Iceland Volcano Has Started Erupting, but No Lives in Danger

A volcano has started erupting on Iceland’s Reykjanes peninsula, which is around 19 miles (30 kilometers) from the country’s capital.

The eruption, the first on the peninsula in almost 800 years, isn’t expected to be life-threatening or cause damage to inhabited areas. It began around 9:40 p.m. GMT (5:40 p.m. in New York) and was confirmed by webcam and satellite pictures, the Icelandic Met office said on its website. The activity was expected following weeks of seismic unrest in the area.

Lava is expected to flow as a liquid along the surface of the earth for less than a month, according to geophysicist Freysteinn Sigmundsson. Minor explosive activity can be anticipated.

Unlike an incident in 2010, air traffic was unlikely to be affected. “Ash forecasts from the Icelandic Met Office and partners were issued and the danger area defined,” the airport operator said on its website. “Keflavík Airport will remain open while circumstances permit.”

The statement also said that “there is little likelihood that lava flows will close the airport itself. They could, however, close access routes to the airport.”

One of the most disruptive volcanic eruptions in Iceland’s recent history occurred in 2010, when Eyjafjallajokull in the southern part of the country released a plume of ash so vast that it grounded air traffic for weeks, resulting in the cancellation of 100,000 flights and affecting over 10 million people. Unlike southern Iceland, the Reykjanes peninsula is not known to have volcanoes capable of producing large, explosive eruptions.

Iceland, which has 30 volcanic systems and more than 600 hot springs, is one of the most geologically active places on earth, due to its position on the mid-Atlantic ridge where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet.

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