Lava Covers Road to Grindavík

Volcano Reykjanes eruption on May 31, 2024

The eruption that began on the Reykjanes peninsula on May 29 has crossed and covered Grindavíkurvegur (Route 43), the road that connects the town of Grindavík to Reykjanesbraut. Reykjanesbraut leads from Grindavík to Keflavík International Airport and the greater Reykjavík area. The eruption is localised and has no impact on international travel to and from Iceland.

A familiar pattern

The life cycle of this eruption has followed a familiar pattern: the opening of a fissure spewing lava skyward; a decrease an intensity as the fissure reduces to several craters and later a single crater.

The craters themselves are formed by cooling lava, creating walls that grow to a certain height. Lava begins to pool within this crater, but then at some point, the weight and pressure of the lava causes the wall to be breached, as happened last Friday, resulting in a volume of lava to flow towards the paths of least resistance. In this case, that meant flowing both south and north, where it eventually reached, and covered, Grindavíkurvegur.

Slowing down

Vísir reports that the lava is moving at a very slow pace at the moment, but has not stopped. Activity within the eruption itself is also low, but continues.

As such, the Blue Lagoon is closed, but is expected to open again on June 11. You can check out our ongoing coverage of the eruption here, including our own visit to the eruption area.

Lava Crosses Grindavík Road, Hot Water Supply at Risk

A screenshot from RÚV. Lava flowing over Grindavíkurvegur around 10:00 AM on February 8, 2024

Update 12:23 PM: Lava reached the hot water pipeline just after noon today, cutting off the hot water supply on Reykjanes. Authorities are responding to the situation and more information will be available shortly.

Lava from the eruption that began this morning on Iceland’s Reykjanes peninsula has flowed across the road to the town of Grindavík. The peninsula’s hot water supply is at risk of being cut off by the advancing lava, and the Civil Protection Department has raised its alert phase for the area to “danger” as a result. The eruption is localised within a small area and flights to and from Iceland are not affected.

Residents and businesses asked to limit hot water use

Lava is now flowing toward the main pipeline that transports hot water from Svartsengi Power Plant to Reykjanesbær. If lava does flow over the pipes, it will cut off hot water supply to the towns of Reykjanesbær, Suðurnesjabær, Grindavík, and Vogar. According to the current rate of flow, this could happen within the next few hours.

As a precaution, civil protection authorities ask residents and business on the Reykjanes peninsula to lower their indoor heating, limit hot water use, and avoid using hot water for showers, baths, or hot tubs. In addition, locals are asked to delay turning on electrical heating systems and devices for as long as possible in order to not overwhelm the system. Locals are also asked to give responders leeway to do their necessary work.

A foreseeable scenario

Icelandic authorities had foreseen this potential scenario and had begun work on laying an underground pipeline in the area where the eruption is now taking place. A 500-metre long section has been laid that could replace the current pipeline if it is destroyed by lava, but it could take several days to put bring the new pipeline into use. Hot water reserves for the area can last around 12-14 hours if used sparingly.