Iceland Volcano Erupts After Weeks of Earthquakes

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Iceland Volcano Erupts After Weeks of Earthquakes

A volcano erupted in Iceland on Friday, essentially turning the night sky into a real-life lava lamp.No injuries were reported. Just joy — and the

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A volcano erupted in Iceland on Friday, essentially turning the night sky into a real-life lava lamp.

No injuries were reported. Just joy — and the odd traffic jam.

The eruption occurred on Friday evening near Mount Fagradalsfjall, about 20 miles southwest of the capital, Reykjavik, the Icelandic Meteorological Office said on Twitter. The agency said that the lava fountains were small by volcano standards, and that seismometers were not recording much turbulence.

Friday’s event was nothing like the eruption 11 years ago of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland, which spewed so much ash that it grounded flights across parts of Europe for weeks.

Still, it was southwestern Iceland’s first eruption in about 800 years, and the lava was stunning. So a lot of people were excited.

“YESSS !! , eruption !!” the Icelandic singer Björk wrote on Facebook and Instagram, noting that she had once filmed a music video at the site.

“We in iceland are sooo excited !!!” she added. “We still got it !!! sense of relief when nature expresses herself !!!”

The eruption capped an unusually busy spell of seismic activity in southwestern Iceland that began around December 2019. Tens of thousands of quakes have shaken the area in recent weeks, leading scientists to believe that an eruption could be imminent.

There is a long history of volcanic activity in Iceland. The country straddles two tectonic plates, which are themselves divided by an undersea mountain chain that oozes molten hot rock, or magma. Quakes occur when the magma pushes through the plates.

But it’s rare to see quakes in and around the greater Reykjavik area, where most of the country’s 368,000 residents live.

Scientists said in the weeks before the eruption that they did not expect activity on the order of the 2010 quake at the Eyjafjallajokull volcano, and that the looming eruption would probably bubble out without much explosive force.

“People in Reykjavik are waking up with an earthquake, others go to sleep with an earthquake,” Thorvaldur Thordarson, a professor of volcanology at the University of Iceland, said in an interview this month. “There’s a lot of them, and that worries people, but there’s nothing to worry about, the world is not going to collapse.”

He was right.

The eruption near Mount Fagradalsfjall on Friday did pose a few inconveniences, including traffic jams and concerns about the potential for volcanic pollution in the Reykjavik area. The authorities warned people not to go near the lava and to stay indoors with the windows closed.

But the eruption — which enthusiasts around the world had been eagerly expecting for weeks — was mostly a cause for celebration.

“It started!!!!” Joël Ruch, a volcanologist at the University of Geneva, wrote on Twitter as the lava started flowing slowly southwest, away from Reykjavik.

“First photo of the eruption! Wow!” wrote Sigridur Kristjansdottir, a seismologist in Iceland. Nonspecialists also expressed excitement online.

The colors in the sky were indeed spectacular. Imagine the Northern Lights, but in blood orange instead of the usual electric green. Or the glowing orbs of an early Mark Rothko canvas.

Or Björk’s orange hair, circa 2011, a few years before she filmed her music video in the vicinity of Mount Fagradalsfjall.

Elian Peltier contributed reporting.



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