Eruption Update, Pollution Warning, Sheep Roundup Skip to content

Eruption Update, Pollution Warning, Sheep Roundup

The Icelandic Met Office has issued a warning due to high concentration of sulfur dioxide (SO2) from the Holuhraun eruption which is expected to extending from the northern East Fjords, north to Langanes peninsula until noon tomorrow, Saturday.

The Scientific Advisory Board with scientists from the Icelandic Met Office and the Institute of Earth Sciences and representatives of the Civil Protection in Iceland, met at noon today to discuss the situation. Representative from The Environment Agency of Iceland and the Chief Epidemiologist and the Directorate of Health were also present.

Their conclusions include the following:

The eruptive activity at Holuhraun continues at similar intensity. Lava flows at similar rates as yesterday. The lava is flowing towards East into Jökulsá á Fjöllum, slightly narrowing its path. No explosive activity due to the lava and river water interaction has been observed, but steam rises from the lava.

Scientists flying over the Bárðarbunga area yesterday reported no new changes in the surface of the glacier. The volcano lies under the Vatnajökull icecap.

Air quality due to SO2 is being monitored and the Icelandic Met Office on its website if necessary. The Environment Agency will set up new monitoring stations in Akureyri and in South Iceland today.

People who feel discomfort are advised to stay indoors, close the windows and turn off air conditioning. Measurements of air quality can be found on the website

Earthquake activity in the caldera of Bárðarbunga remains similar to that of the last days. Epicenters are distributed along the northern and southeastern caldera fault. Earthquake activity at the dike tip has decreased. More than 50 events have been detected since midnight. Low frequency tremor has decreased.

GPS observations indicate minor crustal movements around the dike supporting the assumption that the amount of magma flowing into the dike slightly exceeds the flow of magma erupted to the surface.

Considering the time period since the beginning of the eruption slow movements towards the Bárðarbunga caldera indicate continuing subsidence of the caldera. A new GPS station was installed on top of Bárðarbunga yesterday to monitor the subsidence of the caldera floor.

Three scenarios are considered most likely:

– Subsidence of the Bárðarbunga caldera stops and the eruption on Holuhraun declines gradually.
– Large-scale subsidence of the caldera occurs, prolonging or strengthening the eruption on Holuhraun. In this situation, it is likely that the eruptive fissure would lengthen southwards under Dyngjujökull, resulting in a jökulhlaup (glacial outburst flood) and an ash-producing eruption. It is also possible that eruptive fissures could develop in another location under the glacier.

– Large-scale subsidence of the caldera occurs, causing an eruption at the edge of the caldera. Such an eruption would melt large quantities of ice, leading to a major jökulhlaup, accompanied by ash-fall.

Other scenarios cannot be excluded.

The Aviation Color Code for Bárðarbunga remains at ‘orange’ and the code for Askja is now ‘green.’ reports that farmers in Fljótsdalur, East Iceland, have decided to speed up sheep roundup due to risk of potential ash-fall and flood in Jökulsá á Fjöllum in the case of a sub-glacial eruption in Bárðarbunga.

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