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.”

 

Protective Barrier to Be Erected Near Volcano

Flowing lava

The construction of a protective barrier near the Geldingadalur volcano began last night, Vísir reports. Local authorities hope to impede the flow of lava into Nátthagi valley, from where it may proceed south toward Suðurstrandarvegur and cause damage to infrastructure.

Suðurstrandarvegur in jeopardy

In an interview with Vísir yesterday, Fannar Jónasson, Mayor of Grindavík, expressed his concern regarding the flow of lava from the eruption near Fagradalsfjall toward Suðurstrandarvegur (a coastal road running between Grindavík and Þorlákshöfn, which besides being an important transportation artery has also been widely used by travellers visiting the volcano). If the lava were to flow into Nátthagi valley, it could stream south toward the coastal road, resulting in disruption to traffic and damage to infrastructure (including fibre-optic cables).

According to Fannar, the Grindavík Town Council resolved last week to do everything in its power to impede the flow of lava into Nátthagi, having already drawn up plans for a specially-made barrier. “We’re planning a four-meter high barrier. Within it, there will likely be a kind of cavity, which we hope will steer the lava in a different direction.”

Fannar also emphasized that the barrier was designed, first and foremost, with people’s safety in mind. “There’s been a Herculean effort in this area to ensure the safety of visitors.”

Large bulldozer” on the scene

This morning, Vísir reported that a large bulldozer had begun work on the barrier, and in an interview with Mbl.is, Mayor Fannar Jónasson remarked that construction was progressing nicely.

The project will involve, among other things, the filling of two rifts, with rocks from the area being utilized for this purpose. Construction workers hope to fill the western rift today and the eastern rift over the coming days.

The construction is undertaken by the Department for Civil Protection and Emergency Management.

Neither representatives from the town of Grindavík nor the Department for Civil Protection and Emergency Management could be reached for comment.