New volcanic outbreak near Reykjavik - State of Emergency on iceland
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A new volcanic eruption occurred in Iceland on Thursday, in the same area as previously. Embers and smoke from the fissure can be seen from Reykjavik and the Icelandic authorities have declared a state of emergency, several media reports.
Photo Credit: The eruption at Sylingarfjell seen from a helicopter shortly after it started. The lava flow is estimated to move approximately 500 meters per hour. The lava cascades reach 50-80 meters into the air and the smoke plume is 3 kilometers tall.
Photo: Björn Oddsson/Norwegian Meteorological Institute
The seismic activity was recorded at 05:20 am local time, near Fagradalsfjall, 3 miles southwest of the capital Reykjavik. Magma then rose to the surface at 6 o'clock. Since then, the lava has made its way across the landscape, moving mostly west.
The fissure is 3 kilometres long and runs from Sundhnúk outside Grindavík in the south to the eastern end of Stóra Skógfell.
"It happened very quickly", says Benedikt Ófeigsson, geophysicist at the Meteorological Institute of Iceland, to the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service (RUV).
The volcanic eruption occurred just three weeks after the last eruption, on January 14.
Keflavík Airport is not affected by the eruption but is without hot water, according to Rúv.
Hot water pipes damaged by the lava
Iceland relies heavily on geothermic energy and the power plants use the hot lava underground to extract heat for most of the island's heating needs. Electricity is also generated from geothermal sources.
The state of emergency was declared after lava from a volcanic eruption damaged key hot water pipes, reports the BBC.
Thousands of people in the Reykjanes Peninsula have been urged to limit their hot water use and electricity use as the pipes could take several days to repair.
There are concerns that other crucial pipelines close to the Svartsengi power station could soon be affected.
It is now the third eruption on the peninsula since December 2023.
Schools in the areas affected by the lack of hot water will also remain shut, the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service (RUV) reported.
Iceland has 33 active volcano systems and the island is located above the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the boundary between two of the largest tectonic plates on the planet.
800 years ago the Reykjanes Peninsula had a similar period of volcanic activity. Back then, the eruptions went on for several decades.
It is the sixth eruption in three years. The area could be entering a new volcanic era, scientists believe.
"This is proceeding as expected at the moment," Professor Tamsin Mather, a volcanologist from the University of Oxford, has said regarding the volcanic activity.