A volcano in southwest Iceland began erupting on Wednesday, the country’s meteorological authorities said – just eight months after its last eruption officially ended.
The Icelandic Meteorological Office has urged people not to approach the Fagradalsfjall volcano, located about 32 kilometers southwest of the capital, Reykjavik.
The eruption in an uninhabited valley is not far from Keflavik Airport, Iceland’s international air traffic hub. The airport remained open and no flights were interrupted.
Live video from the site showed magma gushing out of a narrow fissure about 100-200 meters long over a lava field from last year’s eruption, the first on the Reykjanes peninsula in nearly 800 years.
Scientists had anticipated an eruption somewhere on the peninsula after a series of earthquakes over the past week indicated volcanic activity near the crust.
Volcanologist Magnus Tumi Gudmundsson said the eruption appeared to be small.
“But we don’t know where things are in the process,” he said as he boarded a helicopter for a first look.
The 2021 eruption in the same area produced spectacular lava flows for several months. Hundreds of thousands of people flocked to see the spectacular spectacle.
Iceland, located above a volcanic hotspot in the North Atlantic, records an eruption every four to five years on average.
The most disruptive of recent times was the 2010 eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano, which sent clouds of ash and dust into the atmosphere, halting air travel for days between Europe and America from the North, as the ash could damage the jet engines. More than 100,000 flights have been grounded, stranding millions of passengers.
Shares of Iceland’s flagship airline Icelandair rose 6% when news of the eruption broke on Wednesday. Investors and residents alike had been spooked by the possibility of a much more disruptive eruption in a populated area of the peninsula.