Iceland shudders: 150 quakes in 1 hour, volcanic eruption threat looms
Iceland on edge: 150 earthquakes in one hour sparks high alert amidst growing concerns of imminent volcanic eruption
Iceland declared a state of emergency on its southwestern Reykjanes peninsula due to a series of powerful earthquakes, raising concerns about a potential volcanic eruption. The National Police Chief invoked the state of emergency, emphasizing the seismic activity at Sundhnjukagigar, north of Grindavik.
A swarm of earthquakes, indicating a potential volcanic eruption, led to the temporary closure of Iceland's renowned Blue Lagoon geothermal spa. The closure, while not officially mandated, was a proactive decision by the operator in response to the seismic uncertainty.
Seismic threats and evacuation plans:
The Reykjanes peninsula has experienced over 24,000 tremors since late October, with a recent surge of nearly 800 earthquakes. The Icelandic Met Office warns of magma accumulation, signaling the potential for an eruption. Evacuation plans are in place for the village of Grindavik, home to around 4,000 people.
Two significant earthquakes, including one with a magnitude of 5.2, were felt as far as the capital, Reykjavik, and along the southern coast. The region has witnessed over 150 earthquakes in the past hour alone, indicating an increased seismic threat. Experts anticipate a volcanic eruption, but the timeline is uncertain.
Tourist attractions and infrastructure impact:
The Blue Lagoon and nearby Svartsengi geothermal plant, a major supplier of electricity and water, have been affected. Emergency shelters are set up, and a patrol vessel is deployed for security. Iceland, with 33 active volcanic systems, is closely monitoring the situation, recalling the dormant Reykjanes volcanic system's awakening in 2021 after eight centuries. The possibility of a volcanic eruption poses challenges reminiscent of the disruptive Eyjafjallajokull eruption in 2010.