A long-dormant volcano in southwestern Iceland has come back to life, following thousands of small earthquakes in recent weeks.
The Fagradals Mountain volcano is on the Reykjanes Peninsula, where none of the volcanoes had erupted for almost 800 years.
A fissure of between 500m and 750m opened at the site on Friday evening, with lava fountains of up to 100m high.
Lava spilled down two sides of the volcano and its glow could be seen from the outskirts of Iceland’s capital Reykjavík, which is about 20 miles away.
Over the past four weeks, the area has had more than 40,000 earthquakes, many more than the 1,000 to 3,000 registered each year since 2014.
The National Commission of Police’s Civil Protection Department said volcanic gas pollution is expected to extend as far as Thorlakshofn, a town on Iceland’s southern coast, and continue into the night.
It said residents should close windows and stay inside their homes.
Rannveig Gudmundsdottir, who lives in the town of Grindavik, five miles from the eruption, said: “I can see the glowing red sky from my window.
“Everyone here is getting into their cars to drive up there.”
Sara Barsotti, volcanic hazards coordinator at the Icelandic Meteorological Office, said the eruption posed no immediate danger to people in the area or to critical infrastructure, adding: “I think we couldn’t hope for anything better than that.”
The IMO sent a helicopter with scientists to observe the eruption.
The country’s airports operator Isavia said airlines should decide how to proceed based on the ash cloud forecast.
In 2010, the Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted, disrupting approximately 900,000 flights and forcing hundreds of Icelanders from their homes.
This eruption, however, is not expected to spew as much ash or smoke into the atmosphere, the IMO said.
(c) Sky News 2021: Volcano erupts near Iceland’s capital after weeks of seismic activity