Iceland volcano: Health fears surge following major eruption as toxic smoke could reach Reykjavik

Iceland volcano: Health fears surge following major eruption as toxic smoke could reach Reykjavik

Watch the valcanic action in southwestern Iceland

George Bunn

By George Bunn

Published: 20/12/2023

- 09:02

Icelandic residents have been cautioned to keep their windows shut

Residents in Iceland are being instructed to stay indoors and close their windows to avoid toxic gases spilling from the Icelandic volcano following its eruption.

A fresh volcanic eruption in the south west of the country has led to locals being evacuated with the government reassuring locals they are "prepared".

The eruption on Monday night took place about four kilometres from the town of Grindavik, approximately 50km from the capital Reykjavík.

Grindavik was evacuated in November after strong seismic activity damaged homes and raised fears of an imminent eruption.

People stood by volcano

People have been told to stay away from the vola


Dangerous gases being released are currently being carried away by the winds.

However, there is concern that the capital Reykjavík could be hit if it changes direction.

By Tuesday afternoon, the Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO) said that lava flows from the initial eruption were around a quarter of the size they were from the eruption.

"Fountains" of lava that reached as high as 30 metres have also been decreasing in size.



There is concern that the capital Reykjavík could be hit with dangerous gases


Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir said that the lava was not endangering critical infrastructure near the volcano.

However, precautions were being taken near the Svartsengi geothermal power plant approximately 5km north of Grindavik. Jakobsdottir said: "We also know that the flow of lava can change the surrounding landscape, so this can change with short notice."

Professor of volcanoes and climate at the University of Bristol Matthew Watson said that tourists should strictly follow travel advice because hazards such as new eruptions can quickly put people in harm's way.

"As is common with this eruptive style, it began with a sustained eruption of ballistics that, over time, has lengthened to form a fire curtain - a long fissure out of which lava is being violently ejected.

"This style of eruption is amongst the most spectacular ever seen, and there will be a strong pull for tourists, even though the Blue Lagoon complex has again shut."

A volcano

Locals have been evacuated from nearby towns and villages


The eruption on the Reykjanes Peninsula is expected to release mostly magma, and not ash.

Residents of the town are currently living in temporary accommodation, with many concerned they may never return to their homes.

French tour guide living in Iceland Ael Kermarec said: "The town involved might end up under the lava.

"It's amazing to see but, there's kind of a bittersweet feeling at the moment."

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