Home » Iceland volcano lava nears Grindavik in new eruption

Iceland volcano lava nears Grindavik in new eruption

by Shabee Lakehouse
March 17, 2024 10:51 am 0 comment

A state of emergency has been declared in southern Iceland because of another volcanic eruption on the Reykjanes Peninsula – the fourth since December.

It is thought to be the most powerful flare-up so far. Lava has reached the eastern defences around the evacuated town of Grindavik, local media said.

People have also been moved from the nearby Blue Lagoon, one of Iceland’s most popular tourist attractions.

Iceland’s airspace remains open. A giant lava spill is billowing smoke. According to the country’s civil defence service, the eruption began after 20:00 local time (20:00 GMT) on Saturday between Hagafell and Stora-Scogfell – north of Grindavik.

This is a similar location to the eruption that began on 8 December.

Footage of the explosion showed clouds of smoke and glowing magma oozing and bubbling from vents in the earth.

Keflavik International Airport and other regional airports have not been affected by the explosion. The Icelandic Met Office said this lava bed was “significantly wider” than in February, when an earlier eruption caused lava to flow in a similar direction.

Many protective embankments have been built around both, the head of the Reykjavik-based Nordic Volcanological Centre, Rikke Pedersen, told Reuters.

There are concerns that fibre optic cables on the road could be damaged – causing disruption to phone and internet services.

The Blue Lagoon is closed until further notice as a precaution. There were between 500-600 people in the area when Saturday’s eruption happened, Ms Pedersen said.

Between five and 10 homes in Grindavik were also cleared. The town’s roughly 4,000 residents were only allowed to return to their homes about a month ago after an eruption in January saw magma spread into the town, destroying three homes.

Most of them have chosen not to return.

Iceland has 33 active volcano systems and sits over what is known as the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the boundary between two of the largest tectonic plates on the planet.

The last time the Reykjanes Peninsula had a period of volcanic activity was 800 years ago – and the eruptions went on for decades.

This is now the seventh eruption since 2021, and scientists believe the area is entering a new volcanic era that could last for decades or even centuries.

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