Iceland's Bárðarbunga volcano began erupting once again early Sunday morning — with lava flowing out of a mile-long fissure in the Holuhraun lava field.
The lava fountains themselves have been spectacular, reportedly reaching up to 200 feet in the air. Here are a few photos taken by Ármann Höskuldsson, a geologist with the University of Iceland who is on the scene:
True volcano diehards can watch the eruption on a live webcam here. And here are some more details from Gisli Olafsson (whose Twitter account is a must-follow for frequent volcano updates):
Scientists believe the #Holuhraun #eruption started around 0400. Lava is flowing at around 1000 m3/s and is 1kmx3km wide. Still ongoing.— Gisli Olafsson (@gislio) August 31, 2014
So far, the eruption itself doesn't seem to be causing much harm. One reason for that? The eruption is occurring in a remote area just north of Iceland's massive Vatnajökull glacier (which lays atop much of the Bárðarbunga volcanic system).
That's a key detail: If a really big volcanic eruption occurs underneath a glacier, the combination of magma and ice can potentially produce a violent steam explosion that can send large clouds of ash up into the atmosphere and disrupt flights around the region. Alternatively, a large eruption under a glacier can potentially melt the ice and lead to heavy flooding — particularly in the river that extends north toward more populated areas.
For now, however, none of those things have happened. There are mainly just impressive lava flows in a remote area. Indeed, Iceland hasn't yet had to close any of its airports because of the eruption (although the island is getting hit with the remnants of Hurricane Cristobal, which is causing some delays). And only a small bit of airspace has been restricted:
Small (and low) restriction zone for airplanes - up to 6000 feet #bardarbunga #volcano. pic.twitter.com/EW78pLJRr1— Fréttastofa RÚV (@RUVfrettir) August 31, 2014
For the time being, Iceland can just enjoy the volcano pics.
Here's a longer primer on why Iceland has so many active volcanoes — and how volcanic ash can disrupt flights.
Note that Iceland isn't the only country with a volcanic outburst. The Rabaul volcano in Papua New Guinea has been erupting lately, leading to evacuations and flight diversions. You can see photos and a rundown here, although note that activity is starting to subside as of Sunday morning.