The Fagradals Mountain volcano in southwest Iceland had been dormant for 6,000 years. But on Friday night, following, the volcano came to life.
The eruption is the first that the Reykjanes Peninsula, where the volcano is located, has experienced in 781 years.
Video of the eruption show the bright lava oozing out of the earth, lighting up an otherwise stark dark night. The glow from the lava could be seen up to 20 miles away from Reykjavík, Iceland’s capital, according to the Associated Press and photos of the glow.
Icelandic Police tweeted on Friday that people were to stay indoors and keep their windows closed to prevent gas pollution. When volcanoes erupt, the lava spews several potentially hazardous gases, including sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide and hydrogen fluoride, according to the United State Environmental Protection Agency.
The Icelandic Meteorological Office said on Saturday morning that the pollution from this eruption, however, “is not expected to cause much discomfort for people except close up to the source of the eruption.”
On its website, the office said “no volcanic ash is detected but high level of volcanic gases has been measured close to the eruption site.” Scientists and officials are monitoring the emissions closely.
By Saturday morning, the Icelandic Meteorological Office reported that volcanic activity had “somewhat decreased” since Friday evening. Scientists at the department have not cited major concern for people in the area, as the lava area is less than 1 square kilometer. Eruptive fissures — cracks in the earth’s surface from which lava comes out — are approximately 500 to 700 meters long, according to the office.
“Lava fountains are small and lava flows are currently a very local hazard,” the office tweeted.
The Scientific Council for Civil Protection said on Saturday morning that they do not believe the eruption is a threat to structures.
A small earthquake happened just hours before the volcano erupted.
Southwest Iceland has been hit with asince February 24. Dozens of them had a magnitude of 3 or higher, meaning they could be felt. On Thursday, just one day before the eruption, the IMO reported that there had been 400 earthquakes in a span of about seven hours. Despite the extent, it was “somewhat less” seismic activity compared to other mornings where there have been roughly 1,000 earthquakes.