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The most powerful volcanic eruption to hit Icelandic region for centuries continues to spew smoke and lava for a second day

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A volcano in Iceland spewed smoke and lava for a second day on Thursday but winds were expected to carry poisonous gas pollution away from the capital Reykjavik, authorities said.

The eruption, the fifth since December, was the most powerful in the area since volcanic systems on the Reykjanes peninsula became active three years ago after lying dormant for eight centuries, according to the Icelandic Met Office.

The town of Grindavik, where only a few people have returned after several homes were destroyed by lava earlier this year, was again subject to an evacuation order, as was the nearby Blue Lagoon outdoor spa, a major tourist attraction.

Volcanic activity decreased late on Wednesday but remained steady through the night, the Civil Protection agency said in a statement.

There were no reports of injuries.

A volcano in Iceland spewed smoke and lava for a second day on Thursday

A volcano in Iceland spewed smoke and lava for a second day on Thursday

Winds were expected to carry poisonous gas pollution away from the capital Reykjavik

Winds were expected to carry poisonous gas pollution away from the capital Reykjavik

Sensors showed air quality remained 'very good' in and around the capital

Sensors showed air quality remained ‘very good’ in and around the capital

‘Westerly winds are expected today, and gas pollution may then spread to the east over southern Iceland,’ the agency said.

Sensors showed air quality remained ‘very good’ in and around the capital while a station closer to the eruption indicated it was ‘unhealthy for the sensitive’.

Lava on Wednesday flowed over the main road that runs towards Grindavik, and images in local media on Thursday showed it was partly covered by a large mass of dried black rock.

Lava flows also reached the dykes built around Grindavik, diverting the molten rock west around the town according to the met office.

Keflavik airport, Iceland’s biggest, was operating as usual.

Lava flows reached the dykes built around Grindavik

Lava flows reached the dykes built around Grindavik

Grindavik, which is about 30 miles southwest of Iceland's capital, Reykjavik, has been threatened since a swarm of earthquakes in November forced an evacuation in advance of the the initial December 18 eruption

Grindavik, which is about 30 miles southwest of Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik, has been threatened since a swarm of earthquakes in November forced an evacuation in advance of the the initial December 18 eruption

Some 20 million cubic metres of magma had accumulated in the magma chamber below Svartsengi

Some 20 million cubic metres of magma had accumulated in the magma chamber below Svartsengi

Images from yesterday smoke billowing against the blue sky as a thick fissure split the landscape in two.

The Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO) had reported ‘intense earthquake activity’ prior to Wednesday’s eruption, with ‘about 400 earthquakes’ measured in the past seven days near the Sundhnuksgigar crater row.

In addition, it said some 20 million cubic metres of magma had accumulated in the magma chamber below Svartsengi, where a power plant that supplies electricity and water to around 30,000 people on the peninsula is located.

The Svartsengi plant, since evacuated, has been run remotely since the first eruption in the region in December, and barriers have been built to protect it.

Grindavik, which is about 30 miles southwest of Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik, has been threatened since a swarm of earthquakes in November forced an evacuation in advance of the the initial December 18 eruption.

The Met Office said coast guard helicopters had been sent up to determine the exact location and size of Wednesday's eruption

The Met Office said coast guard helicopters had been sent up to determine the exact location and size of Wednesday’s eruption

Most of the 4,000 residents of the fishing town were permanently evacuated in November, prior to the eruption

Most of the 4,000 residents of the fishing town were permanently evacuated in November, prior to the eruption

A subsequent eruption overwhelmed some defensive walls and consumed several buildings. 

Most of the 4,000 residents of the fishing town were permanently evacuated in November, prior to the eruption.

Lava flowed into the streets of Grindavik during a subsequent January eruption, engulfing three homes.

But a few die-hard residents had returned to live in neighbourhoods less at risk from lava flow.

The volcano erupted again in February and March, the first on February 8 engulfing a pipeline, cutting off heat and hot water to thousands of people. 

Until March 2021 the Reykjanes peninsula – part of the Svartsengi volcanic system – had not experienced an eruption for eight centuries as neighbouring volcanoes lay dormant.

Images from yesterday smoke billowing against the blue sky as a thick fissure split the landscape in two

Images from yesterday smoke billowing against the blue sky as a thick fissure split the landscape in two

Iceland, which sits above a volcanic hot spot in the North Atlantic, is home to 33 active volcano systems, the highest number in Europe

Iceland, which sits above a volcanic hot spot in the North Atlantic, is home to 33 active volcano systems, the highest number in Europe

Further eruptions occurred in August 2022 and in July and December 2023, leading volcanologists to believe the start of a new era of seismic activity in the region had begun.

The Met Office said coast guard helicopters had been sent up to determine the exact location and size of Wednesday’s eruption.

Iceland, which sits above a volcanic hot spot in the North Atlantic, is home to 33 active volcano systems, the highest number in Europe.

It straddles the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a crack in the ocean floor separating the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates.

The most disruptive eruption in recent times was the 2010 eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano, which spewed huge clouds of ash into the atmosphere and led to widespread airspace closures over Europe. 



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