Reykjanes Eruption: New Vent Opens And Lava Flow Increases

Flowing lava

Today marks 30 days from the start of the Fagradalsfjall eruption on the Reykjanes peninsula. Originally one of the smaller eruptions in recorded history, the lava flow in the eruption has been stable and even increased slightly in the past week or so, according to new data from the University of Iceland’s Institute of Earth Sciences.

University of Iceland geologists state that the average lava flow for the first 30 days is 5.6 m3/second and that compared to other recent eruptions, the flow is relatively stable. There’s even been a slight increase for the past week or two. Despite this increase, the flow is only half of the average flow of the first 10 days at Fimmvörðuháls in 2010, which itself was a relatively small eruption. Compared to the large 2014 Holuhraun eruption, the current eruption only produces 6-7% of the average lava flow for the six-month duration. A comparable lava flow occurred in the Surtsey eruption, starting in April 1964 and lasting until June 1967.

The latest data on the lava field’s size and the average lava flow state that the flow from all craters in a six-day period from April 12-18 was on average just under 8 m3/second, which confirms that the eruption’s lava flow is increasing as more vents open up on the erupting fissure. The lava field is now around 0.9 km2.

Below is an overview of the lava flow issued by the University of Iceland’s Institute of Earth Sciences.

University of Iceland Institute of Earth Sciences

On Saturday, yet another eruption opening opened up on close to earlier eruption points. It’s a small opening located in the lava field close to another crater in the area. This likely won’t change much in the development of the eruption but what’s interesting is that scientists may have discovered indicators for new eruption points opening. At around 13.20 on Saturday, natural hazard experts with the Icelandic Met Office noticed that the strength of tremors in the vicinity of the eruption dropped close to the eruption. This had happened before, for an hour or longer, before new vents opened up. Once the natural hazard experts on duty noticed the tremor strength dropping, they notified emergency responders on the scene, asking them to monitor the lava flow closely and watch for new vents. Shortly afterwards, a notice came back from the eruption, notifying the met office that a new vent had opened up.

There’s a precedent for the tremor strength dropping before new vents opening up but there are also some examples of the tremor strength dropping without new vents opening. While tremor drops can indicate new vents opening up, they don’t indicate the new vent’s location. Natural hazard experts at the Icelandic Met Office will continue to monitor the eruption, particularly how and when new vents open up and what precedes new openings.

Three Wins for Pop Star Bríet at Icelandic Music Awards

Bríet - Icelandic pop singer wins the Icelandic Music Awards in 2021

The annual Icelandic Music Awards were held in Reykjavík last Saturday. Pop musician Bríet, who received seven nominations, took home three awards in the categories Pop Album of the Year, Lyricist of the Year, and Female Singer of the Year. Female artists won in six out of the nine Best Album genre categories.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, nominees were invited to attend the presentation of the awards in small groups. The presentations were pre-recorded shortly before the ceremony was broadcast on Saturday evening. The broadcast did feature five live performances by nominees, however, including Best Jazz Album winner Ingibjörg Turchi and crowd favourite GusGus.

Read More: Bríet at the 2018 Iceland Airwaves Festival

Sigur Rós received this year’s Honourary Award for their contribution to Icelandic music over the past 17 years (the band was established in 1994). Unsurprisingly, Iceland’s Eurovision representative Daði Freyr won Best Pop Song for last year’s viral hit Think About Things.

A playlist featuring all of this year’s nominees is available on Spotify. The full list of winners is below.

2021 Icelandic Music Awards Winners

Pop, Rock, Rap, Hip Hop, and Electronic Music 

POP – BEST ALBUM
Kveðja, Bríet  – BRÍET

ROCK – BEST ALBUM
Endless Twilight of Codependent Love  – Sólstafir

RAP & HIP HOP – BEST ALBUM
VACATION  – CYBER

ELECTRONIC MUSIC – BEST ALBUM
Visions of Ultraflex  – Ultraflex

POP – BEST SONG
Think About Things – Daði Freyr

ROCK – BEST SONG
Haf trú – HAM

RAP & HIP HOP – BEST SONG
Geimvera  – JóiPé x Króli

ELECTRONIC MUSIC – BEST SONG
Think Too Fast  – JFDR

BEST MUSICAL EVENT
Heima með Helga

BEST LYRICIST
Bríet Ísis Elfar

BEST SONGWRITER
Hjaltalín

BEST MALE SINGER
Högni Egilsson

BEST FEMALE SINGER
Bríet Ísis Elfar

BEST PERFORMER
Bubbi Morthens

BEST MUSIC VIDEO (awarded in collaboration with albumm.is)
Sumarið sem aldrei kom – Jónsi. Leikstjórn: Frosti Jón Runólfsson

BRIGHTEST HOPE (emerging artist awarded in collaboration with Rás 2)
Gugusar

 

CLASSICAL AND CONTEMPORARY MUSIC 

BEST ALBUM
John Speight, Solo Piano Works  – Peter Máté

BEST COMPOSITION
Accordion Concerto – Finnur Karlsson

BEST FESTIVAL
Sönghátíð í Hafnarborg

BEST CONCERT
Brák og Bach

BEST FEMALE SINGER
Álfheiður Erla Guðmundsdóttir

BEST MALE SINGER
Stuart Skelton

BEST SOLO PERFORMER
Víkingur Heiðar Ólafsson

BEST GROUP PERFORMER
Icelandic Symphony Orchestra

EMERGING CLASSICAL ARTIST
Steiney Sigurðardóttir (cellist)

 

JAZZ AND BLUES

BEST ALBUM
Meliae – Ingibjörg Turchi

BEST ORIGINAL COMPOSITION
Four Elements – Haukur Gröndal

BEST SONGWRITER
Sigurður Flosason

BEST SOLO PERFORMER
Haukur Gröndal

BEST GROUP PERFORMER
Frelsissveit Íslands

BEST MUSICAL EVENT
Reykjavík Jazz Festival

BRIGHTEST HOPE (emerging artist award)
Laufey Lín Jónsdóttir


OTHER MUSIC: OPEN CATEGORY, FOLK AND WORLD MUSIC, MUSIC FOR FILM AND THEATRE

BEST ALBUM – MUSIC FOR FILM AND THEATRE
Defending Jacob – Atli Örvarsson & Ólafur Arnalds

BEST ALBUM – FOLK AND WORLD MUSIC
Shelters one  – Jelena Ciric

BEST ALBUM – OPEN CATEGORY
EPICYCLE II – Gyða Valtýsdóttir

BEST SONG/COMPOSITION – OPEN CATEGORY
Astronaut  – Red Barnett

BEST ALBUM ARTWORK
PLASTPRINSESSAN  – K.óla:
Kata Jóhanness, Katrín Helga Ólafsdóttir, Ása Bríet Brattaberg, Arína Vala Þórðardóttir, Ída Arínudóttir, Elvar S. Júlíusson

BEST PRODUCTION
Meliae – Ingibjörg Turchi:
Sound engineer: Birgir Jón Birgisson, mixing and mastering: Ívar Ragnarsson

COVID-19 in Iceland: Widespread Testing to Determine Scope of Virus Spread

Director of Civil Protection Víðir Reynisson, Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason, Director of Health Alma Möller

Iceland’s health authorities will conduct both targeted and randomized SARS-CoV-2 testing in the coming days to help establish how far the virus has spread in the community. The results of the testing will determine whether harsher restrictions are necessary to contain the spread of COVID-19. Iceland reported a spike in cases over the weekend linked to two group infections, which can be traced to individuals breaking traveller quarantine.

Iceland reported 27 new domestic cases of COVID-19 yesterday, most connected to a group outbreak at a Reykjavík preschool. Authorities stressed the importance of getting tested immediately when experiencing even the mildest symptoms that could point to COVID-19 and staying home until a negative result is received. Symptoms of COVID-19 can be very mild and can include fever, fatigue, cough, muscle aches, breathing difficulties, vomiting, diarrhoea, and sudden changes to sense of taste or smell.

The following is a lightly-edited transcription of Iceland Review’s live-tweeting of today’s COVID-19 briefing.

 

Stay tuned for a live-tweeting of Icelandic authorities’ COVID-19 information briefing, beginning shortly at 11.03am. On the panel: Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason, Director of Health Alma Möller, and Director of Civil Protection Víðir Reynisson.

Numbers have been updated on covid.is. Iceland reported 27 new domestic cases yesterday (just 2 out of quarantine) and 2 at the border. Total active cases: 97; 3 in hospital. 29,686 have been fully vaccinated, 8% of the population. Most of yesterday’s cases are connected to a group outbreak at Jörfi preschool in Reykjavík, according to a representative of the Civil Protection Department.

The briefing has begun. Víðir says authorities are tracing the group outbreaks that are ongoing. He encourages the public to not judge everyone based on the actions of a few, although those actions have had consequences.

Þórólfur goes over the numbers. Several people tested positive over the weekend in two group infections, one linked to a preschool in Reykjavík. Both group infections can be traced back to people breaking quarantine and going to work while experiencing flu-like symptoms. Many people were tested yesterday and even more will be tested today but the situation shows that just one infection can set off a wave of new infections if people aren’t vigilant.

Þórólfur: These group outbreaks show the importance of going to get tested when experiencing even the slightest symptoms. Go and get tested if experiencing even the mildest symptoms and stay at home until you receive your results. Both group infections involve the British variant of the virus. At the moment, it’s not clear if we need to tighten restrictions but Þórolfur reminds the public that the infections we’re discovering now occurred before changes were made to border restrictions.

Authorities are conducting broad testing to determine the spread of the virus including randomised testing to see if the virus has spread further into the community. The results of these tests will help determine if tighter restrictions are needed.

Vaccinations continue this week: 10,000-15,000 are scheduled to receive a dose this week. The AstraZeneca vaccine will continue to be used for people over the age of 60.

Þórólfur urges the public to keep up their personal infection prevention practices and get tested as soon as they experience even the slightest symptoms. Alma takes over, calling the development of cases over the weekend “a disappointment. We can’t let this get us down, instead let’s focus on what we need to do and what we need to do better.”

She repeats Þórólfur’s statement about people needing to get tested when experiencing even the slightest symptoms and goes over the list of possible symptoms of COVID-19. Symptoms can include fever, cough, muscle aches, breathing difficulties, vomiting, diarrhoea, and sudden changes to sense of taste or smell. Some people can experience very mild symptoms. Alma reminds people to stay at home after the test until they receive their result. The easiest way to book tests is online at heilsuvera.is but you can also contact your local healthcare clinic or call 1700.

We’re still learning about this British variant, says Alma, and healthcare authorities have a feeling, albeit unconfirmed, that the British variant isn’t detectable as early as the other variants we’ve seen here. This hypothesis is based on the data that shows more people are now testing positive in the second border test than the first one.

Companies should be ready to support people who need to stay out of the workplace due to symptoms. While the majority of people testing positive yesterday were in quarantine, most of them hadn’t been quarantined for long so there’s a possibility that they infected others before going into quarantine.

The panel takes questions. Þórólfur is asked about the need for requiring travellers to quarantine in government-run hotels. Þórólfur states that the quarantine regulation infractions occurred before the increased surveillance of home quarantines began. Þórólfur still believes, however, that requiring people to quarantine in quarantine hotels would have minimised the risk of people breaking quarantine. Capital Area Police are looking into the case of the person who broke quarantine, Víðir does not have information on if they will be charged.

Police are not yet making home visits to people in quarantine but they’re making more calls and there’s a “low threshold” for police reaction if there’s the slightest indication that people are breaking quarantine. There are ongoing legal procedures to verify the legality of home visits to enforce quarantines and the police want to be extra sure there is a legal basis for making home visits.

Teachers will be vaccinated around the start of next month and preschool teachers will likely take precedence as preschools are strategically important for keeping society running. Authorities reacted as soon as they learned of the quarantine breaker but the disease doesn’t reveal itself until a week or two has passed since the infection, making it hard to suppress. At this point, we don’t know how the future with the virus looks. We might have to vaccinate annually but we don’t know at this point.

Asked if the quarantine period between border tests is too short, Þórólfur states that the cases of people testing positive after two negative border tests are so rare that it’s not necessary to start thinking about changing border procedure (for ex. requiring longer quarantine). 70% of those who test positive upon arrival from abroad have presented a negative PCR test certificate before departure.

Víðir ends the meeting by stressing the importance of getting tested if you’re feeling even slightly different from normal. When experiencing the slightest symptoms, such as an upset stomach, dry throat, unusual fatigue, or headache: get tested. Víðir: “Let’s not relax now.” The briefing has ended.

 

Iceland Review will live-tweet authorities’ next COVID-19 briefing here.

Customers of “The Icelandic Bar” from April 9 Invited for COVID-19 Testing

Íslenski barinn the Icelandic Bar

All customers of the Icelandic Bar on Ingólfsstræti in Reykjavík on April 9 have been invited to undergo a COVID-19 test. A COVID-positive individual went to the bar on that day. Bar guests do not have to go into quarantine but are asked to keep to themselves until they receive their test results.

Over 20 people tested positive yesterday, a spike compared to case numbers in recent days. Most of the cases are linked to a group outbreak at a Reykjavík preschool. It has yet to be confirmed how many of the cases were in quarantine at the time of diagnosis.

Icelandic health authorities will hold a COVID-19 briefing at 11.03am UTC today, which Iceland Review will live-tweet here.

Chinese Authorities Blacklist Icelander In Response To Sanctions

Foreign Minister Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarsson.

An Icelandic lawyer has been blacklisted by Chinese authorities over his vocal critique of China-related matters, mbl.is reports. While he is not likely to be affected by the measures, Minister for Foreign Affairs Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson has called the blacklisting “unacceptable.” Iceland has recently agreed to participate in sanctions against China with several other nations over the treatment of Uighurs in Xinjiang.

An Icelandic man working as a lawyer was called to a meeting in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs last Friday where he was notified that he was the only Icelander on the Chinese authorities’ blacklist, mbl.is reports. Among the repercussions are a China travel ban and financial assets in China, if any, are frozen.

Iceland’s ambassador in Beijing Gunnar Snorri Gunnarsson was notified of the Chinese authorities’ decision yesterday. Sveinn H. Guðmarsson, a representative from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told mbl.is that Icelandic authorities objected to the decision. The Icelandic ambassador in Beijing objected to the representative of the Chinese Ministry for foreign affairs when he received the news and the Chinese ambassador to Iceland had a meeting in the ministry of foreign affairs where the objections were repeated. “It was also pointed out that Icelanders have full freedom of expression. This individual is in no way responsible for any Icelandic government actions that authorities in China might disagree with, Sveinn told mbl.is.

The blacklisted individual is Jónas Haraldsson. He told mbl.is that he was notified that the action against him was due to his criticism of the Chinese embassy, China’s part in the COVID-19 pandemic and Chinese tourists. Jónas added that he was proud of being the only Icelander who was on the Chinese list. He also told RÚV that the blacklist wasn’t likely to affect him as he had no assets in China and no plans to travel there.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson stated that Chinese government tactics to punish people for using exercising their freedom of expression in countries where is unacceptable. “I think the polite word to use is that it’s completely unacceptable to apply this to an Icelandic citizen just for using their freedom of expression. We made the very clear to Chinese authorities both here in Reykjavík as well as in Beijing.” Despite Iceland’s protests, Guðlaugur does not believe that Chinese authorities will change their minds.

Last month, Iceland agreed to participate in sanctions against China along with nations such as the US, the UK, Canada, Norway and the nations of the EU. Iceland has criticised China’s behaviour towards the Uighurs both in the united nation’s human rights Commission and in communication with the Chinese authorities.

The Chinese Embassy posted a statement on their website last Friday, confirming that the blacklisting was a response to Iceland’s participation in the sanctions:

“Based on nothing but lies and disinformation, Iceland follows EU’s unilateral sanctions on relevant Chinese individuals and entity, citing the so-called human rights issues in Xinjiang. This move breaches international law and basic norms of international relations, and severely undermines China-Iceland relations. The Chinese Foreign Ministry has summoned Icelandic Ambassador to China to lodge solemn representations, expressing firm opposition and strong condemnation. China has decided to impose reciprocal sanctions on one individual on the Icelandic side who seriously harms China’s sovereignty and interests by maliciously spreading lies and disinformation.

China is firmly determined to safeguard its national sovereignty, security and development interests. We demand that Iceland should truly respect China’s sovereignty, security, and development interests, and stop interfering in China’s internal affairs under the pretext of human rights issues.”