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Eruption Stable, Pollution Reaches Reykjavík

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Eruption Stable, Pollution Reaches Reykjavík

Holuhraun Crack forming

A crack forming in the ground at Holuhraun. Photo: Geir Ólafsson

The volcanic eruption in Holuhraun continues at a similar rate as in the last few days and the subsidence of the Bárðarbunga caldera continues at the same rate as before.

On Saturday residents in Reykjavík noticed a smell of sulfur and there was a haze over the mountains in the east. Now, on Sunday morning, the weather has changed, it is raining and the pollution is not considered likely to spread wide and far.

The earthquake activity continues. On Saturday about 160 earthquakes were detected at the Bárðarbunga caldera and the northern part of the dike. The largest earthquakes were at the northern rim of the Bárðarbunga caldera at 1:10 am of magnitude 5.1 and at 5:11 pm of magnitude 5.0. Two earthquakes of magnitude 4.0 and 4.5 occurred at the southern rim of the caldera at 5:04 pm and 5:05 pm.

Around 30 quakes were reported from midnight until Sunday morning, most of them hitting around the northwestern Vatnajökull glacier, where Bárðarbunga lies. The four largest events were all in northern part of the Bárðarbunga caldera. Webcams show no visible changes to the eruption in Holuhraun.

Scientists consider three scenarios to be most likely for the development of the eruption:

- The eruption on Holuhraun declines gradually and subsidence of the Bárðarbunga caldera stops.

- Large-scale subsidence of the caldera occurs, prolonging or strengthening the eruption in Holuhraun. In this situation, it is likely that the eruptive fissure would lengthen southwards under Dyngjujökull, resulting in a glacial flood and an ash-producing eruption. It is also possible that eruptive fissures could develop in another location under the glacier.

- Large-scale subsidence of the caldera occurs, causing an eruption at the edge of the caldera. Such an eruption would melt large quantities of ice, leading to a major glacial flood, accompanied by ash fall.

They stress that other scenarios cannot be excluded.

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