The geology in the area of the proposed Vestmann Island (Vestmannaeyjar) tunnel is the most difficult seen in Iceland to date said engineer Björn Hardarson yesterday in an interview with Icelandic Broadcasting System, RÚV. According to the results of independent scientists a tunnel would cost between ISK 70 and 100 billion.
RÚV further reported that the tunnel would need to go down as far as 220 meters, and that extensive and expensive research is needed to further map out the geology of the area. It is, however, known that the rock formations are very brittle and porous; and some suspect there could be geothermal activity in the area. Traditional tunnel excavation techniques are not thought to be able to handle some of the conditions.
The report by the independent scientists was commissioned by the Icelandic Road Authority.
An earlier report by the Economics Institute of the University of Iceland concluded that a tunnel to Vestmann Islands would only be economically feasible if the cost did not exceed ISK 30 billion.
Approximately 5,000 people live on the main island of Vestmannaeyjar, Heimaey, about 15 kilometers south of the southern coast of Iceland. The remaining islands are uninhabited.