Some facts about Iceland forum: A volcanic eruption in Grímsvötn

 
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Imagerannveig
May 21, 2011 6:03 PM CST
Name: Rannveig
Hafnarfjörður, Iceland
Well ..... here we go again.

A volcanic eruption started tonight in Grímsvötn an active volcano beneath our largest glacier Vatnajökull ....

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-13487858

Grímsvötn lake is one of the world's most active hotspots and has been very active in recent years. The last eruption was in 2004. Past eruptions this century have been relatively small and unproblematic, but this one is a HUGE. It's ten times more powerful than last year's eruption in Eyjafjallajökull, similar in size to a big Katla eruption which is what was the biggest worry last year. Fortunately Katla is still quiet.

There aren't many volcanos in the world located beneath a glacier covered lake. The geothermal activity melts the ice and the water accumulates in the craters (there are two). When the water level reaches a certain point the lakes emty out (usually not both at the same time) causing a flooding in the glacier fed rivers Gígja and [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skei%C3%B0ar%C3%A1]Skeiðará[/rul]. The last flood was in November 2010 so the water level in the lakes was very low when the eruption started. The flood last fall was expected to trigger an eruption which has been expected for quite some time and there was an alert issued for a few days after the flood. So the eruption now is no surprise, however it came with very short warning ..... at 5 pm there were no indications of an imminent eruption that started about an hour and a half later.

This article from april 2010 gives a good picture of Iceland's volcanos: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8623239.stm

All domestic and international flights have been cancelled today. The international airport was closed at 8:30 am and most morning flights were able to depart before the airport closed. There will be no more flights to or from the country today and possibly tomorrow as well. It's highly unlikely that it will affect transatlantic airtraffic other than flights being rerouted north or south of the plume.

There is very heavy ashfall on the south east coast. The situation is similar to last year, pitch black darkness in the areas with the heaviest ashfall. Two towns are most heavily affected, Kirkjubæjarklaustur and Höfn. There has also been some ashfall in Vík that also experienced heavy ashfall in last year's eruption. The farms in the area are worst hit ... farmers are rounding up their animals that had ben let outside already and getting them inside the barns again. Rescue workers have been distributing masks and safety goggles in the area since last night. In the areas most affected the ashfall is too heavy for car travel and they've been making the rounds on specially equipped vehicles with special air filters. The situation is bad and we can only hope it'll be a short eruption.

Rann
[Last edited May 22, 2011 7:10 AM CST]
Quote | Post #664460 (1)
Imagerannveig
May 22, 2011 9:30 AM CST
Name: Rannveig
Hafnarfjörður, Iceland
News story on Sky news:
http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/World-News/Iceland-Airspace...
Imageweeds
May 22, 2011 9:31 AM CST
FL. Panhandle
Not all those who wander are lost.
Just heard about this...terrible again and so soon. Is your area effected this time?
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Imagerannveig
May 22, 2011 9:36 AM CST
Name: Rannveig
Hafnarfjörður, Iceland
No this is on the SE coast .... quite a long distance away.

It's getting slightly brighter in the town of Kirkjubæjaklaustur and the police have allowed people in the area to travel west out of the ashfall zone. Some tourists that were stuck there have evacuated.

The ash has a low fluoride content which means it isn't highly toxic to people and livestock so that's good news at least.

Rann
Imagerannveig
May 22, 2011 10:48 AM CST
Name: Rannveig
Hafnarfjörður, Iceland
12:00 News from today - it's in Icelandic but the videos are pretty amazing, both the plume and the total darkness in the town of Kirkjubæjarklaustur: http://dagskra.ruv.is/sjonvarpid/4581001/2011/05/22/

3:20 pm News - some daylight coming back in the abovementioned town, revealing a very bleak sight: http://dagskra.ruv.is/sjonvarpid/4581002/2011/05/22/

Imagerannveig
May 22, 2011 11:02 AM CST
Name: Rannveig
Hafnarfjörður, Iceland
There have never before been so many lightnings in a volcanic plume as in the current eruption. 2198 lightnings were recorded in one hour today, while the maximum number of lightnings recorded in one hour in last years eruption was 22.

4 tourists are missing, they left Kirkjubæjarklaustur this morning and their whereabouts are unknown. It's not clear whether they traveled into the area that's been closed off or out of the ash-zone .....
Imagerannveig
May 22, 2011 11:07 AM CST
Name: Rannveig
Hafnarfjörður, Iceland
more photos: http://www.dv.is/frettir/2011/5/22/oskufall-kirkjubaejarklau...

bbc news footage:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-13490706
Imagerannveig
May 22, 2011 3:11 PM CST
Name: Rannveig
Hafnarfjörður, Iceland
An ash cloud is fast approaching the Reykjavík area with expected ashfall tonight and tomorrow at least.

Here are a few photos:

The first one is a panorama so you need to enlarge it to view it.

Thumb of 2011-05-22/rannveig/c55206

Thumb of 2011-05-22/rannveig/e7dfae

Thumb of 2011-05-22/rannveig/48a628
Imagebillyporter
May 23, 2011 4:26 AM CST
Name: Sally
Nichols, iowa
Rann, it's hard to imagine the effects of this till you see pictures and video. I can see how horror films were created. It doesn't take much imagination to see things when a huge ash cloud is approaching.

I can't imagine how people even breath well indoors. Is this going to be a problem for you?

Thanks for the chance to see history in the making.
A small town has no secrets except itself
Imagerannveig
May 23, 2011 6:21 AM CST
Name: Rannveig
Hafnarfjörður, Iceland
Sally - I can't imagine it either. Last night when the cloud was here it was very irritating to my eyes and nose and I only stayed outside for a short while. And it wasn't really that thick - visibility was normal. We closed all windows last night so it didn't bother us at all in the house - now the wind's changed, it's blowing from the north so the ash cloud is gone. But it's bad news for those south of the eruption. It's pitch black there again and with the wind it's like a black blizzard. You can't go out at all. It's impossible to drive in, except in those specially equipped vehicles the rescue crews have.

To give you some perspective, the hight of the plume is now half of what it was Saturday night - it's now around 10 km high, it reached 20 km .... and it's still taller than the one from Eyjafjallajökull at it's highest. The amount of ash is so enourmous that a huge area is engulfed in the ash cloud - you can't see the volcano or get anywhere close to it. If there'd been a flood no one would have seen it.

We're really getting a taste of what living on a volcanic island entails .... for my generation and younger it's an eyeopener ... we've read about the big eruptions in our history books but the ones that have happened in our lifetime have all been small and without much effect on people. Until last year. And that was a relatively small eruption .... this one is BIG. It's up there with the big Katla and Hekla eruptions ...... which by the way are both expected to blow in the near future. Hekla's been "ready" for almost two years .... Historically, most eruptions in Grímsvötn have been short, the last few only lasted a few days so we're hoping this one will be shortlived as well.

A video from around 10 am this morning in Kirkjubæjaklaustur - it's still dark there now at noon. It's like a ghost town, but the grocery store is open. The storeowner said he'd had one customer at the time of the interview and was using the peace and quiet to catch up on tasks he hadn't had time for. http://mbl.is/frettir/innlent/2011/05/23/kolnidamyrkur_a_mid...

Rann
Imagerannveig
May 23, 2011 7:03 AM CST
Name: Rannveig
Hafnarfjörður, Iceland
http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/World-News/Video-Volcano-As...

Imagerannveig
May 23, 2011 9:10 AM CST
Name: Rannveig
Hafnarfjörður, Iceland
Fantastic video shot on Saturday night (May 21) soon after the eruption started: http://www.vimeo.com/24084400

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-13505322
Imageadinamiti
May 24, 2011 8:40 AM CST
Name: Adina Dosan
Balotesti, Romania
Rann, thanks for all the info and videos and pictures...amazing and scary! You were right about the eruption lasting only a few days. I heard it almost stopped. I also heard about Katla being a supervolcano...is it true?
Adina
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Imagerannveig
May 24, 2011 11:16 AM CST
Name: Rannveig
Hafnarfjörður, Iceland
Well, it hasn't stopped but the worst is definately over. This eruption is behaving the same way as other eruptions in Grímsvötn, powerful at first but dvindling fast. They've usually only lasted 4-5 days and let's hope the same goes for this one. It is an unusually big eruption; it released more ash into the atmosphere in the first 24-hours than the entire Eyjafjallajökull eruption that lasted almost a month.

I'm not sure Katla could be classified as a super-volcano ..... this current eruption in Grímsvötn is similar to an average Katla eruption. The difference is that an eruption in Katla also causes a huge flood that poses danger to towns and farms south of the glacier. Although both volcanos are located beneath a glacier, the glacier is constantly melting in Grímsvötn forming the lake that empties out regularly. Therefore the icecap isn't very thick and there isn't that much meltwater to cause a flood. Especially now since the lake emptied out in a flood in November. Also because of the regular floods there aren't any farms or towns in their wake. Katla however has erupted once or twice every century and there aren't any floods between eruptions. The icecap is VERY thick so the flood is huge and it moves fast. So there's very short time to evacuate, only about an hour maybe. That is the biggest concern with Katla. The odds are that she will erupt in the next 10 years, it's impossible to predict when. She's closely monitored and an increase in seizmic activity has been recorded since last year's Eyjafjallajökull eruption although an eruption there isn't imminent.

The ash has reached Norway: http://www.ruv.is/frett/osku-vart-a-vesturstrond-noregs An even thicker cloud of ash than the one over Reykjavík on Sunday night.

It's brighter today south of the glacier. It's been very windy since yesterday afternoon, and judging from footage from Kirkjubæjarklaustur today all the ash seems to have blown away. Considering how thick it was yesterday it seems pretty amazing. This was yesterday afternoon: http://mbl.is/frettir/sjonvarp/58695/ ; this today: http://mbl.is/frettir/sjonvarp/58717/?cat=innlent

Rann

Imagebillyporter
May 25, 2011 7:10 AM CST
Name: Sally
Nichols, iowa
Rann, I'm glad the wind switched from you. I'd hate to see you or the girls have trouble breathing. I do feel for those who got it again. It would just be terrible!

Yes, I felt that way after the straight line winds, and the tornado that actually went thru, uptown. The old timers had never seen anything like in all the years they lived here. It is a history lesson. Your's is a huge deal tho. It also shows you live in the better half of Iceland, for disasters :o)

I wonder just how far the ash will actually go. It went so high, it could be carried all over.

This is all an amazing thing to see.
A small town has no secrets except itself
Imagerannveig
May 25, 2011 8:10 AM CST
Name: Rannveig
Hafnarfjörður, Iceland
Sally - yes, those tornados in the past days and weeks have been horriffic ..... I'll take a volcanic eruption over that any day...... and you're right we live on the "safer" half of the country in this regard. All the most active volcanos are in the south-southeast region.

The west coast of Norway actually experienced ashfall yesterday .... visibility seemed much poorer than here on Sunday night judging from the photos. That just shows how far it can travel. Seems pretty bizarre ... Blinking

The volcano is quiet now. There was a burst in activity last night, but now it seems to have stopped. It could start up again, so it hasn't been declared officially over. There's an expidition of scientists up on the glacier already and there's just steam coming out of the crater right now. Now the clean-up starts. The wind swept a lot of the ash out to see yesterday so but there's still lots of work to do. There wasn't as much loss in livestock as people feared ... only a few sheep and horse lost that wandered into ditches blinded by the ash.
Imageweeds
May 25, 2011 8:19 AM CST
FL. Panhandle
Not all those who wander are lost.
I wonder if the earth/nature is going through some 100 year or so cycle with all the earthquakes, tornadoes and volcanic eruptions occurring close in time and over and over. Don't mess with mother nature as a commercial here said a few years ago.
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Imagerannveig
May 25, 2011 10:31 AM CST
Name: Rannveig
Hafnarfjörður, Iceland
Connie - there is a definite cycle. This current volcano, Grímsvötn, was very active in the 19th century and the first decade of the 20th but then there was little activity with only a few very small eruption for most of the century. Activity started again in 1998 and this is the third eruption since then so experts predict that this is the start of another "active" cycle for eruptions in Grímsvötn. Hekla has erupted on average about twice a century since the 12th century .... but since 1970 she's erupted like clockwork once a decade (1970, 1980, 1991 and 2000) .... according to that pattern she should have erupted last year .... or this year and judging from magma movements she will erupt in the very near future. People have been warned against hiking up the mountain for the past two years since an eruption there could start with little warning. She's ready to blow at any time basically. And Katla has also been pretty "regular" erupting 1-2 times a century. It's been a rather long interval since her last eruption in 1918 so she's also "due" ...... so all of these are pretty much "scheduled" eruptions .... and nothing out of the ordinary. Big Grin
Imagebillyporter
May 26, 2011 6:55 AM CST
Name: Sally
Nichols, iowa
Rann, I am amazed at how far things blow in the wind. One year we woke up to a red dusting on the ground. It came from a dust storm way out west. The jet stream carries things really far too.

Is there any rain predicted? Does the ash add too much lime to the ground?

I'm glad they could save most of their livestock. There wouldn't be much time to get them all to safety.

Connie, I loved that commercial :o)

Rann, is there a lot of lava, or mostly ash?

Wow, so many eruptions still to come.
A small town has no secrets except itself
Imagerannveig
May 26, 2011 5:25 PM CST
Name: Rannveig
Hafnarfjörður, Iceland
Sally - there's no lava while there's still water in the crater. It started to rain yesterday in the ash-affected area which will clean the air and keep the ash from blowing around. For now at least. It was impossible for them to get the sheep inside since it was no way to see anything in the dark. The sheep's eyes were pretty badly affected by the ash, many were practically blind when they were rounded up, but fortunately most recovered quickly once they got inside and their eyes were cleaned. A few will take more days to heal and get their sight back.

Yesterday's news: First footage of the crater and news of the clean up as well as some videos of past eruptions .....
http://dagskra.ruv.is/sjonvarpid/4547354/2011/05/25/

Tonight's news: Another video from the crater
http://dagskra.ruv.is/sjonvarpid/4547355/2011/05/26/

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