A handout photo made available by the Icelandic Coast Guard shows the crew of TF-EIR, a helicopter of the Coast Guard, that flew over a volcanic eruption to estimate its scale after an eruption began, north of Grindavik, on the Reykjanes peninsula, in Iceland, late 18 December 2023, (issued 19 December 2023). . EPA-EFE/ICELANDIC COAST GUARD

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Icelandic volcano blows its top in spectacular style on Reykjanes Peninsula


After weeks of intensive seismic activity, a volcano has erupted on Iceland’s Reykjanes Peninsula in Southwest Iceland.

The skies over the capital Reykjavik have turned orange and rescue services remain on high alert. More than 4,000 local residents have been evacuated from the vicinity of the eruption.

The molten lava flows lit up the night sky spectacularly as steam, smoke and ash billowed from thousands of vents.

An Iceland Civil Defence photo shows the volcanic eruption north of Grindavik, Iceland, 18 December 2023. EPA-EFE/Iceland Civil Defense (almannavarnadeild)
The spirit of Christmas backlit by the eruption. EPA-EFE/ANTON BRINK
The scene near a power station north of Grindavik. (Photo by Micah Garen/Getty Images)
Icelanders enjoy the view. (Photo by Micah Garen/Getty Images)
Icelandic Met Office picture gives an overview of the eruption. EPA-EFE/ICELANDIC MET OFFICE /

The eruption began north of town of Grindavik on Monday at 22:17 local time, according to the Icelandic Met Office.

It can be seen from Reykjavik, which is 42 kilometres further north of Grindavik.

An onlooker in Reykjavik looks on.  EPA-EFE/ANTON BRINK
A rescue worker keeps vigil on the Reykjanes Peninsula. (Photo by Micah Garen/Getty Images)
Onlookers gather by the shoreline in Reykjavik to watch. EPA-EFE/ANTON BRINK
Others at the shoreline in Reykjavik look on as the eruption continues. EPA-EFE/ANTON BRINK

The volcano sports a 3.5 kilometre crack through which lava flows at a rate of 100 to 200 cubic meters per second.

While spectacular, eruptions are not uncommon in the Nordic country, which has 33 active volcanoes.

The eruption comes after numerous powerful earthquakes on the Peninsula began on October 24 as a result of what is called a “magmatic intrusion” beneath the region’s surface.

The frequency and strength of the earthquakes grew substantially on November 10, with 20,000 tremors registered at that time, the largest of which exceeded magnitude 5.3 on seismographic measurements.


A street damaged by the volcanic earthquakes pictured on November 22 in Grindavik. (Photo by Micah Garen/Getty Images)
Iceland authorities ordered thousands of people to leave Grindavík on 11 November as a precaution after Reykjavik declared a state of emergency following a series of earthquakes. (Photo by Micah Garen/Getty Images)
Damage caused from the earthquakes and magma beneath the town on November 22. (Photo by Micah Garen/Getty Images)

The Icelandic Government declared on December 19 that the volcanic explosion “does not pose a threat to life” and experts predicted that Grindavk would be spared as the lava seemed to be flowing away from the town.

In daylight on December 19, people gather to watch the lava flow. EPA-EFE/ANTON BRINK
More onlookers watch the lava. EPA-EFE/ANTON BRINK
Police stand guard to aid civilians as the eruption continues. EPA-EFE/ANTON BRINK