Uplift resumes, considerable air pollution from eruption in Reykjanes Peninsula, Iceland

The latest eruption in Iceland’s Reykjanes Peninsula has entered its 14th day with one crater active and relatively stable. Land uplift has resumed over the past weekend and considerable pollution is now being measured in many parts of the capital Reykjavik and the western part of South Iceland.

Activity at the eruptive crater is stable, and seismicity has been very low in the last week, with only a few detected earthquakes. Other measurements suggest that land uplift has started again, and the subsidence that was detected in the first few days of the eruption has ended.

According to the Icelandic Met Office (IMO), the rate of uplift cannot be estimated at this time, but it is assumed that the inflow of magma is larger than the outflow from the one active crater.

As reported last week, lava flow began to increase at the roots of Sýlingarfell to the west, and Grindavík road was inundated by lava for the third time since the volcanic activity began at Sundhnúkur in November 2023.

“The lava tongue still progresses and is now flowing to the northwest along a similar channel as the one that flowed over Grindavík road on Saturday,” IMO said on June 11.

However, its active flow front is still a few hundred meters away from the road and moves very slowly. Lava is still accumulating in a lava pond just southeast of Sýlingarfell and could burst again and trigger another surge of lava in the next few days.

reykjanes peninsula eruption iceland june 10 2024 swir
Image credit: Copernicus EU/Sentinel-2, The Watchers. Acquired on June 10, 2024

Gas concentration exceeds health limits

Considerable pollution from the eruption was measured in many parts of the capital area and in the western part of South Iceland on June 11.

Data showed the highest levels of SOin the capital area have exceeded 500 μg/m3 and the pollution was expected to persist throughout the day.

“It is preferable to limit physical activity outdoors and avoid letting infants sleep outdoors during such high concentrations of gas in the air,” IMO said.

“This morning [June 11], fog clouds have settled over the western part of the country, and there has also been visible volcanic smog caused by the conversion of SO2 gas into SO4. When the day is long, as it is now, there is an increased chance that volcanic smog will form.”

Volcanic smog is not measured on SO2 gas detectors, but is visible as a blue mist when a certain concentration is reached.

Southeasterly winds are expected on June 12, blowing gas to the northwest.


1 Considerable pollution measured from the eruption – IMO – June 11, 2024


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