Violent Volcanic Eruption in Iceland Prompts Emergency Declaration

Another volcanic eruption has occurred on the Reykjanes Peninsula in southern Iceland, leading to the declaration of a state of emergency. This marks the fourth eruption in the area since December.

Reports from local media indicate that the lava has now encroached upon the eastern defences surrounding the evacuated town of Grindavik.

The intense and rapid lava flows started late on Saturday – however, the authorities have reported a significant decrease since then.

The activity around the fissure, which was initially 3km long (1.9 miles), has now subsided.

The Meteorological Office in Iceland reported that the streams of lava were still flowing on Sunday, although their movement had started to decelerate.

Tune in to witness the eruption unfold in real time.

The director of Iceland’s civil defence, VĂ­dir Reynisson, expressed confidence in the preparations made for the potential lava flow, with the main focus being on the potential impact on infrastructure.

There were also concerns about the pools of lava gathering near the defenses, he mentioned.

An eruption commenced after 20:00 local time (20:00 GMT) on Saturday, north of Grindavik, as reported by the country’s civil defence service.

This location is reminiscent of the eruption that started on 8 December.

Footage of the incident captured a mesmerizing scene as smoke billowed and molten lava seeped and simmered from openings in the ground.

The explosion has not impacted the primary international airport, located to the north-west of Grindavik.

According to geophysicist Magnus Tumi Gudmundsson, who conducted an aerial survey of the affected areas, Saturday’s eruption was the most intense one observed thus far, as reported by local media.

There have been reports of two lava streams making their way in a westerly and southerly direction. Reports from local media indicate that lava from the recent eruption has reached the eastern defence walls of Grindavik.

According to Mr Gudmundsson, there is a chance that lava might reach the sea, although this outcome is uncertain and dependent on the volcanic activity subsiding.

Einar Bessi Gestsson, a natural disaster expert at the Norwegian Meteorological Agency, has warned of potential hazards if lava comes into contact with sea water. According to Gestsson, this could lead to the release of dangerous gases and small explosions.

Meanwhile, the lava flow moving towards the west is currently on a path towards the Blue Lagoon and a geothermal power plant. This power plant is responsible for supplying hot water to a majority of the Reykjanes Peninsula.

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The Icelandic Met Office reported that the lava bed has expanded considerably compared to the previous eruption in February, where lava flowed in a similar direction.

According to Rikke Pedersen, the head of the Reykjavik-based Nordic Volcanological Centre, numerous protective embankments have been constructed.

There are growing concerns about potential damage to the fibre optic cables on the road, which could lead to significant disruptions in phone and internet services.

On Saturday, witnesses flocked to observe the lava pouring out of a volcanic crack
The eruption causes the Reykjavik skyline to change color from blue to orange

The Blue Lagoon has temporarily suspended its operations as a precautionary measure. According to Ms Pedersen, there were around 500-600 people in the vicinity at the time of Saturday’s eruption.

A number of homes in Grindavik were also evacuated.

The town’s approximately 4,000 residents were finally able to return to their homes just a month ago, following an eruption in January that resulted in the destruction of three houses as magma engulfed the town.

The majority of individuals have decided against coming back.

Iceland boasts an impressive 33 active volcano systems and is situated above the renowned Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which marks the meeting point of two of the Earth’s largest tectonic plates.

It has been 800 years since the Reykjanes Peninsula experienced a period of volcanic activity, with eruptions lasting for decades.

This marks the seventh eruption since 2021, leading scientists to speculate that the region is embarking on a new era of volcanic activity that could endure for several decades or even centuries.

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