April 13, 2024

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Beginning of volcanic eruptions in Iceland

Beginning of volcanic eruptions in Iceland

A “low-intensity” volcanic eruption began in Iceland on Monday afternoon, in an uninhabited area thirty kilometers from the capital Reykjavík, the third time in two years that the volcano erupted, without causing damage or impacting transport winds.

In March 2021 and August 2022, the eruption occurred at 4:40 pm GMT near a small mountain called Litli Hruður, located a few kilometers from the sites of two previous eruptions, on the Reykjanes peninsula southwest of Reykjavík, the Icelandic Meteorological Agency reported. (IMO).

“There are three fissures from which lava flows in all directions, mainly to the north and east,” explained AFP Thorvaldur Thordarson, professor of volcanology at the University of Iceland.

Screenshot/Meteorological Institute of Iceland

“It was a low-intensity explosive eruption. So she was not a major threat,” he added.

Images released by Icelandic media and the Meteorological Center showed at least one significant lava flow spewing from the fault, as well as smoke billowing from the area, which was on alert after thousands of small earthquakes struck the region in recent days.

“The eruption occurred in a small crater just north of Litli Hruður” – which means “small ram” in Icelandic – from which smoke was billowing in a northwesterly direction, the IMO explained in a communication.

Icelandic civil defense don’t go there immediately, time to assess the situation.

As for the expected duration of this new outbreak, “we have no idea,” said Mr. Thorderson explained.

“It could last a few days, a month, six months in 2021 or even longer.”

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According to volcanologists, magma has moved within a few hundred meters of the surface in recent days, indicating an imminent eruption.

The volcanic eruptions so far have not caused material damage and have had no impact on air traffic.

On the other hand, they delighted the hundreds of thousands of tourists and visitors who went to see the volcano flow during two previous eruptions that lasted six months and three weeks respectively.

Smoke from the volcano billowed from the road connecting Reykjavík and Keflavík International Airport, an AFP journalist noted. Motorists stopped by the side of the road and took pictures.

Like previous eruptions on the Reykjanes Peninsula, the eruption appears to have occurred along a fault rather than at the top of a large crater.

The site of the explosion is ten kilometers from the nearest road, described as “severe” by the IMO.

Before 2021, there had been no eruption in the neighborhood for eight centuries. According to Vulcanologists, the new cycle of activity on the peninsula will last for several years.

On Sunday evening, a magnitude 5.2 earthquake, the most powerful in recent days, shook the surrounding area and was felt across much of Iceland.

Located on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates, Iceland is one of the most active and productive volcanic regions on Earth, with 33 volcanoes or volcanic systems thought to be active.

An eruption occurs on an average every five years in the country.

In 2010, the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in the south of the island caused the largest peacetime disruption to air traffic. A title wiped off the shelves by the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Other volcanoes, such as Askja in the uninhabited highlands of central Iceland, have recently shown signs of activity.

One of the most dangerous volcanoes in the country is Katla near the southern coast. Its last eruption was in 1918, an unusually long hiatus that signaled an impending resurgence.