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Mývatn Residents to Name New Lava

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Mývatn Residents to Name New Lava

Baugur crater, Holuhraun eruption.

Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

According to a new bill on place names currently being handled at Alþingi, the Icelandic parliament, it is the responsibility of the respective municipality to name new natural phenomena within its borders, which means that the regional authority in the Mývatn area is to name the new Holuhraun lava field, 641.is reports.

The bill reads: “If a new natural phenomenon requires a name, the respective regional authority is to make a suggestion following the review of the place name committee. If the phenomenon lies outside the borders of municipalities, the minister [under whose authority regional affairs fall, that is, the minister of the interior] is responsible for the naming.”

The Holuhraun eruption, which is located in the northeastern highlands north of Vatnajökull glacier, lies within the border of Skútustaðahreppur municipality, which includes Lake Mývatn and the surrounding area. “We will not bail on finding a good name for the lava,” head of the municipality Jón Óskar Pétursson declared.

Volcanologist Ármann Höskuldsson told Stöð 2 that given its size—it’s now the size of Manhattan—the new lava field is deserving of a grand name. Holuhraun won’t do, he reasoned, as there are already two other lava fields with that name.

At the beginning of the eruption, Ármann described it as a fire-breathing dragon (dreki in Icelandic), suggesting names such as Drekahraun or Drekaborgir, which is fitting, given that there is a Drekagil canyon in the vicinity.

Volcanologist Þorvaldur Þórðarson suggested Nornahraun, or ‘Witch’s Lava,’ after it turned out that the eruption was producing Pele’s hair (nornahár in Icelandic), volcanic glass threads or fibers formed when small particles of molten material are thrown into the air and spun out by the wind into long hair-like strands.

Nornahraun is the name used in maps and images of the lava field published by the Icelandic Met Office.

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