Volcano erupts on the Reykjanes peninsula of south-west Iceland

At 22:17 local time on Monday, a volcanic eruption began north of Grindavík on the Reykjanes peninsula in Iceland, after weeks of intense earthquake activity in the region.

Grindavík, a fishing town with a population of 3,800 located about 25 miles (40km) south-west of Iceland’s capital Reykjavík, was evacuated in November due to safety concerns. The eruption can be seen from Reykjavik.

Iceland’s government said in a statement today that the volcanic eruption ‘does not present a threat to life,’ as experts suggested that Grindavík may not be affected and the lava appears to be flowing away from the town.

In an overnight update, the Icelandic Met Office said ‘the eruptive fissure is about 4 km long’ and that the ‘distance from the southern end to the edge of Grindavík is almost 3 km.

Experts say the volcanic eruption is unlikely to impact air travel. The Icelandic government also said ‘there are no disruptions to flights to and from Iceland and international flight corridors remain open.’

Iceland has been braced for volcanic activity since late October, but the eventual eruption is not expected to bring the same level of disruption as one that took place elsewhere in Iceland in 2010, where European air travel was brought to a halt.
In April 2010, an ash cloud from the Eyjafjallajokull volcanic eruption caused the largest closure of European airspace since World War Two, with losses estimated at €1.5-2.5bn (£1.3-2.2bn; $1.6-2.7bn), according to a BBC report.
Images and videos posted from the Reykjanes peninsula on social media showed lava bursting from the volcano just an hour after an earthquake swarm was detected.
The lava is flowing at a rate of around 100 to 200 cubic metres per second, the Met Office said, more than that seen in recent eruptions.

‘The jets [of lava] are quite high, so it appears to be a powerful eruption at the beginning,’ the foreign minister of Iceland said.

Police have warned people to stay away from the area and no injuries or loss of life have been reported.

Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir said ‘defences recently constructed would have a positive effect.’

President Gudni Johannesson said ‘safeguarding lives was the main priority but that every effort would be made to protect structures too.’