Second Volcanic Eruption in a Month Forces Iceland to Evacuate Again
In less than a month, a second volcanic eruption hit Grindavík in southwest Iceland. The eruption began at 8 a.m. on Sunday and led to the community’s evacuation.
The eruption was preceded by increased seismic activity in the area, forming two cracks near the town. The first crack, measuring 450 metres from the city, initially seemed manageable as protective barriers diverted lava away from the community. However, a second crack formed around midday on the town’s edge, measuring about 100 metres by evening.
Live images from the national TV broadcaster RUV captured the flow of orange lava and a smoke cloud. The lava flames from the second crack covered at least three houses.
Iceland’s President, Guðni Jóhannesson, assured the public that no lives were in immediate danger. However, the president warned of potential threats to infrastructure. Benedikt Ófeigsson from the Icelandic Meteorological Office noted the unpredictable nature of the volcano. He highlighted a recent increase in intensity, contrary to initial observations of a slowdown.
The Icelandic Civil Protection Agency raised the alert level to the emergency, the highest on its three-point scale, signalling a potential event that could cause harm to people, property, communities, or the environment.
This eruption marks the fifth on the Reykjanes peninsula since 2021, a region known for its volcanic activity. The last significant volcanic event near Grindavík occurred on 18 December 2021. It forced the evacuation of 3,800 residents in the town. Over 100 people returned, though the Saturday eruption forced them to evacuate again.
Linda Karen Gunnarsdóttir from the Animal Protection Association of Iceland reported that sheep remain in pens inside the town and urgently need rescue. Authorities are also closely monitoring the Svartsengi geothermal plant, which supplies electricity and water to the 30,000 people on the Reykjanes peninsula.
In a separate incident, the authorities called off a search for a man believed to have fallen into a crack. Emergency services considered it unjustifiable to put rescuers’ lives at risk.
Iceland’s unique position between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates, constantly moving in opposite directions, makes it a volcanic hotspot. The Reykjanes peninsula, unlike the Eyjafjallajökull volcano, is not trapped under glaciers. It reduced the likelihood of similar ash clouds.
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