Iceland Declared Emergency Over Volcano Eruption Concern

A state of emergency has been announced in Iceland due to multiple earthquakes, sparking concerns about a potential volcanic eruption.

As a safety measure, residents of Grindavík in the southwest have been instructed to leave their homes overnight by the authorities.

According to the Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO), there is a significant chance of a volcanic eruption occurring on or near the Reykjanes peninsula. The likelihood of an eruption has risen, as reported by the IMO.

Recently, the Fagradalsfjall volcano area has experienced thousands of small earthquakes. These quakes have been primarily around the Reykjanes Peninsula, which was inactive for 800 years until an eruption in 2021.

Saturday’s report from the agency indicated a magma tunnel near Grindavík, extending 10km inland at a shallower depth than earlier in the day.

Due to increased seismic activity, the nearby Blue Lagoon was closed on Thursday, following over 20,000 tremors in southwest Iceland since late October.

The Civil Protection Agency in Iceland decided to evacuate because the IMO couldn’t discount the possibility of a magma tunnel reaching Grindavík.

Friday announcements clarified that residents must leave Grindavík, but stressed it wasn’t an “emergency evacuation” and advised calm, citing ample time to respond.

The evacuation, while not indicating immediate danger, is a precaution to ensure the safety of Grindavík’s residents.

All roads into Grindavík, home to about 4,000 people, are now closed except for emergencies to facilitate smooth traffic flow.

Iceland is one of the most volcanically active areas globally, boasting about 30 active volcanic sites. Volcanic eruptions happen when lighter magma rises to the surface through the denser surrounding rock.

In July, the Fagradalsfjall area saw an eruption from Litli-Hrutur, attracting visitors to what’s known as the “world’s newest baby volcano”. This site had been dormant for eight centuries until eruptions occurred in 2021, 2022, and 2023.