Iceland declares emergency fearing volcanic eruption
The town of Grindavik, home to approximately 4,000 residents near Reykjavik, Iceland, faces the imminent danger of heavy damage from an anticipated volcanic eruption, warn experts. The town, situated on the south-western coast, was evacuated after a series of earthquakes signaled potential volcanic activity, believed to be a precursor to an eruption.
The seismic activity, caused by magma shifting beneath the Earth's crust, prompted authorities to take swift action. Grindavik, located about 40 kilometers southwest of Reykjavik, is in close proximity to the Svartsengi geothermal plant, a crucial supplier of electricity and water to 30,000 residents on the Reykjanes peninsula, along with a freshwater reservoir.
Vidir Reynisson, head of Iceland's Civil Protection and Emergency Management, expressed serious concerns about the town's houses and infrastructure. The magma is currently at a shallow depth, indicating an eruption could occur within hours or, at the latest, within days.
The anticipated scenario involves a fissure opening in the ground near Grindavik, with a potential length of about 15 kilometers. Reynisson noted that an eruption could happen anywhere along this fissure. While the most likely scenario is a ground eruption near Grindavik, the possibility of an eruption on the ocean floor, leading to a significant ash cloud, cannot be ruled out.
The seismic activity has already resulted in damage to roads and buildings in Grindavik and its surroundings. The Blue Lagoon geothermal spa resort, a renowned tourist destination in close proximity, closed as a precaution earlier in the week.
Iceland, known for its 33 active volcanic systems, declared a state of emergency and ordered the mandatory evacuation of Grindavik. The Reykjanes peninsula has experienced three eruptions in recent years, all occurring away from populated areas. The new cycle of increased volcanic activity is anticipated to persist for several decades or even centuries, according to volcanologists.