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  • Writer's pictureMatthew Blackett

A volcano and ... a tornado!?

Who knew it!? Volcanic activity at Litli-Hrútur volcano, Iceland, seems to have generated a tornado!

Litli-Hrútur volcano erupting, as seen from space (source: ESA).

Here is footage of a tornado that developed over, and indeed due to, volcanic activity in Iceland:

This vent at Litli-Hrútur, Iceland, opened in July 2023 (as part of the larger volcanic feature Fagradalsfjall) and it has been effusing lava onto the surface ever since. The basaltic lava we see in Iceland can reach temperatures in excess of 1000°C, it seems that this large temperature source rapidly heated the atmosphere above, causing it to rise in a condensed spiral and forming the tornado that was seen a couple of weeks ago. The phenomenon is not something new (as the YouTube film suggests), as it has also been seen in Hawaii (which has a similar volcanic system).

Fortunately, the tornado did no damage (it would have been generated and expired in the same location, once it moved away from the hot lava surface). The lava on the otherhand, continues to be effused from the volcano, but this is nothing new in Iceland and the authorities have the situation well under control.

This again demonstrates the interconnections between natural hazards on our planet!


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