After weeks of speculation of a new volcano coming, and after many days of very frequent earthquakes, an eruption has begun at a new volcano in Iceland: Suðurstrandarvegur. The source of the volcanic eruption began at Geldingadalur, close to Fagradalsfjall on the Reykjanes Peninsula.
According to the Icelandic Meteorological Office, just after 7am yesterday morning local time, about 400 earthquakes had been detected on the Reykjanes Peninsula since midnight, less than the previous 1,000 that have been striking the island nation.
Shortly after 6pm ET, a volcanic eruption began, sending lava from a fissure that’s roughly 200 meters (656 feet) long. Lava is flowing slowly to the southwest and west. Almannavarnadeild ríkislögreglustjóra, The National Commissioner Of The Icelandic Police, Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management, says that volcanic gas pollution is expected to extend as far as Þorlákshöfn and to continue into the night. People are asked close windows and stay indoors. The fissure has now grown to about 500 meters long, or 1,640 feet.
The eruption is located in the middle of the peninsula, which connects the capital of Reykjavik to the Keflavik International Airport near its tip. Keflavik International Airport was briefly closed but the airport is now fully operational at this time. The area is also near the popular Blue Lagoon hot springs resort, although there is no indication yet of any people or property being at any risk.
Earlier this month, volcanologists were warning about the possibility of a volcanic eruption, urging people to be prepared for that possibility. By March 5, more than 18,000 earthquakes rocked the southwestern corner of Iceland. The earthquake swarm started there on February 24, kicking off with a magnitude 5.7 earthquake.
Just days ago, scientists in the United States issued their own ominous warning, urging residents and visitors to prepare for the possibility of a volcanic eruption at Mauna Loa, currently the largest, most active volcano in the world. Just yesterday, a swarm of earthquakes began on Mauna Loa’s slopes.