January 2024 Reykjanes Eruption: New Fissure, Race Against Time to Protect Grindavík Skip to content
Photo: Civic Protection.

January 2024 Reykjanes Eruption: New Fissure, Race Against Time to Protect Grindavík

The Icelandic Met Office has now reported that a second fissure has opened just outside of Grindavík, just after 12:00 today, approximately four hours after the first eruption that began in Reykjanes this morning.

The new fissure is just outside of the town limits, and scientists at the Met Office believe that new fissures may open.

A race against time to save Grindavík

Because this morning’s eruption opened up both inside and outside of the earthen walls which were built over the past month to defend Grindavík from a lava flow, rescue workers have been racing against time to build new earthen walls. Lava had been flowing, slowly but surely, towards Grindavíkurvegur, the road which connects the town to Reykjanesbraut, the main highway between Keflavík and the greater Reykjavík area. At around 1:00 PM, the lava overtook the road.

Haraldur Haraldsson, director of the Suðurnes Rescue Squad, spoke to RÚV, who was at the scene where backhoes were speedily building earthen walls near Grindavíkurvegur.

“The lava is quickly advancing,” he said. “The heroes who are here in the area are closing the final gap to the road. I’d guess that after half an hour, forty minutes, the lava will be where we’re standing right now.”

At the time he made this statement, the lava was 40 to 50 metres away from the road.

Town evacuated the day before the eruption

Grindavík was evacuated yesterday due to increased seismic activity in the area, and magma measurements that pointed to an increased likelihood of an eruption.

The fissure which opened this morning, near Sundhnúkur, north of Grindavík, is about 840 metres long. Natural hazards expert Kristín Jónsdóttir echoed sentiments of others that this eruption is less powerful than the one that occurred in the early morning hours of December 18th.

That said, volcanologist Þorvaldur Þórðarson told reporters that less powerful lava eruptions can often last for longer than more explosive ones. As such, the lava flow may last considerably longer than the previous eruption.

People warned to stay away from eruption site

Víðir Reynisson, department head at Civic Protection, emphasised the importance of people avoiding the area.

“We have needed to repeat that which we’ve been saying, that people should not come [to the eruption],” he told reporters. “The area near the eruption is obviously very dangerous as we’ve been saying for some time now.”

For more in-depth coverage on the eruption and its impact, read our Ask Iceland Review article on the subject.

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