Barrier Construction Temporarily Halted Due to Poor Weather

Reykjanes peninsula

Construction of protective barriers in the Reykjanes peninsula has been temporarily halted due to the Icelandic Meteorological Office’s difficulty in monitoring air quality amid poor weather. The project, involving over 50 workers alternating between 12-hour shifts, aims to protect the Svartsengi Geothermal Power Plant in the event of an eruption.

12-hour shifts

About 165 earthquakes have been recorded near the town of Grindavík on the Reykjanes peninsula since midnight. All of them were below magnitude two and were detected along the magma conduit. According to the Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO), this number is somewhat fewer than in recent days, when about 1,500 to 1,800 earthquakes were measured per day.

Due to the IMO’s challenges in monitoring air quality in the area due to poor weather conditions, construction of the protective barriers near the Svartsengi Power Plant was temporarily suspended last night and today. (Svartsengi provides hot water, cold water, and electricity to residents on the Reykjanes peninsula.) In an interview with Mbl.is today, Arnar Smári Þorvarðarson, a construction engineer at Verkís, stated that the team would reassess the situation before potentially resuming work later today, just before the next night shift begins.

Arnar Smári noted that the first phase of the project, which includes building barriers three metres high, is nearing completion. This progress is particularly evident in the area stretching from east of Grindavíkurvegur to Sýlingarfell, where a relatively tall barrier has been erected. The construction initially started at the northern end of Sýlingarfell and has been progressing westward.

Involving over 50 workers, the project operates continuously with 12-hour shifts. Arnar Smári observed that the determination of the barriers’ height follows the guidance of volcanologists and predictions about lava flows, targeting at least three metres but potentially higher in some regions to adapt to the landscape.

The well-being of the workers is emphasised, with supervisors urging them to voice any discomfort and offering reassignments when necessary. According to reports, the team is managing well in these challenging conditions.