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Lava Covers 60 Square Km, Scientists Reconsider Scenarios

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Lava Covers 60 Square Km, Scientists Reconsider Scenarios

Holuhraun eruption lava

New lava at Holuhraun. Photo: Bernard Meric.

The lava which has flowed from the craters in Holuhraun now covers 60 square km (23 square miles). The eruption is ongoing, although the volcanic activity has decreased somewhat since it began in late August. Seismicity continues and sulfur dioxide (SO2) gas pollution remains a problem.

The earthquakes come in swarms, which often end with a large earthquake. The subsidence of the caldera of Bárðarbunga volcano, under Vatnajökull glacier, continues in connection with the seismic activity. Bárðarbunga feeds the Holuhraun eruption through an intrusive dike.

Kristín Jónsdóttir, director of the Icelandic Met Office’s natural hazard division, told mbl.is that scientists are considering whether movements in a circular crevasse in the icecap on top of the caldera is causing water to flow into it and encourage seismicity.

A group of scientists are using the time when the eruption is status quo to examine data more closely and re-estimate the situation. This may lead to an update of possible future scenarios. Current scenarios include a possible sub-glacial eruption.

Holuhraun lies north of Vatnajökull in the northeastern highlands, far from inhabited areas, but the SO2 emitted by the eruption is causing pollution around the country. Today and tomorrow, the gas is expected to mostly drift across West Iceland.

Roads leading to Holuhraun remain closed to the public and winter conditions will soon make the eruption site inaccessible to all. However, sightseeing flights are still running.

Click here to see pictures of the lava flow taken from the air yesterday.

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