The Icelandic city declared a state of emergency


Over the weekend, authorities officially declared a state of emergency in a small Icelandic town Grindavik, an hour’s drive from the capital Reykjavík. It is directly threatened by the volcano Fagradalsfjallwhose eruption is ” inevitable »threatens the municipality.

Since October, the locals have the right to permanent impacts of small earthquakes. The Earth has been shaking since October more than 20,000 times. Experts counted 2,800 earthquakes this Sunday alone, and according to the latest news, already more than 400 as of this morning. Cracks began to appear on several roads in the city.

Map of today’s earthquakes around Grindavik. © Vafri.is (screenshot)

However, seismic and volcanic activity can be associated with the same phenomenon — increase in pressure volcanic edifice, i movement of tectonic plates. Iceland has had a special relationship with them since the very beginning of its history. It is an island of volcanic origin that was created at the level of a hotspot from the dorsal Middle Atlanticthe dividing line between the Eurasian and North American plates.

This position explains the exceptional volcanic activity of the island, which has more than 30 active volcanic sites. But even on this island, where it is part of everyday life, the situation has recently become particularly worrying. About 30,000 microeruptions have been recorded in the area since this peak of activity began three weeks ago. A situation that does not bode well for experts.

Evacuation in progress

I don’t think we have much time before the eruption. The chances of developing a rash have increased significantly, it’s a matter of hours or days », predicts Thorvaldur Thordarson, professor of volcanology at the University of Iceland.

Because of these warning signs, the Icelandic Meteorological Office (the institution that manages volcanic warnings) decided to take all precautions. Indeed, Grindavik is particularly exposed, and the eruption could last for weeks according to the forecasts of local volcanologists. Therefore, they believe that in the worst case, the city could be completely erased from the world map.

Therefore, the priority is to ensure the safety of the residents. Even if “there is no immediate danger” according to the authorities, 4,000 Grindavik souls were still evacuated. According to Aldi Sigmundsdottir, an Icelandic journalist quoted by the BBC, residents were still allowed to return to their homes quickly to collect essential items, as well as their pets. All access roads to the city are closed to normal traffic in order to facilitate the evacuation and free the passage of emergency vehicles.

No risk to planes

This episode comes 13 years after another particularly significant volcanic episode. In April 2010, the volcano erupted tens of millions of cubic meters of volcanic ash in the atmosphere, paralyzing all air traffic for a week.

Eyjafjallajökull
The eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in April 2010 paralyzed air traffic. © Boaworm – Wikimedia Commons

It is therefore reasonable to wonder whether another episode of this kind may occur. But fortunately, the situation is quite different. There is not there is no risk that the eruption of Fagradalsfjall would produce the same results. The case of Eyjafjallajökull was indeed a special case.

The volcanic edifice was on top of a huge glacier, and the latter played a decisive role in ejecting this huge ash cloud. The heat from the magma melted the ice very quickly, creating large amounts of liquid water in a very short time. This water then came into contact with the magma, which led to the generation of a huge amount of steam. The increase in pressure caused powerful explosions that split the magma into fine particles. This mixture of ash, steam and volcanic gases was then thrown high into the atmosphere and then dispersed by the wind.

Since Fagradalsfjall is not on top of a glacier, aviation has nothing to fear. It will simply be necessary fingers crossed for the residents of Grindavikwho risk all their homes and the rest of the city disappearing in the near future.



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