Iceland volcano erupts for the first time in 900 years

Astonishing photos have captured the moment an Icelandic volcano erupted for the first time in 900 years last night – sending molten lava spewing into the skies. 

Police and coast guard raced to the scene 25 miles from Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik, after the eruption around 9.45pm, but the public has been advised to stay away from the area. 

While Iceland’s Keflavik International Airport and the small fishing port of Grindavik are only just a few miles away, the area is uninhabited and the eruption was not expected to present any danger.

Volcanic eruptions in the region are known as effusive eruptions, where lava flows steadily out of the ground, as opposed to explosive ones which spew ash clouds high into the sky.

Police and coast guard officials raced to the scene 25 miles from Iceland\'s capital, Reykjavik, after the eruption around 9.45pm, but the public has been advised to stay away from the area

Police and coast guard officials raced to the scene 25 miles from Iceland\'s capital, Reykjavik, after the eruption around 9.45pm, but the public has been advised to stay away from the area

Police and coast guard officials raced to the scene 25 miles from Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik, after the eruption around 9.45pm, but the public has been advised to stay away from the area

Plumes of smoke rise into the sky after the Icelandic volcano erupted for the first time in 900 years last night

Plumes of smoke rise into the sky after the Icelandic volcano erupted for the first time in 900 years last night

Plumes of smoke rise into the sky after the Icelandic volcano erupted for the first time in 900 years last night 

Lava streams out of the volcano\u00A0after the eruption which took place just a few miles away from Iceland\'s Keflavik International Airport

Lava streams out of the volcano\u00A0after the eruption which took place just a few miles away from Iceland\'s Keflavik International Airport

Lava streams out of the volcano after the eruption which took place just a few miles away from Iceland’s Keflavik International Airport

The Krysuvik volcanic system has been inactive for the past 900 years, according to the Meteorological Office, while the last eruption on the Reykjanes peninsula dates back almost 800 years, to 1240.

But the region has been under increased surveillance for several weeks after a 5.7-magnitude earthquake was registered on February 24 near Mount Keilir on the outskirts of Reykjavik.

That quake has since been followed by an unusual number of smaller tremors – more than 50,000, the highest number since digital recordings began in 1991.

The seismic activity has since moved several kilometres southwest, concentrating around Mount Fagradalsfjall, where magma was detected just one kilometre under the Earth’s surface in recent days.

While Iceland\'s Keflavik International Airport and the small fishing port of Grindavik are only just a few miles away, the area is uninhabited and the eruption was not expected to present any danger

While Iceland\'s Keflavik International Airport and the small fishing port of Grindavik are only just a few miles away, the area is uninhabited and the eruption was not expected to present any danger

While Iceland’s Keflavik International Airport and the small fishing port of Grindavik are only just a few miles away, the area is uninhabited and the eruption was not expected to present any danger

Images captured by the Coast Guard helicopter showed the lava spilling out of the volcano after it erupted last night

Images captured by the Coast Guard helicopter showed the lava spilling out of the volcano after it erupted last night

Images captured by the Coast Guard helicopter showed the lava spilling out of the volcano after it erupted last night

Volcanic eruptions in the region are known as effusive eruptions, where lava flows steadily out of the ground, as opposed to explosive ones which spew ash clouds high into the sky

Volcanic eruptions in the region are known as effusive eruptions, where lava flows steadily out of the ground, as opposed to explosive ones which spew ash clouds high into the sky

Volcanic eruptions in the region are known as effusive eruptions, where lava flows steadily out of the ground, as opposed to explosive ones which spew ash clouds high into the sky

Iceland has 32 volcanic systems currently considered active, the highest number in Europe. The country has had an eruption every five years on average.

The vast island near the Arctic Circle straddles the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a crack on the ocean floor separating the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates.

The shifting of these plates is in part responsible for Iceland’s intense volcanic activity.

The most recent eruption was at Holuhraun, beginning in August 2014 and ending in February 2015, in the Bardarbunga volcanic system in an uninhabited area in the centre of the island.

That eruption did not cause any major disruptions outside the immediate vicinity.

But in 2010, an eruption at the Eyjafjallajokull volcano sent huge clouds of smoke and ash into the atmosphere, disrupting air traffic for more than a week with the cancellation of more than 100,000 flights worldwide and leaving some 10 million passengers stranded. 

Iceland has 32 volcanic systems currently considered active, the highest number in Europe. The country has had an eruption every five years on average

Iceland has 32 volcanic systems currently considered active, the highest number in Europe. The country has had an eruption every five years on average

Iceland has 32 volcanic systems currently considered active, the highest number in Europe. The country has had an eruption every five years on average

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