Dormant volcano in Iceland gushes lava after nearly 900 years!3 min readReading Time: 3 minutes
After sleeping for nearly 900 years, a volcano near Iceland’s capital Reykjavik came to life and started spewing glowing red lava last week.
Hundreds of small earthquakes shook the area last week, after which the volcano erupted, turning the night sky orange. Streams of lava bubbled and flowed out of a fissure in a valley in Geldingadalur, close to Mount Fagradalsfjall on the Reykjanes peninsula in southwestern Iceland.
(Watch the video below for stunning visuals of the lava flowing from the fissure! )
Though a popular tourist destination, an international airport and a small fishing port are just kilometres away from the eruption, authorities said there is no real danger to people, and that the volcano appeared to be subsiding.
“The eruption is considered small at this stage and the volcanic activity has somewhat decreased,” the Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO), which monitors seismic activity, said in a statement.
It said the “eruptive fissure“, from where the lava was emerging, measured approximately 500 to 700 metres (1,640 to 2,300 feet). The lava area, it added, was less than one square kilometre, with small lava fountains.
This eruption took place in the Krysuvik volcanic system, which does not have a central volcano.
Volcano gases can be fatal!
Access to the area was initially blocked off, but later opened to the public, though Iceland’s Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management stressed the several-hour hike from the nearest road was only recommended for those used to being outdoors in difficult conditions.
Gases from a volcanic eruption – especially sulphur dioxide – can be elevated in the immediate vicinity, and may pose danger to health and even be fatal. Gas pollution can also be carried by the wind.
“Currently, gas pollution is not expected to cause much discomfort for people except close up to the source of the eruption. The gas emissions will be monitored closely,” the IMO said.
Owliver’s Obscure Facts
Iceland has 32 volcanic systems currently considered active, the highest number in Europe. The country has had an eruption every five years on average.
More eruptions likely
Though the Krysuvik system has been inactive for the past 900 years, the region had been under increased surveillance for several weeks after a 5.7-magnitude earthquake was registered on February 24 in the area.
(These scientists were hungry for a snack, so they cooked hotdogs at the volcano! Watch the video below.)
Since then, more than 50,000 smaller tremors had been registered, and magma was detected just one kilometre under the Earth’s surface in recent days. Geophysicist Gudmundsson was quoted as saying that the eruption signalled a new period “which may last centuries, with eruptions possibly 10 years to 100 years apart.”
Sources: Al Jazeera, Firstpost, BBC