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New Fissure Opens Near Geldingadalur Volcanic Eruption, Causing a River of Lava

A new 200 meter (650 feet) wide volcanic fissure opened up yesterday, northeast of the original eruption that began on March the 19th in Geldingadalur valley on the Reykjanes peninsula.

The eruption site has mostly been open to the public but was subsequently closed and the site immediately cleared with the help of ICE-SAR civil rescue teams and two helicopters from the Icelandic Coast Guard.

Overnight, land subsidence occurred between the two fissures, suggesting the possibility of yet another new fissure opening.

Video of the new fissure and lava river

Video by Björn Steinbekk

Initially the lava was moving at nearly 10 meters per second down the steep slope, “but it has slowed considerably now,” volcanologist Þorvaldur Þórðarson told the media.

“My feeling is that I don’t see any sign of this stopping,” Þorvaldur added. “We’re going to see this for a while,” said the volcanologist, without hazarding a guess at the duration.

Initially it was thought that the eruption near Mount Fagradalsfjall would be a short-lived affair, but it’s now being predicted that it could last several months or even years. The volcano lies just 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the capital, Reykjavík.

While Iceland has more active volcanoes than any other country in Europe, the Reykjanes peninsula has not experienced an eruption since the 13th century, and that one lasted about 30 years, from 1210 to 1240.

At the last count by The Icelandic Tourist Board, 36,293 people had visited the site since the initial eruption, where lava had been pouring from two small craters, covering almost 30 hectares (74 acres).

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