Watch Live: "Explosive" Iceland volcano eruption shoots lava across roads and sends pollution toward the capital

Erupting volcano in Iceland ignites "continuous curtain of fire"

For the fifth time since December, a volcanic eruption is underway in southwest Iceland. The Icelandic Met Office said that the eruption started Wednesday after hundreds of earthquakes were recorded in recent days, with the eruption quickly becoming "explosive."

As of Thursday morning, the latest eruption had resulted in a nearly two-mile-long fissure that was spewing "considerable lava fountaining." The Met Office said that lava has been flowing "vigorously" from the fissure and has gone over roads towards the volcanic Þorbjörn. That mountain sits outside the small fishing village of Grindavík that has seen evacuations, cracked roads and homes swallowed up by lava flows in previous eruptions in the past half-year. 

Iceland volcano eruption LIVE: Lava flows on Reykjanes Peninsula by Associated Press on YouTube

The eruption came after hundreds of earthquakes rattled the area over several days. Late last week, the Met Office reported that roughly 140 earthquakes had been detected in just two days, although all were small. The weekend before that saw another 200 earthquakes, also small. 

 A volcano in southwestern Iceland is erupting, spewing red streams of lava in its latest display of nature's power.  Marco di Marco / AP

"Explosive activity began when the magma came into contact with groundwater where a lava flows into a fissure by Hagafell," the office said. "The magma causes the water to be quickly converted into gaseous state (steam), causing steam explosions and tephra fall (ash). There is considerable uncertainty regarding the amount of gases from the eruption site." 

The Blue Lagoon, a popular tourist destination known for its geothermal spa, has temporarily shut down because of the eruption, saying it was evacuated and will remain closed until at least Friday. 

A volcano in southwestern Iceland erupted Wednesday for the fifth time since December, spewing red lava that once again threatened the coastal town of Grindavik and led to the evacuation of the popular Blue Lagoon geothermal spa. Marco di Marco / AP

"Over the past few months, we have been reminded of the powers of nature and how they inevitably influence us all," the Blue Lagoon announcement says. "During this time of seismic activity, we have had to temporarily close our operations but have remained in close contact with Icelandic authorities and acted in accordance with set precautions and measures in the area."

Forecasters believe that winds on Thursday will blow gases from the eruption to the east, sending polluting particles toward the northeast of the island nation. Sulfur dioxide gas, which can lead to acid rain and air pollution, could be detected as far as the capital city of Reykjavik, about 25 miles away. 

The last eruption in the area in March sent sulfur dioxide emissions to continental Europe, where they reached as far as Russia


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