OAN’s Stephanie Stahl
9:19 AM – Saturday, November 11, 2023
Iceland has officially declared a state of emergency, prompting authorities to advise the evacuation of the coastal town of Grindavik as a series of intense earthquakes in the southwest, potentially linked to an imminent volcanic eruption, raised concerns.
On Friday alone, nearly 800 earthquakes were recorded between midnight and 2 p.m., with the shallowest at a depth of 3-3.5 kilometers (1.86-2.18 miles), as reported by the Icelandic Meteorological Office.
Evacuation measures have been put in place for Grindavik, home to approximately 4,000 residents, situated three kilometers southwest of the area where the seismic activity was documented on Friday.
As a precautionary measure, the ‘Blue Lagoon,’ a popular tourist destination renowned for its geothermal spas near Grindavik, was closed on Thursday.
Iceland’s Civil Protection Agency disclosed on Friday that a forming magma tunnel poses a threat to Grindavik. However, as of Friday evening, it remains uncertain whether and where the magma might breach the surface.
“Earthquakes may become bigger than those that have already occurred, and this sequence of events could lead to an eruption. However, there are still no signs that the magma is nearing the surface. Its progress is being closely monitored,” the Civil Protection Agency said.
Magma, a blend of molten and semi-molten rock beneath the Earth’s surface, has the potential to trigger an eruption when it reaches the surface, becoming lava.
Officials have advised residents to evacuate calmly, emphasizing that there is currently no immediate threat.
“We want to reiterate that residents MUST evacuate their homes and leave the town. But we also want to reiterate that this is not an emergency evacuation, there is plenty of time to prepare, secure things and drive out of town calmly,” the Civil Protection Agency said.
“It is clear that we are dealing with events that we Icelanders have not experienced before, at least not since the eruption in Vestmannaeyjar. We faced that together, we will face this together and we will not lose heart,” the Civil Protection Agency added.
Iceland has the highest count of active volcanic systems in Europe, with 33 currently in operation, and has experienced thousands of recorded tremors since the end of October.
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