Sunday, 14 Jul 2024

Iceland declares state of emergency and evacuates homes as huge volcanic eruption expected 'in hours' after 1,000 quakes | The Sun

RESIDENTS in Iceland have been urged to abandon their homes as a volcano closes in on its fourth eruption in two years.

Grindavik residents were told to flee to safety by local authorities after 1,000-strong earthquakes shook the Fagradalsfjall volcano into activity earlier this week.

It's feared that a catastrophic eruption could be imminent following the seismic activity three miles below the surface of the Reykjanes Peninsula.

The Icelandic government have since declared a statement of emergency, just two years on from the previous explosion that led to a months-long disaster.

4,000 residents have already been evacuated from Grindavik, a town 25 miles southwest of the capital Reykjavik, with an eruption even possible within "hours or days".

That's according to Thorvaldur Thordarson, professor of volcanology at the University of Iceland, who told state broadcaster RUV that the chances of an eruption have "increased significantly".

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The quakes and ground lift caused by the magma intrusion have already caused damage to roads and buildings in Grindavik and its surroundings.

A large crack also tore up the greens on the Grindavik golf course, an image widely shared on social media networks.

The Icelandic Meteorological Office, issuing an update on the Fagradalsfjall volcano, said: "There are indications that a considerable amount of magma is moving in an area.

"The amount of magma involved is significantly more than what was observed in the largest magma intrusions associated with the eruptions at Fagradalsfjall."

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Scientists have warned that the Fagradalsfjall volcano could produce an eruption even worse than the one in 2021.

Seismic activity measured just a month before that event saw "very similar" activity patterns to those reported on Saturday.

The volcano had been dormant for over 800 years prior to its eruption two years ago, which lasted for six months.

After a few weeks, new fissures formed and new vents started to open while others became inactive.

At one point, six craters were erupting simultaneously.

A second eruption then happened on August 3, 2022, before a third took place on July 10, 2023.

There are now fears that a fourth is on the way after recent rumblings and 1,400 seismic shifts in the last week left experts rattled.

As a result, a state of emergency is in effect with "mandatory evacuation" of Grindavik and the Svartsengi Power Station.

Severe weather expert Nahel Belgherze wrote on X (formerly Twitter): "Data from the meteorological office indicate that a magma tunnel has extended under Grindavik.

"That's why the town was evacuated and the Civil Defence Level of Danger was declared.

"It cannot be ruled out that a volcanic fissure may open within the town limits."

Some roads have already closed, while the popular Blue Lagoon geothermal spa resort shut down earlier this week as a precaution.

A magma tunnel that is forming could reach Grindavik, although the Icelandic authority said it's impossible to tell if and where the magma might break through.

Iceland has 33 active volcanoes, the highest number in Europe.

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That includes the Eyjafjallajokull volcano which erupted in 2010 and caused enormous disruption to air travel across western Europe.

While this eruption is not expected to be as big, the UK foreign office has already warned travellers that "no travel can be guaranteed safe".

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