Fagradalsfjall (Iceland) (AFP)
Icelandic volcano Fagradalshraun remains silent for a while before suddenly spewing geysers of molten red lava high into the air, visible from the capital Reykjavik in an awe-inspiring spectacle.
The volcano, which sprang to life in mid-March in the Geldingadalir Valley near Mount Fagradalsfjall, has drawn visitors from around the world, many venturing as close as possible to the security perimeter put in place to protect themselves from the throwing red rocks.
“It’s amazing to see,” said Henrike Wappler, a German woman who lives in Iceland, standing with her daughter on the edge of the volcano.
Marveling at “the power of the earth”, she told AFP on Saturday during her fourth visit to the site: “I feel small so close to this power – but I am not afraid”.
Until a week ago, volcanic activity was continuous and inconspicuous, but now it alternates between periods of calm and furious explosions.
A geyser was measured over 460 meters (1,500 feet) at dawn last Wednesday, according to the National Meteorological Office.
The powerful shards launch fragments of rock called tephra, some still hot, which land several hundred meters from the crater, located in an uninhabited area of the Reykjanes Peninsula in southwest Iceland.
A low roar precedes the next explosion, a noise that “reminds me a bit of an airplane,” said Freyja Wappler-Fridriksdottir.
She was one of more than 2,500 people at the site on Saturday, about 500 meters (yards) from the crater – a safe radius that varies from 400 to 650 meters depending on wind speed.
“It’s not every day that we get to see a volcano up close. It’s really amazing and so beautiful, ”she said.
Bjarki Brynjarsson, 25, was fascinated by the alternation of sleep and fury.
“I’m just waiting for the bomb to go off,” he joked.
Despite outward appearances, the volcano’s activity is continuous, vulcanologist Magnus Tumi Gudmundsson said.
“All the time the magma is flowing,” Gudmundsson told AFP. “It’s not uncommon and it’s normal behavior. It is, in fact, less common to have a very continuous flow without pulsation. “
– Primitive –
The eruption, which began on March 19, is the first on the Reykjanes Peninsula in more than eight centuries, and it has been almost 6,000 years since the last activity at the specific site.
Since the original eruption in the Geldingadalir Valley (eunuchs in English), several new vents have opened.
Vulcanologists have predicted that the activity will continue for several months, if not decades.
But they are sure that the eruption is far from superficial, coming from the earth’s crust.
“This is the most primitive lava we have seen since the last ice age” about 10,000 years ago, said Edward Marshall of the Institute of Earth Sciences.
© 2021 AFP