The eruption of a volcano in Iceland has attracted swathes of curious onlookers, who are permitted to visit the area under strict conditions.

The recent eruption of a fissure near Mount Fagradalsfjall in the region of Geldingadalur, located around 40km from Reykjavik, represents the first such incident in the Krysuvik volcanic system in over 900 years. Many geologists harboured suspicions that the eruption might occur on on the Reykjanes Peninsula in the aftermath of more than 50,000 earthquakes occurring in the area in a period of 15 months. Approximately 300,000 cubic metres of lava have poured out of the ground from the eruption, which measures about 1640 to 2640 feet wide and is expected to subside in days or weeks.

A helicoptor flies in front of lava flow from an active volcano
The lava flow is just over four miles long and is confined to one valley © Vilhelm Gunnarsson / Getty Images

The volcano can be reached via a 90-minute hike from the nearest road, and those attempting to check out the scene have been advised not to get too close to the lava. It is believed that the eruption doesn't present a threat to population centers, as the amount of lava is relatively small and fluid, allowing trapped gasses to escape. The lava flow is just over four miles long, and is confined to a particular valley. The eruption isn't expected to become particularly explosive or generate a sustained ash plume, unlike the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in 2010, which caused difficulties in the airspace around Europe.

Even so, authorities are closely monitoring the situation and are carrying devices that measure gas pollution. As a result, they have blocked access to the site at times when high levels of pollution have been recorded. The wind is currently blowing the sulfur dioxide emitted away from population centers, but scientists are urging caution to hikers in case a new fissure unexpectedly opens up in the area.

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