Wed. Jul 24th, 2024

FORECASTERS have warned that gas pollution is likely to hit the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik following a volcanic explosion on Monday.

The Met Office delivered the update on Tuesday morning as lava continues to spew from the Sundhnuks crater near the town of Grindavik.

EPALava continues to spew from the Sundhnuks crater near the town of Grindavik following Monday night’s eruption[/caption]

EPAThe eruption’s intensity stabilised by 3:00am on Tuesday morning[/caption]

ICELAND MET OFFICE/UNPIXSThe volcano erupted late on Monday night and gas pollution is now likely to hit the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik[/caption]

The eruption is happening about 30km from Reykjavik but boffins are expecting the city to be hit by gas “within hours”.

The eruption late on Monday on the Reykjanes peninsula in southwest Iceland spewed lava and smoke more than 100 metres (330 feet) into the air after weeks of intense seismic activity.

But an Icelandic government statement insists “the eruption does not present a threat to life”.

The lava also appeared to be flowing away from Grindavik, the only town in the area, offering hope that homes and lives would be spared.

And while that may well be the case, an associate professor at the Institute of Earth Sciences at the University of Iceland claims the seismic activity could be far from over.

“It could potentially go on for several months,” said Halldor Geirson. “It could also just stop later today or tomorrow.”

Lava flows had decreased from 200-250 cubic meters per second in the first two hours of the eruption to around a quarter of that by Tuesday morning.

While Geirson said most of the lava was flowing into an area where there was little infrastructure, things could still change.

“There is still a threat to Grindavik, for sure,” he said.

“Now, the lava is flowing mostly to the north, but it depends on the topography and where the openings are.”

For weeks, the Nordic country had been anticipating an eruption in the area, prompting authorities to evacuate almost 4,000 people from Grindavik on November 11.

The eruption eventually began on Monday, December 18 at around 10:17pm local time, before the intensity stabilised by 3:00am on Tuesday morning.

The Meteorological Office added “the activity is decreasing”, although it was unable to estimate how long it would last.

“We now wait to see what the forces of nature have in store,” Iceland President Gudni Johannesson wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

He added that protecting lives and infrastructure was the priority.

“We hope for the best but it is clear this is a considerable eruption,” Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir also wrote on Facebook.

In 2010, ash clouds from eruptions at the Eyafjallajokull volcano in the south of Iceland spread over large parts of Europe, forcing hundreds of residents to evacuate their homes.

It also grounded some 100,000 flights in Europe and beyond.

Weather forecasting service AccuWeather said the current eruption was very different from the one at Eyafjallajokull and that preliminary information suggested it won’t have a major impact on air travel.

“If little to no volcanic ash is lofted into the atmosphere, there may be no impact to aviation,” AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Jon Porter said.

The 2010 impact on air travel was largely caused by the interaction of magma with the melting water from a glacier.

“This is a different case,” said Luca D’Auria, director of the Volcano Monitoring Area of the Instituto Volcanologico de Canarias in Spain’s Canary Islands, another volcanic hot spot.

“The only possibility that the eruption would be more explosive and therefore generate ash, volcanic ash, which can pose a problem for the aviation, would be a propagation southward in the sea.”

The Icelandic government have also reassured flyers that flights will continue as normal in and out of the country.

A spokesperson said on Tuesday: “There are no disruptions to flights to and from Iceland and international flight corridors remain open.”

Regardless, travellers are now waiting to see if their flights to Iceland will be delayed or even cancelled thanks to the region’s latest eruption.

The last flight from Keflavik airport was apparently an easyJet flight to Manchester which was delayed by over five hours.

The proximity of the volcanic eruption to Iceland’s capital city Reykjavik

EPAPolice have blocked roads and secured a perimeter following the explosion[/caption]

ICELAND MET OFFICE/UNPIXSNervous locals are now waiting for what’s in store after experts warn that the seismic activity could last ‘for months’[/caption]


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