Iceland volcano erupts, for the third time since December in Reykjanes, spewing lava and hitting roads

Iceland volcano erupts, for the third time since December in Reykjanes, spewing lava and hitting roads

Friday 09/02/2024
Lava pumped up to 80 metres into the air. (Icelandic Public Defense via AP)

A volcano in south-western Iceland has erupted for the third time since December, pumping lava up to 80 metres into the air and disrupting life in the Reykjanes peninsula.

Fountains of bright-orange molten rock spewed from cracks in the ground and lava crossed a road near the Blue Lagoon — a luxury geothermal spa — which had closed its doors on Thursday due to the outbreak.

The lava flow also hit thermal-based water pipes in the region just south of the capital, disrupting the supply of hot water to more than 20,000 people and leading the Civil Protection Agency to raise its alert level to emergency status.

The agency also asked households and businesses to conserve electricity.

It said restoring hot water via an emergency pipeline that was already under construction could take days.

Volcanic outbreaks in the Reykjanes peninsula are so-called fissure eruptions, which do not usually cause large explosions or significant dispersal of ash into the stratosphere.

However, scientists fear they could continue for years, and Icelandic authorities have started building dykes, which are embankments, to divert burning lava flows away from homes and critical infrastructure.

Rikke Pedersen, who heads the Nordic Volcanological Centre research group based in Reykjavik, said the lava stream was about 1 km from the peninsula's Svartsengi geothermal power plant.

Protective dykes have been built in the area and workers were trying to fill in small gaps along the road as the lava flowed.

"So they are really doing all they can to prevent lava reaching the power plant," Ms Pedersen said.

The Iceland's meteorological office said the "probability of new eruptive fissure openings has decreased" because the deformation in the dyke area has reduced significantly.

By Reuters/ABC

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