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Fourth volcanic eruption in Iceland since December

  • March 19, 2024
  • 2 min read
Fourth volcanic eruption in Iceland since December

Southern Iceland has declared a state of emergency following the fourth volcanic eruption since December. The fast and powerful lava flows bean late on Saturday, 16th March, but flows had been “slow and steady” since Sunday morning, according to the country’s Met Office, IMO.

They reached the eastern and mostly evacuated town of Grindavik and the IMO reported that the lava was around 200m from the region’s water pipe. That pipe is near to a geothermal powerplant that supplies hot water to most of the Reykjanes Peninsula, an area home to nearly 30,000 people.

There could be “dangerous” consequences if the lava reaches the sea as it flows southwards, the head of department at the Norwegian Meteorological Agency said.  “If lava, which is alkaline, comes into contact with sea water, chlorine fumes can be produced,” Kristin Jonsdottir  quoted by Iceland’s public broadcaster (RUV). She warned of “minor explosions” if the lava interacts with seawater. Activity had dissipated around the 3km long fissure.

All that could be done to prepare for the flow of lava had been, according to Vídir Reynisson, the director of Iceland’s civil defence who added that the impact on infrastructure was the biggest concern, along with pools of lava gathering near defences. He told reporters on Sunday that all roads to Grindavik would be closed.

The eruption began after 20:23 local time on Saturday north of Grindavik according to the IMO. This is not too far from the location of the eruption that began on, 8th December. Footage showed clouds of smoke and glowing magma oozing and bubbling from vents in the earth.

However, unlike the 2010 eruption, it has not affected the main international airport north-west of Grindavik.

Iceland is home to 33 active volcano systems and sits over the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the boundary between two of the planet’s largest tectonic plates. The last time the Reykjanes Peninsula had a period of volcanic activity was 800 years ago with eruptions continuing for decades.

This is the country’s seventh eruption since 2021 and scientists believe that the area is entering a new volcanic era that could go on for decades or even centuries.

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