Iceland in State of Emergency, Fourth Eruption in Three Months

Iceland has been declared state of emergency following the eruption of a volcano on the Reykjanes Peninsula, the fourth such event in three months. The eruption which occurred on Saturday night is the largest volcanic activity seen in the region since 2021.

Iceland in State of Emergency, Fourth Eruption in Three Months

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The eruption began with seismic rumblings signaling a volcanic outburst. At 7:43 p.m. local time, Iceland’s Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management received the first forewarning.

Within the hour, the earth’s fury erupted into reality, confirmed by web cameras at approximately 8:30 p.m. local time.

The eruption began on Saturday evening, creating a nearly 2-mile fissure between Stóra-Skógfell and Hagafell mountains.

Residents in Grindavik, a coastal town of 3,800 people, were evacuated, and the Blue Lagoon thermal spa, a popular tourist attraction, was cleared out as a precautionary measure.

Geophysicists including Magnús Tumi Guðmundsson, have labeled this eruption as the most powerful of the recent series. The length of the fissure, estimated at 2.9 kilometers (1.8 miles), indicates a magma discharge.

Defensive walls constructed around Grindavik successfully diverted lava flows away from the town, mitigating damage to homes and critical infrastructure.

There are concerns about the lava’s trajectory towards the Svartsengi power plant, which supplies electricity and water to around 30,000 people on the Reykjanes peninsula. Evacuations measures have been enacted to safeguard the facility.

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Hundreds of residents were evacuated from Grindavik and the majority have chosen not to return. The succession of eruptions in recent months has prompted over 300 residents of Grindavik to express their intention to sell their homes to the state.

Icelandic authorities including the Meteorological Office and Civil Protection and Emergency Management, are closely monitoring the situation and implementing contingency plans.

The hazards by lava reaching the ocean, including the release of toxic fumes and minor explosions are being carefully assessed, drawing on lessons from similar scenarios in other volcanic regions like Hawaii.

The coastal town of Grindavik, home to approximately 3,800 people, faced immediate danger as lava flowed towards its eastern defenses.

Defensive barriers, constructed in anticipation of such events proved effective in diverting the lava away from residential areas.

Residents and tourists were evacuated from vulnerable areas including the Blue Lagoon thermal spa, which attracts hundreds of visitors daily.

Despite the eruption’s proximity the main international airport at Keflavik remained operational, with no reported disruptions to air travel.

The eruption follows three others since December, each increasing in intensity. Previous eruptions led to evacuations and property damage.

Iceland’s unique geological position, straddling the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, predisposes it to frequent volcanic activity.

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