From Iceland — Seismic Roundup: Eruption Decreases, Flights Still Safe, Photos And Video Within

Seismic Roundup: Eruption Decreases, Flights Still Safe, Photos And Video Within

Published March 20, 2021

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Icelandic Coast Guard

Things have calmed considerably since Geldingadalsgos erupted at around 21:40 Icelandic time last night, and a better understanding of the situation in the light of day has formed.

The Icelandic Met Office (IMO) reports that the eruption has slowed down a bit since last night. The lave covers an area of roughly 1km2, 500 metres wide at its widest point.

“Lava fountains are small and lava flows are currently a very local hazard,” the IMO reports. The seismic activity is minor and spread around the Fagradalsfjall area. There is no indication of production of ash and tephra and currently gas pollution is not expected to cause much discomfort for people except close up to the source of the eruption.”

This further indicates slowed activity, as residents of southwest Iceland were advised to close their windows last night due to the danger of SO2 pollution.

Furthermore, flights to and from Keflavík International Airport are at no risk of being interrupted by ash, and so airlines are free to come and go as they please. Reykjanesbraut, the main road connecting the airport with the greater Reykjavík area, is also open, but Suðurstrandarvegur, which runs along the south coast, is at the moment closed to traffic between Grindavík and Þorlákshöfn. Access roads to the lava area are also closed, save for scientists heading to the area.

Geophysicist Freysteinn Sigmundsson told RÚV that the fissure eruption was never more than 200m long—initial reports put it at anywhere from 500 to 700 metres long. The lava flow rate is about 30 to 40m3 per second, which is roughly the same rate that magma is flowing into the cavity. There are no signs that the lava is increasing; on the contrary, it is slowing down. However, it is too soon to say when this eruption will end.

The Icelandic Coast helpfully provided photos and videos from the scene, which you can view below. The Grapevine visited the area yesterday, will also be providing updates as events arise.

For more background on the earthquakes and volcanoes of Reykjanes, check out our newest feature, The Sleeping Giant: Earthquakes And Volcanoes In Reykjanes.

Note: Due to the effect the Coronavirus is having on tourism in Iceland, it’s become increasingly difficult for the Grapevine to survive. If you enjoy our content and want to help the Grapevine’s journalists do things like eat and pay rent, please consider joining our High Five Club.

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