A new volcanic eruption has occurred near Grindavík, Iceland, posing a significant threat to the town. The eruption, which began north of Grindavík, is the second to hit the area in recent weeks and the fifth since 2021. The most recent eruption started on December 18, 2023, in the Svartsengi volcanic system, leading to the evacuation of all 4,000 Grindavík residents and the closure of the popular Blue Lagoon geothermal spa.
Residents were forced to evacuate again as molten rock began spewing from fissures in the ground, with bright orange lava contrasting sharply against the dark sky. Despite efforts to build barriers of earth and rock to protect the town, the latest eruption has breached these defenses. The Icelandic Meteorological Office reported that a crack had opened on both sides of the defenses, and lava is now flowing towards Grindavík. The perimeter of the lava flow is approximately 450 meters from the town’s northernmost houses.
The eruption has caused significant disruption, with more than 100 residents who had returned to their homes after the last eruption being forced to evacuate once again. Iceland’s civil protection agency has raised the alert level to “emergency,” the highest on a three-level scale, indicating a potential threat to people, communities, property, and the environment.
Experts warn that the situation is precarious. Volcanologist Þorvaldur Þórðarson noted that the eruption is occurring in one of the worst possible places, posing a direct danger to Grindavík if the eruption continues. The fissure eruption is reportedly smaller than the one that started on December 18 at Sundhnúkagígar, but the current flow of lava towards the town remains a significant concern.
The ongoing volcanic activity in Iceland, a country known for its seismic and volcanic activity due to its location between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates, continues to pose challenges for the residents of Grindavík and the surrounding areas.
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