A volcano erupted in Iceland on Friday, turning the night sky into a real lava lamp.
No injuries were reported. Just joy – and the strange traffic jam.
The outbreak occurred on Friday evening near Mount Fagradalsfjall, about 20 miles southwest of the capital Reykjavik, the Icelandic Meteorological Office said on Twitter. The agency said the lava fountains were small by volcanic standards and that seismometers didn’t record much turbulence.
The event on Friday was nothing more than the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland 11 years ago, which spat out so much ash that it caused flights through parts of Europe for weeks.
Even so, it was the first eruption in southwest Iceland in about 800 years, and the lava was breathtaking. So a lot of people were excited.
“Yeah !!, outbreak !!” the Icelandic singer Björk wrote on Facebook and Instagram, noting that she once made a music video on the website.
“We’re so excited in Iceland !!!” She added. “We still have it !!! Feeling of relief when nature expresses itself !!! “
The eruption has completed an unusually busy period of seismic activity in southwest Iceland that began around December 2019. Tens of thousands of quakes have rocked the area in the past few weeks, leading scientists to believe that an eruption may be imminent.
Iceland has a long history of volcanic activity. The land spans two tectonic plates that are themselves separated by an underwater mountain range from which molten hot rock or magma seeps. Quakes occur when the magma pushes through the plates.
However, it rarely happens that quakes occur in the greater Reykjavik area, where most of the country’s 368,000 residents live.
Scientists said for weeks that they did not expect any activity on the scale of the 2010 earthquake at Eyjafjallajokull volcano and that the impending eruption would likely erupt without much explosive force.
“People in Reykjavik wake up to an earthquake, others fall asleep to an earthquake,” Thorvaldur Thordarson, professor of volcanology at the University of Iceland, said in an interview earlier this month. “There are a lot of them and that worries people, but there is nothing to worry about, the world is not going to collapse.”
He was right.
The eruption near Mount Fagradalsfjall on Friday came with some inconveniences, including traffic jams and concerns about possible volcanic pollution in the Reykjavik area. Authorities warned people not to approach the lava and stay inside with the windows closed.
But the breakout, which enthusiasts around the world had been eagerly anticipating for weeks, was largely cause for celebration.
“It began!!!!” Joël Ruch, a volcanologist at the University of Geneva, wrote on Twitter as the lava slowly began to flow south-west away from Reykjavik.
“First photo of the outbreak! Impressive! “Wrote Sigridur Kristjansdottir, a seismologist in Iceland. Non-specialists were also excited online.
The colors in the sky were spectacular indeed. Imagine the northern lights, but in blood orange instead of the usual electric green. Or the glowing spheres of an early Mark Rothko canvas.
Or Björk’s orange hair, around 2011, a few years before she shot her music video near Mount Fagradalsfjall.
Elian Peltier contributed to the reporting.