In the wake of a volcanic eruption near Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik, experts have announced a significant decrease in volcanic activity and a notable reduction in toxic gas emissions.
The Icelandic Met Office, Vedur, issued a statement on Tuesday, assuring residents that the situation was gradually improving, but cautioning them to avoid venturing near the volcano due to the ongoing emission of harmful gases.
The Litli Hrutur volcano, located approximately 60 km (37 miles) from Reykjavik, has captured the attention of curious onlookers, some of whom have attempted to approach the eruption site—an arduous 9-kilometer (5.6 miles) uphill trek from the nearest car park.
Hjordis Gudmundsdottir, a spokesperson for the Department of civil protection and emergency management, emphasized that while being outside was generally safe, the unpredictable nature of the situation warranted continued caution. She particularly stressed that children should be kept away from the area, even when restrictions are eventually lifted.
Late on Monday, the department issued a recommendation for residents of the Reykjanes peninsula to close their windows and switch off ventilation systems. The Met Office had previously alerted the public to the presence of high gas pollution around the eruption site, where lava continues to flow. However, there is currently no ash being emitted. A Vedur weather forecast map indicates that the hazardous gases are expected to impact the Fagradalsfjall area south of the eruption, which is sparsely populated.
“This has evolved into a relatively small eruption, which is encouraging news,” stated Magnus Tumi Gudmundsson, a professor of geophysics at the University of Iceland, during an interview with Icelandic broadcaster RUV on Tuesday.
The eruption, classified as a fissure eruption, was preceded by intense seismic activity over the past few days. Such eruptions typically do not result in large explosions or significant amounts of ash in the stratosphere, according to the Icelandic government.
As the situation gradually stabilizes, authorities urge residents to remain vigilant and adhere to safety guidelines issued by the relevant agencies. Continuous monitoring by experts will provide ongoing updates to ensure the safety and well-being of the affected communities.