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Volcanic Eruption at Eyjafjallajökull Glacier, South Iceland

Martin Sammtleben, 21. March 2010

After weeks of increased seismic activity an eruption started just before midnight on Saturday 20. March.

It is a typical, basaltic fissure eruption currently about 1 km in length. Although the lava shoots up to 300 metres high, it is considered a small eruption. It’s located on the Fimmvörðuháls mountain pass, a popular hiking route, right between the Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull glaciers. Since it’s not underneath the glacier cap, there is no immediate danger of floods. Some 500 people have been evacuated from the area and air traffic has been delayed.

RÚV, the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service, has some interesting video footage taken before dawn and later that morning. Another icelandic site has a series of images.

The eruption has been stable so far, but it’s uncertain, how long it will last. Scientists are concerned though, because historically an eruption in this area has always been followed by an eruption of Katla, a much more powerful volcano under the Mýrdalsjökull glacier. Katla erupts every 40–80 years, but has been dormant for almost 100 years.

For a blog dedicated to volcanism together with first rate information on this latest eruption check out the site of Dr. Erik Klemetti a geologist who spends most of his professional time thinking about magma.