Eruption on Iceland's Reykjanes Peninsula follows over 50,000 quakes since late February 2021
Sat, 20 Mar 2021, 15:1315:13 PM | BY: T
First images arrive from the scene of the new eruption.
View of the ongoing eruption in Iceland (image: IMO / twitter)
SO far, it has been a small event for Icelandic volcano standards, though. The volcanic activity along the eruptive fissure has decreased somewhat since yesterday. The lava fountains from the vents on the eruptive fissure are only weak and the lava output rate is small, the Icelandic Met Office (IMO) who monitor the eruption reported.
The lava flows cover an area that is at most about 500 meters wide. The eruption is limited to a small area in the Geldingadalir valley and it is unlikely that lava flow will cause damage to infrastructure.
Record-breaking number of earthquakes preceding the eruption
Following weeks of consistent seismic activities totaling over 50,000 quakes since 24 February 2021, Iceland's Krysuvik Volcanic System finally erupted. The number of earthquakes recorded during the build-up preceding the eruption is easily the largest number of earthquakes during a seismic swarm ever recorded in Iceland!
According to the Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO), the eruption started at 8:45 pm local time in Fagradalsfjall in Geldingadalur. The eruption was first observed on a web camera positioned close by. IMO also confirmed the eruption on thermal satellite imagery.
The fissure is located in a valley about 4.7 km from the southern coast of the Peninsula. Grindavik is the closest populated area located 10 km southwest of the eruption site, but it is currently uninhabited. IMO stated that seismic activities and magma intrusions has been lower in the recent days. Low-frequency earthquakes were recorded below Fagradalsfjall earlier in the day.
The eruption was discovered with a 200-meter fissure that had begun producing lava. Within hours, however, the fissure grew to about 500-700 meters. Small lava fountains were noted along the length of the fissure. IMO also noted that the lava seems to be flowing slowly to the southwest.
The map above shows the source of the volcanic eruption at Geldingadalur, close to Fagradalsfjall on the Reykjanes Peninsula. The image shows the first look at the eruption taken by the Icelandic Coast Guard and features the 200-meter-long fissure with approximately 2.6 km stretch of lava flow.
There have been no reports of ash fall as of the time of this writing. However, tephra and gas emissions are to be expected. Iceland's Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management advised residents to close their windows and stay indoors to avoid any direct contact with volcanic gases from the eruption. Reykjanesbraut, the main highway from the capital region to Reykanesbaer and Keflavik international airport, was also closed. This is to restrict access of civilians in the area, and for first responders to be able to drive freely to assess the situation. The aviation color warning over the Reykjanes Peninsula was elevated to red, signifying ongoing eruption in the area.
The fissure eruption in the Reykjanes Peninsula is an effusive one, described by steady outflow of lava from the formed fissure on the ground.
The Krýsuvík-Trölladyngja volcanic system has been inactive for the past 9 centuries, while the area of Fagradalsfjall, considered either a volcanic system in its own or a western branch of the Krýsuvík-Trölladyngja system, has not had any historical activity.
The last eruption in the wider area dated back to the 14th century. The volcanic system has a tendency to exhibit phreatic eruptions. This occurs when magma interacts with water leading to a very violent explosion. Phreatic eruptions in the volcanic system may result during simultaneous rifting and eruption episodes as the Reykjanes Peninsula has a high ground water level.
Sat, 20 Mar 2021, 06:27
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. ... Read all
Sat, 20 Mar 2021, 05:15
A new volcanic eruption has started last evening around 20:45 local time on 19 Mar 2021 on the Reykjanes peninsula! ... Read all