The volcano finally erupted. The eruption has forced Blue Lagoon to close. The country's biggest airport, however, hasn't halted its operations.
A volcano in southwest Iceland has erupted on the Reykjanes peninsula, the country’s meteorological office said Monday.
An earthquake preceded the eruption. The eruption is located close to Sundhnúkagígar, about four kilometers northeast of Grindavík, according to the meteorological office.
UPDATE: Tue. 4:11 p.m. ET: Here’s the latest.
What’s Closed: The Blue Lagoon Spa will be closed through December 27, according to a note on its website. On that day, the situation will be evaluated. All guests with bookings will be contacted. The geothermal spa originally closed on November 9 due to earthquakes caused by the volcano and partially re-opened on Sunday.
What’s Open: Flights are operating through Keflavik International Airport on schedule. Iceland’s Civil Protection Department said it considered the scenario “unlikely” and that air traffic disruption on flight traffic would depend on factors such as the location and size of the eruption.
- It’s not certain when it will end, but the volcano’s eruption intensity has been weakening, according to the meteorological office. The lava has flowed east of the eruption site.
- Seismic activity has significantly decreased since midnight, according to meteorological office. Since 7 a.m. ET, only 10 earthquakes have been recorded.
- The eruption is at the moment at a safe distance from the nearby town of Grindavik, according to Visit Reykjanes.
- The eruption does not pose an immediate threat to people. No additional evacuations have been deemed necessary at this time, according to Visit Reykjanes.
- The eruption is not expected to impact additional populated areas, according to the government.
An Icelandic Volcano Once Disrupted Thousands of Flights
In 2010, Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano experienced an eruption that disrupted over 90,000 flights. The ash from that eruption created an ash cloud. In response, many European countries closed their airspace for several days.
Tourism: a Key Pillar to Iceland’s Economy
Tourism is one of the “main pillars” of the country’s economy, according to Iceland’s government. The country’s tourism sector was still recovering from the pandemic. Last year, Iceland had 1.7 million visitors, which was 85.2% of the 2 million visitor level in 2019, according to Iceland’s tourism board.
Iceland is a nature-focused and adventure destination. In addition to the Blue Lagoon, the Golden Circle, the South Coast, and the Northern Lights are popular tourist attractions.
Eruptions can spark greater interest in volcano tourism. Iceland has seen this effect before, with some tour operators creating trips to see recent lava flows.
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Photo credit: A volcano spews lava and smoke in Grindavik, Iceland, on December 18, 2023. Source: Icelandic Meteorological Office.