Lava Flow Slows Down as Gas Pollution Spreads Skip to content

Lava Flow Slows Down as Gas Pollution Spreads

By Steindor Gretar Jonsson

Volcanic eruption at Sundhnúksgígar
Photo: Almannavarnir. The lava flow has decreased since last night..

The intensity and size of the volcanic eruption at Sundhnúksgígar on the Reykjanes peninsula has diminished. The lava flow is now estimated to be about one-quarter of what it was when the eruption began just before midnight yesterday and only a third of the original fissure is active.

The Icelandic Meteorological Office has posted an update on the volcanic eruption, based on visual estimates from a reconnaissance flight earlier today. The development of the eruption is similar to the eruption at Fagradalsfjall which began in 2021, where the fissures are starting to contract and form individual eruption vents. Currently there are about five eruption vents spread along the original fissure and the lava fountains are lower than when the eruption began, reaching about 30 meters at their highest.

Pollution noticeable 115 km away

“According to information from scientists who went on a second helicopter flight with the Icelandic Coast Guard at around 04:00 UTC today, the total length of the fissure eruption has not changed much from the beginning,” the notice reads. “There was little activity at the southern end of the fissure near Hagafell, and the majority of the lava flow is heading east towards Fagradalsfjall. Two streams reach west, both north of Stóra-Skógfell.”

At the time of the notice’s publication at 2:30 PM today, the volcanic plume was drifting from west and northwest. “Gas pollution might be noticeable in Vestmannaeyjar today, but not elsewhere in populated areas,” the notice continues, referring to the populated archipelago off the south coast of Iceland, some 115 km from the fissure. “According to the weather forecast, gas pollution might be detected in the capital area late tonight or tomorrow morning.”

More pollution than in previous eruptions

According to a RÚV report, air pollution could be ten times greater than in recent eruptions in the Reykjanes peninsula. The release of sulphur dioxide could be somewhere between 30 and 60 thousand metric tonnes per day. A spike in pollution has already been detected in Selfoss, 68 km east from the fissure and along the coast south of the town of Þorlákshöfn. The amounts in these areas, however, have not reached levels that would endanger public health.

The volcanic eruption in Reykjanes is ongoing. We will continue to update this story as it develops.

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