According to Foreign Minister Bjarni Benediktsson, the volcanic eruption in Iceland could last even longer. “Fortunately there is no danger to life at the moment. The airport is open,” he told the British television channel Sky News on Tuesday evening. The Icelandic Meteorological Office announced during the night that there was a risk that more chimneys would open along the fissure. Overall, however, the eruptions have weakened.

On Tuesday night in Iceland, a volcanic eruption occurred in the southwest of the island after the port town of Grindavík had been evacuated as a precaution a few weeks ago. Over the course of the night, a kilometer-long fissure formed from which around 100 to 200 cubic meters of lava flowed per second. According to eyewitness reports, the lava shot up 200 meters at the start of the eruption. The lava fountains are now no longer as high.

The outbreak southwest of the Icelandic capital Reykjavík had been announced for a long time. A series of earthquakes had been recorded in the area since October. Such earthquakes have also heralded volcanic eruptions in the past. Recently, however, seismic activity had decreased again. Residents were allowed to return to their homes during the day, but were not allowed to spend the night there. The Blue Lagoon geothermal pool, which is extremely popular with tourists, was also reopened after a temporary closure at the weekend.

Gases do not currently pose any danger

These things are unpredictable, Benediktsson said of Monday’s outbreak. But the lava does not flow towards the city. “We were worried about the infrastructure,” he said. There is an important power plant there, but they have already built a protective barrier in the past few weeks. He was also asked about gas that rises when the volcano erupts. This currently poses no danger to the population because the wind is good. “But we’re following it closely.”

It is unclear what will happen next. “I’m not a scientist, but they tell us that this could go on for weeks or possibly months,” Benediktsson told the TV station. The outbreak is larger than what they have experienced in the past three years. They now hoped that the lava flow would slow down, cool down and stop so that people could return as soon as possible, but that would not happen before Christmas.

Eruptions “incredibly beautiful”

Images from Iceland showed red lava masses making their way. You don’t get used to these outbursts, Benediktsson said in the interview. “We also find them incredibly beautiful. And you’re awestruck when you see the earth opening up and the fire and smoke rising.”

The volcanic eruption near Grindavík is the fourth in the past three years on the Reykjanes Peninsula. It was only in the summer of this year that a fissure opened up in the area and lava was spraying out of it. The natural spectacle attracted many onlookers.