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Iceland volcano erupts again, spews lava for fifth time since December

Iceland volcano erupts again, spews lava for fifth time since December
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Iceland volcano erupts again, spewing lava into the sky – fifth time since December

A volcano in southwestern Iceland sent glowing hot lava shooting 50 metres into the air on Wednesday, its fifth eruption since December, shortly after an eight-week-long eruption on the same Reykjanes peninsula came to an end.

Authorities had warned of the risk of renewed volcanic activity in the area just south of the capital Reykjavik as studies showed magma accumulated underground.

“The lava fountains reach 50 metres (164 feet) high and the length of the fissure seems to be around 2.5km and growing, Iceland’s Met Office said in a statement.

Flights continued as usual at Reykjavik’s Keflavik Airport, according to the airport’s website.

The fiery spectacle underlines the challenges faced by the island nation of almost 400,000 people, as scientists have warned that repeated eruptions are possible in Reykjanes for decades or even centuries.

Wednesday’s was the eighth eruption since 2021 on the peninsula, home to some 30,000 people, after geological systems that had lain dormant for 800 years became active again.

People gather to watch as molten lava flows out from a fissure on the Reykjanes peninsula north of the evacuated town of Grindavík, western Iceland, on March 16. Photo: AFP

Such volcanic activity has disrupted district heating, closed key roads and razed several homes in the Grindavík fishing town, to which only a few residents have returned since an evacuation in late 2023.

Iceland’s civil defence was put on high alert, police said, and authorities again ordered an evacuation of Grindavík.

The nearby Blue Lagoon geothermal spa, known for its large outdoor pools, was shut and its guests evacuated.

To prevent further damage, man-made barriers have been built to steer lava away from infrastructure including the Svartsengi geothermal power plant, the Blue Lagoon spa and Grindavík.

Residents refer to Iceland as the “Land of Fire and Ice” – a tribute to its otherworldly landscape of mountain peaks, ice fields and fiords, a seismic hotbed positioned between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates.

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