Icelanders Brace for Eruption of Fagradalsfjall Volcano as Tremors Continue to Rock Reykjanes Peninsula

Icelanders Brace for Eruption of Fagradalsfjall Volcano as Tremors Continue to Rock Reykjanes Peninsula

Volcano in Iceland could spew lava ‘for weeks’ an expert has warned, as fears are mounting that an eruption could be ‘imminent’ with at least 2,800 tremors recorded in the last day.

The Fagradalsfjall volcano on the Reykjanes peninsula, the youngest part of Iceland, threatens to ‘obliterate’ the town of Grindavik, and its 4,000 residents have been evacuated after a state of emergency was declared on Friday.

‘We are really concerned about all the houses and the infrastructure in the area,’ said Vidir Reynisson, head of Iceland’s Civil Protection and Emergency Management.

‘The magma is now at a very shallow depth, so we’re expecting an eruption within a couple of hours at the shortest, but at least within a couple of days.’

Magma has been accumulating three miles under Grindavik and now experts have said a ‘corridor’, around nine miles long (15km), has developed beneath the town – with a volcanic eruption possible anywhere along the intrusion.

At least 2,800 earthquakes were recorded in the region to the north-west of Grindavik, all below 3.0 in magnitude.

Mr Reynisson said the most likely scenario would be the fissure opening, causing an eruption somewhere around Grindavik.

‘We have a fissure that’s about 15 kilometres long, and anywhere on that fissure we can see that an eruption could happen,’ he said.

Icelanders are ‘essentially just waiting’, local journalist Holmfridur Gisladottir told Sky News after hundreds of tremors struck the island overnight.

A looming eruption has revived the trauma of the 2010 explosion at another of Iceland’s volcanoes, Eyjafjallajokull, for many locals.

It produced a huge cloud of ash which prompted the biggest shutdown of global aviation since the Second World War, with 50,000 flights cancelled and eight million passengers affected.

Discussing the differences between a potential eruption of Fagradalsfjall and Eyjafjallajokull, an Iceland met office official said an eruption could see lava spew over the town, but was less likely to cause the same ash blast.

Matthew James Roberts, managing director of the service and research division, told BBC R4’s Today programme: ‘First of all there isn’t an ice cap on top and it’s not a stratovolcano so wouldn’t be an explosive blast of volcanic ash into the atmosphere.’

This would be a lava-producing volcanic eruption along a series of fissures and that would be the main hazard.’

He added that an eruption ‘that persists for weeks’ is possible, meaning roads and other infrastructure could be ‘in harm’s way’.

Ragga Ágústdóttir, who lives close to Grindavik, warned the ‘town could be destroyed’.

‘The scenario on the table now is that it will happen in or just north of the town of Grindavik. There’s no good option here,’ she said.

Pictures have shown gaping chasms opening up around the town, with roads wrecked, pavements ripped apart, and land slipping at a golf course.

All roads leading to the town are reportedly closed, while the roads to Iceland’s international airports in the north of the peninsula remain open.

Iceland’s former President, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, drew attention to a series of earthquakes close to the island of Eldey off the Reykjanes peninsula.

Taking to Twitter this morning, he said the activity could see an eruption ‘on the seabed, adding a powerful dimension to the uncertainty.’

Thorvaldur Thordarson, professor of volcanology at the University of Iceland, told state broadcaster RUV at the weekend: ‘I don’t think it’s long before an eruption, hours or a few days. The chance of an eruption has increased significantly’.

Police evacuated Grindavik after seismic activity in the area moved south towards the town, with a corridor of magma, or semi-molten rock, thought to be extending under the community, Iceland’s Meteorological Office said.

Locals in the area were given just 15 minutes to return and gather their pets and essentials after they evacuated their homes.

Mr Gunnarsson, a music composer, said: ‘At around four on Friday, (the earthquakes) just started being non-stop. Just constant big quakes for hours.’

First and foremost, the thought that you might never see your hometown ever again, that’s tough.’

We all rushed out of (Grindavik) so quickly, in a matter of hours, so we didn’t really think at the time that might.

TDPel Media

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