trip back to Palermo in our own faithful Fiat Panda.
Rarely, rarely, rarely in a campaign do you get excellent data on the very first day you set out to make measurements. Today was one of those days. We set out with a goal to compare two different Ultra Violet (UV) camera systems, and on the first day it appears we have got the data to do this successfully. Although it is always good to gather more just to be sure!
We were up early in the morning at 6 am to drive to Piano Provenzana for a short 30 minute walk to a good vantage point of the North East Crater (NEC) of Etna. See picture on the right. A familiar crater which has featured on my blog before and has provided a location for some previously published work. The NEC is often chosen as a location for UV work due to the high amounts of Sulphur Dioxide it emits daily. In the summer it is also easily accessible has much more reliable weather than other nearby sources such as Stromboli. There is also the added benefit of good food, wine, and sun.
Below are a selection of pictures which I took during the day and my attempt at imaging some clouds over the summit of Etna last night. Unfortunately tomorrow it looks like a rainy and cloudy day on the summit, so it looks like it may be a day of data processing instead.
It has been two years since my last visit to Sicily, and that is definitely too many. This year is a little bit different. It is the first time I head off to do research not directly related to my own PhD with the specific purpose of helping a first year PhD student (Tom Wilkes) with an exciting new gas remote sensing project.
A late flight in to Palermo meant a stay at a B&B in nearby Terrasini. I must admit that I had no idea what this area was like at all, so a bit of a gamble. But the gamble paid off, that is, once we had navigated all the many one way systems which were incorrectly labelled on Google Maps. A short walk from our B&B and there is a square filled with different options for food and drink. A late dinner and then back to the B&B ready for the morning journey to Palermo to pick up equipment for the journey to Linguaglossa.
The driving is always an interesting experience. This is my third time driving in Italy, on the mainland around Naples/Sorrento and previously in Palermo. There is no acclimatising to the driving style. My ethos: expect anything to happen at anytime and that anyone may do it. For those who have done the UK hazard perception part of the driving test it is much akin to clicking the mouse constantly and furiously! That being said there is a certain enjoyment in driving under these more testing conditions. The journey from Palermo to Catania is fantastic, relatively empty roads through a semi-mountainous region, with amazing towns perched on hilly outcrops.
I write this post from a lovely B&B in Linguaglossa, after an awesome and Norma Pizza, with a nighttime view of Etna in the distance. I think I might try some night time photography then it's early to bed before an early start tomorrow.