First the earth trembles, then glowing red lava bubbles to the surface: another volcanic eruption has begun in Iceland. The expected eruption started near Mount Fagradalsfjall on the Reykjanes Peninsula southwest of Reykjavik, the Icelandic Meteorological Agency said on Wednesday afternoon.

Live footage from Icelandic radio showed lava spraying out of a long crack in the ground in the Geldingadalur valley. A leading volcanologist spoke to the RÚV radio station about a chasm several hundred meters long.

How big the outbreak will be this time could not be estimated at first. Initial reactions from the North Atlantic island indicated that Icelanders, used to the forces of nature, were serious but calm about the outbreak.

Appropriate emergency plans have been activated according to the authorities. The Icelandic Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote on Twitter that the risk for populated areas and critical infrastructure is considered very low. There have also been no flight disruptions so far.

The Reykjanes Peninsula is located about 30 kilometers southwest of the capital Reykjavik. An eruption of this type had already occurred on the peninsula in March 2021.

After that, lava kept bubbling up from the earth’s interior for almost half a year. She came from an underground volcanic system called Krýsuvík. Several earth cracks had opened up over time.

As then, the new eruption has announced itself in the past few days with a series of earthquakes, some of them strong. The earth in the region had been shaking again and again since Saturday. All of this was also felt several times in Reykjavik, where more than a third of Iceland’s approximately 360,000 inhabitants live. Some of the tremors were greater than 5.0 magnitude.

Satellite images then showed clear magma movements below the surface of the earth between the volcanic mountains Fagradalsfjall and Keilir. Geoscientists had therefore expected a timely eruption.

Only the evening before, the weather authority had noted that an eruption in the coming days or weeks was considered very likely.

The eruption does not look like what many people imagine a classic volcanic eruption: instead of a massive lava flow shooting into the air from a cone-shaped volcano, white smoke initially rose from the earth.

Gradually, glowing magma made its way to the earth’s surface, as the live footage from the Icelandic media showed.

The Reykjanes Peninsula is relatively sparsely populated, but it is home to the country’s main airport, which handles virtually all air traffic to and from the island. The Blue Lagoon, a thermal bath that is particularly popular with tourists, is also located on the peninsula.

According to initial findings, there was no danger to humans. However, the police in the area advised people not to go to the area because of the gas development, among other things.

Several roads in the area were closed to traffic while emergency responders and scientists made their way to the outbreak site to assess the situation.

Last year’s month-long eruption did not pose any major threat to humans, nor did it cause any major damage. Rather, the spectacle had developed into a magnet for volcanologists, hikers and other nature lovers, who regularly made pilgrimages to the area.