A volcano that erupted in south-west Iceland on Monday is weakening, although new vents could open at short notice, the country’s meteorological office has said.
The eruption, which took place on the Reykjanes peninsula, came after weeks of intense earthquakes and tremors.
About 4,000 people were evacuated last month from Grindavik, a fishing town threatened by the lava flow.
There are no reports of injuries, but there are fears houses may be damaged.
The Icelandic Met Office said on Tuesday evening that the eruption “continues to weaken”, with aerial images showing there are three vents erupting, down from the previous five.
Vents are openings on a volcano through which magma erupts or volcanic gases are emitted.
The Met Office said that, while the eruption continues, “there is an increased likelihood that more vents may open” along the original fracture, as well as further north or south, and that the warning time for new vent openings “could be very short”.
It earlier warned that pollution from the volcano could reach the capital, Reykjavik, about 42km (26 miles) from Grindavik, although as of mid-morning on Wednesday, this had not happened.
‘Fearing and waiting’
In 2010, a volcanic eruption caused an ash plume to rise several kilometres into the atmosphere, leading to several days of air travel disruption in Europe.
Volcanologist Dr Evgenia Ilyinskaya told the BBC on Tuesday that there would not be the same level of disruption as 2010, as these volcanoes in south-west Iceland were “physically not able to generate the same ash clouds”.
Speaking from Iceland, Dr Ilyinskaya, associate professor of volcanology at Leeds University, said local people had been both “fearing and waiting for” the volcano to erupt.
Also on Tuesday Iceland’s foreign minister, Bjarni Benediktsson said on X, formerly Twitter, that “there are no disruptions to flights to and from Iceland, and international flight corridors remain open”.
“The jets [of lava] are quite high, so it appears to be a powerful eruption at the beginning,” he said.
Police have warned people to stay away from the area.
Emily Foster is a globe-trotting journalist based in the UK. Her articles offer readers a global perspective on international events, exploring complex geopolitical issues and providing a nuanced view of the world’s most pressing challenges.