A volcano in southwest Iceland that has long been dormant began erupting Friday night, but officials said it appears small and was not considered a threat to any towns.
The eruption on Reykjanes Peninsula was seen on web camera and later confirmed, the Icelandic Meteorological Office said in a statement. Aerial video on its Facebook page showed lava moving at what the office said was a slow pace.
“The eruption is considered small at this stage,” it said on Twitter, estimating that the fissure was around 500 meters, or 1,640 feet, long.
The Department of Emergency Management was not anticipating evacuations because the volcano is in a remote valley, The Associated Press reported. Iceland’s prime minister said it was not currently considered a threat to any towns.
Reykjavík is about 32 kilometers, or 20 miles, away.
Iceland Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir said officials were closely watching.
“As of now it is not considered a threat to surrounding towns,” she wrote in a tweet. “We ask people to keep away from the immediate area and stay safe.”
The emergency management agency on Twitter urged people to stay calm and away from the eruption site. It said that volcanic gases were expected to be produced and that people in the area should stay indoors and keep windows closed. The amount of pollution was being assessed.
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 AP reported.
There had been earthquakes and other seismic activity on that peninsula, but the activity in the area of the eruption had been lower in recent days, the meteorological office said in a statement.
In 2010, a different volcano in a different part of Iceland, Eyjafjallajökull, erupted a spewed volcanic ash that spread and caused massive flight disruptions in Europe and affected travel worldwide. The current eruption is not expected to spew much ash or smoke into the atmosphere, Reuters reported.
The Associated Press contributed.