Iceland: Fagradalsfjall volcano erupts and causes polluting gases

The Fagradalsfjall volcano of Iceland near Keflavik Airport is in a rash again, the government confirmed on Wednesday.

Local media showed images of lava and smoke from a fissure in the volcano’s slope. Still, authorities said Keflavik airport continued to operate normally.

“Currently, there have been no disruptions to flights to and from Iceland, and international flight corridors remain open,” the country’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

Volcanic eruption in Iceland causes polluting gases

The latest eruption is about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik. The fissure is very close to last year’s eruption, which lasted six months and drew hundreds of thousands of visitors, effectively reviving Iceland’s tourism industry after a pandemic-induced lull.

But on Wednesday, the Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO) urged tourists and residents to stay away due to possible poisonous gases. Aircraft were banned from flying over the area, although helicopters were dispatched to assess the situation, the IMO told the Reuters news agency.

Icelandic President Gudni Johannesson also urged people to “be careful and know more before going into the unknown.”

“If this eruption is anything like the last one, there will be plenty of time, so there’s no need to rush,” he told English-language media outlet Iceland Monitor.

Eruption heralded by thousands of earthquakes

Thousands of earthquakes herald the eruption.

The researchers detected some 10,000 earthquakes recently, including two that reached a magnitude of at least 5.0.

“We have been expecting an eruption somewhere in this area since the series of earthquakes started last weekend,” Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir said. “We know so far that the eruption does not pose any risk to populated areas or critical infrastructure.”

Iceland is a seismic hotspot with 32 active volcanic systems. Its Eyjafjallajokull volcano grounded around 100,000 flights in 2010 when it spewed ash and smoke into the sky for several weeks.