“I just got to the volcano… my mind is completely blown, it’s crazy,” one onlooker told the Associated Press. “The last thing I would have imagined this morning when I woke up would be standing and looking at this…it’s so beautiful.”
Another man who had flocked to see the same volcano erupt last year said it was “absolutely incredible”, describing the lava as a mesmerizing “dancing fire”.
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The eruption, classified as a volcanic fissure, is occurring about 10 miles from Keflavik International Airport and about 20 miles from the country’s capital, Reykjavik. As of Thursday morning, the airport, which has flights from Seattle, London and Frankfurt, remained open and operational.
“Currently, there have been no disruptions to flights to and from Iceland and international flight corridors remain open,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
International travelers will remember the 2010 eruption of the country’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano, which spewed huge clouds of ash into the atmosphere, paralyzing air traffic and stranding millions.
“What we know so far is that the eruption poses no risk to populated areas or critical infrastructure,” Icelandic Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir said in a statement. “Of course, we will continue to monitor the situation closely.”
A volcanic fissure does not usually cause large explosions or significant dispersion of ash into the stratosphere. But people were warned to stay away due to the risk of noxious fumes and hot magma.
“The eruption follows intense seismic activity in recent days,” the Foreign Ministry said. “It is considered to be relatively small and due to its location there is a low threat to populated areas or critical infrastructure”
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The exact location of the eruption is at Meradalir, about a mile north of Mount Stori-Hrutur, according to the Icelandic Meteorological Office.
The area has experienced “strong earthquakes” in recent days, he added, warning of tremors, falling rocks and gas pollution. The same volcano also erupted last year, she said, lasting about six months.
Volcanoes are a fact of life in Iceland, a country that sits atop the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, caused by the separation of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. On average, the country experiences a volcanic event every four years.
However, the same geological activity is also responsible for some of the country’s most spectacular natural features, such as black sand beaches and geothermal lagoons, which attract millions of foreign tourists.
The volcanic eruption has started in the southwest of Iceland 🌋
The risk to populated areas and critical infrastructure is considered very low and there have been no disruptions to flights.
— MFA Iceland 🇮🇸 (@MFAIceland) August 3, 2022
The current volcanic response is being led by the Icelandic department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management together with the Meteorological Office and the University of Iceland. Scientists are also in the area with Coast Guard helicopters to assess the situation, the government said.