Grindavík residents cannot return home until the ongoing land uplift ceases. Despite geological challenges, including a newly formed 25.7-meter-deep hole, Grindavík’s business sector is showing signs of revival.
Waiting on zero
Earlier this week, Víðir Reynisson, Head of the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management, fielded questions from Grindavík residents on the news programme Torgið. When asked about the prospect of a homecoming, Víðir remarked that Grindavík residents would be unable to return home until land uplift — the geological process where the Earth’s surface rises due to tectonic activities like magma intrusion — in town ceases.
Víðir noted that the land was currently rising faster near the Svartsengi Geothermal Power Plant than before November 10, when the magma intrusion extended into Grindavík, necessitating the evacuation of the town. “This geological event is far from over,” Víðir observed.
According to Víðir, only when the land uplift had reached a zero point could any discussion of homecoming commence. “Only then can we possibly start counting some days until it can be declared safe to return home.”
A deep hole
Examples of how the ongoing land uplift is affecting Grindavík have been noticeable over the past few days. On Wednesday, a deep hole was discovered in one of the neighbourhoods in Grindavík. When RÚV arrived on the scene, Ármann Höskuldsson, a professor of volcanology at the University of Iceland, was conducting measurements:
“This hole exemplifies the cracks emerging in the area as the land shifts apart. Unlike solid rock, the soil doesn’t move in unison when it fractures, causing it to fill the cracks. The crack we’re examining is approximately 25.7 metres deep, reaching the water’s surface, which means it’s even deeper below the water,” Ármann explained. “Remarkably, the groundwater level here is at 25.7 metres depth, a significant depth for such cracks.”
The hole is part of an extensive fissure bisecting the town into eastern and western sections. Regarding the type of water at the bottom of the hole, Ármann was uncertain: “I haven’t tested it, but it’s likely just groundwater.”
Ármann expressed no alarm over the presence of groundwater in the hole. “Groundwater is a common feature beneath us, no matter where we are in this area … it’s not a cause for concern.”
Despite the challenges posed by holes, cracks, and other damages, Grindavík’s business sector is showing signs of revival. Fannar Jónasson, the town’s mayor, expressed optimism in a recent interview with Vísir.
“We’re seeing a variety of businesses expressing interest in reopening. With available housing and machinery for production and services, people are returning and taking advantage of these opportunities to keep their businesses afloat,” he stated.
Fannar emphasised the growing sense of community and mutual support in Grindavík.
“It’s great to see how supportive everyone is. Those working need access to food and services. There are also machine shops and wood workshops , among other businesses, which are reopening. So it is all interconnected, and life here is in its infancy, once again, ushering in what we hope marks the start of a positive era.”