Iceland Declares State of Emergency as Volcano Threatens Eruption
Iceland has declared a state of emergency and is urging residents to evacuate the coastal town of Grindavík due to the imminent eruption of a volcano in its southwestern peninsula.
According to the Iceland Met Office, the magma is moving closer to the surface, with the greatest area of upwelling located 3.5 kilometers (2 miles) northeast of Grindavík. As scientists closely monitor the situation, there are many questions surrounding the potential eruption, its risks, and its possible impact on travel.
With the evacuation of Grindavík, the situation is reminiscent of the unexpected 1973 eruption in Vestmannaeyjar, which destroyed hundreds of homes. The town is at risk due to the 15-kilometer-long magma corridor that stretches into the Atlantic Ocean. There’s a possibility of explosive eruption if the magma interacts with seawater.
Some experts believe that there’s a possibility the magma may not reach the surface and that the dike may cool and solidify without erupting. However, earthquakes in the area have already caused road damage, prompting evacuations and the closure of the famous Blue Lagoon geothermal spa as a precaution.
While authorities have not issued an evacuation order for Reykjavik, the potential eruption’s proximity to Iceland’s only international airport, Keflavík, raises concerns. Yet, experts don’t anticipate the same level of travel disruption that occurred during the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption, which caused massive flight cancellations and chaos.
Iceland has seen volcanic eruptions before, and the country’s geological location, sitting on a tectonic plate boundary along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, makes it home to 32 active volcanoes. As the situation continues to unfold, scientists are closely monitoring the area for any signs of impending volcanic activity.