Town Evacuates as Volcanic Threat Grows

Cracks on a road
Cracks on a road due to volcanic activity at the entrance to Grindavik, Iceland on November 11, 2023. | Image by RUV/RAGNAR VISAGE/Handout

Icelandic officials have initiated an evacuation of the town of Grindavik on the Reykjanes Peninsula.

The Icelandic government decided to evacuate the town due to the growing threat of a volcanic eruption in the area.

The Icelandic Meteorological Office reported on Tuesday that over 900 earthquakes have been detected around the area since midnight. The “magma intrusion” continues, with the possibility of an eruption near the town remaining “high.”

“Models show a 15-km long magma intrusion located just northwest of Grindavík. From geophysical models of the dike intrusion, it is estimated that the intrusion is propagating upwards slowly, with magma thought to be 800 m, or higher, beneath the surface,” read an announcement from the office.

“The likelihood of a volcanic eruption is high, and an eruption can be possible on a timescale of just days.”

Officials have since placed GPS stations in and around Grindavík as they continue to monitor the situation.

Officials with the country’s Civil Protection Agency declared an emergency last Friday while initiating the evacuation of the town, which is located about 43 miles from the capital city of Reykjavik.

Icelandic Meteorological Office informed authorities that a magma channel was extending toward the town of about 3,300 people, with the possibility of an eruption in its vicinity considered likely.

“The latest data from the Met Office show considerable displacement and a large magma tunnel that is forming and may open, which would then run from south-west to north-east,” said the Icelandic government on its website.

Residents were advised to evacuate their homes, with state agencies providing assistance and instructions.

“It is clear that we are dealing with events that we Icelanders have not experienced before, at least not since the eruption in Vestmannaeyjar,” said the Icelandic government on its website. “We faced that together, we will face this together, and we will not lose heart.”

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