In September 2002, a series of tectonic earthquakes occurred north of Sicily, Italy, followed by three events of volcanic unrest within 150 km. On 28 October 2002, Mount Etna erupted; on 3 November 2002, submarine degassing occurred near Panarea Island; and on 28 December 2002, Stromboli Island erupted. All of these events were considered unusual: the Mount Etna northeast-rift eruption was the largest in 55 yr; the Panarea degassing was one of the strongest ever detected there; and the Stromboli eruption, which produced a landslide and tsunami, was the largest effusive eruption in 17 yr. Here we investigate the synchronous occurrence of these clustered events, and develop a possible explanatory model. We compute short-term earthquake-induced dynamic strain changes and compare them to long-term tectonic effects. Results suggest that the earthquake-induced strain changes exceeded annual tectonic strains by at least an order of magnitude. This agitation occurred in seconds, and may have induced fluid and gas pressure migration within the already active hydrothermal and magmatic systems.

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