Volcano eruption in Iceland easing

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The eruption of a long-dormant volcano that sent streams of lava flowing across a small valley in Iceland is easing and shouldn't interfere with air travel, the Icelandic Meteorological Office says.

The fissure eruption began on Friday evening the Geldinga Valley, about 32 kilometres southwest of the capital Reykjavik.

The eruption is "minor" and there were no signs of ash or dust that could disrupt aviation, the agency said.

"The more we see, the smaller this eruption gets," geophysicist Pall Einarsson said on Saturday after monitoring the volcano throughout the night.

The southwestern corner of Iceland is the most heavily populated part of the country but authorities don't anticipate evacuations unless levels of volcanic gases rise significantly.

Keflavik Airport, Iceland's international air traffic hub, said flights have remained on schedule since the eruption began.

In 2010, an eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland sent clouds of ash and dust into the atmosphere, interrupting air travel between Europe and North America because of concerns the material could damage jet engines. More than 100,000 flights were grounded, stranding millions of passengers.

The Geldinga Valley eruption is the first on the Reykjanes Peninsula in almost 800 years.

The area began rumbling with increased seismic activity 15 months ago, and the tremors increased dramatically last month.

Over the past three weeks, the area has been rattled by about 50,000 small earthquakes, dozens of them magnitude 4 or stronger, the Met Office said.

Iceland, located above a volcanic hotspot in the North Atlantic, averages one eruption every four to five years. The last one was at Holuhraun in 2014, when a fissure eruption spread lava the size of Manhattan over the interior highland region.

Scientists flew over the Geldinga Valley eruption on Saturday morning and estimated the eruptive fissure was about 500 metres long, and the two streams of lava were about 2.5 kilometres from the nearest road.