New Fissure Opens in Fagradalsfjall - Area Evacuated: Video

Vala Hafstað

A new fissure opened shortly after noon, about 500 meters (550 yards) northeast of the eruption that began March 19 in Fagradalsfjall mountain on the Reykjanes peninsula, Southwest Iceland, mbl.is reports.

Einar Bessi Gestsson, natural hazard specialist at the Icelandic Met Office, confirmed this with mbl.is shortly after noon. Pilots who flew over the site were the first to detect the eruption.

Access to the eruption site was subsequently closed and the site cleared. Two helicopters from the Icelandic Coast Guard helped clear the area. The fissure is believed to be between 100 and 300 meters long.

The fissure appears to be located in an area where old fissures were recently seen to have moved. The Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management posted the first photos taken of the fissure on its Facebook page.

Mbl.is photographer Ólafur Þórisson caught the new fissure on video this afternoon. Take a look and see for yourself. It is quite a sight. The thin-flowing lava forms a river that winds its way, like a red snake, down the mountain and into Meradalir valleys.

“This is an extension of the fissure that has been active the whole time,” states Páll Einarsson, geophysicist and professor emeritus.

Employees of Heli Austria Iceland took a video of the fissure, which you can view here.

“This is very small – you could call it a mini-eruption,” Páll told mbl.is before 1 pm. “But you never know how it develops; this is just the beginning.”

The fissure is located only 200 meters from the tents where Þorbjörn rescue team has been based for the past weeks. Rescue workers were quick to take down the tents and move them to a safe location.

In a Facebook post, the rescue team states: “Various things regarding safety and more will have to be reevaluated, and that work has begun.

We ask the public to follow news of closures in the area while first responders and scientists evaluate the situation. This situation [i.e. the eruption] is likely to continue for some time, so there is no reason to rush to the area right now.”

Chief Inspector Sigurður Bergmann finds it unlikely that hiking trails to the eruption site will be open tomorrow, Tuesday. First responders are holding a meeting right now, after which their decisions will be announced. 

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