A volcano in southwest Iceland began erupting on Wednesday, the country’s meteorological authorities said, just eight months after its last eruption officially ended.
The Icelandic Meteorological Office urged people not to go near the Fagradalsfjall volcano, which is about 32 kilometers (20 miles) southwest of the capital Reykjavik.
The eruption in an uninhabited valley is not far from Keflavik airport, Iceland’s international air traffic hub. The airport remained open and no flights were interrupted.
A live video stream from the site showed magma pouring out of a narrow fissure some 100 to 200 meters long over a lava field from last year’s eruption, the first on the Reykjanes peninsula in nearly 800 years.
Scientists had anticipated an eruption somewhere on the peninsula after a series of earthquakes over the past week indicated volcanic activity near the crust.
Volcanologist Magnus Tumi Gudmundsson told The Associated Press the eruption appeared to be small.
“But we don’t know where things are in the process,” he said as he boarded a helicopter for a first look.
The 2021 eruption in the same area produced spectacular lava flows for several months. Hundreds of thousands of people flocked to see the spectacular sight.
Located atop a volcanic hotspot in the North Atlantic, Iceland averages an eruption every four to five years.
The most disturbing in recent times was the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in 2010, which sent clouds of ash and dust into the atmosphere, disrupting air travel for days between Europe and North America due to concerns that the ash could damage the Reaction engines. More than 100,000 flights were grounded, stranding millions of passengers.
Shares in Iceland’s flagship airline, Icelandair, jumped 6% when news of the eruption broke on Wednesday. Investors and residents alike were spooked by the possibility of a much more disruptive eruption in a populated area of the peninsula.