SW Iceland braces for possible eruption after 30,000 earthquakes
November 14, 2023
SW Iceland braces for possible eruption
Iceland is bracing for a possible volcanic eruption as thousands of earthquakes have taken place over the last several weeks. Evacuations occurred over the weekend in the midst of a state of emergency.
30,000 earthquakes have rumbled underneath the feet of southwest Iceland over the last three weeks. The town of Grindavik is under high alert and most residents have evacuated with the highly anticipated volcanic eruption off the Reykjanes peninsula.
However, the evacuations came with a “remain calm” attitude due to authorities believing there to be plenty of time to safely leave Grindavik ahead of a possible eruption.
A 9-mile river of magma has been reported by University of Iceland volcanology professor, Thor Thordason, under the peninsula. In 24 hours from Wednesday to Thursday of last week, more than 1,000 earthquakes occurred in the area, prompting the evacuation order.
The Fagradalsfjall volcano has had thousands of earthquakes surrounding it since late October, with the magnitudes ranging between little shakes to up to magnitude 5.1. The peninsula was quiet for 800 years until a 2021 eruption. Subsequent eruptions have occurred each year since then.
The Blue Lagoon, known to many of Iceland’s visitors, has been closed due to the activity until November 30.
Experts say it is hard to determine when and where the river of magma flowing underneath the peninsula will reach the surface – it is currently around 3 miles underground. An aviation alert has been issued as well to keep pilots on their toes about possible ash being aggressively spewed upwards should an eruption occur.
Iceland is home to 130 mostly active volcanoes, so the activity is no stranger to its residents. However, if predictions are correct, the possible eruption could be larger than previous eruptions recorded for the Fagradalsfjall volcano.