The 1974 western flank eruption of Mount Etna produced a rare, nearly aphyric and plagioclase-free trachybasalt that could not be derived from the central volcano conduits and was more alkaline and more radiogenic than all previous historical lavas. New results for the petrochemistry and volatile content of its products, combined with contemporaneous seismic and volcanological observations, allow us to reinterpret the origin and significance of this event. We show that the eruption was most likely triggered by deep tectonic fracturing that allowed a dike-like intrusion to propagate in 9 days from >= 11 km depth up to the surface, bypassing the central conduits. Relatively fast, closed system decompression of the volatile-rich magma initially led to lava fountaining and the rapid growth of two pyroclastic cones (Mounts De Fiore), followed by Strombolian activity and the extrusion of viscous lava flows when gas-melt separation developed in the upper portion of the feeding fracture. The 1974 trachybasalt geochemistry indicates its derivation by mixing 25% of preexisting K-poor magma (best represented by 1763 La Montagnola eruption's products) and 75% of a new K-rich feeding magma that was gradually invading Mount Etna's plumbing system and became directly extruded during two violent flank eruptions in 2001-2003. We propose to classify 1974-type so-called "eccentric'' eruptions on Etna as deep dike-fed (DDF) eruptions, as opposed to more common central conduit-fed flank eruptions, in order to highlight their actual origin rather than their topographic location. We ultimately discuss the possible precursors of such DDF eruptions.
Corsaro, R. A. Metrich, N. Allard, P. Andronico, D. Miraglia, L. Fourmentraux, C.