Icelandic Civil Protection via AP
REYKJAVIK, Iceland — A volcano in southwest Iceland erupted for the second time in less than a month on Sunday, sending lava flowing toward a nearby community and setting at least one home on fire.
The Icelandic Meteorological Office said the eruption, which began just before 8 a.m. local time, came after authorities evacuated the town of Grindavik following a series of small earthquakes. Hours later, a second fissure opened near the edge of the city and lava seeped toward homes.
“We are just watching it through cameras and there is nothing else we can do,” resident Reinir Berg Jonsson told Icelandic RUV TV.
Grindavik is a city of 3,800 people located about 50 kilometers (30 miles) southwest of Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland. The community was previously evacuated in November after a series of earthquakes created large fissures in the ground between the city and the small mountain Selinjarville to the north. The nearby Blue Lagoon geothermal resort – one of Iceland's biggest tourist attractions – has also been temporarily closed.
The volcano finally erupted on December 18, and residents were allowed to return to their homes on December 22.
In the weeks that followed, defensive walls were built around the volcano in hopes of directing the lava away from the community. Barrier walls built north of Grindavik have been breached and lava is moving towards the community, the Met Office said.
“This still surprises us,” Benedikt Ovegsson from the Met Office told RUV. “Things were slowing down after the eruption started, but about half an hour or an hour ago they started to speed up again. We no longer see slowdowns in the city.”
Iceland, which sits above a hot volcanic region in the North Atlantic Ocean, experiences an average of one eruption every four to five years.
The most destructive recent eruption of Eyjafjallajökull volcano in 2010 was that spewed clouds of ash into the atmosphere and disrupted transatlantic air travel for months.
But Sunday's volcanic eruption on the Reykjanes Peninsula is not expected to release large amounts of ash into the air. Gudjon Helgason, press officer at airport operator Isavia, said operations at Keflavik Airport were continuing as usual.
Before last month's eruption, the area widely known as Svartsinji Volcano had been dormant for about 780 years. The volcano is located just a few kilometers west of Fagradalsfjall, which lay dormant for 6,000 years before bursting into life in March 2021. The latest eruption was more powerful than those that have occurred in recent years.
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