On the night of August 3, 1888, a very loud bang in the lower Tyrrhenian Sea marked the beginning of Vulcan’s last eruption.


Volcanic eruption
On the night of August 2-3, 1888, the last eruption in its history was recorded on the island of Vulcano. The event was preceded by a massive roar, heard tens of kilometers away.
Daniel Ingemi Daniel Ingemi 5 minutes

Less famous and well-known thanEtna and Stromboli, the island of Vulcano, in the Aeolian archipelago, is another of the many volcanoes present in Sicily. After being dormant for some time, it has recently started to make itself known after a progressive increase in gas activity in recent months.

Including observed abnormalities occurrence of microseismicity associated with fluid circulation, ground deformations (albeit limited to the crater area), significant changes in the composition and temperature of fumaroles at the crater rim, and increased propagation of outgassing from the ground in areas adjacent to the crater. We talked about it in this item.

Photo of the central crater of the island of Vulcano, better known as La Fossa.

After this hydrothermal crisis National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology decided to strengthen monitoring by installing new seismographs and high-end instrumentation capable of sensing every minute change in the composition of the gases emanating from the sulfates.

When was the last eruption of Vulcan?

On the night of August 2-3, 1888, the last eruption in its history was recorded on the island of Vulcano. The event was preceded by a massive roar, heard tens of kilometers away.

A gigantic eruption column rose from the central cratercontaining a lot of lightning and igneous material that spilled all around the island.

The eruption lasted until March 1890 and changed the appearance of the island itself. Vulcano was the first example of a volcanic eruption studied by a team of researchers, complete with a scientific publication.

In fact, the authorities of the nascent Italian state of the time sent a number of teachers to the site, incl Orazio Silvestri (Professor of Geology and Mineralogy at the University of Catania) e Giuseppe Mercalli (at that time Professor of Volcanology and Seismology at the University of Naples).

These in cooperation with Julius Grablovitz (Director of the Casamicciola Observatory in Ischia) and Head of Civil Engineers in Messina, spiritual, at the end of the eruption they completed the work “Eruption of Vulcano Island”, began on 3 August 1888 and ended on 22 March 1890.

Vulcano Island
The central crater of Vulcano, site of the last eruptive event in 1888-1890.

There are also traces of other eruptions that occurred in ancient times. We find quotations as early as the 5th century BC, p Thucydides, Aristotle, Theophrastus, Callias. Pliny, he further states that shortly before his time, in the middle of the Aeolian Islands, a new island was born and that in the third year of the 163rd Olympiad, in 126 BC, another was created, again after further underwater volcanic eruptions.

What happened during Vulcan’s last eruption?

This scientific study revealed how “Crater activity consisting of heavy emissions of ash, debris and bombs at intervals of several hours”. This characteristic described in this study led volcanologists to also give the name “volcano” to similar activities that subsequently occurred at other volcanoes around the world.

During the eruption there were mainly two phases, separated by several weeks of absolute calm: the first phase, characterized by more intense activity, lasted about three days, from August 3 to 5, 1888; the second, from the 18th of the same month, ended on the 22nd of March, 1890, and represented milder activity, with various but brief periods of calm.

It should also be remembered that the island was sparsely populated at the time of the last eruption. On a small island there was a small colony of convicts who served their time by mining sulfur and alum from local mines that had been evacuated.

As a result of the eruption, mining activity ceased. Boulders and volcanic bombs emanating from the crater severely damaged all mining plants and rendered them unusable.


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