Icelandic authorities continue to monitor Reykjanes peninsula eruption

Billowing smoke and flowing lava from the eruption on Jan. 14, 2024. Seismic activity had intensified overnight and residents of Grindavik were evacuated. It was Iceland’s fifth volcanic eruption in two years, the previous one occurring on December 18, 2023 in the same region southwest of the capital Reykjavik. (Icelandic Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management /AFP via Getty Images)

Icelandic authorities continue to monitor Sunday’s volcanic eruption on the Reykjanes peninsula saying that although the intensity of the event is decreasing,  new fissures may still appear.

“Measurements indicate that there has been a displacement of up to 1.4 meters in the past 24 hours, distributed across numerous fissures within the town‘s boundaries,” the Icelandic Met Office said  in a statement on Monday.

“Fresh fissures have developed, and existing ones have expanded. It is possible that additional fissures may emerge on the surface in the next few days.”

The eruption occurred north of the town of Grindavík on Jan. 14 at 7:57am local time, the second eruption experienced by the region since December.

Authorities had already initiated the evacuation of the town of Grindavík as a precaution.

Map depicting the thickness of the lava flow as of 1:50pm local time on Sunday. (Icelandic Met Office)

“Based on webcam footage, it is evident that the lava flow has decreased from the eruptive fissures that opened yesterday,” the met office said. “Flow from the southern eruptive fissure, which emerged around noon yesterday near the town‘s border, seems to have ceased.

“The majority of the remaining lava flow is now directed southwest along the protective barriers, and its trajectory seems to have stabilized.”

On Sunday, the Icelandic government said the damage was confined to the initial area.

Aerial view taken on January 14, 2024 shows emergency personnel using diggers to build a protective wall trying to prevent flowing lava to reach the centre of the southwestern Icelandic town of Grindavik after a volcanic eruption. Halldor Kolbeins / AFP via Getty Images)

The eruption has no wider impact and is not expected to impact additional populated areas, said a joint statement from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Justice.

Flights have not been affected by the eruption and are operating normally and roads to Keflavik International Airport are not affected. 

Site remains hazardous

But the met office cautions that shifts in wind patterns may alter how harmful substances spread, and urges people to follow air quality reports. 

“The eruption sites are extremely hazardous, and the possibility of new fissures emerging without warning cannot be dismissed, the office said.

“This was demonstrated by the eruptive fissure that appeared near the border of Grindavík yesterday, which provided no recognizable warning signs on the monitoring equipment.”

Billowing smoke is seen on the outskirts of the southwestern Icelandic town of Grindavik after a volcanic eruption, on January 14, 2024 (Halldor Kolbeins / AFP via Getty Images)

“Today, there is a mild wind from the northeast at the eruption sites, but it will pick up speed later in the day,” the met office said.

“Therefore, gas pollution is drifting southwest towards the ocean. Tomorrow, the area will experience winds from the north reaching 10-18 m/s, causing the gas to drift south. Refer to the weather service’s forecast for gas dispersion details.”

First responders and scientists are presently at the location conducting assessments.

“It is difficult to estimate how long this eruption will last,” the met office said. “Seismic activity has decreased, and GPS measurements indicate that the rate of deformation in the area has reduced.

“However, deformation is still detected near the southernmost part of the magma conduit beneath Grindavík.”

Comments, tips or story ideas? Contact Eilís at eilis.quinn(at) 

Related stories from around the North: 

Iceland: Icelandic volcano could erupt for years, creating ‘perfect tourist’ attraction, Thomson Reuters

United States: Alaska’s tiny, restless Bogoslof volcano erupts again – and researchers won’t be going there anytime soon, Alaska Dispatch News

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