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An eruption in the Holuhraun lava field in Iceland has been putting on quite a show, with lava surging into the air like a molten hot fountain. While lava has been erupting since Thursday, the fissure site became particularly active on Monday.
The source of this lava is the Bardarbunga volcano, which has been threatening eruption for the past couple of weeks. Thousands of earthquakes have rumbling in Iceland around Bardarbunga, signaling the possibility that lava was making its way toward the surface. That lava took a back channel, so to speak, and wound up pushing to the surface north of Bardarbunga in the Holuhraun lava field, between Bardarbunga and the Askja volcanoes.
Wired.com’s volcano blogger Erik Klemetti writes, “the new fissure eruption is [typical] for what you expect in a Hawaiian-style eruption, with a ‘curtain of fire’ made of several lava fountains that have been sending lava up to 50 meters in the air.”
Klemetti also writes that scientists estimate the fissure site is producing over 1,000 cubic meters of lava every second — approximately half the flow rate of Niagara Falls.
Fortunately, this eruption has not produced a high elevation ash cloud like we saw in the Eyjafjallajökull volcano, which is good news for air traffic over the northern Atlantic Ocean.
However, that could change — on Thursday morning, the Iceland Scientific Advisory Board was forecasting four possible scenarios for the eruption, including the possibility of an outburst flood and explosive, ash-producing activity at Bardarbunga itself. Of course, another scenario is that the eruption will cease completely and the flow of lava will stop.