Five Years To The Day: Holuhraun - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Five Years To The Day: Holuhraun

Published August 29, 2019

Five years have passed since the beginning of the eruption of Holuhraun.

On August 28th, a series of earthquakes shook the region of Bárðarbunga, culminating in an eruption on August 29th, which only lasted four hours. Then, on August 31st, a much larger eruption occurred, 10-20 times larger than the first one, and lasted nearly half a year. The volcano threw plumes of magma into the air, some of which were 60 metres tall.

Although it happened in a fairly remote location, the toxic fumes from the eruption moved first to the northeast, then to the southeast, affecting some residential neighborhoods along the coast. Birds fell dead out of the sky, and cautious locals kept their kids inside.

The environmental effects of the volcano were greater than anyone could have anticipated. Volcanic gas suffocated birds in the area, and the sulphur seeped into the grass where sheep grazed, cutting off their nourishment and effectively starving them to death.

Fortunately, the eruption occurred in a remote location just before a harsh winter, which minimised the negative impact of the gases. Among the more positive effects of the eruption include a new hot spring forming from the magma. The aftermath also created a new lava field, aptly christened Holuhraun Lava Field.

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