From Iceland — VIDEO: Reykjanes Eruption Decreasing In Intensity, Still Magnificent

VIDEO: Reykjanes Eruption Decreasing In Intensity, Still Magnificent

Published December 19, 2023

Photo by
Art Bicnick

The eruption that began on the Reykjanes peninsula December 18 continues to emit fountains of lava, though the 4 km fissure that initially opened has consolidated down to two active vents at the time of writing.

An eruption began on the Reykjanes peninsula around 22:17, in the area between Sýlingarfell and Hagafell, just north of the town of Grindavík and east of the Blue Lagoon and Svartsengi Power Plant. The fissure is estimated to be over 3 km long along Sundhnúkagígar crater row.

While the eruption was producing up to 200 cubic tonnes of lava per second when it first began, the estimated flow by Tuesday night was a quarter of that initial output. The current flow is still greater than was seen in the 2021, 2022 and July 2023 eruptions at Fagradalsfjall, to the east of the current eruption site.

The latest lava flow modelling shows that the lava could reach Grindavíkurvegur (the road running from Reykjanesbraut on the north coast of Reykjanes to the town of Grindavík on the south coast) by Christmas day.

The Reykjavík Grapevine’s publisher Jón Trausti Sigurðarson and videographer Art Bicnick travelled to the site of the eruption Tuesday afternoon to report on the situation. Note that they had permission and a police escort. The site is not open for unauthorised visitors.

Stay Away!

Despite the waning activity, the area is on high alert. New fissures can open without warning and people are not to visit the site. Though members of the press were permitted into Grindavík Tuesday afternoon with a police escort, the town was fully evacuated around 19:00 in response to the latest risk assessments from the Icelandic Meteorological Office. Kristín Jónsdóttir, a department head at the met office, said in her announcement on the latest assessment at 19:00 that new fissures can open near the currently eruption.

Authorities are asking people to spare a thought for the volunteers of the search and rescue teams before considering hiking to the eruption site. It would take an experienced hiker four to five hours to hike the extremely rough terrain to the eruption site. Visibility is poor, the ground is both uneven and wet and slippery, and the gas in the area poses health risks.

Just stay home. Please.

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