The newest volcano in the world is throwing up lava fountains on Iceland’s Reykjanes peninsula in a spectacular display.
The new volcanic fissure is another outburst of the Fagradalsfjall lava field which underlies the volcanically active part of the island nation. It is the third year in a row that the lava field has generated an eruption, but the first on this particular site. Together, the three eruptions are the end of 870 years of piece for the Krýsuvík-Trölladyngja volcanic system, which lies in the southwest of Iceland near Reykjavik.
Over 7000 small earthquakes heralded this eruption, with the large being a little tremble of 4.8 magnitude, the sort you might feel if you were lying still in bed. All 7000 happened since July 4th, at a rate just over one every two minutes. On Monday, the new fissure opened, 1.7 miles long in an uninhibited part of coastline.
“Look at that Icelandic baby ‘cano [volcano] go,” Robin George Andrews, a volcanologist and science writer, said in a Twitter post on Monday. “This is Earth’s freshest coat of paint: incandescent molten rock being blasted skyward from a new Icelandic fissure.”
If the lava of this newest volcano flow reaches far enough, it could reach the Merardalir valley, where last year’s fissure opened on August 3rd 2022.
Since the initial eruption, the lava fountains have shrunk in size and number, and the constant trembling of the earth has slowed. But scientists are still keeping a close eye, and recommending that tourists not try to get close for a good look.
“The lava can cause wildfires in the area that significantly reduce air quality,” experts wrote in a statement. “New volcanic fissures can open without notice. Lava blocks can fall from the edge of the lava field. New lava can suddenly flow at high speeds from the edge.” And that’s not accounting for the toxic fumes of the eruption, which can change from mildly noxious to immediately fatal without warning as new pockets of gas breach the surface.