Volcanic Ash Still a Hazard in South Iceland Skip to content

Volcanic Ash Still a Hazard in South Iceland

Although the volcanic eruption in Eyjafjallajökull has come to an end, the ash that has already fallen in south Iceland is still creating problems.

Ash haze in south Iceland in the first days of the eruption. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.

The wind whirled up ash below the Eyjafjöll mountain range and eastwards to the Sólheimasandur plain yesterday and the visibility on a stretch of the Ring Road was extremely poor due to dust in the air, making it temporarily impassible.

Firefighters from the capital region and Rangárvallasýsla county hosed off the roofs and driveways of houses located at the base of the eastern Eyjafjöll yesterday, Morgunbladid reports.

Today, two teams of employment seekers from the South Iceland Employment Agency will help out with ash cleaning and road restoration on behalf of the municipalities Rangárthing eystra and Mýrdalshreppur.

“We are also looking for groups of volunteers who could help out this week and next week,” said Vagn Kristjánsson, director of the Heimaland service center.

Sheep have been moved from a few farms in the ash fall area east across Mýrdalssandur plain to pastures operated by the South Iceland Agricultural Society and the Soil Conservation Service of Iceland.

The residents of one farm opted to move their sheep to relatives in Mosfellsbaer and one cattle farmer was given space in a cowshed outside the ash fall area for his milking cows.

Sveinn Sigurmundsson, managing director of the South Iceland Agricultural Society, said the most important project ahead is to secure enough fodder for livestock in the ash fall area.

Although the grass will grow quickly in the current heat wave, there is a layer of ash on fields which makes traditional haymaking difficult.

There is a risk of the ash getting mixed in with the hay, which makes it unpalatable. The fluorine content of the ash will be monitored closely in the coming days.

Finnbogi Magnússon, managing director of the farming equipment company Jötunn vélar, said he is looking into whether certain haymaking equipment could solve the ash problem.

The machine he has in mind costs ISK 25 million (USD 191,000, EUR 155,000) but Magnússon said his company is prepared to help finance the project.

“[Haymaking] depends on the weather and whether the eruption will continue. But even if this is just a break, it makes the work of farmers in the area easier and allows time to evaluate conditions,” said Eiríkur Blöndal, managing director of the Farmers’ Association of Iceland.

Meanwhile, residents in the ash fall area are relieved that the volcano in Eyjafjallajökull has stopped erupting. Rev. Halldór Gunnarsson at Holt below the Eyjafjöll mountain range said it is no coincidence that the eruption ended last Sunday.

“I am convinced that it is no coincidence that the eruption ended on Whitsun. It is like the prayers of many people were answered through the power of the Holy Spirit,” Gunnarsson said, pointing out that Whitsun is considered the founding day of the Christian Church.

Click here to read more about Whitsun and here to read other eruption-related news.

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