Flights in and out of Iceland to continue despite volcanic eruption, lava spread | Travel

A volcanic eruption has restarted in southwestern Iceland, with lava flows emerging for a fifth time since the area awakened from about 800 years of dormancy in 2020.

Lava spews from the site of a volcanic eruption north of Grindavik, Iceland, Flights in and out of Iceland to continue despite volcanic eruption, lava spread in near town (REUTERS/Marko Djurica/File Photo)

Magma rose to the surface on Sunday morning on the Reykjanes peninsula close to where a three-day eruption took place in December, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the country’s capital. Lava is erupting on both sides of a barrier being built to protect the nearby fishing town of Grindavik, the Meteorological Office said in a statement, citing images from a Coast Guard surveillance flight.

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As in previous eruptions recently, flights in and out of the country are expected to continue without interruption.

The events pose a risk to Grindavik, where scores of inhabitants have started drifting back after an evacuation in November. Still, most of the 3,700 townsfolk remain away.

A rampart had been under construction to shield Grindavik, after a similar barrier was completed to protect Iceland’s top tourist attraction, the Blue Lagoon spa, as well as HS Orka hf’s Svartsengi power plant, which provides heat to about 30,000 inhabitants of peninsula.

The area had lain dormant for almost 800 years until early 2020, when intense seismic activity started on the peninsula, with magma emerging in 2021. The current eruption is the fifth since then.

The island nation, which calls itself the land of fire and ice, has about 30 volcanic systems and more than 600 hot springs. It is one of the most geologically active places on earth due to its position between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates on the mid-Atlantic ridge.

Though Iceland is used to eruptions, residents haven’t experienced an event threatening inhabited areas at such a scale since 1973, when part of a town of some 5,000 people was buried under lava in the Westman Islands. Fatalities from eruptions are rare.

One of the most disruptive volcanic events in the Nordic country’s recent history occurred in 2010, when Eyjafjallajokull erupted in an explosion that released a plume of ash so vast that it grounded air traffic across Europe for weeks, resulting in the cancellation of 100,000 flights and affecting over 10 million people.

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