Now that tourists can visit the Holuhraun eruption site, they must pay close attention to the levels of toxic volcanic gases in the area as the lava field will continue to degas for several months. This will soon be possible on the websites vedur.is and loftgaedi.is.
Scientists from the Icelandic Met Office were at the eruption site on Tuesday to establish further gas meters for this purpose, along with other meters and web cams, ruv.is reports.
“I’ve put up three meters for the Environment Agency of Iceland and they will record gas levels, in the same way as the gas meters during the eruption,” said Baldur Bergsson, a gas specialist at the Met Office. “A similar system is being established for the Met Office’s website, for our meters,” he added.
In early March, one week after the eruption, the gas concentration in the crater reached fatal levels and Baldur said the situation there hasn’t changed much.
“Two-and-a-half weeks ago … I measured … 120,000 µg/m3 of sulfur dioxide in the crater. It hasn’t changed much, the area is clearly still very active and … very unstable,” Baldur stated.
During the eruption, if SO2 levels in inhabited reached 2,000 µg/m3, people were advised to stay inside. Since the eruption ended on February 27, gas pollution hasn’t reached inhabited areas.
The restricted area in the highlands has been significantly reduced and people can now travel within 20 meters (66 feet) of the new lava. However, traversing the lava remains prohibited.