Volcanic eruption in Iceland | Polarjournal
Initial images of the lava flow pouring from the opening were taken by an Icelandic Coast Guard helicopter. According to experts, no people or infrastructure are currently in danger. Image: Icelandic Coast Guard via Icelandic Meteorological Office

In the southwest of Iceland, on the Reykjanes peninsula, the long-awaited eruption of a volcano has now taken place. No people were harmed.

According to the Icelandic Meteorological Office, the eruption began at 20:45 UTC last night near Fagradalsfjall, about 20 kilometers southeast of Kevlavik Airport and 33 kilometers southwest of the capital Reykjavik. Lava pours from the depths over a length of around 600 metres and flows down relatively slowly and viscously, as can be seen in photographs taken by the Icelandic coastguard. The footage have since gone around the world.

In the footage posted on Twitter by the Icelandic Meteorological Office, you can see the fissure and the slow-moving lava coming out. Video: Meteorological Office Iceland via Twitter

According to the authorities and also according to experts, there is no danger for the people in the region. Near the eruption site is the village of Grindavík, with a population of 3,427, just under 10 kilometres to the south, on the coast. Authorities have asked people there to keep doors and windows closed until further notice. Keflavik Airport, 19 kilometres to the northwest, is also not threatened by the outbreak. But authorities have canceled all flights until further notice, the media report.

The red marker shows the location of the volcanic eruption. Image: Michael Wenger via Google Earth

The eruption of the volcano does not come as a surprise. In recent weeks, several thousand major and minor earthquakes in the region had announced this seismic activity. Experts had reported days ago that magma had accumulated in this area and was threatening to erupt. Magnús Tumi Guðmundsson, a geophysicist at the University of Háskóli Íslands told Icelandic broadcasting company RUV that the eruption could mark the start of a series of volcanic events on the peninsula. The last eruption of a volcano on the Reykjanes peninsula was recorded almost 800 years ago. Volcanism is nothing special on Iceland, as the island is located in the middle of a seismologically active zone and was born through volcanism.

Webcam images from the surrounding towns show the bright glow of lava coming out of the fissure. The town of Grindavík, 10 kilometres away, and Keflavik Airport, 20 kilometres away, are not currently threatened. Flights to Iceland, however, have been halted for the time being. Image: Icelandic Broadcasting Company via Facebook

Dr Michael Wenger, PolarJournal

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