RÚV’s live webcam is today showing footage from Meradalir. The video above is a time-lapse sequence starting shortly after the new lava flow was discovered by a helicopter pilot and his passengers.
There was almost no warning recorded by monitoring equipment before the new craters opened just 200 metres from the search & rescue team’s tent. Between 400 and 500 people were visiting the eruption at the time and they were evacuated quickly. Visitors will not be allowed today.
It is believed the new craters are being fed by the same magma intrusion dyke as the old ones and that they may have appeared because a shift in the crust restricted the flow of lava in Geldingadalir, thereby increasing pressure and forcing lava up in a new location. The new lava flow runs further into the highland area of the Reykjanes peninsula and poses no increased threat to homes or infrastructure.
“It is perhaps not very likely the eruption will manage to keep both channels open; both the old and the new craters, for a long time, though that cannot be ruled out. And while the flow is completely uninhibited from these craters, there is less likelihood of the lava finding other routes. While that’s still the case, it is natural for it to just carry on,” says Halldór Geirsson, geophysicist.
Þórir Þorsteinsson, leader of police operations at the site, told RÚV the volcano it totally closed to visitors and will remain so all of today at the very least. Emergency services, search & rescue coordinators, and scientists are meeting this morning to discuss the situation. Among the items on the agenda is how and when to allow people to return to witness the spectacle.