Up to 800 people were evacuated in Iceland early Wednesday because of a volcano eruption at the Eyjafjallajokull glacier in the south of the island, a police spokesman said.

"Between 700 and 800 people were evacuated from their homes because of the risk of an eruption in Eyjafjallajokull and because there were a lot of earthquakes in the area," Baldur Sigurdsson told AFP.

"We do not know exactly when the eruption started, but most probably around one o'clock this morning," Magnus Tumi Gudmundsson, a professor of geophysics and civil protection advisor, told AFP.

"Officials in two aeroplanes have seen smoke. The eruption is rather small at the moment," Gudmundsson said, however noting there was an increased water flow coming from the glacier.

Icelandic public broadcaster RUV said on its website the evacuees were being directed to Red Cross mass care centres.

Last month, the first volcano eruption at the Eyjafjallajokull glacier since 1823 -- and Iceland's first since 2004 -- briefly forced 600 people from their homes in the remote, lightly populated area 125 kilometres (75 miles) east of the capital Reykjavik.

Gudmonsson said that eruption, at the Fimmvorduhals volcano, had ended Tuesday.