In Iceland, the awakening of a dormant volcano for eight centuries

The lava flow erupted at around 8:45 p.m. GMT on Friday evening from a crack in the ground in Geldingadalur, near Mount Fagradalsfjall, about 40 kilometers southwest of the Icelandic capital Reykjavik, lighting up the night with a red cloud, showed spectacular aerial views of the eruption. It is considered at this stage to be small, the lava flow being less than a square kilometer, said the meteorological service which monitors seismic activity, stressing the low ” eruptive activity in this area “.

The Krysuvik volcanic system, south of Mount Fagradalsfjall, 5 kilometers inland in southwest Iceland, has no main crater, and it had been inactive for 800 years, according to the Meteorological Bureau , the last eruption on the Reykjanes peninsula dating back to 1240.

Increased surveillance for weeks

Icelandic Keflavik International Airport and the small fishing port of Grindavik are each located a few kilometers from the site, to the north and east, respectively, but the area itself is uninhabited and the eruption is unlikely to show any signs of damage. danger. However, the authorities said that fragments of tephra (solidified magma) and gas emissions, including sulfur dioxide, could occur, thus recommending residents living east of the volcano to close their windows and stay away. interior due to the risk of gas pollution.

The area had been under increased surveillance for several weeks after a magnitude 5.7 earthquake was recorded on February 24 near Mount Keilir, southwest of Reykjavik. This earthquake has since been followed by an unusual number of smaller tremors. Seismic activity has since moved several kilometers to the southwest, concentrating around Mount Fagradalsfjall, where magma had been detected just one kilometer below the Earth’s surface in recent days.

Iceland has 32 volcanoes currently considered active, the highest number in Europe. The country experiences an eruption every five years on average – the island straddles the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a fissure in the ocean floor separating the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates.

The most recent eruption took place in Holuhraun, from August 2014 to February 2015, in an uninhabited area in the center of the island. In 2010, the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano disrupted air traffic for more than a week because of clouds of smoke and ash sent into the atmosphere. This scenario is excluded in the present context, the lava eruption being said “ effusive », Unlike explosive eruptions which spit clouds of ash at very great heights in the sky.


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