"Most Powerful Eruption" in Recent Years Slowing, May Stop Later Today Skip to content

“Most Powerful Eruption” in Recent Years Slowing, May Stop Later Today

By Andie Sophia Fontaine

volcano, 16.3.24, Reykjanes eruption, eldgos
Photo: Veðurstofan/Safetravel Facebook.

The eruption on Reykjanes peninsula in southwest Iceland which began last night is, in the words of volcanologist Magnús Tumi Guðmundsson, the most powerful of the recent Reykjanes eruptions, telling Vísir:

“This seems to be the most powerful eruption to date. The fissure is about three and a half kilometres long, very active. It reaches from the northern face of Hagafell and northwards to Stóri Skógfell. All of it is very active. … Now it is just a question of how quickly it slows down.” As of this morning, the eruption is now flowing from two fissures, with a combined length of a few hundred metres long.

As reported, the Blue Lagoon and the nearby town of Grindavík have both been evacuated, and electricity to the town has been turned off.

The eruption also does appear to be slowing down, and could even end later today. However, the big uncertainty is how far the lava–which is still flowing–will extend.

There have been two primary lava flows: one flowing roughly west and the other south. The western lava flow has already crossed Grindavíkurvegur, the road which connects Grindavík to Reykjanesbraut, which is the main highway to the greater capital area. The primary concern with this lava flow right now is protecting Njarðvíkuræð, a water line extending from the Svartsengi power plant to the town of Reykjanesbær. Local Suðurnes news reports that efforts are underway to bury this water line in earth to protect it.

The southern lava flow was diverted away from Grindavík thanks to earthen walls constructed for this purpose, and is reaching towards Suðurstrandarvegur, which is the highway that runs along the southern coast of Reykjanes peninsula. At the time of this writing, the lava is only about 450 metres from this road. In the event the lava reaches and covers that road, Bergþóra Kristinsdóttir of the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration told reporters they would build a new one, or move it from the affected area.

Víðir Reynisson, the department director of Civil Defense, added that if the lava flow extends even farther south and reaches the sea, there is the very real danger of a steam explosion, which in turn would release a great deal of toxic gases.

Below, you can see a gallery of photos of the eruption posted by Civil Defense (direct link here):

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