Considerable changes in volcanic activity have occurred in the most powerful crater in Geldingadalur. Over the weekend, the crater began spitting lava up to 300 metres in the air, leading to the lava jets being visible from almost the entire southwestern corner of Iceland. This occurrence has not been seen at the eruption site before, since it started on March 19th, 2021.
Magma jet ascending to heaven
Þorvaldur Þórðarson, a professor of volcanology at the University of Iceland, told RÚV that at the moment the eruption seems to be much more explosive than before. He explains that explosive high lava jets such as this usually coincide with a decrease in volcanic activity, but did not state whether as a whole, the eruption is declining or increasing.
This might seem counterintuitive, but Þorvaldur explained the general concept. “As the lava flow decreases from the crater, the eruption then explodes with considerable force and forms magma jets that are higher than we have seen before, probably about 300 metres high,” Þorvaldur said. According to him, the catapulted lava coming out of the crater is landing quite far from the crater, resulting in some burning mossland along the southwest. Over the weekend, the smoke column was visible from far away—even from the capital city. Whether a new vent has opened is impossible to say, but Þorvaldur believes that the current spectacle is rather a brush fire than a new vent.
The future remains to be forseen
Otti Rafn Sigmarsson, a member of the rescue squad Þorbjörn, was at the eruption site on Sunday morning. He told RÚV that it has been amazing to hear and see the magma jets coming from the crater, but adds that the burning vegetation caused a big burned circle on the hillside, which produced a lot of smoke. Otti Rafn clarified though that the fire does not indicate that there is more magma underground and that we still do not know what will happen in the future.
Many people made their way up to the eruption site on Saturday evening—the “Worker’s Holiday”—and on Sunday to see the spectacle with their own eyes.
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