A small volcanic eruption continued this Saturday in Iceland at about 40 kilometers from the capital Reykjavik, with no other consequence than to provoke a river of lava and incandescent red magma for the first time in 6,000 years.
The Fagradalsfjall mountain volcano had been dormant for 6,000 years, and the Reykjanes Peninsula had not seen a volcano erupt in 781 years.
After intense seismic activity for three weeks and an eruption alert, a torrent of lava erupted on Friday at 8:45 p.m. from a crack in the ground at Geldingadalur, near Fagradalsfjall mountain, lighting up the night with a red cloud.
In spectacular video images recorded this Saturday by a Coast Guard helicopter, lava was seen flowing, which covers just under 1 km2 of surfaceas well as blue gas vents at the site of the eruption.
“The eruption is small and activity has slightly decreased since Friday night. It is limited to a small area in the valley and is unlikely to cause damage,” said the latest statement from the Meteorological Service (IMO) of Iceland, on Saturday at half a day.
The Krysuvik volcanic system, which does not have a main crater, is located south of Fagradalsfjall Mountain, on the Reykjanes Peninsula in southwestern Iceland. The site of the eruption is about 5 kilometers inland.
The police and the coast guard have been sent to the place but the population has been advised not to approach. Iceland’s Keflavik International Airport and the small fishing port of Grindavik are just a few kilometers away, but the area is uninhabited and the eruption is not expected to pose a hazard.
For the moment, the authorities did not report ash falling, but fragments of tephra (solidified magma) and gas emissions could occur.
Police advise residents east of the volcano to close the windows and stay home due to the risk of gas contamination. For the moment, traffic was able to continue at Keflavik airport.
Gas emissions from volcanoes, especially sulfur dioxide, can be high in the vicinity of an eruption and pose a health hazard, even being fatal.
At a distance, pollution can exceed acceptable limits, depending on the wind. The gas “can cause problems and have adverse health effects”Warned the Icelandic Environment Agency.
The volcanic eruptions in the region are effusive, that is, most of the lava flows towards the ground, unlike the explosive ones that throw clouds of ash towards the sky.
The Krysuvik volcanic system has been dormant for 900 years, according to the Met Office, and the last eruption on the Reykjanes Peninsula dates back almost 800 years, to 1240.
The area has been under increased surveillance for weeks because on February 24 there was an earthquake of magnitude 5.7 near Mount Keilir on the outskirts of Reykjavik.
This earthquake was followed by a unusual number of tremors less strong: more than 50,000, the most since digital records began in 1991.
Since then, seismic activity has shifted several kilometers to the southwest, centering around Fagradalsfjall Mountain, where magma has been detected just one kilometer below the earth’s surface in recent days.
Iceland has 32 volcanoes currently considered active, the highest number in Europe.. The country has registered an eruption every five years on average.
This large island near the Arctic Circle straddles the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a fissure in the ocean floor that separates the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates.
The displacement of these plates is partly responsible for the intense volcanic activity in Iceland.
The most recent eruption occurred in Holuhraun (started in August 2014 and ended in February 2015), in the Bardarbunga volcanic system, in an uninhabited area in the center of the island.
This eruption did not cause major problems, beyond those caused to the nearest towns.
But in 2010, an eruption at the Eyjafjallajokull volcano spewed huge clouds of smoke and ash into the atmosphere, disrupting air traffic for more than a week, with the cancellation of more than 100,000 flights worldwide that left about 10 million. of passengers blocked for days.
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