Volcano erupts in Iceland near capital after weeks of seismic activity

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Volcano erupts in Iceland near capital after weeks of seismic activity


COPENHAGEN – A volcano erupted near the Icelandic capital Reykjavik on Friday, sending lava high into the night sky after thousands of small earthquakes in recent weeks.
The eruption occurred near Fagradalsfjall, a mountain on the Reykjanes Peninsula, about 30 kilometers southwest of the capital.

About four hours after the initial eruption at 8:45 p.m. GMT – the first on the peninsula since the 12th century – lava covered about a square kilometer or nearly 200 football fields.

“I can see the bright red sky from my window,” said Rannveig Gudmundsdottir, residing in the town of Grindavik, just 8 kilometers (5 miles) from the eruption.

“Everyone here gets in their car to drive there,” she said.

More than 40,000 earthquakes have occurred on the peninsula in the past four weeks, a huge jump from the 1,000 to 3,000 earthquakes recorded each year since 2014.

The eruption posed no immediate danger to the people of Grindavik or to critical infrastructure, according to the Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO), which called the eruption small.

A crack 500 to 750 meters (547 to 820 meters) long opened at the site of the eruption, spewing lava fountains up to 100 meters (110 meters) high, said Bjarki Friis of the office meteorological.

Residents of the town of Thorlakshofn, east of the eruption site, have been urged to stay indoors to avoid exposure to volcanic gases, the Icelandic Department of Civil Protection and Management said. emergency room. The wind was blowing from the west.

Unlike the 2010 eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano, which disrupted around 900,000 flights and forced hundreds of Icelanders out of their homes, this eruption is not expected to spit much ash or smoke into the atmosphere.

Located between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates, among the largest on the planet, Iceland is a seismic and volcanic hotspot as the two plates move in opposite directions.

The source of the eruption is a large body of molten rock, known as magma, which has pushed its way to the surface in recent weeks, causing the earthquakes.

The number of earthquakes had slowed in recent days, however, leading geologists to say an eruption would be less likely.

Reykjavik Keflavik International Airport was not closed after the eruption, but each airline had to decide whether or not they wanted to fly, IMO said.

Arrivals and departures on the airport’s website showed no disruption.

Reporting by Nikolaj Skydsgaard and Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen in Copenhagen Editing by Leslie Adler, Matthew Lewis, Sonya Hepinstall and Cynthia Osterman

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