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Iceland eruption small so far, not expected to cause major problems

Sat, 20 Mar 2021, 06:27
06:27 AM | BY: T
View of the glow from the new eruption this moring (image: RUV webcam)
View of the glow from the new eruption this moring (image: RUV webcam)
View of the eruption area (modified from Iceland Monitor)
View of the eruption area (modified from Iceland Monitor)
The new eruption is located near Geldingadalir, around the center of the recent dike intrusion of magma that has formed under the peninsula over the recent weeks. It started very quietly with almost no seismic activity when finally, a fissure opened, reaching around 500-700 m length.
The monitoring Icelandic Met Office (IMO) first became aware of the eruption from local reports of visible glow in the area about half an hour after the onset of activity.
In fact, its timing and location surprised scientists. They had expected the most likely place for magma to push up to the surface being close to the southern end of the dike, where most seismic activity had taken place recently.

Instead, it chose to break out right above the center of the recent intrusion, near Geldingadalir valley, east of Fagradalsfjall and close to Stóri-hrútur.

Eruption hazards:
So far, the eruption is small and does not cause any concern for potential damage. No significant amounts of ash have been released - this is mostly due to the fact that differently than the notorious 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption, there is no ice covering the vents.
The Keflavik airport is not affected by the eruption and the no-fly zone over the eruption area does not contain Keflavik. Unless the eruption dynamic changes significantly, something not expected for the immediate future, there should be no disruptions of air traffic.
Concerning the lava flows, there are currently two narrow tongues flowing south-south-west and another to the west. The location of the eruption near Geldingadalir is in an area with very little infrastructure potentially at risk, something Icelandic authorities likely are happy about.

Warning of volcanic gas in nearby downwind areas:
People in Þorlákshöfn are being advised to remain indoors and keep windows closed, as a precaution against volcanic gases. Þorlákshöfn is the closest community downwind this evening. Grindavík town is upwind.
Fortunately, due to the small scale of the the eruption so far, the amounts of gasses released are small and it is not expected to become a major threat. However, people with respiratory problems can be at risk. The Meteorological Office warned that if wind changes according to forecast, the Reykjavik region might likely get some sniffs of sulphur dioxide plumes tomorrow tonight (20 Mar 21).

Visiting the eruption:
According to RUV, glow of the lava from the fissure and the lava flows can be seen over a wide area including relatively far-away locations such as Hafnarfjörður and Þorlákshöfn.
The government urged people to stay away from the area, in particular in order to avoid exposure to volcanic gasses released by the eruption. In addition, the closest roads are closed and "there is little to see", the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service (RUV) writes.

Sources:
- Icelandic National Broadcasting Service
- Iceland Monitor

Previous news

Sat, 20 Mar 2021, 05:15

New volcanic eruption on Iceland's Reykjanes peninsula

First view of the new eruption in Iceland (image: Coast Guard helicopter, via IMO / twitter).
A new volcanic eruption has started last evening around 20:45 local time on 19 Mar 2021 on the Reykjanes peninsula! ... Read all
Mon, 15 Mar 2021, 06:41

Fagradalsfjall volcano update: Earthquake swarm continues, more than 2000 quakes during past 48 hours

Earthquakes on the Reykjanes peninsula during the past 48 hours (image: IMO)
The volcano-seismic unrest continues on the southern Reykjanes peninsula, centered around Fagradalsfjall mountain. ... Read all
Show more
Fissure swarm 385 m / 1263 ft
Reykjanes Peninsula, Iceland, 63.89°N / -22.27°W
Current status: normal or dormant (1 out of 5) Fagradalsfjall volcano eruptions:
2022 (Aug), 2021
Less than few million years ago (Pleistocene)
Typical eruption style
fissure eruptions, lava flows
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