Lava bombs can be thrown several hundred metres

04.05.2021 - 13:23
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 Mynd: Sólveig Thomasdóttir - Aðsend mynd
It is possible for airborne lava or tephra chunks, sometimes called lava bombs, to be thrown several hundred metres from the erupting volcano when high lava fountains occur at the Geldingadalir eruption. A new risk assessment document is complete and includes a variable safe distance based on wind. “It is not safe to stand very close to this area,” says civil protection agency geophysicist Björn Oddsson.

There are several known examples of people needing to run for cover when the ‘bombs’ land far away from the crater. The picture above shows children landing in the scary and potentially dangerous situation. 

The ‘bombs’ are a result of the much higher lava fountains coming from the one remaining active fissure crater at the volcano since the weekend—a sight that can now be seen from a large swathe of southwest Iceland during the few nighttime hours at this time of year. 

Scientists have not discovered any specific reason for the change of behaviour, but it is know that gases are propelling the erupting lava upwards. “Scientists are trying to answer this question, but there is no one answer yet,” Björn says. 

The volcano remains an extremely popular visitor attraction and the Met Office has published a new risk assessment document. Björn says that the new document takes into account not only areas deemed at risk of new fissures opening up, but now also the potential size of lava bombs and where they might land, in both windy and calm conditions. 

Wind will dictate how close people can get, but Björn emphasises that it is never safe to get very close to the volcano. 

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