Iceland Eruption Remains Stable

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Iceland Eruption Remains Stable

The volcanic eruption on Fimmvörduháls between the glaciers Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull in south Iceland remained even and stable last night, according to geophysicist Gunnar B. Gudmundsson at the Icelandic Meteorological Office.

Eyjafjallajökull. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.

The force has not increased gradually as it did yesterday but continued evenly throughout the night, although there have been some fluctuations, Gudmundsson described to ruv.is.

Around 8:30 pm last night there was a steam explosion at the eruption zone when magma touched ice. A column of steam rose seven kilometers into the air. Last night ten smaller earthquakes were measured underneath the Eyjafjallajökull volcano.

“It was spectacular and magnificent as is usually the case with volcanic eruptions, especially in this environment. The interplay of nature doesn’t become more magnificent than this—eruption between two glaciers above Thórsmörk [a green highland valley surrounded by glaciers],” Thór Kjartansson, a member of the Air Ground Rescue Team of Reykjavík (FBSR), told Morgunbladid.

Kjartansson and three of his team members managed to drive very close to the eruption site on ski-doos yesterday before the road was closed due to stormy weather. They took samples of the ash for scientists who were close by in a snowmobile with the Hella Air Rescue Team but had to move back because of the storm.

“Lava spurted from the fissure and there is now a large lava field extending towards Thórsmörk. The volcanic jets seemed mighty powerful and a beautiful volcanic rim was starting to form,” Kjartansson described.

He said the eruption is located directly on the popular hiking path which leads across the Fimmvörduháls pass—the sticks marking the path go straight into the crater. So the path must be marked again next summer, provided the eruption will have stopped by then.

There are no signs indicating that eruption is calming down. Yesterday it seemed as if the fissure had extended to the northeast, but that turned out not to be the case.

Ágúst Gunnar Gylfason of the Civil Protection Department was on shift in the coordination center in Skógarhlíd in Reykjavík last night. He told ruv.is that the night had been quiet near the eruption.

Yesterday, evacuation was not deemed necessary anymore and the residents of the 14 farms who had not been allowed to return home on Sunday could sleep in their own beds last night.

Police officers were on shift during most of the night in Fljótsdalur valley by the old bridge over Markarfljót to ensure that the road to Thórsmörk remained closed.

Due to stormy weather it was not safe to drive below the Eyjafjöll mountain range last nights. Truckers sought shelter at Heimaland and Skógar where they waited for the storm to calm.

Roofing slates blew off houses in south Iceland and the wind speed reached 50 meters per second in some areas. There is still stormy weather in south Iceland and the forecast for the region remains poor.

Click here to watch a slideshow taken from the Westman Islands yesterday morning on behalf of RÚV.

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