The eruption of the Holuhraun volcano in Iceland is producing dangerous sulfur dioxide gases, forcing researchers at the site to wear masks as hot lava continues to spill out after nearly two weeks.
Gas emissions were life threatening to scientists and other researchers at the volcano site, according to the Wall Street Journal
, with the danger heightened by unpredictable winds that created spikes in gas concentrations. Workers had to wear individual gas monitors to test their exposure to sulfur dioxide.
"What we measured today is definitely very high," Sara Barsotti, a volcanologist at the Icelandic Met Office, said on Wednesday. "There's starting to be concern for the health consequences here."
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The Journal said Icelandic authorities began instructing people in the vicinity with respiratory problems and children to stay inside and to keep their windows shut.
"This eruption could last for several weeks or months," Barsotti told the Journal, noting that the northern winds could shift the dangerous gas cloud away from Europe.
The News of Iceland.com reported
that while the town of Reyðarfjörður has been closed, some residents have been sneaking back into the area, putting them at risk. Some have been caught by police and arrested for trespassing.
Víðir Reynisson, manager for the department of civil protection told the News that the arrests are critical for the safety of the residents.
"People in the town of Reyðarfjörður experienced a great deal of discomfort yesterday because of gases from the eruption," said Reynisson. "The distance from the site of the eruption to the town (is) some 80 kilometers. The gases are much more concentrated around the eruption."
"The gases cover the area and are probably lethal and scientists working around the rift have advanced equipment to detect and protect them from gases. Despite this, they regularly have to evacuate the area to avoid the highest concentrations of gases," he said.
Reynisson told the News that with the constant eruptions of the volcano, the ground is constantly shifting and changing and new rifts are opening up, so the closer one gets to volcano the more unpredictable the stability of the ground it is.
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