Hard to Predict How Long Iceland Eruption Will Last

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Hard to Predict How Long Iceland Eruption Will Last

Geophysicist Magnús Tumi Gudmundsson said at a press conference in Hvolsvöllur earlier today that it is difficult to predict how long the volcanic eruption in Eyjafjallajökull will last. It could end tomorrow but it could also last for as long as two years.

Photo by Ragnar Axelsson. Copyright: mbl.is.

Gudmundsson said the eruption had started in the best possible location. He described it as small; smaller than the eruptions in Hekla and smaller than the last eruption in Krafla, mbl.is reports.

However, the fissure, which is currently one kilometer in length, could extend to the west and move underneath the glacier, which could cause flooding.

The Civil Protection Department explained that a decision had been made to close roads and evacuate houses because their response plan is based on the worst case scenario.

The eruption had started during the night and because it had proven difficult to get a clear picture the situation right away, it was deemed best not to take any risks.

Farmers who live in the area have now been allowed to return to their farms to feed their animals and the road has been reopened.

However, only people who have a sound reason for traveling in the region are allowed to enter—police say they have already asked a number of tourists to go back.

Geophysicist Steinunn Jakobsdóttir said during the press conference that what is unusual about this eruption is that considerably little activity had been measured on earthquake sensors—much less than in earlier volcanic eruptions. In fact, people didn’t realize that an eruption had started until they saw the flames flare across the sky.

Although the last eruption in Eyjafjallajökull occurred in 1821, it hasn’t erupted in this exact location, Fimmvörduháls, in thousands of years, Gudmundsson said. It is very windy in the area and difficult to predict how the eruption will develop.

Geophysicists are now monitoring Katla, the neighboring volcano, closely, as the Eyjafjallajökull eruption might set it off.

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