Icelandic authorities will not attempt to divert lava from the ongoing eruption in Geldingadalir away from the adjacent Suðurstrandarvegur road. The eruption has been ongoing for more than three months now and its growing lava field is expected to reach the road in one to three weeks. Efforts will instead be focused on protecting the nearby town of Grindavík and Svartsengi power station if necessary.
“We’ve had many meetings over the past days and weeks and assess whether it’s feasible to protect Suðurstrandarvegur,” Fannar Jónasson, Mayor of Grindavík, told RÚV. “After a thorough review it was decided that it wouldn’t work, both for technical reasons, due to time, and not least due to the cost.” Fannar says authorities are now looking further ahead to see what infrastructure will need protecting if the eruption continues for many more months. “If it continues for a few months or years we might have to respond so it doesn’t flow to Svartsengi [power station] or even Grindavík. We want to have enough time to prevent that and create powerful barriers. That wouldn’t happen for a long time but structures are being designed nevertheless that would provide protection in that case.”
While geologists say there is no way to predict how long the Reykjanes eruption will last, several have stated that it could be a shield volcano in the making. Shield volcanoes are formed by long, slow eruptions like the one in Geldingadalir where lava forms a gently sloping volcano over time. Such eruptions have rarely occurred in Iceland since the end of the Ice Age but they can last years at a time.