Iceland prepares for volcano eruption as thousands evacuate

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Residents of Iceland, known as the land of fire and ice, are under a “significant” threat of the eruption of Fagradalsfjall volcano on the Reykjanes Peninsula, according to the Icelandic Meteorological Office, reported Reuters.

In 2021, the volcano reawakened after 800 years, spewing lava and continuing with volcanic activity for six months. An eruption from a separate fissure of the volcano occurred in August of last year.

In recent weeks, thousands of tremors recorded in the area, along with evidence of magma spreading underground, have warned of another imminent eruption.

The hundreds of earthquakes that have been shaking the peninsula have gotten weaker in the past couple of days, though scientists still anticipate the volcano to blow, BBC News reported.

“We believe that this intrusion is literally hovering, sitting in equilibrium now just below the earth’s surface,” said Matthew James Roberts, the meteorological office’s managing director of the service and research division, as reported by Reuters. “We have this tremendous uncertainty now. Will there be an eruption and if so, what sort of damage will occur?”

Nearly 4,000 residents were evacuated this past weekend as the activity threatened the coastal town of Grindavík, located about 42 miles southwest of Reykjavik.

Bill McGuire, University College London professor emeritus of geophysical and climate hazards, said that there was not any reason to believe the eruption would be particularly large, CNN reported.

However, McGuire added that “it is notoriously hard to forecast how big an eruption will be. The evacuated town of Grindavík is very close to the position of the new fracture, and its survival is far from assured. Everything depends upon where magma eventually reaches the surface, but the situation doesn’t look good for the residents of the town.”

Iceland is located between two of the largest tectonic plates in the world, the North American and the Eurasian, making it a hotbed of volcanic and seismic activity, Reuters reported.

“At around four on Friday, [the earthquakes] just started being non-stop. Just constant big quakes for hours,” Gisli Gunnarsson, a 29-year-old music composer who was forced to evacuate his hometown of Grindavik, told PA Media, as reported by BBC News. “We all rushed out of [Grindavik] so quickly, in a matter of hours, so we didn’t really think at the time that might possibly be the last time we see our home, so that’s been difficult.”

Most of Grindavik’s 3,800 residents had found places to stay with friends or family, with fewer than 75 utilizing evacuation centers, according to one rescue official, Reuters reported.

“It’s not only the people in Grindavik who are shocked about this situation it’s the whole of Iceland,” said Belgian-born Hans Vera, who has been living in Iceland since 1999, as reported by Reuters.

This article originally appeared on EcoWatch and was syndicated by MediaFeed.

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This article originally appeared on EcoWatch and was syndicated by MediaFeed.

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