Will this be the start of a new “volcanic age”? This question arises as the resurfacing Icelandic fault has been causing eruptions in Grindavik, posing a potential threat to the city’s existence. The recent eruptions, preceded by little seismic activity, indicate that magma is on the brink of erupting at any moment.
Grindavik, a city constructed atop lava flows that are 800 years old, now faces the logical question of its survival. Considering the recent volcanic activity, it seems that the city’s very existence is in jeopardy. The lack of advance notice for the eruptions is alarming. The last two eruptions were accompanied by a few hours of critical seismic activity, suggesting the rapid ascent of magma to the surface. This unpredictability is leaving the residents and authorities uncertain about their safety.
Another potential danger lies in the possibility of an undersea eruption, which could cause an explosive phenomenon, releasing more volcanic ash. This threat has been witnessed before in the 2010 Eyjafjallajokull volcano eruption, which disrupted travel plans worldwide and left millions of people stranded in airports. While specialists doubt that the Reykjanes Peninsula would witness such a severe occurrence, the fear of a catastrophic eruption still lingers.
Iceland, with its unique geological features, seems to be entering a new phase with evident signs of a new age starting. The recent volcanic eruption in Grindavik has led to the destruction of several homes, leaving the city in ruins. The evacuation of the affected fishing community is finally over, but the danger is far from gone. The long-dormant fault in the country’s subsurface has sprung to life, proving that it had been silently threatening to release lava for years.
The Reykjanes Peninsula, where Grindavik is situated, has not witnessed such an eruption in millennia. This eruption is the sixth in as many years, reflecting a significant change from the eight centuries of relative rest and surface activity cessation. Volcanologist Patrick Allard from the Institute, Physique du Globe in Paris, believes that Iceland has entered a new episode of plate separation that could last several years, or even decades.
Scientists have observed distorted ground and the ascent of magma from depths below the surface, even before the first eruptions in March 2021. According to Allard, this indicates a new phase of plate separation. The magma is very close to the surface, ready to erupt, as described by Allard. The thick crust along the Icelandic fault aids in the pressure releases of magma. However, there is still a possibility that a massive volume of magma could be emitted, intensifying the risk.
Grindavik, with its delicate fracture situated near the Svartsengi geothermal power station, faces significant danger. This fracture threatens the stability of the power station, which provides water and energy to the 30,000 people residing on the Reykjanes Peninsula. Moreover, the popular tourist site in Grindavik, known for its geothermal baths, the Blue Lagoon, has been forced to close due to the ongoing eruptions.
The situation in Grindavik is a constant reminder of the unpredictable nature of volcanic activity. As the city and its residents face an uncertain future, the fear of more eruptions and potential destruction looms large. The resurfacing Icelandic fault has not only put the city at risk but has also raised concerns about the stability of the entire region. Only time will tell if this is indeed the start of a new “volcanic age” in Iceland.