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The control of lava flows at Mt. Etna
BARBERI Franco ; CARAPEZZA Maria Luisa
Because of intense urbanization, many of the historic lava flows of Mt. Etna, fed by flank eruptions, have caused significant damage to cities, villages and lifelines. The fear of legal consequences for centuries has prevented any intervention on lava flows to reduce damage until 1983, when a lava flow was dangerously approaching a village and authorization was given. In 1983, for the first time in the world, an attempt was made to stop the flow front by diverting the lava out of its natural channel, through a breach opened by blasting the levee. The technique adopted proved very complex and thermally perturbed the lava causing overflows that prevented completion of the initial plan. Only a short partial diversion was obtained, but the desired result was however achieved as most of the lava outflowed, because of the obstruction of a nearby lava tube. The technique was improved in 1992 and a total diversion of the flow was obtained. The construction of oblique earthen barriers to divert the flows towards less damaging paths was successfully employed in 1983 and 2001. In 1992 a large earthen barrier, built orthogonally to the flow direction delayed the flow advance for nearly one month. A positive experience has been therefore acquired at Mt. Etna to protect settlements from lava flows, but some legal questions have not been yet fully solved. From the Civil Protection viewpoint, it is essential that volcanologists improve their capability of reliably assessing the distance that
American Geophysical Union
ISSN : 0065-8448 CODEN : GPMGAD
Geophysical monograph A. 2004, vol. 143, pp. 357-369 [13 pages] [bibl. : 1 p.1/4]
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