Eruption following intense seismic activity is believed to be five to 10 times bigger than last year's eruption, with about 20-50 cubic metres of magma spewing out per second.
A volcano has erupted in Iceland near the capital Reykjavik, spewing red hot lava and plumes of smoke out of a fissure in an uninhabited valley after several days of intense seismic activity.
Wednesday's eruption was around 40 kilometres from the capital, near the site of the Mount Fagradalsfjall volcano in southwestern Iceland that erupted for six months in March-September 2021, mesmerising tourists and spectators who flocked to the scene.
A strip of glowing red lava could be seen gushing from the ground, spouting 20-30 metres into the air before spreading into a blanket of smouldering black rock.
As it cooled, blueish smoke rose up from the hilly landscape on the Reykjanes peninsula.
The Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO), which monitors seismic activity, estimated the size of the fissure at about 300 metres. It said the eruption started in the Meradalir valley, less than one kilometre from the scene of last year's eruption.
The latest eruption, which was the seventh in 21 years, was believed to be five to 10 times bigger than last year's eruption, with about 20-50 cubic metres of magma spewing out per second, Magnus Tuma Gudmundsson, professor of geophysics at the University of Iceland, told Icelandic media.
Gas pollution feared
The eruption came after a period of intense seismic activity, with about 10,000 earthquakes detected since Saturday, including two with a magnitude of at least 5.0.
While there was no ash plume, the IMO said it was "possible that pollution can be detected due to the gas release".
Gases from a volcanic eruption – especially sulphur dioxide – can be elevated in the immediate vicinity, and may pose a danger to health and even be fatal.
Gas pollution can also be carried by the wind.
"Risk to populated areas and critical infrastructure is considered very low and there have been no disruptions to flights", the Icelandic Foreign Ministry said on Twitter.
Rescue teams and police rushed to the scene to assess the danger and possible gas contamination and discouraged people from visiting.
Mount Fagradalsfjall belongs to the Krysuvik volcanic system on the Reykjanes peninsula in southwestern Iceland.
Known as the land of fire and ice, Iceland has 32 volcanic systems currently considered active, the highest number in Europe. The country has had an eruption every five years on average.