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Volcano Erupts In Southwestern Iceland After Thousands Of Earthquakes

Lava flows Saturday from the Fagradalsfjall volcano on Iceland's Reykjanes Peninsula. The long-dormant volcano erupted Friday evening.
Lava flows Saturday from the Fagradalsfjall volcano on Iceland's Reykjanes Peninsula. The long-dormant volcano erupted Friday evening.

A volcano on the Reykjanes Peninsula in southwest Iceland erupted Friday evening, producing a river of lava that could be seen from the capital, Reykjavik, 20 miles away.

The eruption was reported by the Icelandic Meteorological Office. Photos of the event show an ominous sky glowing red with the silhouette of Fagradalsfjall Mountain below.

The eruption took place about three miles inland from the coast and poses little threat to residents. They were advised to stay indoors with windows closed against any gases that are released.

This is the first eruption in the Reykjanes Peninsula in nearly 800 years, the Associated Press reported. Thousands of earthquakes took place in the weeks leading up to the eruption, the meteorological office reported. Earlier this week, swarms of earthquakes rattled the peninsula, with over 3,000 quakes on Sunday alone. The strongest tremors took place around Fagradalsfjall Mountain.

Scientists attributed the earthquakes to magma intrusions, molten rock movement about a kilometer below the earth's crust. Meteorological officials first mentioned the possibility of an eruption on March 3, as these intrusions continued and earthquake activity intensified.

A long-dormant volcano on Iceland's Reykjanes Peninsula not far from the capital Reykjavik erupts on Friday. Some gas was released and lava flowed down two sides but officials said residents of the region were not being evacuated.
Hildur Hlín Jónsdóttir / AP
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A long-dormant volcano on Iceland's Reykjanes Peninsula not far from the capital Reykjavik erupts on Friday. Some gas was released and lava flowed down two sides but officials said residents of the region were not being evacuated.

The chances of an eruption escalated in recent days as magma flows concentrated around the southern portion of Mt. Fagradalsfjall, an agency statement said. Scientists declared the mountain the most likely point should an eruption take place. Seismic activity on the peninsula decreased Friday before the mountain ultimately erupted.

It is not expected to cause havoc in air travel as did ash from the Eyjafjallajökull eruption in 2010.

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