Further craters could open nearby

05.08.2022 - 15:47
Mynd: Grímur Jón Sigurðsson / RÚV
When the eruption started in Geldingadalir in March last year, it soon started erupting from multiple craters. The fissure which started erupting this week was originally 300 metres long, but has since shrunk to a roughly-100-metre erupting fissure—but scientists anticipate magma might soon break the surface in other locations nearby. Met Office representatives are flying over the area northeast of the fissure this afternoon to look for signs of new craters opening up.

“On this flight we are going to look at the area behind Meradalahnúkar, which is northeast of the erupting fissure. It was noted at the scientific council meeting yesterday that there are known fissures there which have been slipping. We are going to go and look at them,” says Kristín Jónsdóttir, the head of the natural hazards division at the Met Office.

The flow rate of lava has reduced since yesterday, but pressure beneath the surface has not reduced yet, which is the reason further craters might soon open up.

If the eruption does extend to the northeast, Kristín says it is unlikely that would mean extra danger to homes or infrastructure. It is not considered likely that the magma intrusion will stretch further northeast towards the capital region. Met Office computer modelling for a medium-sized eruption (which would be much larger than the ones last year and this year) indicates it is highly unlikely lava would ever reach the capital.

Despite the relative safety from lava, gas pollution can spread to inhabited areas. Tonight, for example, it is forecast that gentle breezes will draw volcanic gases over the communities of Vogar and Garður. Tomorrow, it is likely that some pollution will reach the capital city.

In other news, the Þorbjörn search & rescue team yesterday pegged out a new 7-km walking trail to the volcano, which is said to have shortened the route considerably.

Visitors are reminded that the hike is long, uphill, and over rocky terrain. It is important to take food and water, as well as extra layers, waterproofs, and good hiking boots. There are 16 search & rescue volunteers on each shift, but they do not manage to speak to every visitor. Thousands visited yesterday, despite advice to stay away while the new path was laid, and scientists finished their initial assessments.

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