Startled by Life-Threatening Lava Stream: Video

Vala Hafstað

There is no letup in the lava flow by Fagradalsfjall, Southwest Iceland, and its unpredictable behavior continues to startle visitors, reports. Hiking path A, which used to be the most popular one, had to be closed on Tuesday, after lava started flowing over it.

Gísli Reynisson, news publisher and bus driver, visited the area on Monday, along with his family and an American friend. “We’d been watching the edge of the lava stream from farther away,” he relates. “It was as if a bulldozer were pushing this downhill. I was startled.”

All of a sudden, the spot where he and his friend and family had been calmly standing two minutes earlier, was covered in a burning lava flow.

“I can’t even describe the amount of heat. It was incredibly hot,” he notes and adds that part of the back of his cellphone melted.

This was his second visit to the eruption area, the first one having been when it was extremely cold. “The change is enormous,” he relates. “Back then, I could walk all the way up to the eruption, but now, that’s impossible.”

Gísli’s daughter Una Rós took the accompanying video of the sudden lava flow that they witnessed.

 According to the Facebook page of the Volcanology and Natural Disaster Team of Southwest Iceland, lava rivers from the mountain keep contributing thin-flowing lava into the valley through closed channels. The liquid lava subsequently accumulates under the recently solidified lava crust in Nátthagi valley and jacks it up. As this happens, the crust of the lava intermittently breaks on the edges, causing the burning lava stream to burst forth through the crust.

This creates life-threatening situations. The Suðurnes Police Department posted a warning on Facebook Wednesday, stressing that under no circumstances should people try to walk on the lava, since doing so is life-threatening. The police note that since hiking path A is now closed, the only remaining hiking path to the eruption is B – which is longer and tougher to cross. They advise people who are not used to hiking to go south of Borgarfjall mountain and from there toward Nátthagi, where they have a view of the lava flow.


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