Volcano erupts in Iceland: On Iceland’s Reykjanes peninsula, a volcano erupted weeks after the town was evacuated.
An eruption has started on the Reykjanes peninsula. The eruption is located about 3 km north of Grindavik. The eruption began at 22.17 following the earthquake swarm that started around 21:00.
After weeks of seismic activity triggered the evacuation of a neighboring village, Iceland’s volcano erupted suddenly, spewing stunning spurts of lava across the landscape and releasing large plumes of smoke into the sky.
The eruption on the Reykjanes peninsula began at 10 p.m. local time (5 p.m. ET), following an earthquake about an hour earlier, according to the Icelandic Meteorological Office.
The office claimed that the eruption was near Hagafell, around 3 kilometers (about 2 miles) north of Grindavk.
Iceland’s Coast Guard shared a video on Facebook on Monday night showing one of its helicopters hovering over a lengthy line of bright lava spurting from the earth crack. The air is thick with smoke and bright orange and crimson hues.
According to Rikke Pedersen, a scientist and center head at the Nordic Volcanological Center, the 15-kilometer-long fissure erupted underground last month as a result of magma entering a fracture under the surface. That fissure reached the surface on Monday, with magma oozing from a 4-kilometer-long breach.
According to the Icelandic authorities, this is the fourth eruption in the area since 2021, and the biggest so far.
It further stated that the eruption did not represent a threat to life, but that the region was blocked to all traffic and that people were strongly advised not to approach the area.
The peninsula’s police stated Tuesday that scientists would need “several days to assess the situation” and that roads in the “danger zone” near Grindavk were only available to emergency responders and teams working with the authorities. It warned people to be “aware that gas emitted from the volcano can be dangerous.”
When the subterranean magma channel developed in November, an evacuation order was issued for Grindavk and adjacent communities, banning locals from staying in their houses overnight as a volcanic explosion loomed, according to state broadcaster RV.
“It is clear that we are dealing with events that we Icelanders have not experienced before, at least not since the eruption in Vestmannaeyjar,” the country’s Civil Protection Agency stated at the time, referring to a 1973 eruption that began without warning and destroyed 400 houses.
According to the Icelandic Meteorological Office, hundreds of cubic meters of lava were spilled each second during the first two hours of the eruption. However, by early Tuesday, the eruption’s intensity and the amount of seismic activity in the region had diminished, with lava flowing laterally from either side of the freshly formed vents.
The community of about 3,000 individuals is now devoid of residents, according to RV, quoting police. It is a popular tourist destination since it is only 7 kilometers from the famed Blue Lagoon geothermal spa.
According to Pedersen, it is impossible to predict how long the eruption will persist because it is dependent on the supply of magma from under the surface, which means it might last anywhere from a week to many months.
Flights to and from Iceland were not affected immediately, and international air routes remained available, according to the authorities.
It went on to say that fissure eruptions seldom result in major explosions or considerable ash dispersion into the stratosphere.
On Tuesday morning, Icelandair issued a statement emphasizing that the incident had not disrupted their flight schedule. The national carrier of the country stated that it was monitoring the situation and will keep passengers updated on any further developments.
The Blue Lagoon, which attracts tourists with its thermal water, was closed last month after the first signs of a probable eruption. It had only recently reopened to guests on Sunday but announced on Tuesday that it will be temporarily closed again due to the eruption.
In November, authorities claimed they were digging a protective trench around a geothermal power plant about 7 kilometers from Grindavk, which generates energy and geothermal water to heat houses for the peninsula’s 30,000 residents.
Volcano erupts in Iceland’s Reykjanes Peninsula
Iceland is located on a tectonic plate boundary that is constantly splitting apart, pushing North America and Eurasia apart along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. There are 32 active volcanoes in the area.
As a result, the island country is used to volcanic eruptions, which usually occur in the forest, far from human areas. The Bárarbunga volcano system in the country’s center erupted in 2014, resulting in lava covering 84 square kilometers (32 square miles) of highland and causing no harm to any towns.
For the first time in almost 6,000 years, the Fagradalsfjall volcano system erupted in 2021. It also did not endanger populated areas and turned into a tourist attraction as people rushed to see the eruption.
Experts do not expect a volcanic eruption to generate the same amount of devastation as the Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted in 2010, since it is unlikely to involve the glacial ice that resulted in a massive ash cloud.
As a result of the ash thrown out by the 2010 eruption, which threatened to slow aircraft engines and cause electrical failure, over 100,000 flights were canceled, affecting 2 million passengers.
“Eyjafjallajökull involved an eruption through or next to glacial ice that melted and provided water that made the eruption more explosive than it would have otherwise been, hence the high eruption plume and very wide ash dispersal,” Lionel Wilson, Emeritus Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Lancaster University, told CNN last month.
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