Iceland volcano near major airport erupts second time in a year
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A volcano erupted Wednesday morning in Iceland near the capital city of Reykjavík, eight months after its last eruption ended.
The Icelandic Meteorological Office (Met Office) reported on Twitter that the eruption occurred at Fagradalsfjall’s Geldingadalir volcano. The volcano is located just 25 kilometers or 16 miles southwest of the country’s metropolitan area.
The eruption in the uninhabited valley is not far from Keflavik Airport, Iceland’s international air traffic hub. The airport was alerted as part of regular procedure during volcanic activity, but the airport remained opened, and no flights were disrupted. Additionally, the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management noted that volcanic activity does not pose a threat to infrastructure or lives.
The Iceland Monitor posted a livestream of the eruption on YouTube, showing magma spewing from a narrow fissure about 100 to 200 meters (109 to 218 yards) long over a field of lava from the eruption last September. Last year’s eruption was the first on the Reykjanes Peninsula in more than 800 years.
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Scientists had anticipated an eruption somewhere on the peninsula because more than 10,000 earthquakes have been detected in the Reykjanes peninsula since Saturday, according to the Iceland Monitor.
“What we know so far is that the eruption does not pose any risk to populated areas or critical infrastructure. We will of course continue to monitor the situation closely, and now we also benefit from the experience gained from last year’s eruption,” Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Iceland’s prime minister, said in a statement.
Most of the earthquakes have been smaller with a magnitude less than 4. But bigger earthquakes of 4.7 magnitude were detected since Monday. Residents in Reykjavik felt a 5.47-magnitude quake on Sunday, according to the Met Office.
“There are indications that the deformation and seismicity is declining and this was precursory to the eruption which started on 19th March 2021,” the Met Office said in a statement on Tuesday. “Considering all of the above, the likelihood of an eruption at Fagradalsfjall within the coming days is considered to be substantial.”
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The 2021 eruption in the same area produced spectacular lava flows for several months that drew hundreds of thousands people.
Iceland, located above a volcanic hotspot in the North Atlantic, averages an eruption every four to five years.
The most disruptive in recent years was the 2010 eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano, which sent clouds of ash and dust into the atmosphere, interrupting air travel for days between Europe and North America because of concerns the ash could damage jet engines. More than 100,000 flights were grounded, stranding millions of passengers.
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Shares in Iceland’s flagship airline, Icelandair, rose 6% when news of the eruption broke Wednesday. Investors and residents alike had been spooked by the possibility of a much more disruptive eruption in a populated area of the peninsula.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.