From Iceland — Lava Knocking At Your Back Door

Lava Knocking At Your Back Door

Published May 18, 2021

Alina Maurer
Photo by
Vísir / KMU

The eruption site on the Reykjanes peninsula is never too tired for new surprises. As the crater changed its behavior to resemble a geyser, lava is spat out every couple of minutes up to 300 meters in the sky. Additionally, lava has started to flow even further south, directly towards the Suðurstrandarvegur road, connecting Grindavík to Þorlákshöfn.

In the last few days, work has been underway to build a protective wall in order to hinder lava from the Geldingadalur volcano flowing in direction towards the Suðurstrandarvegur road. The wall consists of large soil hills.

Battle against the sizzling enemy

Unfortunately, these walls do not seem to be enough, as Civil Protection wants immediate action in order to raise the height to eight meters. Experts believe that the soil hills will at least delay the lava from reaching into Nátthagi and towards Suðurstrandarvegur.

Hörn Hrafnsdóttir, an environmental and civil engineer at Verkís, leading the construction of the fortification yesterday, told Vísir that things are going well and that the working teams are close to reaching four meters of height. She says that these measures will delay the flow but admits that they are experimental. Nevertheless, , she continues, this would be a great practice for future eruptions which might occur on the Reykjanes peninsula.

Yesterday, the lava flow from the crater was flowing in three directions, into Meradalir and Geldingadalur. Due to the lava building up pressure and flowing forwards, Hörn mentions that it’s only a matter of time when and where the lava will find a weak spot in the soil fortification. In fact, lava has already started to collapse over the first emergency wall and continues to flow further.

Build that wall higher!

The Civil Defense suggested yesterday that walls should be built up to eight meters from now on. This morning, the working group on the protection of infrastructure of the Minister of Foreign Affairs will make the decision on how to continue this battle.

Einar Jónsson is managing the bulldozers and has set high goals in his adventurous workplace. He wants the fortifications to be even bigger, reaching up to twenty meters. When asked if he doesn’t think that the lava will eventually pass the walls and defeat his work, he answers in a typically Icelandic manner, “Then we start again.”

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