New Lava Vandalised by Visitors

Geldingadalir eruption lava

Visitors to the ongoing eruption on Iceland’s Reykjanes peninsula are urged not to walk on the new lava at the site or throw rocks onto it in a notice from the Environment Agency of Iceland. New lava is a unique geological formation that is protected under the Nature Conservation Act and throwing rocks on it or vandalising it in any other way is considered a violation. The lava’s black surface may appear solid but the top layer can be quite thin and hiding flowing, molten lava underneath.

Hot lava up to 1200°C

Visitors to the eruption may have noticed the heat that emanates from the site, even from the edge of lava fields that appear solid. “The lava is extremely hot and can take a long time to cool, especially as the eruption can continue even though we don’t see movement in the crater itself,” the Environment Agency notice states. “The lava then flows under the black shell in lava caves or domes. The lava shell can easily break and underneath it there can be lava up to 1200°C [2192°F].” Not only is walking on the lava dangerous, it can damage the formations, which are protected.

Environment Agency rangers are manning the start of the hiking trail to inform and educate guests on how to enjoy the eruption in a safe and respectful way. “The lava from the volcanoes in Geldingdalir is a unique geological monument that we need to respect and protect,” the notice states. “There we are probably witnessing the first shield volcano eruption in Iceland since the country was settled.”

Ploughed illegal path through lava

Rocks and pedestrians are not the only damage that the active lava field has faces since the eruption began last March 19. Last week, police stopped a man that was ploughing a path through the lava without a permit. The man is believed to have been sent by landowners but Fréttablaðið reported there was no licence for the operation and authorities were not informed.

The ploughman had dug a path through the lava field along so-called Hiking Path “A,” which was cut off by lava in June, closing off a popular look-out slope near the eruption’s active crater. Authorities have put up a sign to inform visitors that the path is closed, but expressed concern that some visitors might take it anyway. “It’s very dangerous to let people into a closed area like this,” stated René Biasone of the Environment agency. “If people walk in there they’re entering an area that is surrounded by lava. If the lava starts flowing again where it was ploughed they will be closed in.”

New crevasses on former look-out spot

The former look-out slope is also unsafe for another reason: the Icelandic Met Office reported yesterday that new crevasses have formed on the slope, which appear to have formed in the past two weeks. The crevasses were are probably caused by tensile stress and may have been caused by small earthquakes or land movement due to changing pressure of magma below the surface.

Unemployment Rate Continues To Drop

Westman Islands fish processing plant

According to a monthly report from the Directorate of Labour, registered unemployment rates stood at 6.1% in July, a considerable drop from June’s 7.4% and February of 2021’s 11.4%. While just over 2000 people were removed from unemployment listings between June and July, long-term unemployment numbers are still high, nearly doubling since last year.

By the end of July, 12.537 individuals were unemployed. The Directorate of Labour predicts that unemployment rates will continue to drop in August due to the government’s employment drive and increased activity in society. Their estimate puts august unemployment rates at 5.3-5.7%.

By the end of July, 5.361 job seekers had been unemployed for more than 12 months. That number went down by 457 since June but is still considerably higher than it was at the same time last year when that number stood at 2.854. The Directorate predicts that the number of long-term unemployed will continue to drop in the near future.

In total, 1.123 new jobs were advertised with the Directorate of Labour in July. The positions are in various industries but most were in the service industry or about 396.

According to Minister of Social Affairs and Children Ásmundur Einar Daðason, we’re nearing the same number of unemployed as in February 2020, before the COVID pandemic. “That’s amazing.” Ásmundur stated. “we’re expecting unemployment rates to continue to drop over the next few months and the numbers show that the action we’ve taken for the job market is proving successful.”