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Craters merging and volcano visible from capital

24.03.2021 - 12:00
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 Mynd: Birgir Þór Harðarson - RÚV
The Geldingadalir volcanic eruption was visible from the Icelandic capital for the first time last night, as increased lava flow from one of the smaller fissures combined with clear weather to make the spectacle more widely visible.

Elísabet Pálmadóttir, a natural disasters specialist with the Met Office, says it appears the two erupting craters might be about to merge into one, thanks to increased lava flow from the smaller of them last night. No new craters have formed and there is also no sign of a second fissure opening up at this time. Overall flow from both craters remains fairly consistent. 

The increased flow of the smaller crater meant the glow from the eruption was visible in the clearer skies last night in the capital region, from Hafnarfjörður and across Reykjavík, all the way to Seltjarnarnes. 

Scientists at the University of Iceland say the lava coming from the eruption is different to lava from other eruptions on the Reykjanes peninsula during historic times and appears to be coming from deeper down. 

Initial predictions were that the eruption could last from one day up to one months, but scientists now believe it could be a relatively long eruption: “What dictates the length of the eruption is probably this reservoir the lava is flowing from. There hasn’t been an eruption here for 6,000 years, so an awful lot of lava could have collected. We need to monitor closely. This could be a long eruption,” says geophysicist Freysteinn Sigmundsson. 

The crater is now believed to stand at around 100 metres tall and could, if the flow continues as it has since Friday night, become the first new shield volcano to form in Iceland in 3,000 years. The lava flow could escape Geldingadalir and flow on into neghbouring Meradalir within the next 8-18 days.

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 Mynd: Sigfús Steindórsson