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Gases from Iceland’s volcano threaten nearby village

Harmful gas pollution from the eruption could be in the capital on Saturday

Harmful gas pollution from the eruption could hit the capital every Saturday.

Harmful gases from an Icelandic volcano threaten to pollute the air of a nearby village and spread to the capital Reykjavik, the Icelandic Meteorological Bureau (IMO) said Friday.

The weather agency said it expected particularly heavy gas pollution in Vogar, a village of some 1,000 residents about three miles northeast of Fagradalsfjall, the uninhabited valley where the volcano is located.

It said the pollution could reach Reykjavik, 40 kilometers from the volcano, by Saturday.

Concentrations of sulfur dioxide can reach up to 2,600 micrograms per cubic meter, a level considered “unhealthy for sensitive people” according to Iceland’s Environment Agency.

But the IMO warned that their models were uncertain because the “flow from the eruption is very uneven”.

The warning came after measurements showed that activity had halved at the volcanic fissure, which has been spewing glowing lava since Wednesday, and that the length of the fissure had shrunk from an initial 360 meters (1,181 feet) to about 130 meters.

Though more powerful than a previous eruption in the same area last year, the initial lava flow from about 32 cubic meters (1,130 cubic feet) per second had decreased to about 18 cubic meters per second on the second day, according to a late assessment published Thursday.

“This behavior is very similar to what is usually observed during eruptions in the land — the eruption is powerful at first and then decreases,” the Institute of Earth Sciences said in a statement.

The lava field from the eruption covered 144,000 square meters on Thursday.

“The (lava) flow is strongest in the center of (the fissure) and there are indications that it may extend to the north,” authorities warned.

The pressure in the tunnel feeding the eruption is not balanced, which geophysicists say could lead to another eruption in a new location.

“New fissures can open in the immediate vicinity of the eruption site with little notice,” the IMO said.

Visitors have come to the eruption in record numbers to admire the lava flow.

More than 4,200 people walked the 14-kilometer round trip to the site on the Reykjanes Peninsula in southwestern Iceland on Thursday, according to authorities, about two hours from the nearest parking lot.

Spectators flock to Icelandic volcano

© 2022 AFP

Quote: Gases from the Icelandic volcano threaten nearby village (2022, Aug 5) retrieved Aug 6, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-08-gases-iceland-volcano-threaten-nearby.html

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