October 23, 2021

Beyond Going Long

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The volcano has been spewing lava continuously for nearly half a year: the country's longest eruption in 50 years

The volcano has been spewing lava continuously for nearly half a year: the country’s longest eruption in 50 years

According to the Icelandic Tourism Authority, this natural phenomenon has so far attracted 300,000 visitors from all over the world. Tourists sometimes see a slow flow of lava, but other times the AFP approached more dramatic streams of geyser-like stones.

This Icelandic volcano’s sixth eruption in the past 20 years has already lasted longer than the previous one, which occurred in the Holuhraun lava field between August 2014 and February 2015. “Six months is a reasonably long eruption,” Volcanologist Thorvaldur Thordarson told AFP.

The Icelanders called the lava field created by this latest eruption “Fagradalshraun,” which means “beautiful valley of lava.” The name is also inspired by the nearby Fagradalsfjall.

The volcano has so far released 143 million cubic meters of magma, a relatively small volume compared to the aforementioned Holuhraun eruption, which produced the largest lava flow on the island in 230 years.

Geophysicist Halldor Gerson said the current eruption is “unusual in the sense that it has a relatively continuous flow (of lava)”. “The usual behavior of volcanoes in Iceland is that they are very active at first and then the lava flow gradually decreases until it stops.” Geirsson added. The longest eruption occurred in Iceland in more than five decades – on the island of Surtsey off the country’s southern coast. It lasted nearly four years, from November 1963 to June 1967.

In 2010, ash from the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull halted international air traffic between Europe and North America for several days over fears of potential damage to aircraft engines. More than 100,000 flights have been canceled, killing millions of passengers at airports.

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