Repeated evacuations due to gas levels

09.09.2014 - 14:07
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Scientists working at the Holuhraun eruption side have repeatedly had to leave the area, as concentrations of gas have reached dangerous levels. Sudden changes in wind directions have made research there very hazardous. Sulfur dioxide gas has been detected in urban areas in East Iceland.

Between 10 and 20 scientists have been working at the Holuhraun eruptions site since the main fissure opened last week. The research is hazardous, says Thorbjorg Agustsdottir, Phd student in geophysics at the University of Cambridge, who has been managing a net of seismometers near the eruption. "We all have gasmasks and detectors, and we are ready at a moments notice to clear the area." 

Every automobile used by scientists at Holuhraun is equipped with oxygen masks, in case anyone succumbs to dangerous levels of CO which can build up in low-lying areas. "This is the primary danger regarding gas emissions," says Agustsdottir. "We always try to place ourselves with the wind blowing towards the lava, but the wind direction can change very suddenly," she says. 

Higher SO2 gas levels in urban areas. 

According to a status report, published today by the Civil Protection Agency´s Scientific Advisory Board, higher SO2 gas levels have been detected in Reydarfjordur, some 134 kilometres (90 miles) from the Holuhraun eruption. These levels could affect people with underlying respiratory problems, says the report, although others should not experience any significant discomfort. Yesterday, no chemical pollution related to the eruption was found and none is expected today. Blue haze has however been seen in the eastern part of the country, thought to be because of the eruption. 

Blue haze has been seen in Eastern Iceland in recent days, due to the Holuhraun lava eruption. (Picture: Runar Snaer Reynisson/RUV) 

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This story, by the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service (RUV), was updated on 9 September 2014, at 14.15 GMT.

Updates in English will be posted at: ruv.is/volcano. Follow us on Twitter: @ruvfrettir


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