Visitors cautioned about gas pollution at eruption site in Iceland’s Meradalir valley

People look at the lava flowing on Fagradalsfjall volcano in Iceland on Wednesday Aug. 3, 2022, which is located 32 kilometers (20 miles) southwest of the capital of Reykjavik and close to the international Keflavik Airport. (AP Photo/Marco Di Marco)

The Icelandic Meteorological Office is cautioning visitors to the eruption site in Iceland’s Meradalir Valley to exercise caution as gas pollution could still be an issue once the area is reopened. 

“Gas pollution at the eruption site can at any time exceed danger levels,” the IMO said in a statement on Monday.

“The eruptive plume follows the wind direction, and it is therefore safer to watch the eruption with the wind direction behind you, rather than towards you.”

The site has been closed since Monday because of foggy weather, but police may reopen it as early as Wednesday, the news site Visir, reported on Tuesday

Erupted on August 3

The volcano, located near the town of Grindavik on the Reykjanes peninsula in the southwest part of the country, erupted August 3 at 13:18 GMT.

The site of the eruption is about one kilometre northeast of the main crater active during an eruption last year which lasted from March until September.

The site has been drawing visitors ever since.

Plan walking route ahead of time

On Monday, the IMO reminded those intending to travel to the site to plan their walking route according to the wind forecast.

The air quality forecast as of Tuesday night, August 9. (Icelandic Meteorological Office)

“In calm/light wind (<5 m/s) gas can accumulate in the valleys, then circulation is controlled by the landscape and gas can exceed danger levels far up the slopes, all around the eruption site,” the IMO said. 

“In such cases, spectators need to move up to higher ground levels such as mountains and ridges and not stay on the slopes just above the eruption.”

Leave pets at home

The IMO also cautioned people to leave their pets at home. 

“Avoid taking dogs with you to the eruption site,” the IMO said. 

“Dogs are more exposed to gas pollution as they are closer to the ground. Fluoride can also accumulate in puddles in the area.”

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)cbc.ca

Related stories from around the North:

Iceland: Volcano near Iceland’s capital, main airport erupts again after 8-month pause, The Associated Press

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