August 12, 2022

The land is erupting in fountains and rivers of glowing lava once again outside Reykjavik at a place called Meradalir, and spectators risk a spectacle they may not fully understand.

The Explosive fissure appeared Wednesday In an empty valley not far from the Vajradalsvilla volcano that spent six months erupting in 2021. This eruption was the first on Iceland’s Reykjanes Peninsula in eight centuries – and now there’s a stronger eruption nearby.

The fissure is roughly three footballs in length and is about five to ten times the size in terms of magma flow.

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The relatively rare sight attracts people from Reykjavik, other parts of the country, and elsewhere for some unique social media snaps, but it’s a dangerous proposition.

While a volcanic eruption can seem relatively consistent and predictable from second to second, in reality it is anything but. The fact that this peninsula lay dormant above the surface for nearly a thousand years and suddenly came back to life, should provide some indication of how volatile the situation really is.

Volcanic eruptions can increase their intensity at any moment, spewing out not only molten lava, but also large chunks of solid rock across dizzying distances. It’s no exaggeration to compare lounging near a volcanic eruption to sightseeing in an active war zone.

In addition to the deadly projectiles, there’s an invisible danger at play near an erupting volcano as well. Toxic gases are another byproduct of volcanic eruptions, leading to air pollution that authorities must monitor and warn nearby residents about.

In particular, sulfur dioxide is commonly emitted by volcanic eruptions, which can cause respiratory problems that can be fatal in large doses as well as potentially causing anaphylaxis.

The current eruption is harder to reach than last year, and requires a challenging 90-minute hike, but officials report that nearly 2,000 visitors made the trek on the first day. Mobile phone records also indicate that there are as many as 8,000 people in the area.

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