A suspected volcanic eruption has triggered a strong series of earthquakes in southwest Iceland, prompting police to proclaim a state of emergency and order inhabitants of the coastal town of Grindavík to leave.
The Icelandic Meteorological Office reported that between midnight and two p.m. on Friday, there were about eight hundred recorded earthquakes, the shallowest of which was 3-3.5 kilometers (1.86-2.18 miles) deep.
Iceland’s Civil Protection Agency stated in statements on Friday that Grindavík might be reached by a magma tube that is currently building. However, the Icelandic authorities stated that as of Friday night, it was hard to predict when and where the magma may erupt to the surface.
“Earthquakes may become bigger than those that have already occurred, and this sequence of events could lead to an eruption. However, there are still no signs that the magma is nearing the surface. Its progress is being closely monitored,” the Civil Protection Agency said.
Magma is a mixture of semi-molten and molten rock that is found beneath the Earth’s surface. When it rises to the surface and turns into lava, it has the potential to create an eruption.
Authorities stressed that there is no immediate threat and asked locals to leave quietly.
“We want to reiterate that residents MUST evacuate their homes and leave the town. But we also want to reiterate that this is not an emergency evacuation, there is plenty of time to prepare, secure things and drive out of town calmly,” the Civil Protection Agency said.
“It is clear that we are dealing with events that we Icelanders have not experienced before, at least not since the eruption in Vestmannaeyjar. We faced that together, we will face this together and we will not lose heart,” the Civil Protection Agency added.
A volcano notice was released by the US Embassy in Iceland, informing people of the heightened signals of volcanic activity.
“If an eruption occurs, follow the instructions of Icelandic authorities. Volcanic hazards may include lava, toxic gases, and heavy smoke from fires ignited by lava,” it said.
Because of the continuous earthquake activity in the vicinity, the well-known Blue Lagoon thermal pool has already closed.
Nearly every 12 months since 2021, there has been an eruption; the most recent one occurred in July south of Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland.
Iceland is situated on a tectonic plate boundary that is constantly rupturing, forcing Eurasia and North America apart along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Thirty-two of its volcanoes are active.