AFP — Avolcano erupted in Iceland on Wednesday near the capital Reykjavik, spewing red hot lava and plumes of smoke out of a fissure in an uninhabited valley after several days of intense seismic activity.
The eruption was around 40 kilometres (25 miles) from Reykjavik, near the site of the Mount Fagradalsfjall volcano in southwestern Iceland that erupted for six months in March-September 2021, mesmerising tourists and spectators who flocked to the scene.
A strip of glowing red lava could be seen gushing from the ground, spouting 20 to 30 metres into the air
On Wednesday, a strip of glowing red lava could be seen gushing from the ground, spouting 20-30 metres (65-100 feet) into the air before spreading into a blanket of smouldering black rock.
As it cooled, blueish smoke rose up from the hilly landscape on the Reykjanes peninsula.
About 100 curious onlookers quickly made their way to the scene, bewitched by the sight of the bubbling lava and the intense roar that could be heard rising up from the ground as the lava erupted, an AFP reporter at the scene said.
The Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO), which monitors seismic activity, estimated the size of the fissure at about 300 metres. It said the eruption started in the Meradalir valley, less than one kilometre (0.6 miles) from the scene of last year’s eruption.
Wednesday’s eruption came after a period of intense seismic activity, with about 10,000 earthquakes detected since Saturday, including two with a magnitude of at least 5.0.
While there was no ash plume, the IMO said it was “possible that pollution can be detected due to the gas release”.
Gases from a volcanic eruption — especially sulphur dioxide — can be elevated in the immediate vicinity, and may pose a danger to health and even be fatal.
Gas pollution can also be carried by the wind.
“Risk to populated areas and critical infrastructure is considered very low and there have been no disruptions to flights”, the Icelandic foreign ministry said on Twitter.
More than an hour after the start of the eruption, a commercial passenger jet could be seen flying over the eruption site at low altitude heading for Reykjavik’s main airport Keflavik.