New Lava Waterfall Forms! - The Reykjavik Grapevine

New Lava Waterfall Forms!

New Lava Waterfall Forms!

Published March 26, 2010

Photo by
Þröstur Jón Sigurðsson

Volcanologist James Ashworth -  2dfedda0f5748ae.jpgHello once again, lava lovers! Alas, I have no new photos to share today, but here is what’s happening over on our pet volcano right now…

The biggest new development is probably the formation of a new lava flow, and consequently a new steam plume from its interaction with snow and meltwater. The new flow is moving towards the Hvann·rgil valley – recently parts of it have begun to break off and roll down the valley sides. Seems like we are seeing the formation of a ‘lava fall’ (much like a waterfall, but of lava…) falling into the valley, as has been seen at the first flow in recently days. As for the first flow (which was headed north), I have heard a couple of reports that it has stopped moving, but this conflicts other reports that it is still active. Honestly I am unsure what is true here – I haven’t yet heard it from ‘official’ contacts. Lava flows are pretty variable beings, though, so it’s no surprise to see them come and go.

On the Human side of the eruption, over the last couple of days the majority of the people evacuated at the start of the eruption have been allowed back home, and the hiking trail along Fimmvˆrduh·ls has been reopened. I would advise caution here because not only will you be approaching an active volcano, but the hiking will be difficult and you should be very well prepared. It’s not going to be a simple day trip with a small rucksack. I would also bear in mind that although eruptive activity is currently fairly stable, it would be unwise to consider it in any way ‘safe’. Volcanoes can change with no warning. I think most people should probably stick to viewing it from afar, where some amazing views can still be had.

Also of note are the evacuation drills which took place yesterday in preparation for an eruption of neighbouring volcano, Katla. I feel it would be wise to point out that although an eruption of Katla is not impossible, it is also not ‘highly likely’. Granted, Katla has erupted each of the past three times Eyjafjallajokull has, but a data set of three eruptions is tiny and not enough to base any real meaningful prediction on. Also bear in mind that the last time the two erupted ‘together’, there was approximately 18 months between the start of the eruption at Eyjafjallajokull, and the eruption at Katla.

Although it would be wise to keep in mind the connection between the two volcanoes, and the possibility of something happening at Katla, it is by no means certain to occur. Eruptive activity at Katla would be preceeded by high earthquake activity (amongst other signs) and as of now, the mountain is pretty peaceful. The evacuation drill was certainly a very good idea, but it is not a call to be alarmed and prophesise that the world will end – a concept that certain media outlets have yet to grasp, to a combination of chagrin and great amusement amongst scientists…

See more Eruption Iceland stories.

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