Iceland Volcano Erupts For First Time In 800 Years As Red Glow Skies Are Seen For Miles
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A volcano in Iceland has erupted for the first time in 800 years following an increase in earthquakes, with footage showing molten lava being spewed into the air.
The fissure is about 500-700 metres long at Fagradalsfjall on Reykjanes peninsula, approximately 30km south-west of the country's capital Reykjavik.
The Iceland Meteorological Office (IMO) said the eruption of Fagradalsfjall began at around 8.45pm GMT on Friday (19 March), later being confirmed via satellite imagery and webcams.
Several hours beforehand, a magnitude 3.1 earthquake was recorded 1.2km from Fagradalsfjall just several hours earlier.
According to Reuters, four hours after the initial eruption - the first on the peninsula since the 12th Century - lava covered around one square kilometre, the equivalent of nearly 200 football fields.
Rannveig Gudmundsdottir, a resident in the town of Grindavik, only 8km from the eruption, told the news agency: "I can see the glowing red sky from my window.
"Everyone here is getting into their cars to drive up there."
The coastguard helicopter was sent to survey the area, sending the first image of the eruption.
Sharing the photo on Twitter, the IMO said: "The first image of the eruption. Taken from the Coast Guard helicopter. The southern end of the tongue is about 2.6km from Suðurstrandarvegur. According to initial information, the fissure is about 200m long."
Fyrsta mynd af gosinu. Tekin úr þyrlu Landhelgisgæslunnar. Syðri endi tungunnar er um 2,6 km frá Suðurstrandarvegi. Miðað við fyrstu upplýsingar er sprungan um 200 m löng. pic.twitter.com/MeRCLCtcrv
- Icelandic Meteorological Office - IMO (@Vedurstofan) March 19, 2021
Iceland is used to experiencing frequent tremors because it straddles two tectonic plates, which are drifting in opposite directions to each other.
However, over the past four weeks, the country has recorded more than 40,000 earthquakes - marking a huge leap from the 1,000-1,300 earthquakes registered each year since 2014.
In 2010, the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull, brought air traffic to a halt across Europe, having created a huge ash cloud.
However, the IMO said the eruption posed no immediate danger to people in Grindavik, or to critical infrastructure, classifying the eruption as small.
It added that Reykjavik's international Keflavik airport was not closed following the eruption, but each airline had to decide if it wanted to fly or not.
The airport's website showed no disruptions to arrivals or departures