NewsVolcanic chaos in Iceland: Grindavík residents evacuated amidst eruption

Volcanic chaos in Iceland: Grindavík residents evacuated amidst eruption

Lava eruption in Iceland
Lava eruption in Iceland
Images source: © Licensor | Moyan Brenn,

9:07 AM EDT, May 30, 2024

A violent volcanic eruption occurred in southwest Iceland. Lava is emerging around Grindavík, forming fountains reaching several dozen yards high. The fissure stretches for several miles. Residents of the endangered areas have been evacuated, and the authorities have declared a state of emergency.

On Wednesday before noon, residents of Iceland witnessed an impressive yet dangerous phenomenon. The ground split open North of the seaside town of Grindavík, releasing enormous amounts of magma. The German magazine Focus reports that the glowing lava began to shoot upwards like a giant fountain, reaching significant heights and generating thick clouds of smoke.

Though the eruption from a distance might have resembled a vast forest fire, it was a powerful volcanic explosion. This is the fifth time since December last year that this area has experienced a crustal rupture and magma outflow. According to Kristín Jónsdóttir, a geophysicist at the Icelandic Meteorological Institute, the length of the fissure from which the lava is emerging is estimated at 2 miles, but it may still expand. "The earth has opened with great force," commented the expert.

Measurements indicated an imminent eruption

Specialists predicted the eruption based on earlier readings that signaled enormous pressure beneath the surface. According to Jónsdóttir, the current volcanic episode is stronger than the previous ones due to more significant magma accumulation. "We've been anticipating this eruption for a while, and it's something of a relief that it's happening now," emphasized the geophysicist.

After a few hours, as Benedikt Ófeigsson from the Icelandic Meteorological Institute reported, about 35,000 cubic feet of lava per second were flowing from the fissure, equivalent to the volume of a swimming pool.

Threat to Grindavík and the Blue Lagoon

Even before the volcanic eruption, authorities ordered the evacuation of endangered areas, including the 4,000-strong town of Grindavík and the popular tourist spot, the Blue Lagoon—a complex of thermal pools. When the alarm was raised, 700-800 people were in the lagoon.

Iceland's Civil Defense strongly advises against approaching the eruption site, although some curious individuals have ventured toward the volcano.

The series of disasters threatens the future of Grindavík. In January this year, lava destroyed three houses on the outskirts of the town. The government has already presented a bill allowing residents to sell their properties to a state-owned company and leave the endangered area. Therefore, the local community will likely face the specter of relocation.

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