People flock to see volcano erupt for first time in 6000 years

Tourists have gathered near an Icelandic volcano that has erupted for the first time in more than 6000 years.

Incredible pictures show Mount Fagradalsfjall in Geldingadalur, southwest of Iceland’s capital Reykjavík, spewing rivers of molten lava after spending thousands of years dormant.

The eruptions began on March 19 when thousands of small earthquakes in the area woke the sleeping giant.

Fagradalsfjall produced more than 1 million square metres of lava, with some plumes soaring 90m into the air.

While the volcano had been dormant for 6000 years, the eruption was also the first in Iceland’s Reykjanes Peninsula for 781 years.

Lava flows from the erupting Fagradalsfjall volcano, 40km west of the Icelandic capital Reykjavik, on March 26. Picture: Jeremie Richard/AFPSource:AFP

It is the volcano’s first eruption in about 6000 years. Picture: Jeremie Richard/AFPSource:AFP

Iceland’s prime minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir previously told locals to stay away from the volcano.

“A volcanic eruption has begun in Fagradalsfjall on the Reykjanes peninsula,” she tweeted.

“We are monitoring the situation closely and as of now it is not considered a threat to surrounding towns.

“We ask people to keep away from the immediate area and stay safe.”

The site was initially blocked off to tourists, but as of Saturday, people were allowed to venture up towards the spewing volcano.

Hikers gather to watch the lava flowing. Picture: Jeremie Richard/AFPSource:AFP

Police directs traffic as hikers flock to the area. Picture: Halldor Kolbeins/AFPSource:AFP

Pictures showed people smiling and posing near the dangerous mountain as it spat out hot ash and burning lava.

Ulvar Kari Johannsson, 21, described the sights and smells at the erupting mountain.

“It’s absolutely breathtaking,” he said.

“It smells pretty bad. For me what was surprising was the colours of the orange – much, much deeper than what one would expect.”

According to the Icelandic Meteorological Office, the eruptive fissure – the vent where the lava comes out – is 500-700m long.

Lava flowing from the mighty volcano. Picture: Jeremie Richard/AFPSource:AFP

The red shimmer from lava flowing from the erupting volcano can be seen behind the Bessastadir, the official residence of Iceland’s president. Picture: Halldor Kolbeins/AFPSource:AFP

Experts say the activity at the site has “somewhat decreased” in recent days, however the lava still poses a “local hazard”.

The meteorological office tweeted: “Gas pollution is not expected to cause much discomfort for people except close up to the source of the eruption.”

There are concerns about ash clouds due to the volcano’s proximity to Keflavik International Airport, although no structures are in immediate danger and no evacuations are necessary.

In 2010, ash clouds from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano grounded more than 100,000 flights worldwide.

This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission

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