Volcano erupts in Iceland’s Reykjanes peninsula

Iceland volcano

A volcano in southwestern Iceland began erupting on Monday, with lava shooting up more than 300 feet and visible miles away.

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Authorities, anticipating the eruption on the Reykjanes peninsula, evacuated the nearly 4,000 inhabitants of the fishing town of Grindavik last month, The Guardian reported. Officials also closed the nearby Blue Lagoon geothermal spa, according to the newspaper.

The fissure was near the nearby Svartsengi geothermal power plant, The New York Times reported.

“We are looking at a worst-case scenario,” Thorvaldur Thordarson, a volcanologist in Iceland, told the newspaper. “The eruption appears big, and only about two kilometers from major infrastructure.”

“Warning: Eruption has started north of Grindavik by Hagafell,” Iceland’s Meteorological Office said on its website, according to Reuters.

Iceland -- nicknamed the Land of Fire and Ice -- is a hot spot for volcanic activity because of its position over tectonic plates that are moving in opposite directions, The Washington Post reported. The country has more than 30 active volcanic systems, according to the newspaper. Since the 19th century, there has been a volcano at least once each decade the Times reported.

According to the Meteorological Office, the eruption began around 22:17 GMT after a series of small earthquakes at around 21:00, The Guardian reported.

Images and livestreams by local news outlet RUV showed lava pouring out of fissures in the ground.

“It is clear that we are dealing with events that we Icelanders have not experienced before, at least not since the eruption in Vestmannaeyjar,” Iceland’s Civil Protection Agency said. That was a reference to a 1973 eruption that began without warning and destroyed 400 homes, CNN reported.

Reykjavik’s international airport, which is located nearby, remained open, Reuters reported.

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