Another eruption in Iceland ‘more likely with each passing day’ as fresh cracks form

The Icelandic Met Office said the chance of another eruption increases ‘with each passing day’

Athena Stavrou
Saturday 30 December 2023 12:32
<p>The previous eruption began last Monday a few kilometres from Grindavik</p>

The previous eruption began last Monday a few kilometres from Grindavik

The Icelandic Met Office has issued new warnings of another possible eruption as fresh cracks were spotted near the town of Grindavik.

After weeks of anticipation, an eruption began on 18 December on the Reykjanes peninsula in southwest Iceland, throwing 100m of ash and lava into the air.

Although the original eruption at Sundhnúkagígar crater row has ended, the Met Office has revealed the likelihood of another eruption is increasing with each passing day.

Experts said that the ground had continued to rise following the eruption and has now reached the same height it was before the previous eruption last Monday.

“As magma accumulation continues under Svartsengi, the likelihood of another magma intrusion and an eruption increases with each passing day,” they said.

“At the GPS station Svartsengi (SENG), the land has now reached a similar height as measured just before the eruption on 18 December. The rate of uplift since 18 December has remained constant, which is different from the situation before the last eruption, where uplift slowed in the days before the eruption.”

Large cracks formed in Grindavik after a flurry of seismic activity

They added that the next eruption will likely occur in the Sundhnúkur crater once again, between Stóra-Skógfell and Hagafell.

It comes as new cracks appeared nearer Grindavik in recent days. Local media reported that fresh and wider fissures have formed near the town which was evacuated several weeks ago.

The town was saved from the brunt of the last eruption as lava began to flow in another direction, but the town still remains at risk according to the Met Office’s latest hazard map.

When asked whether another eruption is likely, Páll Einarsson, professor emeritus at the University of Iceland’s Earth Sciences department, told local media: “It’s quite obvious, considering what’s going on.”

“It’s not necessarily certain that there will be an eruption, but it’s quite clear that the magma chamber is collecting magma. That’s not a matter of dispute.”

The famous Blue Lagoon Spa was forced to close just one day after it re-opened last week when the eruption began and have extended their temporary closure until the new year following the new warnings.

Keflavik International Airport, near Reykjavik, remains open.

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