"We are looking at a worst-case scenario."
Following tens of thousands of earthquakes rocking the Reykjanes Peninsula southwest of Iceland's capital Reykjavík, a massive volcano officially erupted early Tuesday morning local time.
As The New York Times reports, officials are now worried about an impending disaster.
"We are looking at a worst-case scenario," volcanologist Thorvaldur Thordarson told the newspaper. "The eruption appears big, and only about two kilometers from major infrastructure."
Officials are particularly worried about the eruption's proximity to the nearby Svartsengi geothermal power plant.
Footage being shared on social media shows gigantic plumes of lava being spewed into the sky.
"Unreal," Iceland-based nature photographer Thrainn Kolbeinsson wrote in a Threads post. "Way bigger and more powerful than the last few eruptions."
Footage shot from a coast guard helicopter shows an almost apocalyptic scene, with a massive wall of lava lighting up the nighttime scene. According to the NYT, some of these lava fountains are reaching up to 330 feet and are visible from the center of Reykjavík.
"There are super-high plumes of magma," Thordarson told the Iceland Monitor. "Now it’s a total guess, but the highest plumes are probably 150 meters [492 feet]."
— Duncan (@shaksper) December 18, 2023
Fortunately, the nearby town of Grindavík was evacuated weeks ago due to heightened seismic activity.
At the time, massive steaming cracks opened up in the ground surrounding the town of 4,000 residents, which is less than an hour away from the island nation's capital.
Per the Iceland Monitor, it's the fourth eruption to rock the Reykjanes peninsula in just three years. The catalyst appears to have been a 4.2 magnitude quake that hit the area around 9 pm Monday evening local time.
More on the earthquake: Huge Crack Opens Up in Iceland, Steam Pouring Forth
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