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Volcanic eruption resumes northeast of Sýlingarfell, Reykjanes Peninsula, Iceland

Volcanic eruption resumes northeast of Sýlingarfell, Reykjanes Peninsula, Iceland

Volcanic eruption near Grindavik, Reykjanes Peninsula, Iceland resumed early Thursday, February 8, 2024.

At 05:30 UTC this morning, the intensity of small earthquake activity started northeast of Sýlingarfell. About 30 minutes later, an eruption began in the same area, the Icelandic Met Office (IMO) reports.

For the first few minutes, the crack extended both to the north and to the south.

Based on the first reports from the Coast Guard’s surveillance flight, the eruption is in the same area as the one that erupted on December 18.

The crack is currently about 3 km (1.8 miles) long and runs from Sundhnúk in the south to the eastern end of Stóra-Scógfell.

Lava flows mostly to the west at this stage but appears to be slightly smaller than at the beginning of the eruption on December 18.

The jets reach a height of about 50 – 80 m (165 – 262 feet) and the plume rises to a height of about 3 km (9 800 feet).

The Aviation Color Code was raised to Red.

“Iceland Met Office confirms eruption started near 63.52N 022.25W,” the London VAAC reported at 06:21 UTC. “Eruption is most likely effusive lava, so there will be no further advisories unless ash is confirmed.”

iceland eruption february 8 2024 seen from IMO office
New eruption as seen from IMO office on the morning of Thursday, February 8, 2024. Credit: IMO

Lava approached the evacuated town of Grindavik, just north of the defense wall that leads to Sýlingarfell, at around 10:00 UTC

The Norwegian Meteorological Agency has received reports of slag (igneous rock) that has fallen to the ground in Grindavík.

The slag is very flaky and light, and can therefore move considerable distances downwind with a gust of water. The reason that pyroxene is now falling to the ground in Grindavík, 3 – 5 km (1.8 – 3.1 miles) from the eruption, is a combination of the height of the magma plumes, wind direction, thermal flow from the lava bed and low air temperature.

It can be sharp as glass so special care should be taken when handling it. Image credit: IMO

Updates

20:19 UTC, February 8

The vigor of the eruption is decreasing, IMO reported at 17:15 UTC. The eruptive activity is currently in two or three locations on the eruptive fissure. The explosive activity which began between 13:00 and 14:00 UTC is now mostly over, but minor convective clouds rise from some parts of the fissure.

Synchronously with the decreasing vigor of the eruption, the deformation signals detected at the dyke area diminished, indicating that magma is no longer ascending under as much pressure as before.

Soon after the onset of the eruption, seismic activity decreased significantly and has remained minor thus far. About 20 small earthquakes have been detected over the dyke since 08:00 UTC.

The map shows outlines of the lava flow as it was seen on a satellite image taken at 12:31 UTC. The satellite image shows that lava flowed furthest about 4.5 km (2.8 miles) to the west of the eruptive site.

For comparison, the lava flow field that formed on December 18, 2023, is also shown on the map. Today’s lava flows partly over the lava flow formed in December 2023.

lava flow map iceland reykjanes february 8 2024
Image credit: IMO

07:54 UTC, February 9

Iceland’s Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management announced a state of emergency following a volcanic eruption that resulted in lava flowing over and bursting a pipe carrying geothermal water.

This incident has left over 20 000 residents without access to hot water, including Reykjavik’s Keflavik Airport, which, despite losing hot water, continued to operate normally.

The civil protection authority has advised residents in the affected area to limit their use of electric heaters to one per household to prevent power outages. Efforts to restore hot water through an emergency pipeline are underway but are expected to take several days.

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