Iceland has declared a state of emergency after a series of earthquakes sparked fears of a volcanic eruption. The authorities ordered the preventive evacuation of thousands of residents of the southwestern town of Grindavík. The BBC news server informs about it.
The Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO) said it feared there was a large amount of magma underground that could seep to the surface. Thousands of tremors have been recorded in the vicinity of the Fagradalsfjall volcano on the Reykjanes peninsula in recent weeks. On Thursday, authorities closed the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa, the country’s biggest tourist attraction, due to increased seismic activity in the area. Since the end of October, more than 20,000 tremors have been recorded in southwest Iceland.
Iceland’s Civil Protection Authority said it decided to evacuate because the IMO cannot rule out that the magma tunnel currently forming could reach Grindavík. He therefore urged the inhabitants to leave the city. He emphasized that the evacuation is not an emergency, but a preventive one. Residents should therefore remain calm as there is plenty of time and there is no imminent danger. All roads into the town of approximately 4,000 are closed except for emergency roads to ensure the smooth flow of traffic.
The IMO said in a statement on Friday that seismic activity had changed significantly and tremors had moved towards Grindavík during the day. The magma has probably spread under the city and it is not possible to determine exactly if and where it may emerge.
Iceland is one of the most active regions in the world. There are approximately 30 active volcanic sites here.
The eruptions of the volcano on the Reykjanes peninsula have been recorded in 2021, 2022 and this summer. In all cases, they were preceded by longer series of earthquakes. None of these eruptions threatened populated areas.