THE Iceland volcano eruption is showing little sign of stopping and could continue for another 70 years, experts believe.
Lava flows rapidly filling valleys close to Fagradsalsfjall have changed direction in recent days after overwhelming an artificial dam designed to contain them.
Certainly, the drama was continuing tonight during a live tour streamed by local guide Albert Armannsson on the heygo.com virtual trips platform.
Steaming lava could be seen moving rapidly in the Nátthagi Valley, lighting up the evening sky in hellish hues of fiery red and burnt orange.
“The new layer of lava changed direction in the last three to four days,” said Armannsson, who had clambered some 500 metres up to stream views of the scene.
“An educated guess is that, based on previous eruptions, this could last 70 years on and off.”
The Fagradalsfjall eruption is already the longest in the last 50 years on the island, having started way back on March 19 this year on the Reykjanes peninsula.
Lava has already filled the valleys of Geldingadalir, Meradalur and Meradalir, and rescue teams are warning sightseers that they cannot outrun any sudden flow.
Armannsson, who has visited the volcano 36 times in the six months since the eruption, himself had to beat a retreat last night after being warned to retrace his steps.
“They are scouting the area with drones,” he told viewers of the heygo stream, “and I am guilty as charged.
“If it continues in this manner and quantity then it is just a matter of days before the valley fills up. It is flowing so fast that you wouldn’t be able to run away from it.”
The popular guide, who takes all necessary safety precautions to track the volcano’s progress, climbed higher, joking “I have to get up high enough so we can see it then I can sit down and die!”
Armannsson, 65, who last year successfully battled Covid, has been treating armchair viewers to spectacular scenes of the eruption since his first visit in March.
Since then the lava flows have blocked the paths he first took, and the situation can change on an hourly basis.
The first lava began spewing out of a fissure on the evening of March 19, and the spectacle has become a major tourist attraction, drawing 300,000 visitors so far.
In the first month, 10 fissures opened up, forming seven small craters, of which only two are still visible.
It is the sixth eruption on the island in 20 years, and is already longer than the preceding one in Holuhraun, which lasted from the end of August 2014 until the end of February 2015.
Iceland’s longest-ever eruption took place more than 50 years ago, on Surtsey island just off the south coast, and lasted nearly four years, from November 1963 until June 1967.