“The worst is over,” said Icelandic Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir today, “and now the clean-up can begin. Our geoscientists say that the eruption is waning day by day and that the problems arising in our neighboring countries as a result of volcanic ash should be resolved quickly.”
Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir. Photo by Geir Ólafsson.
Prime Minister Sigurdardóttir, Minister of the Interior Ögmundur Jónasson, and National Police Commissioner Haraldur Jóhannessen traveled around the area of south Iceland that has been hardest hit by falling ash since the Grímsvötn volcano began to erupt on Saturday evening.
The impact of the eruption is largely limited to a small area of Iceland. Elsewhere, daily life has continued as usual, a press release from the Prime Minister’s Office states.
The PM expressed her admiration for the 1,000 south Iceland residents affected by the volcano, citing their optimism and perseverance, and thanked civil defense and volunteer rescue squad personnel for a well-organized and well-executed effort.
On Friday the authorities plan to appraise the damage sustained by farmers and tourism operators in south Iceland.
“Iceland has been struck by a natural disaster, and the government is already preparing a number of measures to assist residents, clean up the areas affected by volcanic ash, and return farming and other economic pursuits to normal,” said the PM at the conclusion of her visit.
According to geoscientists, the Grímsvötn eruption is diminishing day by day. It is a phreatic eruption that generates large amounts of ash. The ice surrounding the eruption vent melts, and the water in the Grímsvötn lake pulverizes the volcanic debris, creating the ash.
Every second, about 100 tons of volcanic debris is expelled from the volcano, as opposed to 10-20,000 tons per second on Sunday, at the peak of the eruption.
The plume of ash is now 3-5 km high, down from 8-10 km at this time yesterday and 15-20 km at the height of the eruption.
The ash cloud is not expected to extend beyond Iceland in the days to come; therefore, it can be assumed that the ash in the upper atmosphere that is currently disturbing air traffic will disperse or fall to the earth with precipitation soon.
Air traffic to and from Iceland resumed yesterday and today, and all foreign travelers who were unable to leave the country have now returned home.
In the early phase of the eruption, every possible effort was made to ensure travelers’ safety and well-being, and no accidents or mishaps have been reported.
The tourism authorities are of the opinion that this year’s tourist season will be as strong as previously projected and that Iceland can expect a record number of travelers to the country during the year.
A map of the area of Iceland most strongly affected by volcanic ash from Grímsvötn. This part of south Iceland is home to some 1,000 inhabitants. Click on the picture to enlarge it.
Geophysicist Magnús Tumi Gudmundsson stressed to ruv.is that the eruption in Grímsvötn is not over, although it is not nearly as forceful as it was at earlier stages.
He warns people about traveling too close to the crater due to the risk of explosions. People should keep a distance of at least two kilometers.
Click here to watch a new video from RÚV, shot by Gunnlaugur Starri Gylfason shortly after midnight last night.
Please note: The next issue of the print edition of Iceland Review will include extensive coverage of the eruption. If you subscribe now, you will receive a photo book by IR editor/photographer Páll Stefánsson of the eruption in Eyjafjallajökull as a gift.
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