Lava Flow Not Likely to Reach Southern Highway or Sea Skip to content

Lava Flow Not Likely to Reach Southern Highway or Sea

By Andie Sophia Fontaine

As the situation stands now, it is highly unlikely that the southern lava flow of last night’s eruption on the Reykjanes peninsula of southwestern Iceland will reach Suðurstrandarvegur, the road that runs along the south coast of Reykjanes.

As reported, the fissure which erupted between Hagafell and Stóri Skógfell sent lava flowing both westerly and southerly. The westerly lava flow ceased to advance this afternoon, but the southerly lava flow, while diverted away from the town of Grindavík by earthen walls, continued to advance.

This raised cause for concern, for several reasons. If it reached Suðurstrandarvegur that would naturally further impede traffic to and from central Reykjanes; the road Grindavíkurvegur, which connects Grindavík to the Reykjanesbraut highway, has already been overrun with lava.

Roads, however, can be detoured. Of greater concern was the lava reaching an area farm south of that road, and then the sea. Were that to happen, natural hazards specialist Pálmi Erlendsson said, it would release a steam plume containing toxic gases.

At that time, the lava was advancing south at a rate of about 20 metres per hour, and was 400 metres away from Suðurstrandarvegur. The Icelandic Met Office now states that this lava has reduced to some 12 metres an hour, and is still 200 to 300 metres away from Suðurstrandarvegur. Even if that did reach the road, it would need to travel another 350 metres to reach the see.

Given how much the lava has slowed over this period of time, and the distance it has yet to traverse, it is now considered unlikely that the lava will even reach Suðurstrandarvegur, let alone the sea. That said, seismic activity in Reykjanes is likely to continue for a while to come yet.

Sign up for our weekly newsletter

Get news from Iceland, photos, and in-depth stories delivered to your inbox every week!

* indicates required

Subscribe to Iceland Review

In-depth stories and high-quality photography showcasing life in Iceland!