UA new volcanic eruption, on Sunday, near the fishing port of Grindavik, put Iceland on alert again, with the country’s Prime Minister, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, describing a “very serious situation”.
The eruption occurred yesterday at around 8am, just hours after Grindavik was evacuated following a series of small earthquakes. The city had already been evacuated in November, before a massive eruption in the same area.
A second fissure opened in the city hours after yesterday’s eruption and the lava approached the houses. Some homes have already been destroyed – as you can see in the photo gallery above.
Katrín Jakobsdottir stated, as cited by Sky News, that the barriers built after the last eruption, a few weeks ago, were “fulfilling their objective” and removed a large part of the lava flow. However, the appearance of a new fissure overtook the defenses and the lava “has already reached several houses”.
Some images are already being shared on social media, which, despite being impressive, are also devastating.
I am devastated by todays event. I considered not posting images that show terrible tragedy to people’s homes. I want to make it clear that if there are any news outlets out there that need free content to raise awareness, let me know, nobody should make money on this! pic.twitter.com/CaNih72v6Z
— Bjorn Steinbekk (@BSteinbekk) January 14, 2024
It should be noted that, in the early hours of Sunday, the seismic activity accelerated strongly and the few dozen inhabitants who had settled in Grindavik were evacuated at around 03:00, according to Icelandic public radio and television.
The eruption began at around 8am, north of Grindavik, according to the Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO).
This is the fifth volcanic eruption in Iceland in almost three years, the previous one having occurred on the night of December 18 in this same area, around 40 kilometers southwest of the capital, Reykjavik.
Grindavik, a small town with 4,000 inhabitants, had already seen all its inhabitants evacuate on November 11, 2023 as a precautionary measure after hundreds of earthquakes caused by the displacement of magma under the Earth’s crust – a precursor to a volcanic eruption.
These earthquakes damaged the city, creating large cracks in roads, houses and public buildings.
Shortly after the eruption on December 18, the inhabitants were allowed to return briefly and, five days later, on the 23rd, permanently, before being removed again in the early hours of today. Only a few dozen inhabitants returned to their homes this morning, but very briefly.
Local authorities had given an order on Saturday night for residents to leave the town by Monday, due to seismic activity and the impact on existing cracks in the city. Therefore, they had to accelerate the pace overnight from Saturday to Sunday.
The decision also follows the disappearance, on Wednesday, of a 51-year-old Icelander who was working to fill a crack in a private garden when the ground suddenly gave way beneath his feet.
After 48 hours of intense searches, authorities decided to suspend them on Friday night, due to the fact that the area was very dangerous. The man, who has not yet been found, had fallen more than thirty meters into a crevice.
In the same area, authorities are keeping an eye on the Svartsengi geothermal plant, which supplies electricity and water to around 30,000 people in the region and whose facilities are protected by a wall.
Until the March 2021 eruption, the Reykjanes peninsula, south of the capital, had been spared eruptions for eight centuries.
Since then, four more eruptions have been recorded — in August 2022, July and December 18, 2023 and this morning — which volcanologists believe is a sign of new volcanic activity in the region.
Four days after the Dec. 18 eruption, authorities declared that volcanic activity had ceased, but could not say whether it had ended, due to possible underground lava flows.
Iceland, land of fire and ice and the most volcanic region in Europe, has 33 volcanic systems considered active.
Read Also: New volcanic eruption near the Icelandic port of Grindavik
All News. By the Minute.
Eighth consecutive year Consumer Choice for Online Press.
Download our free App.