A menacing Icelandic volcano has erupted once again, posing a significant threat to the port of Grindavík. The eruption, which began on January 14, saw lava flows reaching the town, incinerating at least three buildings and prompting an extensive response from Icelandic emergency officials. These officials have been constructing barriers, known as berms, in an attempt to divert the lava away from Grindavík.
The eruption originated from a newly opened fissure in the ground, stretching over 1-kilometer northeast of the town. While the berms succeeded in channelling most of the lava flows away from Grindavík, a second, smaller fissure opened much closer to the town, directing lava directly into its vicinity. Fortunately, the town’s 4,000 residents had been evacuated, and no injuries were reported.
Iceland, renowned for its geological activity, sits atop a hot plume of material from deep within the Earth and is situated where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates are pulling apart. The volcanic activity often manifests as parallel fissures opening in the ground, emitting fountains of fire that later solidify into plains of hardened rock.
The recent eruptions mark the fifth such event since 2021 on the Reykjanes Peninsula, southwest of Reykjavík, the capital city. Researchers from the Icelandic Meteorological Office and other institutions have been closely monitoring the activity that commenced in November with a series of small earthquakes. The ground has been rising as magma moves beneath the surface, with a December eruption sending lava across the landscape, affecting the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa and threatening a nearby power plant.
This ongoing eruption is the most impactful in Iceland since 1973 when a volcano erupted on the southern island of Heimaey, burying most of its town in lava and ash.
In a related article, another eruption on the Reykjanes Peninsula attracted attention last month when a fissure opened, creating a river of lava. The recent eruption near Hagafell, a mountain peak north of Grindavík, occurred after hundreds of earthquakes shook the region. The fissure, over 3,200 feet long, unleashed glowing lava and has continued to lengthen.
The eruption caused havoc in Grindavík, with lava flowing into the residential area. A series of earthquakes preceded the eruption, prompting repeated evacuations in recent months. The residents, weary of the persistent threats, faced another evacuation as the latest eruption unfolded. The situation underscores the ongoing challenges posed by Iceland’s dynamic geological landscape and the resilience required of its residents.