“We have a crack about 15 kilometers long”
Experts predict that a volcanic eruption could destroy a city in Iceland, located near Reykjavik. Experts warn that the town of Grindavik could be badly damaged by the volcanic eruption, which is expected to occur within days or even hours.
The Icelandic town of about 4,000 people, located near the capital Reykjavik, could be severely damaged by the volcanic eruption, which is expected to occur within hours or days, reports Agence France-Presse.
The town of Grindavik on the southwest coast was evacuated in the early hours of Saturday after shifting magma beneath the earth's crust caused hundreds of earthquakes, which are believed to have preceded the eruption.
“We are really concerned about the condition of all homes and infrastructure in the area,” says Vidir Reynisson, head of the Icelandic Office of Civil Protection and Emergency Management.
City – approximately 40 kilometers southwest of Reykjavik – located near the Svartsengi geothermal plant, the main supplier of electricity and water for the 30,000 inhabitants of the Reykjanes Peninsula, as well as a fresh water reservoir.
Grindavik is also close to the geothermal plant Blue Lagoon spa resort, a popular tourist destination, which was closed as a precaution earlier this week.
“The magma is at very shallow depths right now, so we expect an eruption within a couple of hours at most, but , “at least for a couple of days,” notes Reynisson.
The most likely scenario would be the opening of a crack in the ground near Grindavik.
“We have a fissure that's about 15 kilometers long, and anywhere on that fissure we can see that there could be an eruption,” warns Reynisson.
However, he did not rule out the possibility of an eruption on the ocean floor, which is likely , would cause a large ash cloud.
“This is not the most likely scenario, but we cannot rule it out because the end of the crack goes into the sea,”, he said.
Earthquakes and uplift caused by the intrusion of magma have already caused damage to roads and buildings in and around Grindavik.
A large crack has also torn apart the greens of the golf course in Grindavik, an image widely shared on social media.
Iceland, which has 33 active volcanic systems, declared a state of emergency and ordered a mandatory evacuation of Grindavik early Saturday morning.
Emergency shelters and relief centers have opened in several nearby towns, but most Grindavik residents are staying with friends or relatives, media reports.
While the Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO) has observed magma accumulating for several days below the Earth's surface at a depth of about five kilometers, it reported late Friday that magma had begun to rise vertically along the dam.
“This magma dam has become shallow and the maximum depth is now estimated to be 800 meters below the surface,” IMO volcanic hazards coordinator Sara Barsotti told AFP late Saturday.
She said that experts were surprised by the amount of lava and the speed at which it accumulated: “What we are seeing now is an unprecedented event. We are talking about speeds of this process and volumes or rates of influx that are much higher than what we have seen on the peninsula so far.
In recent years, three eruptions have occurred on the Reykjanes Peninsula near the Fagradalsfjall volcano: in March 2021, August 2022 and July 2023 – all far from any infrastructure or populated areas, recalls AFP.
The Earth's crust has been severely destroyed “over the past three years” These eruptions “help magmatic fluids find their way faster,” Barsotti explained.
Before the March 2021 eruption, the Reykjanes Peninsula had been dormant for eight centuries.
Volcanologists believe that a new cycle of increased activity could last several decades or centuries.
Located in the North Atlantic, Iceland borders the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a crack in the ocean floor that separates the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates.
< p>A powerful eruption in April 2010 of another Icelandic volcano – Eyjafjallajökull in the south of the island – led to the cancellation of 100,000 flights, leaving more than 10 million travelers stranded.