A volcanic eruption on the Reykjanes peninsula remains a likely outcome, according to a notice from the Icelandic Met Office today. Crustal uplift continues in the Svartsengi area and is now at a higher level than in early November when a magma intrusion formed under the town of Grindavík. The town’s population of over 3,000 people was evacuated November 10 and remains displaced, after seismic activity and a magma dike opened crevasses and damaged roads, homes, and infrastructure.
Crustal uplift has slowed down over the weekend, but remains at a high level, the Met Office has confirmed. “As long as magma continues to accumulate by Svartsengi, there remains likelihood of a new magma propagation and also an eruption,” the notice states. If a magma propagation occurs, the most likely scenario is that the magma will propagate from Svartsengi into the previously formed dike that formed on November 10. The most likely place for an eruption would then be north of Grindavík, in the direction of Hagafell mountain and the Sundhjúksgígar area. Seismic activity has remained stable and low for the last few days and mostly contained near Hagafell.
Estimate of ISK 10 billion in Grindavík damages
The damage to homes and infrastructure in Grindavík could amount to ISK 10 billion [$71.4 million, €66.3 million], according to the director of the Natural Catastrophe Insurance of Iceland. Before paying out damages, authorities must reconsider the town’s zoning plan and whether some areas will be deemed no longer safe for residential housing. 230 properties have been reported damaged.
Blue Lagoon, the popular tourist destination on Reykjanes peninsula, announced Friday that its current closure will remain in effect until Thursday, at which point the situation will be reassessed. There remains no official estimate on if or when an eruption could occur. It is also not clear when it would be safe for Grindavík residents to return to their homes.