Developments in the Reykjanes peninsula are now similar to the week leading up the the most recent volcanic eruption in Sundhnúkagígar, experts say. The latest data from the Icelandic Meteorological office shows that on Christmas Day, crustal uplift by Svartsengi was at the same level as it was on December 11 and 12, a week before the volcanic eruption began on December 18. These are indications of an eruption around New Year’s Eve, experts told Morgunblaðið.
“It could happen in the first week of January,” Volcanologist Þorvaldur Þórðarson said, adding that he expected the eruption, if it happens, to be similar to the last one in scope or possibly smaller. “All things being equal, it should be similar. Maybe not as powerful to begin with, but with a longer duration then,” he said.
50-60 Christmas celebrations
Fannar Jónsson, mayor of Grindavík, said there is much uncertainty about the situation. The town of 3,800 people was evacuated on November 10 due to seismic activity. The inhabitants were allowed to return on December 23 to stay overnight in their houses over the holidays. Businesses reopened and their employees can go to work, but aside from that, no people are permitted to pass the roadblocks into town.
“We expect the situation to be reassessed between Christmas and New Year’s Eve and, depending on what happens, the Suðurnes Police Commissioner will make a statement about where we go from there,” Fannar said.
According to Fannar, people celebrated Christmas in around 50 or 60 homes in Grindavík. Fannar said that he and his wife didn’t celebrate in Grindavík themselves. “We stayed with our daughter and enjoyed her hospitality,” Fannar said. “We’ll be away for New Year’s as well, staying with our other daughter, they both live in the capital area. We had a cozy and festive time and I hope other Grindavík resident also did.”