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New Lava Covers Area Larger than Hafnarfjörður

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New Lava Covers Area Larger than Hafnarfjörður

Lava at Holuhraun

The new lava. Photo: Jóhannes Benediktsson.

The lava from the eruption at Holuhraun is flowing at a rate of approximately 100 meters per hour. It is estimated that 100 million cubic meters (3.5 billion cubic feet) of lava have flowed from the fissure since the eruption began, now covering 18.6 square km (7 square miles), an area larger than Hafnarfjörður, a town outside Reykjavík.

Volcanologist Þorvaldur Þórðarson told ruv.is that judging by the productivity of the volcanic fissure in Holuhraun, he doubts that the lava, which has traveled 14.5 km (9 miles) so far, can travel much further than 20 km.

The lava continues to flow into glacial river Jökulsá á Fjöllum, which continues retreating. “It has reached the westernmost branch, which is the largest … When the lava comes in contact with the water, it boils, and then the river moves away from the lava and the lava continues its advance,” Þorvaldur said in description of the events.

Scientists quickly abandoned the eruption site on three occasions yesterday because of suddenly heightened levels of toxic gases, ruv.is reports.

The air quality is being monitored in North and East Iceland following increased pollution levels because of the eruption in Reyðarfjörður on Saturday. The blue haze which has been hanging over East Iceland in past days has disappeared for now.

Director of Health Haraldur Briem said if the sulfur dioxide pollution turns out to be long term and the levels increase, it will be a matter of concern because of people’s health. It acidifies in water and can also have an impact on vegetation.

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