The flowing lava poured over a key pipe that transports hot water from the local power plant to nearby towns.
A volcano system in southwestern Iceland erupted on Thursday for the third time since December, spewing out a stream of bright orange lava that cut off a source of heating and hot water for tens of thousands of residents amid freezing temperatures.
The eruption occurred at 6 a.m. on a mountain ridge on the Reykjanes Peninsula, according to the country’s Meteorological Office. By late morning, a stream of lava had flowed over a main road and was pouring over a key pipe that transports hot water from Svartsengi, the local power plant, to nearby towns.
Around noon, Vidir Reynisson, the director of Iceland’s civil defense agency, told reporters that the eruption was producing more lava than expected and that it was threatening infrastructure critical to the entire peninsula.
Volcanic eruptions are not uncommon in Iceland, but the volcanoes on the Reykjanes Peninsula had been dormant for about 800 years until 2021. There have been several eruptions since, and experts say that the threat to the peninsula will not end soon.
“It’s like a tap of water that is now open underneath the ground,” said Kristin Maria Birgisdottir, a spokeswoman for the mayor of Grindavik, a nearby fishing town, adding that unless it was “turned off soon,” the peninsula would be seeing “continuous events.”