In southwest Iceland, a volcano has erupted, expelling molten rock into the air after weeks of heightened earthquake activity, prompting evacuations, according to the country’s Meteorological Office. The eruption occurred approximately four kilometres from the town of Grindavik on Monday night, as reported by the Icelandic Meteorological Office. Grindavik had been evacuated in November due to intense seismic activity that damaged homes and raised concerns of an impending eruption.

Images and live streams from the local news outlet RUV depicted lava spewing from fissures in the ground. Icelandic police elevated their alert level, and the country’s civil defence cautioned the public against approaching the area while emergency personnel assessed the situation.

Environmental activist Greta Thunberg expressed serious concerns, fearing that the eruption could set back climate change efforts and pose increased danger to the world.

Fortunately, the town of Grindavik and its crucial power plant remain safe for now. Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson, the infrastructure minister, acknowledged the unpredictability of nature, stating, “I think it’s very difficult to say anything when nature is involved, but as it seems to be drawing up this morning, we seem to have been quite lucky with the location and development (of the eruption), and we hope that will continue.”

In mid-November, 3,400 Grindavik residents were evacuated amid shaking ground, cracked roads, and structural damage to buildings. One month later, many are still residing in temporary accommodation, uncertain if they will ever return home.

The Earth’s surface crack, measuring around 3.5 kilometres in length, has rapidly expanded. The eruption is releasing 100 to 200 cubic meters of lava per second, significantly more than previous eruptions in the area, according to the Meteorological Office.

Magnus Tumi Gudmundsson, a scientist who surveyed the site from a coast guard research flight, estimated that twice as much lava had already spewed compared to the entire month-long eruption on the peninsula earlier in the summer. Although the eruption is expected to decrease in intensity, its duration remains uncertain.

Reykjanes, the affected region, is a volcanic and seismic hot spot southwest of the capital, Reykjavik. In March 2021, a spectacular eruption occurred in the Fagradalsfjall volcanic system, featuring lava fountains from a 500-750-meter-long fissure in the ground.

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