Volcano erupts in South Iceland

mbl.RAX_.littleAfter weeks of small earthquakes in the area, the Fimmvorduhals volcano near the Eyjafjallajokull glacier has finally erupted, causing disruption to flights and a spate of evacuations.

Photo: mbl.is/RAX

The volcano is sending a plume of ash and smoke in a westerly and north westerly direction due to easterly winds. The amount of ash being generated appears to have peaked between 07.00 and 08.00 this morning, according to volcanologists.

The molten lava has created a 500m-1km rift in the snow and the large majority of the lava flow is to the west with the rest flowing down the slope to the east.

The lava flows are reported to be remarkably even and there are 12 of them at present.

Over 600 people were forced to leave their homes in the area and many are now taking shelter in a school. It is already clear they will not be allowed to return home today or tonight; but as the greatest danger is the smoke and ash, their return will largely be decided by wind direction and the weather forecast.

Red Cross workers at the school say everybody is calm and comfortable and that spirits are high. The beauty of the eruption is almost as high in people’s minds as the danger.

This was not true for two scientists who had permission to drive to Fimmvorduhals yesterday and were rescued from their broken down car shortly before the mountain ‘blew its top’.

Those expecting to travel today are also badly affected, with Icelandair flights stranded in the USA and international passengers stranded in Iceland. While domestic flights are suspended indefinitely, international passengers are advised to check their flight status online, as a reduced flight schedule is now underway.

Volcanologists from the Icelandic Meteorological Office are relieved that today’s long-awaited eruption appears to be relatively gentle and did not cause flooding by melting glacier ice. However, they fear it could trigger a much more severe eruption at the nearby Katla volcano, which has a fearsome reputation for destruction.

Information about the eruption can be seen in Polish here.

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