Iceland: Volcano erupts near island’s main airport for the second time in a year

A volcano in southwestern Iceland began erupting on Wednesday, just eight months after its last eruption officially ended, according to the country’s meteorological authorities.

The Icelandic Meteorological Office has urged people not to approach the Fagradalsfjall volcano, which is located about 32 kilometers southwest of the capital Reykjavík.

The eruption occurred in an uninhabited valley near Keflavik Airport, Iceland’s international air hub. The airport remained open, flights were not interrupted.

Live video feed from the site showed magma erupting from a narrow fissure 100 to 200 meters long above a lava field after last year’s eruption, the first on the Reykjanes peninsula in nearly 800 years.

Scientists expected an eruption somewhere on the peninsula after a series of earthquakes over the past week pointed to volcanic activity near the earth’s crust.

Volcanologist Magnus Tumi Gudmundsson said the eruption was small.

“But we don’t know where things are in the process,” he said as he boarded the helicopter for a first look.

The 2021 eruption in the same area produced spectacular lava flows over several months. Hundreds of thousands of people gathered to watch the breathtaking spectacle.

Iceland, located above a volcano hotspot in the North Atlantic, erupts on average every four to five years.

The most devastating recent volcanic eruption was Eyjafjallajokull in 2010, which threw clouds of ash and dust into the atmosphere, interrupting flights between Europe and North America for several days due to fears that the ash could damage jet engines. More than 100,000 flights were stopped, leaving millions of passengers stranded.

Shares of Iceland’s flagship airline, Icelandair, rose 6% as the eruption became public on Wednesday. Investors and residents were spooked by the possibility of a much more destructive eruption in the densely populated area of ​​the peninsula.