Reykjanes Avoids Frost Damage

reykjanes eruption at sundhnúk february 2024

Very little or no frost damage seems to have occurred in Reykjanes peninsula buildings after lava from the February 8 volcanic eruption damaged a hot water pipeline. Both homes and industrial properties were without water for days while work on a new pipeline took place.

According to an Mbl.is inquiry, no reports of frost damage were sent to the distribution company HS Veitur, to the Natural catastrophe insurance of Iceland, or to insurance companies TM, Sjóvá or VÍS. No frost damage occurred at any institutions of the Reykjanesbær municipality.

A concerted effort

Páll Erland, director of HS Veitur, said that even though assistance was requested in multiple houses, no frost damage has been reported. He told Mbl.is that this could be considered a miracle, especially after days of no hot water available for heating. He said that some damage could come to light later on, especially now that hot water is being returned to the system. “This looks very good, however, as it stands today,” Páll said.

Páll added that success during this challenging time is owed to Reykjanes residents who obeyed electricity use guidelines during the hot water outage. The Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management has dispatched a team of plumbers over the last few days to help HS Veitur secure hot water flow to Reykjanes buildings. Tanker trucks were also sent from neighbouring Hafnarfjörður, delivering 1,800 tonnes of hot water to the area.

Insurance cases avoided

Frost damage due to a lack of hot water falls through the cracks of both traditional insurance and natural catastrophe insurance. It was therefore important for residents of Reykjanes to avoid frost damage after the hot water pipeline was damaged by lava flow.

Grindavík Begins Barrier Construction Amid Eruption Fears

Reykjanes peninsula

The construction of a protective barrier north of the town of Grindavík began yesterday. Once finished, the barrier will stretch an estimated two kilometres. Contractors will work around the clock and coordinate with the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management to ensure safety.

Permits in, work begins

On December 29, the authorities announced plans to construct a protective barrier north of Grindavík, located on the southern coast of the Reykjanes Peninsula, as a precaution against potential volcanic eruptions. As reported by RÚV, as soon as the Ministry of Justice had received all necessary permits by noon yesterday, construction of the barrier began.

Drawing on lessons from a previous barrier project around the Svartsengi Geothermal Plant, which has yet to be completed, contractors are utilising large excavators that have proven highly effective in digging up material to be used for the project. Materials will also be sourced from a nearby quarry.

The entire protective barrier is expected to be two kilometres in length, and the first section of the barrier is estimated to take about three weeks to complete. The project will cost an estimated ISK 6 billion [$44 million / €40 million].

Working around the clock

Víðir Reynisson, Head of the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management, told RÚV yesterday that numerous contractors would be involved in the project and that they would work around the clock.

He explained that while contractors would use their personal vehicles to access the site, they’ll maintain direct communication with the DCPEM’s control centre to ensure that they can be promptly directed to evacuate if necessary. “People are prepared for an eruption at any moment,” Víðir stated. 

As noted by RÚV, the land uplift near the Svartsengi Geothermal Power Plant has slowed down, which could be a sign that another volcanic eruption is imminent (which also was the case before the last eruption in December).

Víðir also noted that the authorities had advised the people of Grindavik not to stay overnight in town, although they were within their rights to do so; acknowledging that some residents had no other place to stay, Víðir asked these individuals to remain alert to the possibility of an eruption in or near Grindavík. To ensure residents are alerted promptly, especially at night, a text-message system and two police cars are on standby to notify people if another eruption occurs.

60 earthquakes since midnight

As reported by RÚV this morning, there have been no changes in the activity on the Reykjanes Peninsula since yesterday. According to the Icelandic Meteorological Office, about 60 earthquakes have been detected since midnight, with no observed changes in land uplift.

Home for the Holidays: Grindavík Welcomes Back Residents

Grindavík - Þorbjörn

Beginning tomorrow, December 23, Grindavík residents will be allowed to return and stay overnight in town. Following the subsidence of the volcanic eruption near Sýlingafell, the authorities have decided to downgrade the alert status in Grindavík from an Emergency Phase to a Danger Phase.

Christmas after all

Beginning tomorrow, December 23 (The Mass of St. Thorlac, i.e. Þorláksmessa), the residents of Grindavík are permitted to enter and even stay overnight in the town, Vísir reports. Christmas in Grindavík will, therefore, be celebrated after all, at least by those Grindavík residents who wish to do so. This was noted in an announcement from the Police Commissioner of Suðurnes. The situation will be reassessed on December 27. 

The statement also notes that starting from December 23, roadblocks will be established on Grindavíkurvegur, Nesvegur, and Suðurstrandarvegur. These measures allow Grindavík residents, business owners, and their employees to bypass the roadblocks at any time and permit overnight stays within the town. However, access beyond these roadblocks is currently restricted to unrelated individuals, while major media outlets are granted passage.

Alert status lowered to Danger

As noted by Vísir, experts from the Icelandic MET Office at 9.30 AM today to review the latest data. At 1:00 PM, the MET Office held another meeting with the Police Commissioner in Suðurnes and the Commissioner of the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management.

Based on the latest risk assessment map from the Icelandic MET Office, Grindavík still faces a significant risk of natural disasters. Following indications that the volcanic eruption near Sundhnúkagígar, which started on December 18, has ceased, the National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police, in consultation with the Police Commissioner of Suðurnes, has opted to lower the alert status from an Emergency Phase to a Danger Phase.

Grindavík Awaits End of Land Uplift for Return Home

Grindavík

Grindavík residents cannot return home until the ongoing land uplift ceases. Despite geological challenges, including a newly formed 25.7-meter-deep hole, Grindavík’s business sector is showing signs of revival.

Waiting on zero

Earlier this week, Víðir Reynisson, Head of the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management, fielded questions from Grindavík residents on the news programme Torgið. When asked about the prospect of a homecoming, Víðir remarked that Grindavík residents would be unable to return home until land uplift — the geological process where the Earth’s surface rises due to tectonic activities like magma intrusion — in town ceases.

Víðir noted that the land was currently rising faster near the Svartsengi Geothermal Power Plant than before November 10, when the magma intrusion extended into Grindavík, necessitating the evacuation of the town. “This geological event is far from over,” Víðir observed.

According to Víðir, only when the land uplift had reached a zero point could any discussion of homecoming commence. “Only then can we possibly start counting some days until it can be declared safe to return home.”

A deep hole

Examples of how the ongoing land uplift is affecting Grindavík have been noticeable over the past few days. On Wednesday, a deep hole was discovered in one of the neighbourhoods in Grindavík. When RÚV arrived on the scene, Ármann Höskuldsson, a professor of volcanology at the University of Iceland, was conducting measurements:

“This hole exemplifies the cracks emerging in the area as the land shifts apart. Unlike solid rock, the soil doesn’t move in unison when it fractures, causing it to fill the cracks. The crack we’re examining is approximately 25.7 metres deep, reaching the water’s surface, which means it’s even deeper below the water,” Ármann explained. “Remarkably, the groundwater level here is at 25.7 metres depth, a significant depth for such cracks.”

The hole is part of an extensive fissure bisecting the town into eastern and western sections. Regarding the type of water at the bottom of the hole, Ármann was uncertain: “I haven’t tested it, but it’s likely just groundwater.”

Ármann expressed no alarm over the presence of groundwater in the hole. “Groundwater is a common feature beneath us, no matter where we are in this area … it’s not a cause for concern.”

Awaken, industry

Despite the challenges posed by holes, cracks, and other damages, Grindavík’s business sector is showing signs of revival. Fannar Jónasson, the town’s mayor, expressed optimism in a recent interview with Vísir.

“We’re seeing a variety of businesses expressing interest in reopening. With available housing and machinery for production and services, people are returning and taking advantage of these opportunities to keep their businesses afloat,” he stated.

Fannar emphasised the growing sense of community and mutual support in Grindavík.

“It’s great to see how supportive everyone is. Those working need access to food and services. There are also machine shops and wood workshops , among other businesses, which are reopening. So it is all interconnected, and life here is in its infancy, once again, ushering in what we hope marks the start of a positive era.”

 

Out of Harm’s Way

grindavík evacuation

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Months Before Grindavík Residents Can Return Home

It will be months before all residents of the Southwest Iceland town of Grindavík can return home. Iceland’s government held a press conference at 11:30 AM this morning to present an action plan on housing support for the town’s residents, who were evacuated from their homes on November 10 amid powerful earthquakes and the threat of a volcanic eruption.

Financial support and rental apartments

Grindavík residents will receive financial support to help them cover rent payments on temporary housing. The amount of support will be based on the number of people in each household. Rental company Bríet will buy up to 150 apartments on the market in order to make them available to displaced Grindavík residents, and rental company Bjarg will buy up to 60 specifically intended for lower-income households.

A working group is also exploring the possibility of importing housing units. Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir says that housing support measures will be discussed in Parliament next week. Katrín stated that she expects a bill on financial support for Grindavík residents to be passed next week as well.

Utilities infrastructure to determine when residents can return

When Grindavík residents will be permitted to return home depends on the state of the town’s utilities infrastructure, some of which was damaged by powerful earthquakes earlier this month. Grindavík municipal authorities are to have the state of utilities infrastructure assessed. It is possible that residents will be permitted to move back into the town in stages, as the amount of damage varies between districts.

The town remains under an evacuation order for the time being. While the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management have lowered their emergency phase to a danger phase, experts say there is still a possibility of volcanic eruption in the area. The most likely location of an eruption is currently considered to be near Hagafell mountain, northeast of Grindavík.

Hundreds of Minor Earthquakes Registered Since Midnight

Grindavík - Þorbjörn

Around 500 earthquakes, most of which were relatively minor, have been registered near Mount Hagafell on the Reykjanes peninsula since midnight, Vísir reports. A service centre offering support and counselling for Grindavík residents will open in Reykjavík’s Customs House today.

Largest of magnitude 2.6

Bjarki Kaldalóns Friis, a natural hazards specialist, was on duty at the Icelandic MET Office last night. Speaking to Vísir this morning, Bjarki described the seismic activity on the Reykjanes peninsula as having followed a familiar pattern. “There have been around 500 earthquakes since midnight. The largest was of magnitude 2.6, occurring 3.12 AM,” Bjarki remarked.

Bjarki noted that the epicentre was near Mount Hagafell, east of Mount Þorbjörn, where most of the seismic activity was concentrated last night. This is consistent with the pattern over the past few days. “This is right in the middle of the volcanic fissure, more or less.”

According to the Icelandic MET Office, the gradual decrease in the intensity of seismic activity over the past few days owes to the significant stress release due to earthquakes in the area and the deposition due to the magma intrusion. As a result of this stress release, it is likely that the magma has an easy path to the surface.

Seismologist Kristín Jónsdóttir told Vísir yesterday that volcanic tremors and shallow earthquakes will be measured hours before an eruption begins. Geophysicist Freysteinn Sigmundsson added that the warning for an eruption would be at least half an hour.

Customs House to become makeshift service centre

The Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management announced last night that a service centre for the residents of Grindvík would open in the Customs House (i.e. Tollhúsið) in Reykjavík. The service centre, which will offer community gatherings, support, counselling, and information, will be open between 10 AM and 6 PM on weekdays.

In an interview on the radio programme Bítið this morning, Víðir Reynisson, Head of the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management, discussed, among other things, the role of the service centre. “It will afford the people of Grindvík a place to meet, but equally important, we plan to gather experts who can answer questions, including those related to damage claims. We will also provide psychological support and help people to come together.”

The press has been requested to avoid the service centre area, with the municipal authorities in Grindavík aiming to invite the media for a visit later today. Víðir also stated that the authorities had drawn up plans to allow select Grindavík residents brief visits to their homes to retrieve valuables today. “There are a few residents who have been unable to do so, and we aim to resolve this today.”

Emergency Phase Declared and Grindavík Evacuated

Evacuation of Grindavík on the Reykjanes peninsula

The town of Grindavík on the Reykjanes peninsula has been succesfully evacuated amid concerns that the intrusion of magma, believed to extend beneath the town, may reach the surface. An emergency phase has been declared, and the Red Cross has set up three emergency relief centres.

Evacuation complete

The Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management, in collaboration with the Suðurnes Police, has declared an emergency phase owing to seismic activity in the Reykjanes peninsula. A mandatory evacuation of the town of Grindavík has been completed. The evacuation order was put into effect amid concerns that the intrusion of magma, which is believed to extend beneath the town of Grindavík, may reach the surface. The volume of magma that has accumulated has surpassed that of the previous three eruptions in the area.

A residential facility for disabled individuals and a nursing home for the elderly, severely damaged in recent earthquakes, were evacuated last night prior to the mandatory evacuation being imposed.

Not since the Westman Islands

During a press conference after 11 PM yesterday, Víðir Reynisson, Head of the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management, reminded residents that the evacuation was mandatory and was being carried out with the safety of the residents in mind. The Icelandic Meteorological Office’s instruments show clear signs of magma movement towards the surface.

“It is clear that we are dealing with events that we Icelanders have not experienced before, at least not since the eruption in the Westman Islands. We faced that together, we will face this together, and we will not be disheartened,” Víðir observed.

Grindavíkurvegur, a road leading to Grindavík from Reykjanesbrautin, was also closed last night due to a large crack that formed in the middle of it. The Road Administration has completed emergency repairs, but the road will remain closed.

Three emergency relief centres opened

The Red Cross has opened three emergency relief centres. These are located at Vallarskóli in Selfoss, the sports hall near Sunnubraut in Reykjanesbær, and Kórinn in Kópavogur. Domino’s has announced that it will deliver pizza to individuals staying at relief centres.

Residents of Grindavík who do not go to the emergency relief centres are asked to report their location by calling 1717. For more information on the seismic activity in Reykjanes, click here.

This article will be updated.

Over 300 Tremors Recorded in Reykjanes Since Midnight

Grindavík - Þorbjörn

Over 300 tremors have been recorded on the Reykjanes peninsula since midnight, RÚV reports. Despite there being no signs of an imminent volcanic eruption, the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management is meeting this morning to assess the situation.

Residents “unsettled” by tremors

An earthquake of magnitude 3.7 was recorded northwest of Grindavík just before 1 AM this morning, with its origin traced to a depth of about five kilometres. Since midnight, the area has experienced approximately 300 tremors, several of which ranged between magnitudes 2 and 3.

Böðvar Sveinsson, a Natural Hazards Specialist at the Icelandic Met Office, conveyed to RÚV this morning that the seismic activity in the area remains significant, with no notable changes in the situation.

According to RÚV, while there are no indications of a volcanic eruption, the ongoing tremors signify a magma intrusion, with magma movement detected at depths ranging from 1.5 to 5 kilometres. The Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management continues to uphold the Uncertainty Phase, and has scheduled a meeting for this morning to further assess the situation.

Yesterday, Vísir interviewed residents in Grindavík, who have become accustomed to earthquakes following numerous tremors over the past few years. Nevertheless, the residents admitted that they still found them “unsettling.”