Live Updates: Volcano erupts in Iceland

5:26 pm ET, December 19, 2023

“Cushing Fountains of Lava”: CNN reporter describes what’s less than a mile from eruption

From CNN’s David Shortel

Molten lava flows from a fissure on the Reykjanes peninsula on Tuesday.

Kristinn Magnusson/AFP/Getty Images

Authorities in southwest Iceland set up a checkpoint about five miles from the eruption zone — the closest point to the lava flow — where the public gathered to watch.

A CNN crew was granted access to the perimeter and brought less than a mile from the active fissure.

“When you get a little closer you see massive, massive fountains of lava,” said CNN senior international correspondent Fred Blitzen.

The event is thought to be a fissure eruption, meaning a volcano erupts from a long crack that can stretch for miles in the Earth’s core. The good news is that this type of explosion doesn’t send ash into the atmosphere that could disrupt air travel. However, experts say fission explosions can last a long time and release dangerous gases.

“We see a lot of lava being spewed into the air, but there’s also lateral lava flow from real fissures, real fissures, where magma has erupted from the core of the Earth and is now coming to the surface,” Blitzen said.

The lava is “very thin” and “fluid” and comes out of a small number of fissures, Bleidgen said. The area is mountainous with black, volcanic earth, and even with fire, it’s cold outside, Bleidgen said. , temperatures can reach up to 28 degrees Fahrenheit.

However, he said the weather changes “very quickly” with periods of rain, snow and sun alternating with strong winds blowing without warning.

“The elements are very strong because we’re right in the center of the Atlantic Ocean,” Pleitgen said.

Authorities are very active inside the cordoned off area. The nearby town of Grindavik was evacuated for weeks after the volcano showed signs of eruption. A fissure that has erupted through the town has yet to issue lava.

Still, urban life continues largely as normal, Blitzen said. Keflavik Airport, the country’s largest airport, is a half-hour drive from the volcano. The explosion is visible to aviation, but operations are normal. Most of the roads in and out of the area are functioning as normal.

“People seem very cool about it. They’re very used to volcanic eruptions,” Blitzen said.

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