Iceland experienced its second volcanic eruption of the year on Thursday, as a volcano on the southwestern Reykjanes peninsula roared to life, sending lava shooting up to 80 meters (260 feet) into the sky. This event marks the sixth eruption in the area since 2021.
Live footage captured the dramatic sight of bright-orange molten rock gushing from fissures in the ground against the backdrop of the dark night sky, creating a mesmerizing yet ominous spectacle.
The country’s meteorological office issued a warning about the eruption, alerting the public with the message: “Warning: A volcanic eruption started north of Sylingarfell.”
The eruption was preceded by intense earthquake activity starting around 5:30 a.m., with the volcanic outbreak following shortly thereafter, according to the Met Office. The eruptive fissure stretched approximately 3 km (2 miles) long and was believed to be in the same location as a previous eruption on December 18.
The nearby Blue Lagoon geothermal spa was closed as a precautionary measure due to the eruption, highlighting the potential impact on surrounding areas.
Unlike the previous eruption in January, which reached the outskirts of the Grindavik fishing town, Thursday’s eruption occurred farther from residential areas and was unlikely to directly threaten the town’s nearly 4,000 inhabitants. However, there were concerns about potential hazards to the road to Grindavik, as well as to nearby infrastructure such as the power plant and the Blue Lagoon, depending on the extent of lava flow.
Icelandic geophysicist Ari Trausti Gudmundsson noted that the Reykjanes eruptions typically involve fissure eruptions, characterized by the absence of large explosions or significant ash production. Despite the awe-inspiring display of nature’s power, the risk of widespread disruption is mitigated compared to other types of volcanic activity.
Reykjavik’s international Keflavik airport remained operational, with airport operator Isavia confirming normal operations on its website, indicating that the eruption had not affected air travel in the region.