The volcanic system had been dormant for over 900 years when it woke up to spew hot lava over Iceland. But the eruption is considered small and the volcanic activity now seems to be slowing down somewhat, according to authorities.
In recent weeks, more than 50,000 earthquakes have been registered in Iceland, a clear signal that something has been going on.
On Friday evening, an eruption occurred in the volcanic system Krýsuvík-Trölladyngja on the Reykjanes peninsula, about 40 km southwest of the capital Reykjavik and near the famous Blue Lagoon.
– I can see the glowing red sky from my window, said Rannveig Gudmundsdottir, living in Grindavík about eight kilometers from the volcanic eruption, to the news agency Reuters.
Seismic activity is detected primarily through measurements of the ground surface. Another important part is Insar, abbreviated to Interferometric synthetic-aperture radar, which Ny Teknik has previously written about. Read more in this article about how movement in the volcanic system is recorded down to the millimeter level and monitored by authorities and researchers.
Lava emerges from a volcanic fissure
Bubbling lava erupted from a crack in the ground at Fagradalsfjall and it continued to flow on Saturday.
Krýsuvík has been inactive for the past 900 years and the last volcanic eruption on Reykjanes occurred in 1240, according to the Icelandic Meteorological Agency IMO.
However, the circumstances are stated to be the best possible. According to the authorities, the eruption does not pose a serious threat to either important infrastructure or the inhabitants of the coastal town of Grindavík, which is the nearest inhabited area.
Decreased activity during the day
“Currently, the eruption is considered small and volcanic activity has decreased slightly since last night,” the IMO wrote in a statement early on Saturday afternoon.
The area closest to the volcanic system is uninhabited and has been cordoned off for the curious. Immediately after the eruption, residents east of Krysuvik were urged to close windows and stay indoors in the event that sulfur oxide formed during the eruption is spread by the wind.
“At present, gas emissions are not expected to cause much discomfort to humans except near the source of the outbreak,” the IMO said, noting that levels would be closely monitored.
32 active volcanic systems
Iceland has 32 volcanic systems that are considered active, according to the news agency AFP. This is the highest number in Europe and the country is hit by an outbreak on average every five years.
The most recent occurred at the volcanic system Bardarbunga in an uninhabited area in the central part of Iceland. The outbreak lasted for six months, from August 2014 to February 2015, and did not cause any major disruptions.
But when the volcano Eyjafjallajökull erupted in the spring of 2010, the ash cloud that arose stopped more than 100,000 flights and stranded about ten million passengers.