Iceland volcano eruption on the Reykjanes Peninsula

  • Written by Oliver Slough and Marietta Moloney
  • BBC News

Video explanation,

Stunning helicopter footage shows the volcano erupting on the island’s coast

A volcano has erupted on the Reykjanes Peninsula, southwest of Iceland, after weeks of intense seismic activity.

About 4,000 people were evacuated last month from the fishing town of Grindavik, about 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) away.

The Icelandic Meteorological Office said the eruption began north of the city at 22:17 local time (22:17 GMT) on Monday.

A resident who lives near Grindavik described the “crazy” and “scary” scenes that night, and said she could still see the volcano erupt on Tuesday.

Iceland has been preparing for volcanic activity for weeks. Since late October, the area around the capital, Reykjavik, has been experiencing an increase in earthquake activity.

The eruption can be seen from Reykjavik, which is located about 42 kilometers northeast of Grindavik.

An eyewitness in the capital told the BBC that half the sky in the direction of the town “lit up red” as a result of the volcanic eruption, and smoke could be seen rising into the air.

Experts say they do not expect the eruption to cause the same level of disruption as elsewhere in Iceland in 2010, which grounded European air travel.

The Icelandic Meteorological Office said at 12:30 GMT on Tuesday that the strength of the eruption was decreasing, but that gases emanating from the volcano could be felt in Reykjavik on Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning.

Olhiur Halldorsdottir, who lives in Sandjeroy, about 20 kilometers from Grindavik, said she watched the eruption from her home.

She told the BBC: “It was crazy to see it with my own eyes. We’ve seen volcanic eruptions before, but this was the first time I felt really scared.”

“We are used to volcanoes [erupting]But this was crazy.”

She added that there was some “panic” on Monday evening, and that she had purchased additional supplies of water, but things were largely back to normal on Tuesday.

“I’m at work now, and I can still see it. I can see the lights in the sky,” she said.

Hans Vera was evacuated from Grindavik last month, but before Monday’s eruption he had hoped to return home for Christmas.

But he said: “I don’t see them letting people near Grindavik in the future, so we’re back to the waiting game.”

“There are no disruptions to flights to and from Iceland, and international flight corridors remain open,” Iceland’s Foreign Minister, Bjarne Benediktsson, previously said on Twitter.

“Planes [of lava] “It’s very high, so it appears to be a strong eruption at first,” he said.

Hallgrímur Indrewasson, a correspondent for the state-owned Icelandic National Broadcasting Corporation (RUV), said the eruption could be seen dozens of kilometers away in Reykjavik, and described the scene as “absolutely stunning.”

Image source, Icelandic Coast Guard

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The area surrounding the capital, Reykjavik, has witnessed an increase in earthquake activity since late October

Photos and videos posted on social media showed lava erupting from the volcano just an hour after an earthquake swarm – a series of seismic events – was detected.

Police warned people to stay away from the area.

The fissure in the volcano is about 3.5 kilometers long, with lava flowing at a rate of about 100 to 200 cubic meters per second, the Meteorological Office said, adding that this is several times more than recent eruptions on the Reykjanes Peninsula.

Grindavik was evacuated

Iceland has been on high alert for several weeks in anticipation of a possible volcanic eruption, and last month authorities ordered people to leave Grindavik, on the southwest coast, as a precaution.

The Meteorological Office said the eruption occurred about 4 kilometers northeast of Grindavik. There were some concerns that the lava flow might reach Grindavik.

There have been no reports of any injuries so far.

Volcanologist Dr Evgeniya Ilinskaya told the BBC that there would not be the same level of disturbance as in 2010, because these volcanoes in southwest Iceland “were not physically capable of generating the same ash clouds”.

The Eyjafjallajökull volcano, in southern Iceland, is located about 140 kilometers from the volcano on the Reykjanes Peninsula that erupted on Monday.

Speaking from Iceland, Dr Ilinskaya, associate professor of volcanology at the University of Leeds, said locals were “fearing and waiting” for the eruption.

“There was a lot of uncertainty. It was a difficult time for local people,” she said.

She added that authorities were preparing for possible lava flows that could destroy homes and infrastructure, including the Blue Lagoon, a popular tourist destination.

“At the moment, it does not appear to be a threat, although that remains to be seen,” she added.

Icelandic Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir said the recently built defenses would have a positive impact.

She said her thoughts are with the local community and is hoping for the best despite the “major event.”

President Gudni Johansson said protecting lives is the main priority but every effort will be made to protect structures as well.

Image source, Icelandic Coast Guard

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The images showed lava erupting from the volcano

Image source, Oscar Grímur Kristjánsson

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About 4,000 people were evacuated from the fishing town of Grindavik last month

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