Lava eruption which was awaited in Iceland since the beginning of November 2023 has started tonight, 18.December around 21:00UTC. The affected area is close to the town of Grindavik, which was evacuated several weeks earlier.
The director of the Natural Hazards department at the Icelandic Meteorological Office Kristín Jónsdóttir told national TV channel RÚV, that the lava flow was about 100 to 200 cubic meters per second, which is many times more than in previous eruptions. Experts estimate the fissure is 1,5 kilometers long. She said it was difficult to predict how long the eruption would last. However, she thought it likely that given its initial size, it would last a few months rather than weeks.
Earlier Isavia information officer Guðjón Helgason told Flugblogg that Keflavik International Airport (ICAO: BIKF) was doing preparations in case of possible eruption and disruption of the electricity and water supply on the Reykjanes peninsula. The main road from Reykjavik to Keflavik airport was closed during the first hours after the eruption started, but became open again around 0130UTC 19.December. The air traffic most likely will not be affected by the plumes.
Meanwhile tonight Isavia has closed the area above the started eruption. NOTAM says that “due to volcanic eruption near Grindavik, a restricted area named BIR4 is defined within a 3 NM radius around the eruption”. The NOTAM came into force at 2344UTC today and so far is planned until the end of 18.January 2024. Vertical limits are from the surface to 2500 above sea level.