Iceland Allocates Millions for Lava Cooling Equipment Skip to content

Iceland Allocates Millions for Lava Cooling Equipment

By Ragnar Tómas

Grindavík volcanic eruption January 2024
Photo: Golli. January 2024 eruption by Grindavík.

The Icelandic government has approved nearly ISK half a billion for equipment to cool lava near Grindavík and Svartsengi, RÚV reports. This equipment, which can also combat wildfires, is crucial for protecting infrastructure where barriers may fail, the Director of the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management has stated.

A last line of defence

The Minister of Finance has approved a funding allocation of nearly ISK half a billion [$3.6 million / €3.3 million] to the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management for the purchase of equipment intended for cooling lava near the town of Grindavík and Svartsengi on the Reykjanes peninsula.

As noted by RÚV, Finance Minister Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson announced the funding at a government meeting on Tuesday, citing the purchase and rental of equipment designed to cool lava near Grindavík, Svartsengi, and other locations where barriers are either nonexistent or inadequate to halt or redirect lava flow from critical infrastructure. The funding represents the maximum amount to be spent, and price comparisons have been conducted to limit costs as much as possible.

Read More: Wall of Fire (On the Construction of Lava Barriers on Reykjanes)

In an interview with RÚV yesterday, Víðir Reynisson, Director of the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management, stated that delivering water to Svartsengi for lava cooling, which requires large and powerful pumps due to the considerable distance the water must be transported, posed a significant challenge.

The equipment, however, can be used for more than just lava cooling: “This equipment, because it is essentially firefighting equipment, is also intended for laying long pipelines to combat wildfires that have troubled us around these eruptions,” Víðir explained.

The equipment will be stored in portable units and deployed as needed. Víðir emphasised the equipment’s importance for protecting infrastructure: “If the barriers were to fail, and we have seen them severely tested in recent surges, with the lava having risen to the top of the barriers in many places, we want to have what we call a ‘last line of defence’ if something unexpected happens.”

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