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Holuhraun Crater as Big as Iceland’s Tallest Church

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Holuhraun Crater as Big as Iceland’s Tallest Church

Hallgrímskirkja

Hallgrímskirkja. Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

The crater which has formed at the Holuhraun eruption site in the northeastern highlands is now 80 meters (263 feet) tall, higher than the second-tallest building in Iceland and Iceland’s tallest church, Hallgrímskirkja in Reykjavík, which measures 74.5 meters. The crater is 100 meters wide and several hundred meters long.

A helicopter above the Baugur crater in Holuhraun.The crater seen from the air late last year. A sightseeing helicopter is flying close to its edges.

Scientists traveled to the eruption site yesterday for the first time in six weeks. During that time they have monitored the eruption from the air. The lava field has grown significantly and now measures 84 square km (32 square miles); it’s the same size as Manhattan and Copenhagen.

The expedition’s leader, geophysicist Gro Birkefeldt Møller Pedersen, told ruv.is that the lava is constantly moving further to the north and has flowed across Road 910.

“We now see more activity in the northern part of the crater where the heat has increased, while the southern part is cooling down,” Gro explained. Air surveillance has revealed that cracks have formed in the edge of the crater, which could cause one of its walls to collapse.

The wall’s collapse could change the course of the lava. It might start flowing to the northwest and expand the lava field to the west.

One of the expedition’s purposes is to study the composition of gases emitted by the eruption, research their effect on people’s health and try to predict how the gas emission will develop.

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