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Long-dormant volcano comes to life near Iceland capital

Reykjanes Peninsula sees first eruption in 781 years; no current plans for evacuation with only minor lava flow spotted so far

This photo provided by the Icelandic Met Office shows an eruption, center right, on the Reykjanes Peninsula in southwestern Iceland on Friday, March 19, 2021. The long dormant volcano flared to life Friday night, spilling lava down two sides in that area's first volcanic eruption in nearly 800 years. (Icelandic Met Office via AP)
This photo provided by the Icelandic Met Office shows an eruption, center right, on the Reykjanes Peninsula in southwestern Iceland on Friday, March 19, 2021. The long dormant volcano flared to life Friday night, spilling lava down two sides in that area's first volcanic eruption in nearly 800 years. (Icelandic Met Office via AP)

REYKJAVIK, Iceland — A long-dormant volcano on the Reykjanes Peninsula in southwestern Iceland flared to life Friday night, spilling lava down two sides in that area’s first volcanic eruption in nearly 800 years.

Initial aerial footage, posted on the Facebook page of the Icelandic Meteorological Office, showed a relatively small eruption so far, with two streams of lava running in opposite directions. The glow from the lava could be seen from the outskirts of Iceland’s capital, Reykjavík, which is about 32 kilometers (20 miles) away.

The Department of Emergency Management said it was not anticipating evacuations because the volcano is in a remote valley, about 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) from the nearest road.

The Fagradals Mountain volcano had been dormant for 6,000 years, and the Reykjanes Peninsula hadn’t seen an eruption of any volcano in 781 years.

The night sky glows following the eruption of a volcano on Iceland’s Reykjanes Peninsula not far from the capital Reykjavik, late Friday March 19, 2021. The long dormant volcano on the Reykjanes Peninsula in southwestern Iceland flared to life Friday night, spilling lava down two sides in that area’s first volcanic eruption in nearly 800 years. (Hildur Hlín Jónsdóttir via AP)

There had been signs of a possible eruption recently, with earthquakes occurring daily for the past three weeks. But volcanologists were still taken by surprise because the seismic activity had calmed down before the eruption.

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