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Earth of fire

Actualité volcanique, Articles de fond sur étude de volcan, tectonique, récits et photos de voyage

Publié le par Bernard Duyck
Publié dans : #L'art sur les chemins du feu

A letter sent by Brother Jesuit Antoine Leal to a certain Monsieur Dop, dated March 18, 1636, and which is accompanied by a map in ink and watercolor sepia, describes the eruption of Etna in 1635 .

These documents are part of the manuscripts kept at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (page 172 et seq.)

Antoine Leal visited Sicily, and made an excursion to Etna on December 8, 1635.

He will describe the eruption in progress since 1634 in a monochromatic map: it depicts the summit of the volcano, with the site of Torre del Filosofo and its eruptive fissure, the summit plume of the current eruption, the lava flow that is divides into two arms at the Salto del Cane.

Monochromatic map in ink and watercolor sepia A. Leal preserved at the National Library of France. - 47.3 x 33.2 cm - illustrating the eruption of Etna during his excursion on December 8, 1635, and attached to his correspondence. - a click to enlarge

Monochromatic map in ink and watercolor sepia A. Leal preserved at the National Library of France. - 47.3 x 33.2 cm - illustrating the eruption of Etna during his excursion on December 8, 1635, and attached to his correspondence. - a click to enlarge

Monochromatic map of A.Leal / 1635 - details on the separation in 2 branches of the flow near Serra Pizzato and Mt. Salto del Cane

Monochromatic map of A.Leal / 1635 - details on the separation in 2 branches of the flow near Serra Pizzato and Mt. Salto del Cane

It accurately describes the lava field, after one year of activity, and the advance of the lava flows; the southern branch reached its maximum length when arriving at Monte Difeso. The East Branch has its casting front out of the drawing field on the right. Small secondary flows, which developed near Mount Gorna and Mount Ilice, are reported.

It further describes the inactive craters, and 27 villages, as well as the religious ceremony illustrating the human impact of the eruption on the population of the time.

Note that Catania is represented with the powerful bell tower of the Cathedral, destroyed by the earthquake of 1693.

Monochromatic map of A.Leal / 1635 - detail on the top with the Piano del Sacrificio / Torre del Filosofo

Monochromatic map of A.Leal / 1635 - detail on the top with the Piano del Sacrificio / Torre del Filosofo

Monochromatic map of A.Leal / 1635 - details of the religious ceremony in the presence of the inhabitants and the small secondary flows near Mt. Gorna

Monochromatic map of A.Leal / 1635 - details of the religious ceremony in the presence of the inhabitants and the small secondary flows near Mt. Gorna

Monochromatic map of A.Leal / 1635 - detail on Catania Catania represented with the mighty tower of the Cathedral, destroyed by the 1693 earthquake.

Monochromatic map of A.Leal / 1635 - detail on Catania Catania represented with the mighty tower of the Cathedral, destroyed by the 1693 earthquake.

Etna - lava flows  1634-1636 - on this map from Stefano Branca

Etna - lava flows 1634-1636 - on this map from Stefano Branca

The narration of his observation, in old French, of which here is an accessible translation: {...} " From there, I went up on the Monte Gibello to see the scary fire and this new mouth of the hell which disgorges a river of 500 feet wide. This new mouth opened on December 19, 1634, and the fire did not stop running until December 8, the day of the Conception of the Virgin, in 1635 " (to be noted the paw of the clergyman).

 {...} " De là, je suis monté sur le Monte Gibello pour voir le feu effrayant et cette bouche nouvelle de l''enfer qui dégorge un fleuve embrasé d'une largeur d'au moins 500 pas. Cette nouvelle bouche s'ouvrit le 19 décembre 1634 et le feu n'a cessé de courir que le 8 décembre, jour de la Conception de la vierge, en 1635 " ( à noter la patte de l'écclésiastique).

Extract from the correspondence accompanying the eruption map - A. Léal / Bibliothèque Nationale de France

Extract from the correspondence accompanying the eruption map - A. Léal / Bibliothèque Nationale de France

{...} " The flowing material is like the liquefied metal that flows from the furnace to make a piece of cast iron, strong red and very ardent - which gradually hardens as it moves away from its origin It is a mixture of iron, lead, earth, salt and sulfur. "

{...} " La matière qui coule est comme le métal liquéfié qui coule de la fournaise pour faire une pièce de fonte, fort rouge et fort ardente – laquelle peu à peu se durcit à mesure qu'elle s'éloigne de son origine. C'est un mélange de fer, de plomb, de terre, de sel et de soufre ".

Extract from the correspondence accompanying the eruption map - A. Léal / Bibliothèque Nationale de France

Extract from the correspondence accompanying the eruption map - A. Léal / Bibliothèque Nationale de France

Sources:

- Il Vulcano - Eruzione del 1634. Lettering and illustrations by Antoine Leal sul nuovo del Mongibello crater - Santo Scalia

- Gallica - National Library of France - link

- The Most Ancient Maps of Erupting Mount Etna - Elmanuela Guidoboni
- Current knowledge of Etna 's flank eruptions (Italy) over the past 2500 years. From the iconographies of the XVII century to modern geological cartography Stefano Branca, Tiziana Abate

- Global Volcanism Program - Etna Eruptive History / 19.12.1634 (?) - 27.04.1638

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