After a 900-year nod, a volcano in Iceland erupted on Friday (March 19th), throwing melting lava trends into its wings and washing the night sky cloudy into an ominous orange red.
The magnificent and fiery photographs show the Fagradalsfjall volcano, located about 25 miles (40 kilometers) southwest of Reykjavik near the Reykjavishn Peninsula, with streams of orange-red lava coming out of a crack at the top. A brave visitor flew with a drone immediately over the shiny lava river and the eruption of the erupting volcano.
The eruption comes after three weeks intensification of seismic activity in the area over which the island nation recorded more than 50,000 earthquakes. volcano started lava flowing around 4:45 pm ET on Friday (8:45 pm local time) and continued throughout the weekend.
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“It is absolutely astonishing,” 21-year-old engineer Kari Johannsson told AFP news agency Ulvar. “It smells very bad. To me, what was surprising was the colors of orange: much, much deeper than expected.”
“The eruption is considered small at this stage and the volcanic activity has somewhat decreased since yesterday evening,” the Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO) said in a statement. The fissure from which the lava is approximately 1,640 to 2,300 meters (500 to 700 meters) wide, according to the IMO.
Although Keflavik Iceland International Airport and the fishing town of Grindavik are only a few miles from the site of the eruption, lava flows are not expected to pose any danger. This is because volcanic eruptions in the region are so-called eruptive eruptions, where lava comes out of the ground at a steady rate instead of building up and erupting outside like Iceland Eyjafjallajökull the volcano did in 2010. Eyjafjallajökull released clouds of ash heavily into the atmosphere, halting European air traffic for weeks until the ash had settled.
The greatest threat that these types of explosions can pose is from the gases they emit – in particular, sulfur dioxide, which can be fatal in quite large doses. Although IMO reported on Saturday that does not expect pollution from this particular blast to have detrimental health effects, the Met office has warned nearby residents to keep their windows closed.
“Currently, gas pollution is not expected to cause much concern to humans, except near the source of the explosion,” the IMO said. “Gas emissions will be closely monitored.”
Geophysicist Magnus Tumi Gudmundsson told AFP that the eruption signaled a new eruption period, “which could last for centuries with eruptions, perhaps 10 years to 100 years with separation.”
Iceland is known for its volcanic activity, with 32 active volcanic systems; this is because the island is located at the top of the mid-Atlantic ridge, which was formed as a result of a giant fissure at the bottom of the ocean between which the plates of North America and Eurasia slide against each other as they move in opposite directions.
It is this motion that can cause earthquakes and large flows of molten rock, known as magma, to rise rapidly toward the surface. The exploding material that pushes through that crack also forms the ridge itself.
Originally published in Live Science.