From Iceland — Tour Operator Suspends Blue Lagoon Trips Amid Safety Concerns

Tour Operator Suspends Blue Lagoon Trips Amid Safety Concerns

Published November 7, 2023

Photo by
Art Bicnick

Tour company Kynnisferðir — better known to visitors as operators of Reykjavík Excursions or the FlyBus — announced Monday it is suspending tours to the Blue Lagoon due to ongoing safety concerns on the Reykjanes peninsula.

Tours were halted as of noon today. Kynnisferðir’s tours will be suspended for three days, at which point the situation will be reassessed daily.

Management of the tour operator told employees in an email Monday that Blue Lagoon tours were being halted out of concern for the safety of staff and guests.

Suðurnes Police Chief Úlfar Lúðvíksson also said Monday that he considered it irresponsible that the Blue Lagoon was operating as normal.

Can the Blue Lagoon be evacuated fast enough?

The manager of the Blue Lagoon believes that the area could be evacuated within an hour, if necessary. The Blue Lagoon is currently welcoming 2,000 visitors per day.

Þorvaldur Þórðarson, a professor in volcanology and petrology at the University of Iceland, told mbl that the magma being measured in the area is of a viscocity that it could travel tens of kilometres per hour once an eruption begins. The Blue Lagoon is just 1.2 km from a potential eruption site at Illa­hrauns­gíg­ar, meaning magma could theoretically reach the area in minutes.

At the time of writing, mention of the situation is sparse on the Blue Lagoon’s website. A banner has been added to the top of the page that reads “Current seismic activity on the Reykjanes peninsula is being closely monitored,” but the information provided upon clicking the banner vaguely mentions the Civil Defence authorities announcement about earthquakes from Oct. 25, without any mention of magma accumulation or ground uplift.

Screenshots taken on Nov. 7, 2023, of warnings about seismic activity in the region.

News source Vísir spoke to tourists leaving the Blue Lagoon on Saturday and found that most were unaware of the potential severity of the geological situation.

Level of uncertainty

A level of uncertainty was declared for the region in the immediate vicinity of the Blue Lagoon and Svartsengi Power Station that feeds the popular tourist attraction, as GSP readings point to magma accumulating northwest of Mt. Þorbjörn, just 1.2 km away.

Civil Defence and geologists are closely monitoring the area and an evacuation plan has been published for the town of Grindavík, three to four kilometres from the area where magma is accumulating underground.

An earthquake swarm has been ongoing in the region since October 25, similar to teh seismic activity that preceded the eruptions around Fagradalsfjall in 2021, 2022 and earlier this year.

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