Mount Hekla in southern Iceland erupted for the sixteenth time in recorded history on Sunday (17 August) and Icelanders marked the occasion with a mass picnic on the volcano's lower slopes.
AV Lava flowing down mountain, Iceland
AGV Lava spurting into air, clouds of smoke
AGV Smoke and lava PAN TO small snow patch on mountain
AGV Lava flow approaching snow-patched area
GV Cars on road travelling to and from volcano area
AGV Minor volcanic eruption spewing lava into air
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Background: Mount Hekla in southern Iceland erupted for the sixteenth time in recorded history on Sunday (17 August) and Icelanders marked the occasion with a mass picnic on the volcano's lower slopes. Mount Hekla's last eruption was i 1970 and lasted a few weeks. It also erupted in 1947, when the activity continued for a year.
SYNOPSIS: The eruption began on Sunday afternoon on the southwest side of Mount Hekla, where about twenty fire-fountains spewed flames, rocks and smoke. Lava which flowed form the peak was split in two by the pressure.
Because the time between Hekla's eruptions has historically been much longer, this one came as a complete surprise, especially to two British geology students. The Oxford undergraduates were climbing some distance from the explosion, but where still showered with stones and ash.
Hekla is situated east of Iceland's biggest farming district and poses a danger to grassland. But fortunately, a the wind has been blowing from the south pushing the steam and fall-out away from the farms.
The mountain, one of Iceland's legendary gates of hell, seems to be blowing her top at shorter intervals now. Before the 1947 eruption, she has been quiet for one hundred and two years. This time it had only a ten years. This time it had only a ten years rest. As the latest eruption began, a huge column of smoke rose to fifty thousand feet. Shortly after, a great rift, about three miles (5 kms) long, appeared with lava streaming from it. Its movement later slowed to about two metre (yards) a minute. The lava has moved along as a burning wall, five to ten metres (yards) high. About fifteen thousand sheep had to be transported down from their grazing pastures. But power stations in the vicinity of Hekla are considered in no danger.
Traffic jammed the roads to Mount Hekla as thousands of people rushed slopes were crowded with onlookers enjoying a picnic and a gigantic fireworks display.
Geologists think the eruption could last for several months.