by Theresa Machemer/Smithsonianmag.com
On Monday, a sightseeing helicopter in Iceland spotted the Fagradalsfjall volcano’s newest fissure spewing steam and lava, the Associated Press reports.
The Icelandic Department of Emergency Management immediately directed volcano-watching tourists to evacuate the area as scientists evaluated the danger. Local authorities announced on Tuesday that eruption-viewing areas would reopen at 6 a.m. local time on April 7.
The eruption at Fagradalsfjall began on March 19. It marked the volcano’s first eruption in about 6,000 years and southwest Iceland’s first eruption in 800 years. Thousands of visitors have trekked out to the two craters to watch the lava flow despite freezing temperatures. (Some scientists even took the opportunity to cook hotdogs on the cooling lava, Michele Debczak reports for Mental Floss.) The eruption has lasted longer than scientists initially expected, and the new fissure gives more evidence that the event is far from over, report Hildur Margrét Jóhannsdóttir and Sunna Valgerdardóttir for the RÚV News Agency.
The volcanic eruption appears to be moving north, says University of Iceland geophysicist Magnus Gudmundsson to the Associated Press. “We now see less lava coming from the two original craters. This could be the beginning of second stage.”