Weekly Report 30.07-05.08

It happened. For anyone, who reads these weekly reports this should not come as too big of a surprise. Iceland’s newest eruption began in the Meradalur area, a valley located behind Fagradalsfjall, very close to the previous eruption. RUV webcams caught magma surfaced at 1:18 PM. According to the first geological estimations, this won’t be a large and robust eruption. The most welcomed information among Icelanders was that the eruption did not paralyze air traffic. Now the only thing which can bring chaos is the fleed of tourists wanting to fly in and experience eruption from up close. 

The crack in the ground is about 300 meters long. This is about 5-10 times bigger. At the same time, it doesn’t mean it will be a large eruption or exceed the previous one. On the other hand, this one might last longer taking to account the amount of magma in the first 24 hours. A lava pond is forming and will likely drain into Meradalir.

Icelandic officials are trying to spread the information about the potentially hazardous conditions at the place of eruption. It is possible that pollution can be detected due to gas release. Until the scientists are evaluating the area it is advised against approaching the new volcanic eruption. There have already been reports of two tourists injured at the eruption site. Lava can have very sharp edges. If you lose your balance or fall over you might be seriously injured. 

The hike to the new eruption site is longer than the one from last year, Fagradalsfjall where you could get in a little over one hour. At a minimum, it’s a 7 kilometers route (4,5 miles) one way with an incline of about 300 meters (0,2 miles). The way back and forth will take around 4-5 hours. Hikers should also be prepared for strong winds and rapidly changing weather conditions. 

An alternative for those who already know that this route will be too demanding for them is to reach the viewing platform, located 2 kilometers earlier. To get there hikers need to take route A all the way up Fagradalsfjall and then they walk the plain towards the north vest until the volcano is visible.

Since yesterday, the eruption has diminished somewhat. The crack has narrowed from 300 to 100 meters. On the other hand, geophysics stated that the pressure in the magma tunnel has not been equalized which suggests the possibility of further fissures opening up.

Thud, thud… Thud – that is how the last few days before eruption felt like. In only 3 days over 10000 earthquakes struck the Reykjanes peninsula. The strongest, which occurred 3.3 km away from Grindavik, reached 5.5 magnitudes. The residents of the village were mostly affected by the tremor. Thankfully no one was injured but the earthquake led to damage to the water supply pipe.  

A few days before the eruption Volcanologist Ármann Höskuldsson stated in an interview with Morgunblaðið that it is absolutely sure that an eruption will occur on the Reykjanes peninsula. According to the specialist, the entire peninsula releases tensions accumulated over the last 700-800 years, which will lead to 10 – 20 eruptions over the next 100 – 200 years. According to him, the most important thing now is to prepare for the eruption, especially securing the infrastructure. Höskuldsson also mentioned that the time has come to discuss an alternative airport to Keflavik Airport. Thankfully, this eruption didn’t threaten air space in Iceland but any other one can potentially shut down the airport for several weeks.

Retired geophysicist Páll Einarsson pointed out that questions about the eruption have nothing to do with the magnitude of earthquakes. According to the scientist, we were dealing with releasing tension quakes that may, but don’t have to have anything to do with the movement of magma. He also recalls that the earthquakes significantly decreased in strength two days before last year’s eruption.   

Just before the eruption(did they know?) big celebrities came to visit Iceland. First, a photo of Gordon Ramsey posing with a fish caught by him in one of Iceland’s rivers appeared on social media, and then John Travolta‘s arrival to Iceland was confirmed. The actor flew to Iceland in a private jet with his family. 

To balance it a bit the last news is not related to the eruption. The former carpenter who lives in Gaulverjabærn, Guðmund Þórðarson grew up at his farm…  Iceland’s longest beard. The measured length is more than 180 centimeters. Guðmund has already received a few offers for his beard. The highest bid is 350.000 ISK(around 2500$).

The word for Today is ‘Eldgos’, it is something we have been talking about in this report a lot and we are pretty sure you can guess its meaning 🙂