Too Soon to Discuss Protective Barriers for Hafnarfjörður

Protective barrriers in Reykjanes

An earthquake near Trölladyngja has led to a discussion of the possibility of erecting protective barriers in Hafnarfjörður. The director of the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management has stated that such discussions are premature.

No observable change in Svartsengi

On Wednesday, a large earthquake occurred near Mt. Trölladyngja, a volcano located on the Reykjanes peninsula, between Grindavík and the capital area. Speaking to Vísir yesterday, a geologist on duty at the Icelandic Meteorological Office stated that there had been about 640 tremors since the earthquake. Their frequency had rapidly decreased, however. The geologist also stated that there had beeen no signs of geological unrest in Svartsengi, where a volcanic eruption occurred in December, after the earthquake.

Speaking to Stöð 2’s evening news on Wednesday, volcanologist Ármann Höskuldsson discussed the earthquake and its potential implications. He expressed interest in exploring the construction of protective barriers in the westernmost part of Hafnarfjörður given that the tremor might indicate possible eruptions near the town in the coming years.

Discussion of protective barriers premature

Víðir Reynisson, Director of the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management, told Vísir yesterday that any discussion of protective barriers for the capital area was premature while a comprehensive hazard assessment for volcanic activity in the area was still underway.

“This work on hazard assessment for Iceland’s volcanoes started in 2012 and has been ongoing since. Some locations have been addressed, and the assessment for the capital area began over a year ago. We are working as quickly as possible. Many scientists are involved,” Víðir stated.

Several volcanologists have called for such a risk assessment, and Víðir was surprised that they were not aware that this work had long been in progress: “We know to some extent where eruptions can occur and are familiar with these areas. It’s possible to simulate lava flows from these locations, but the hazard assessment is the foundation of everything we do. It’s being actively worked on,” Víðir noted.

As noted by Vísir, land uplift near the Svartsengi Power Station has continued, although the rate has significantly slowed in recent days. A similar pattern occurred before the eruption in Sundhnúkagígar in mid-December.