A volcano in Iceland has erupted for the second time this year, marking the third eruption since December. The eruption was located in the Reykjanes peninsula and sent lava shooting up to 80 metres (260ft) into the air.

Fountains of orange molten rock have been spewing from cracks in the ground. Lava forced the closure of the Blue Lagoon luxury geothermal spa. Thermal-based water pipes south of Reykjavík have been damaged, affecting the hot water supply for over 20,000 people.

The Civil Protection Agency raised the alert level to emergency status. With concerns about the eruption continuing for an extended period, households and businesses are urged to conserve electricity. An emergency pipeline is under construction to restore hot water, but officials warn it may take days.

Volcanic outbreaks in the Reykjanes peninsula are characterised by fissure eruptions, posing a unique set of challenges. Despite the absence of large explosions or significant ash dispersal, scientists express concerns about the potential for eruptions to persist for years.

Authorities constructed dykes to redirect lava flows away from homes and critical infrastructure. The lava stream is currently approximately 0.6 miles (1 km) from the Svartsengi geothermal power plant.

The eruption, the sixth eruptive fissure since 2021, was preceded by intense earthquake activity at around 5:30 a.m. According to the Met Office, a plume of smoke has risen 2 miles into the air. Despite the proximity to the Reykjavik International Airport, operations continue as usual.

This eruption follows a previous event on 14 January, which lasted approximately two days and saw evacuations and property damage on the outskirts of Grindavík fishing town. Icelandic geophysicist Ari Trausti Guðmundsson assures that the current eruption is located away from Grindavik and is unlikely to threaten the city directly.

Iceland’s President, Guðni Jóhannesson, shared an image on social media from his residence, showcasing flames and smoke in the distance.

Authorities downgraded the volcanic system’s threat level. Still, they cautioned about the ongoing risk of further eruptions due to the continuous rise of land in the area caused by magma accumulation underground. The Reykjanes peninsula hosts six active volcanic systems, and according to Gudmundsson, eruptions could persist intermittently for decades or centuries.

Iceland’s landscape boasts over 30 active volcanoes. The country has become a prime destination for volcano tourism, attracting thrill-seekers eager to witness and experience the raw power of geological forces.