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Maps of the the ongoing volcanic eruptions in Grindavik, Iceland

Published:

At 6 a.m. Thursday, a new eruption occurred on the Reykjanes Peninsula of Iceland. It is the second eruption to occur on the island this year and the third in the past three months.


Eyjafjallajökull volcano

erupted in 2008

Eyjafjallajökull volcano

erupted in 2008

Eyjafjallajökull volcano

erupted in 2008

Within hours, Icelandic media was reporting that Thursday’s fissure eruption was already subsiding, but damage was done with the lava crossing the main road that leads north, and a hot water pipe had been damaged. Residents have been asked to limit their electricity and hot water usage; temperatures were expected to be between 12 and 30 degrees Fahrenheit over the next two days.


Hot water pipeline

cut by lava

Aerial image source:

Iceland Civil Protection

Hot water pipeline

cut by lava

Aerial image source:

Iceland Civil Protection

Hot water pipeline cut by lava

Aerial image source:

Iceland Civil Protection

Hot water pipeline cut by lava

Aerial image source: Iceland Civil Protection

The pattern of eruptions in this area began in 2021, with a new eruption once a year located in a relatively isolated area. However, in November signs of a new eruption were pointing to areas situated farther west and much closer to the fishing village of Grindavík and other important infrastructure, including a power plant and the Blue Lagoon, a popular tourist spa. The government began to build defensive walls in the area to protect these assets.


Defensive walls begin to be built

in November/December 2023.

Defensive

walls begin

to be built

in Nov./Dec.

2023

Defensive walls

begin to be built

Nov./Dec. 2023

Defensive walls

begin to be built

Nov./Dec. 2023

Beginning on Dec. 18, eruptions have occurred with more frequency, and residents of Grindavík have been forced to leave. The future of the town itself is very much up in the air, as cracks have surfaced making the current conditions uninhabitable. Below is an aerial image on Jan. 14 showing how the wall barrier was, for the most part, able to deflect the lava flow from the town, although a fissure did form beyond the barrier and destroyed three homes. Plans are being drawn up to have future barrier walls built much closer to the town’s homes.


A smaller fissure

formed beyond the

wall barrier and

destroyed

three houses

Lava was able

to breach

the barrier

here

A smaller fissure

formed beyond

the wall barrier and

destroyed

three houses

Lava was

able to breach

the barrier here

Lava was able to

breach the barrier here

A smaller fissure formed beyond the wall

barrier and destroyed three houses

Lava was able to

breach the barrier here

A smaller fissure formed beyond the wall

barrier and destroyed three houses

Sources: Iceland GeoSurvey, National Land Survey of Iceland, cartographic data via Ragnar Heiðar Þrastarson from the Icelandic Met Office, the Institute of Earth Sciences at the University of Iceland, the Icelandic Institute of Natural History and Statistics Iceland.

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