Iceland Is Experiencing Its Biggest Continuous Volcanic Eruption in Centuries

The last time an Icelandic volcano made headlines around the world was when the tongue-twister Eyjafjallajökull spewed tons of ash into the air in 2010, halting thousands of flights and costing airlines and passengers more than $7 billion in lost revenue.

Despite the power and global impact of that volcano’s several-week-long eruption, it barely affected Iceland, dropping only a small amount of ash near its peak, Freysteinn Sigmundsson, a geophysics and volcanology researcher at the University of Iceland’s Institute of Earth Sciences told Newsweek during an interview at his office in Reykjavik at the beginning of October.

But Eyjafjallajökull is paltry compared to the recent eruption of Bardarbunga (or Bárðarbunga in Icelandic), a volcano in a remote area of central Iceland that began venting lava and fumes in earnest on August 31, Sigmundsson said.

By October 1, that eruption had already spewed out more sulfur dioxide than any other Icelandic volcano in the past several hundred years and showed no signs of stopping, said Sigmundsson, whose calm and friendly demeanor, which is common among denizens of this volcano-forged land, contrasted with his message of the volcano’s ominous power.

ince then, the eruption has continued at the same rate, coughing up more lava and sulfur fumes.

“The concentrations have been reaching unhealthy levels in large parts of the country,” John Stevenson, a volcano researcher at the University of Edinburgh, told Newsweek Wednesday. “The area affected depends on the wind direction but includes Reykjavik. It has been causing painful eyes and throats, led to cancelation of sporting events, and asthmatics are encouraged to stay indoors,” he said.

The fumes have cast a blue haze across the landscape and at times made the sun appear red, according to a post at a blog called the Daily Kos.

Full article: Iceland Is Experiencing Its Biggest Continuous Volcanic Eruption in Centuries (Newsweek)

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