Another Eruption in Iceland

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Another Eruption in Iceland


After a lull in activity, fresh lava has once again poured from the Reykjanes peninsula in southwestern Iceland.

The latest eruption—the third in the region since December 2023—began early on February 8, 2024, with lava spraying up to heights of 80 meters (260 feet) along a 3-kilometer (1.8-mile) long fissure near Mount Sýlingarfell. The small peak is north of the fishing village Grindavík and east of the Svartsengi power station and Blue Lagoon geothermal spa.

About seven hours after the eruption began, the MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) on NASA, The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Terra satellite captured this image of a plume of gas and ash streaming to the southwest. This eruption was effusive—not explosive like the Eyjafjallajökull eruption in 2010—and the plume contained minimal ash, so it has not caused any disruptions to either domestic or international flights.

Volcanic plumes like the one shown here typically contain water vapor, sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, and small amounts of other volcanic gases. Researchers from the Icelandic Met Office and the University of Iceland have noted that, at times, magma has interacted with groundwater, adding to the amount of water vapor in the plume. The TROPOMI (Tropospheric Monitoring Instrument) on the Sentinel-5 Precursor mission observed sulfur dioxide (SO2) within the plume, Michigan Tech volcanologist Simon Carn noted on X.

 

The topography around the fissure means that much of the fresh lava flowed east into unpopulated areas rather than south toward Grindavík. Some lava also flowed west into the vicinity of the power plant and spa.

Earthen barriers are protecting both facilities, though lava did burn through a key hot water pipeline and two roads. According to the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service RÚV, authorities are in the process of restoring hot water to homes in the area after conducting repairs on the pipeline.

After the initial burst of activity on February 8, the intensity of the eruption faded. In an update on February 9, the Icelandic Met Office reported that seismic sensors had stopped detecting volcanic tremors and that a recent drone flight showed no activity over the eruption site—signs that the eruption was ending.

NASA, The National Aeronautics and Space Administration Earth Observatory image by Lauren Dauphin, using MODIS data from NASA, The National Aeronautics and Space Administration EOSDIS LANCE and GIBS/Worldview. Story by Adam Voiland.




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