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Reykjanes eruption continues in its fourth day, scientists find evidence of magma came quickly from very deep

Wed, 24 Mar 2021, 19:01
19:01 PM | BY: T
Weather conditions can be difficult on Iceland in March - view of the ongoing eruption this afternoon (RUV webcam)
Weather conditions can be difficult on Iceland in March - view of the ongoing eruption this afternoon (RUV webcam)
The eruption continues with little changes, but it has provided scientists already with very interesting results that might provide unique insights into a type of eruption that hasn't been observed on Iceland in a long time.
Volcanologists sampled and analyzed the lava and found that it must have come directly from the mantle source at 17-20 km depth, because its composition was primitive, i.e. had shown little signs of chemical alteration (differentiation) that would have occurred if it had been stored in shallower reservoirs in the crust for a longer period.
More specifically, the magma that is being erupted now has a composition known as tholeiitic basalt, a melt typically produced at mid-ocean ridges. Although Iceland is a part of the north Atlantic mid-ocean ridge, it forms a large plateau and eruptions of this type of melt directly is rare on Iceland. The last known occurrence of such magma erupted on the Reykjanes peninsula is thought to have been more than 14,000 years ago, when Iceland was still completely covered by ice.

At the moment, the lava effusion rate is estimated to be around 5-10 cubic meters per second, not much for an Icelandic eruption, but if the passage from mantle to surface is "open" for the magma to flow freely, scientists speculate that the eruption could last a long time, even years, according to geologist Magnús Á. Sigurgeirsson quoted in a press article.
Source: Long-Lasting Shield Volcano Eruption? Magma from Mantle (Iceland Review)

Visiting the eruption
If the above is the case, Iceland's tourist industry will certainly be happy. Already now, hundreds if not thousands of visitors have been flocking to the eruption site every day, mostly on foot on a several-hours hike from Grindavík or other places accessible by road, but also by helicopter and small aircraft.
Kilometer-long lines of parked vehicles on the nearest roads and large crowds of tourists in front of the eruption etc have been common sights during the past days. Due to potentially dangerous conditions that may be present due to volcanic gasses, unstable lava terrain, quickly changing weather conditions, and probably the fact that many poorly-prepared hikers attempted to visit the area, authorities wanted first to close access, but decided to reopened it, and make access as easy and safe as possible.
According to Iceland Review, volunteers have marked a shorter and safer hiking path up to the eruption site, which only takes about an hour and a half for well-prepared hikers, being 3.5km each way or 7 km in total long.

Previous news

Tue, 23 Mar 2021, 20:30

Iceland eruption continues steadily, smaller vent at side of main cone becoming more active

View of the ongoing eruption in Iceland this evening (image: RUV webcam)
The eruption continues with little changes and stead lava output. In the past hours, the hornito (small cone-shaped vent) at the side of the main vent has been becoming more active, seen left in the image of the live camera. ... Read all
Mon, 22 Mar 2021, 07:30

Eruption in Iceland's Reykjanes peninsula continues without signs of stopping

Current view of the eruption in Iceland (image: screenshot of RUV's live-stream webcam)
Vigorous lava spattering is seen from the main vent, which has been building a steep-sided cone above the eruptive fissure. Over its two and half days of existence, this cone (also called a hornito currently) has been growing, sometimes partially collapsing, and thus changing its shape a lot, and it might evolve eventually into a new small 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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