Eruption of Iceland volcano easing, not affecting flights

Tanya Simon
March 22, 2021

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

Pictures on local media websites showed a bright red night sky. The eruption is "minor" and there were no signs of ash or dust that could disrupt aviation, the agency said.

By early March, it reported that a small-scale volcanic eruption was likely to occur.

Police ordered residents living east of the volcano to close their windows and stay indoors due to the risk of possible gas pollution carried by the wind.

The last eruption there was some 800 years ago.

Unlike the eruption in 2010 of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano, which halted approximately 900,000 flights and forced hundreds of Icelanders from their homes, this eruption is not expected to spew much ash or smoke into the atmosphere, the IMO said.

The Icelandic Meteorological Office says the eruption of Fagradalsfjall began at about 20:45 GMT on Friday, and was later confirmed via webcams and satellite images.

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Officials quoted by AFP news agency said that the area of the eruption was open to the public, but could only be accessed by a hard hike of several hours from the nearest road.

What happened on Friday evening?

A coastguard helicopter was sent to survey the area, about 30km (19 miles) from Reykjavik.

The vast island near the Arctic Circle straddles the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a crack on the ocean floor separating the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates.

In a mountain located just 40km outside of the city, lava lit up the night sky a glowing red as it spouted into the air for the first time in millennia after a fissure 500 to 750 metres long opened at the eruption site.

A magnitude 3.1 natural disaster was recorded 1.2 km from Fagradalsfjall just several hours earlier.

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