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HomeWorld NewsExperts warn volcanic eruption in Iceland could destroy Grindavik

Experts warn volcanic eruption in Iceland could destroy Grindavik

An Icelandic village of about 4,000 residents near the capital Reykjavik could be seriously destroyed by the volcano, which is expected to erupt within hours or days, according to experts, news agency AFP reported. Grindavik, on the southwest coast of Iceland, was evacuated in the early hours of Saturday after magma slid beneath the Earth’s crust, causing hundreds of tremors that are considered a precursor to an eruption.

“We are really concerned about all the homes and infrastructure in the area,” Iceland’s head of civil protection and emergency management, Vidir Rennisson, was quoted as saying by AFP in its report.

The town, which is about 40 kilometers (25 mi) south-west of Reykjavík, is near the Svartsengi geothermal plant, which supplies energy and water to the Reykjanes peninsula’s population of 30,000, as well as a freshwater reservoir. .

Grindavik is also close to the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa resort, a famous tourist attraction, which was closed earlier this week as a precaution.

“The magma is now at a very shallow depth, so we’re expecting an eruption within at least a few hours, but at least a few days,” Rennison said.

The most likely scenario is the opening of a crack in the earth near Grindavik.

“We have a crack that’s about 15 kilometers long, and anywhere on that crack we can see that there could be an eruption,” Rennison said.

However, he did not rule out the possibility of an eruption on the ocean floor, which would certainly result in a large ash cloud.

“It’s not the most likely scenario, but we can’t rule it out because … the end of the crack goes into the ocean,” he said.

Earthquakes and ground rising from magma intrusion have already caused damage to roads and homes in and around Grindavik.

The greens at Grindavík Golf Course were also destroyed in a major blowout that was shared widely on social media.

Iceland has declared a state of emergency and ordered a mandatory evacuation of Grindavik from early Saturday.

According to media reports, several nearby towns have set up emergency shelters and aid centres, although most Grindavik people are staying with friends or family.

While the Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO) has been observing magma gathering at a depth of about five kilometers beneath the Earth’s surface for several days, it announced late Friday that magma has begun to rise vertically into a dyke.

“This magmatic dam has become shallow and its upper depth is now estimated at 800 meters below the surface,” Sara Barsotti, IMO’s volcanic hazards coordinator, told AFP late Saturday.

He said experts were surprised by the volume of lava and the rate of its accumulation.

“What we are seeing now is an unprecedented event. We are talking about a velocity and volume or flow rate of this process that is far greater than what we have seen on the peninsula so far.

In recent years, three eruptions have occurred near the Fagradalsfjall volcano on the Reykjanes peninsula: in March 2021, August 2022 and July 2023, all far from infrastructure or populated areas.

According to Barsotti, eruptions have ruptured much of the Earth’s crust “over the past three years,” “helping magmatic fluids find their way in faster.”

The Reykjanes Peninsula had been quiescent for eight millennia before the March 2021 eruption.

According to volcanologists, the new cycle of increased activity could last for several decades or even millennia.

Iceland is located in the North Atlantic, straddling the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a rift in the ocean floor that separates the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates.

In April 2010, a major eruption at Eyjafjallajökull, another Icelandic volcano in the south of the island, caused 100,000 flights to be canceled, stranding more than 10 million people.

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