a new volcanic eruption causes a fault of more than 3 kilometers

a new volcanic eruption causes a fault of more than 3 kilometers
a new volcanic eruption causes a fault of more than 3 kilometers

A new volcanic eruption broke out north of the town of Grindavik, in the southwest of Iceland this Wednesday, May 29. The fifth in the region since December.

A short story in a long series. A new volcanic eruption broke out this Wednesday, May 29 on the Reykjanes peninsula, in the southwest of Iceland, announced the Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO), shortly after the evacuation by the city authorities neighboring Grindavik.

“An eruption began near Sundhnúksgígar, north of Grindavík,” the institute said in a statement, some three weeks after the end of a previous eruption that had lasted since March 16.

“The volcanic plume reached an altitude of approximately 3.5 kilometers at the start of the eruption” and the length of the fault was estimated at more than a kilometer,” the IMO wrote on its site.

A huge cloud of white smoke stood out against the blue sky, and glowing orange lava gushed abundantly from the ground.

According to volcanologist Benedikt Ofeigsson, interviewed by the Icelandic public channel RUV, the fault widened and measured more than 2.5 kilometers long one hour after the start of the eruption.

The Icelandic Meteorological Office later announced on its website on Wednesday that the fault had widened to 3.4 kilometers.

Keflavik Airport, Iceland’s largest, remains open and “operating as usual”, Icelandic airport operator ISAVIA said on its website. Civil protection nevertheless announced a state of emergency in the country.

The fifth eruption in the region since December

This is the fifth eruption in the region since December. The IMO had reported “intense seismic activity” before the eruption on Wednesday. On Monday, the Icelandic office announced that around 400 earthquakes had been measured over the past seven days near the Sundhnúksgígar crater row.

Eruptions in the same area in December, January and February led to the evacuation of nearly 4,000 residents of the small port town of Grindavík, affected by the lava, in November.

A few diehards had returned to live in their homes in the least risky neighborhoods, but the overwhelming majority of residents had packed their bags and sold their property to the state.

In the days before the eruption on Wednesday, around 20 million cubic meters of magma had accumulated in the magma chamber beneath Svartsengi. This place is home to a geothermal power plant which supplies electricity and hot water to 30,000 people on the Reykjanes peninsula.

It has been operating, as a precaution, largely remotely since the first eruption in the region in December. Earthen dikes were erected around the power station to protect it.

The popular geothermal baths of the Blue Lagoon, a major tourist attraction in the country, also evacuated all their facilities on Wednesday, a few hours before the start of the eruption.

Iceland is home to 33 active volcanic systems, the highest number in Europe. It is located on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a fault in the ocean floor that separates the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates and causes earthquakes and eruptions.

The activity recorded since 2021 in this Reykjanes peninsula testifies to the awakening, after 800 years, of a long fault allowing the rise of magma, volcanologists agree.

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