An eruption has begun on the Reykjanes peninsula, Southwest Iceland. Icelandic Met Office staff first became aware of the eruption around 1:30 PM today. Magma is spewing out of a several-hundred-metre-long fissure at the location, and considerable gas is rising from the site. The active fissure is located at Fagradalsfjall, in a lava field created by last year’s eruption in the same location.
Gases from the eruption are visible from the capital area, rising from behind Keilir mountain.
Strong earthquakes, including several over M5, had shaken Southwest Iceland in recent days. The activity was reminiscent to that which occurred preceding last year’s eruption. Yesterday, a notice from the Icelandic Met Office stated that an eruption was likely in the coming days or weeks – that estimation has now been proved correct.
The eruption can be watched in a live feed from mbl.is below.
The Civil Protection Department has raised its preparedness phase from the uncertainty phase to emergency phase. This means that immediate measures are being taken to ensure the safety and security of those in the eruption area.
The eruption is currently small and is located a considerable distance from inhabited areas and infrastructure, in Meradalir valley. Volcanology Professor Þorvaldur Þórðarson told RÚV that at the current flow rate, it would take a considerable amount of time for lava to fill the valley and begin flowing out to other areas. It is possible other fissures or craters will open in the eruption.
The eruption poses no danger to flights in and out of Keflavík International Airport at this time.
Crews are now in the process of determining whether the area needs to be evacuated. Anyone at the eruption site is advised to remain upwind of the gas emerging from the site in order to avoid gas poisoning.
UPDATE: The eruption site is currently closed to traffic as the situation is assessed.
This news story will be updated.