Iceland volcano: Eruption could 'go on for months'

The eruption of a volcano in south-western Iceland could “go on for months”, an expert has said.

A two-and-a-half mile fissure opened on the Reykjanes peninsula late on Monday, spewing lava and smoke more than 100 metres (330 feet) into the air after weeks of seismic activity in the region.

“It could potentially go on for several months,” said Prof Halldor Geirson of the University of Iceland. “It could also just stop later today or tomorrow.”

Residents of Grindavik, the only nearby town, were evacuated last month and the Blue Lagoon tourist attraction has also been closed.

Lava is currently flowing away from the settlement. The flow rate has fallen substantially compared with the first two hours of the eruption.

Flights have not been disrupted and the government has said there is no “threat to life”. Tourists have been urged to stay away from the volcano.


01:33 PM GMT

That’s all for today

Thank you for following our coverage today.


01:32 PM GMT

Today's headlines

  • A two-and-a-half mile volcanic fissure erupted on Iceland’s Reykjanes peninsula shortly after 10pm GMT on Monday

  • Lava and smoke spewed more than 100 metres into the air after weeks of seismic activity

  • Lava flowed away from the only settlement nearby, Grindavik, which had been evacuated in November

  • Tourists and locals were warned to stay away from the site of the eruption

  • Prof Halldor Geirson said the eruption could continue for as long as several months

  • The location and direction of the eruption were “quite lucky” for Iceland, its infrastructure minister has said.

  • Gas pollution is expected to drift to Reykjavik tonight or on Wednesday morning


01:11 PM GMT

Gas pollution to hit Reykjavik

Gas pollution is set to hit the Icelandic capital Reykjavik later today after the volcanic eruption on the Reykjanes peninsula, the country’s meteorological office has said.

“According to the weather forecast, gas pollution could be noticed in the capital area late tonight or in the morning,” it said in a statement.

“New work is being done on a hazard assessment card and it will be issued later today.” 


12:54 PM GMT

Pictured: The eruption continues

Onlookers gather to watch the lava flow
Onlookers gather to watch the lava flow - Anton Brink

12:15 PM GMT

Iceland got lucky, says minister

The location and direction of the eruption have been “quite lucky” for Iceland, its infrastructure minister has said.

“I think it’s very difficult to say anything when nature is involved,” Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson told state broadcaster RUV.

“But as it seems to be drawing up this morning, we seem to have been quite lucky with the location and development, and we hope that will continue.”

The volcano’s lava has so far flowed away from Grindavik, the only nearby settlement. It was evacuated last month.


12:05 PM GMT

Thor coastguard ship on standby

An Icelandic coastguard ship named Thor is on call to assist in rescue efforts on the Reykjanes peninsula.

The patrol vessel and a number of helicopters are in the region on standby.


11:24 AM GMT

Eruption could go on 'for months'

The volcanic eruption at Reykjanes could continue for months or only a few more hours, Prof Halldor Geirson said.

“It could potentially go on for several months,” the associate professor at the University of Iceland’s Institute of Earth Sciences said.

“It could also just stop later today or tomorrow.”


11:00 AM GMT

Grindavik still 'under threat'

The town of Grindavik is still at risk of being damaged by the flow of lava, Prof Geirson added.

Lava has so far flowed away from the settlement, which is the only one in the vicinity of the fissure and was evacuated last month.

But the associate professor at the University of Iceland’s Institute of Earth Sciences said that could change.

“There is still a threat to Grindavik, for sure,” he said.

“Now the lava is flowing mostly to the north, but it depends on the topography and where the openings are.”


10:53 AM GMT

Lava flow down to quarter of peak volume

The flow of lava from the Reykjanes fissure has decreased to a quarter of the peak it reached during the first two hours of the explosion.

Halldor Geirson, an associate professor at Institute of Earth Sciences at the University of Iceland, said the flow had been at 200 to 250 cubic metres per second.

He added that it is now a quarter of that.


10:40 AM GMT

Tourists warned to stay away from eruption

Tourists have been warned to stay away from the eruption.

“This is not a tourist attraction and you must watch it from a great distance,” Vidir Reynisson, head of Iceland’s Civil Protection and Emergency Management, told broadcaster RUV.

It “is not considered tourist friendly,” added Magnus Tumi Gudmundsson, a professor of geophysics at the University of Iceland.

He flew over the site on Tuesday morning onboard a coast guard research flight and estimated twice as much lava had already spewed than the entire month-long eruption on the peninsula this summer.


09:54 AM GMT

Eruption 'much different' to Eyjafjallajokull

The eruption has evoked comparisons with the volcano at Eyjafjallajokull whose eruption in 2010 caused continent-wide disruption to holidaymakers.

But these are far of the mark, experts have said.

“The 2010 eruption was different because it erupted under a glacier and when this happens you get this huge explosive ash high up in the air which is very fine and stays up in the air for a long time,” said Hallgrimur Indridason of state broadcaster RUV.

“This is much different. This is a crack with lava flow and the ash doesn’t stay up in the air as much than in previous cases.

“So unless we had an eruption under the sea – which there is a slim chance of – then there will no impact on air traffic.”


09:19 AM GMT

How long will the eruption last?

The eruption is decreasing in its intensity and that is expected to continue.

But scientists are less sure about how long lava will continue to flow out of the fissure for.

“It can be over in a week, or it could take quite a bit longer,” Prof Magnus Tumi Gudmundsson of the University of Iceland told Icelandic broadcaster RUV.


09:00 AM GMT

Blue Lagoon tourist attraction closes

The eruption has forced the Blue Lagoon tourist attraction to close just one day after it reopened.

“All guests with confirmed bookings in the upcoming days will be contacted,” it said in a statement.

“We will continue to monitor the progress and maintain close communication with the authorities, prioritising safety and well-being.”

The hot springs, which are located just miles from the fissure, had closed on 9 November as fears grew that an explosion was imminent but reopened on Sunday.


08:32 AM GMT

Eruption 'not a tourist attraction', says police chief

A regional police chief has warned the public to stay away from the site of the eruption.

“We need to keep everything clear because we don’t know what changes this will bring, if it does,” said Hjalmar Hallgrimsson, field commander of the Sudurnes police.

“We ask people to allow us to assess the situation, this is not a tourist attraction. This is many times more powerful.”


08:09 AM GMT

Flights not disrupted

Flights have been unaffected by the volcanic eruption late on Monday evening.

“There are no disruptions to flights to and from Iceland and international flight corridors remain open,” Iceland’s government said in a statement.

Online flight tracker flightradar24.com shows planes have been arriving and departing without interruption at the Keflavík International Airport, which is 10 miles to the north-west of the fissure.


07:48 AM GMT

No threat to life as lava flows away from town

The Reykjanes eruption poses no “threat to life” and lava is flowing away from the only nearby settlement, Iceland’s government has said.

“The eruption does not present a threat to life,” it said in a statement.

Iceland’s Met Office added that there is nearly two miles between the fissure and the town of Grindavik, which was evacuated in November as fears of a potential eruption grew.

“The eruption is taking place north of the watershed, so lava does not flow towards Grindavik,” geologist Bjorn Oddson told public broadcaster RUV.


07:35 AM GMT

In pictures: The eruption

Crowds gathered after the volcano at Grindavik erupted
Crowds gathered after the volcano at Grindavik erupted - Micah Garen
An Iceland coast guard helicopter flies as lava erupts in the background
An Iceland coast guard helicopter flies as lava erupts in the background - Iceland Coastguard

06:53 AM GMT

'Intensity decreasing'

The fissure from which lava is exploding is about 2.5 miles long, the Icelandic Met Office said in an early morning update as it also reported the intensity of the eruption was decreasing.

“The intensity of the volcanic eruption, which started about four hours ago, is decreasing. This is evident from seismic and GPS measurements,” the update read.

“The fact that the activity is decreasing already is not an indication of how long the eruption will last, but rather that the eruption is reaching a state of equilibrium. This development has been observed at the beginning of all eruptions on the Reykjanes Peninsula in recent years.”

The fissure begins just east of Stóra-Skógfell and stretches south to just east of Sundhnúk, almost 2 miles from Grindavik.


05:20 AM GMT

The volcanic eruption explained

Experts don’t expect the eruption to cause disruption on the same scale as the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in 2010.

Volcanic eruptions are not uncommon in Iceland, which is home to 33 active volcano systems, the highest number in Europe. But the Reykjanes peninsula had not experienced an eruption for eight centuries until 2021.

Since then, three eruptions have struck, in 2021, 2022 and earlier this year - all in remote, uninhabited areas.

Read our explainer piece here


04:18 AM GMT

Pictured: Coast Guard flies over eruption to estimate scale

Coast Guard
Coast Guard

04:12 AM GMT

PM: It's clear this is a considerable eruption

Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir described the eruption as “considerable” and thanked emergency personnel and scientists for guarding the area.

“Our thoughts are with the locals now as ever, we hope for the best but it can be clear that this is a considerable eruption,” he said on Facebook.

“It is important to give responders space to do their work and follow traffic instructions.”

A volcano spews lava and smoke as it erupts in Grindavik
A volcano spews lava and smoke as it erupts in Grindavik

03:00 AM GMT

Watch: Moment volcano erupts

Grainy webcam video showed the moment of the eruption as a flash of light illuminating the sky at 10:17pm local time.

As the eruption spread, magma could be seen spewing along the ridge of a hill.


01:45 AM GMT

Eruption may continue towards Grindavik

The eruption could continue towards the town of Grindavik as seismic activity is moving south, the Icelandic Met Office said in an update.

The measured activity is east of the magma tunnel that formed on November 1.

“This development of the seismic activity together with measurements from GPS devices is an indication that the magma is moving southwest and the eruption may continue in the direction of Grindavik.”

A local resident watches smoke billow
A local resident watches smoke billow - AFP
Flowing lava is seen during at a fissure
Flowing lava is seen during at a fissure

01:37 AM GMT

In pictures: Lava flows from fissures

More images are emerging of the eruption. A coast guard helicopter will attempt to confirm the exact location — and size — of the eruption, and will also measure gas emissions.

Flowing lava is seen during at a fissure on the Reykjanes peninsula
Flowing lava is seen during at a fissure on the Reykjanes peninsula
Houses in the village of Hafnarfjordur as smoke billows in the distance
Houses in the village of Hafnarfjordur as smoke billows in the distance - AFP

01:17 AM GMT

Watch: Webcams capture eruption


01:13 AM GMT

Iceland president: 'We are prepared and remain vigilant'


12:59 AM GMT

Lava flowing faster than rate of previous eruptions

The crack in the earth’s surface was around 3.5 km (2.1 miles) long and had grown rapidly, the Met Office said.

Some 100 to 200 cubic metres (3,530 to 7,060 cubic feet) of lava emerged per second, several times faster than in previous eruptions in the area, Icelandic seismologist Kristin Jonsdottir told public broadcaster RUV.

Vidir Reynisson, head of Iceland’s Civil Protection and Emergency Management, added: “The magma flow seems to be at least a hundred cubic meters per second, maybe more. So this would be considered a big eruption in this area at least.”


12:37 AM GMT

In pictures: Sky turns orange as volcano erupts

People watch as the night sky is illuminated
People watch as the night sky is illuminated - AP
The night sky is illuminated
The night sky is illuminated
The night sky is illuminated
The night sky is illuminated

12:32 AM GMT

Reykjavik airport remains open

Reykjavik’s international airport, which is located nearby, remains open for now despite the eruption.

“At the moment, there are no disruptions to arrivals or departures at Keflavik Airport,” the airport’s website read.

However, a number of delays were later listed for both arrivals and departures.


12:31 AM GMT

Full story: Volcano erupts south of Reykjavik

A volcano in south-west Iceland erupted on Monday night following weeks of earthquake activity that caused a 10-mile long fissure in a road and put the country in a state of emergency.

Lava is spewing from the volcano on the Reykjanes peninsula at a rate of up to 200 cubic metres per second, according to the country’s Meteorological Office which noted that was faster than any eruption in the region in recent years.

Read the full story here


12:28 AM GMT

Welcome

A volcano has erupted in Iceland, south of the capital Reykjavik, Iceland’s Meteorological Office has reported.

Follow our live blog for the latest news and developments on the eruption.

Broaden your horizons with award-winning British journalism. Try The Telegraph free for 1 month, then enjoy 1 year for just $9 with our US-exclusive offer.