Icelandic volcano near major airport erupts for second time in a year

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A the volcano erupted on Wednesday morning in Iceland near the capital Reykjavík, eight months after the end of its last eruption.

The Icelandic Meteorological Office (Met Office) reported on Twitter that the eruption occurred on the Geldingalir volcano of Fagradalsfjall. The volcano is located just 25 kilometers or 16 miles southwest of the country’s metropolitan area.

The eruption in the uninhabited valley is not far from Keflavik Airport, Iceland’s international air traffic hub. The airport was alerted as part of regular procedure during volcanic activity, but the airport remained open and no flights were disrupted. Additionally, the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management noted that volcanic activity does not pose a threat to infrastructure or lives.

Iceland monitor published live of the eruption on YouTube, showing magma spewing from a narrow fissure about 100 to 200 yards (109 to 218 meters) long over a lava field from last September’s eruption. Last year’s eruption was the first on the Reykjanes Peninsula for more than 800 years.

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Scientists had anticipated an eruption somewhere on the peninsula as more than 10,000 earthquakes have been detected on the Reykjanes Peninsula since Saturday, according to the Iceland Monitor.

“What we know so far is that the eruption poses no risk to populated areas or critical infrastructure. We will of course continue to monitor the situation closely, and now we also benefit from the experience acquired by last year’s eruption“, said Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Prime Minister of Iceland, in a statement.

An aerial view of the activity of the Fagradalsfjall volcano in Iceland on Wednesday August 2.  3, 2022, which is located 32 kilometers (20 miles) southwest of the capital city of Reykjavik and close to Keflavik International Airport.

An aerial view of the activity of the Fagradalsfjall volcano in Iceland on Wednesday August 2. 3, 2022, which is located 32 kilometers (20 miles) southwest of the capital city of Reykjavik and close to Keflavik International Airport.
(AP Photo/Ernir Snaer)

Most of the earthquakes were smaller with a magnitude less than 4. But larger earthquakes of magnitude 4.7 have been detected since Monday. Residents in Reykjavik felt a 5.47 magnitude earthquake on Sunday, according to the Met Office.

“There are indications that the deformation and seismicity are decreasing and this was the precursor to the eruption which began on March 19, 2021,” the Met Office said in a statement on Tuesday. “Given all of the above, the likelihood of an eruption at Fagradalsfjall in the next few days is considered substantial.”

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The 2021 eruption in the same area produced spectacular lava flows for several months that attracted hundreds of thousands of people.

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 years was 2010 Eyjafjallajokull volcano eruption, which sent clouds of ash and dust into the atmosphere, halting air travel for days between Europe and North America over fears the ash could damage jet engines. More than 100,000 flights have been grounded, stranding millions of passengers.

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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.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.