The possibility of a volcanic eruption remains high, warns the Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO) in the latest monitoring of the situation on the Reykjanes peninsula in the southwest of the island. Overnight on Thursday alone, seismologists recorded over 900 additional earthquakes in the area, mostly less than magnitude 2. Thousands of tremors have been recorded since the weekend.
The situation continues to threaten the town of Grindavík, which has been evacuated since the weekend. As a result of the earthquake, a large fissure appeared there. The road was also damaged, as you can see in the introductory video.
The whole city is gradually sinking and will continue to do so for some time, IMO’s Matthew Roberts told the UK’s BBC. The western part of Grindavík has already sunk by about a meter since Friday and is sinking by another 4 centimeters every day. The size of the sinkhole is shown in a map published by the IMO.
According to Roberts, the region can be volcanically unstable for decades. Incidentally, eruptions began to occur there in 2021 after a roughly 800-year hiatus.
It may take several weeks before it is clear whether the inhabitants of Grindavík can return, because the time when the magma flowing underground cannot be estimated.
“We don’t expect an explosive eruption,” says Roberts. But that’s not necessarily good news, as a milder eruption can mean lava flows from fissures for weeks.
Iceland has various plans in place to direct the lava flow. “If the outpouring occurs outside of Grindavík, they will definitely try to lead the lava somewhere in open space, if it is at all possible,” seismologist Jana Doubravová from the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, who also has experience in monitoring Iceland, said in an interview for Nauzal.
According to the Icelandic television RUV, the largest bulldozer in the country has already arrived in the village of Svartsengi near Grindavík. The colossus weighing 104 tons should participate in the construction of more than five kilometers of defensive walls and ramparts.
“But if nature decides that a fissure should appear near the city, the eruption will be explosive or too dangerous with a lot of poisonous gases, the property will have to be left to its own devices,” added Doubravová.
On Thursday, Grindavík partially opened. The authorities allowed one person from each household to enter there to take away essentials, informs RUV. According to her, everything is going without complications.
Interview about the situation in Grindavík
“The situation can change very quickly. The depth of the magma below the surface is only estimated and we don’t even know the driving forces,” says seismologist Jana Doubravová in an interview for Nauzal.