From Iceland — UPDATES: Emergency/Distress Phase Announced, Grindavík Ordered To Evacuate

UPDATES: Emergency/Distress Phase Announced, Grindavík Ordered To Evacuate

Published November 10, 2023

Photo by
Art Bicnick

With the town of Grindavík now evacuated, we will not be updating this thread any further.

UPDATE: Nov. 10, 2023 — 23:55

The Icelandic Met Office reports that a dike formation has likely formed beneath the town of Grindavík. With the magma intrusion possible extending beneath the town with a population of 3,700 a mandatory evacuation has been ordered.

Part of the met office’s update on the matter is below:

The seismic activity has moved south towards Grindavík. Based on how the seismic activity has evolved since 6 PM today, along with results from GPS measurements, there is a likelihood that a magma intrusion has extended beneath Grindavík.

The Department of Civil Protection has raised their alert level to an Emergency/Distress Phase (Neyðarstig). Here is what that means:

Emergency phase is characterized by an event which has already begun and could lead, or already has led to, harm to people, communities, properties or the environment. At this stage, immediate measure are taken to ensure security, save lives and prevent casualties, damage and or loss.

Mobile phone alerts. In the case of disasters or emergencies the Civil Protection sends out alerts to mobile phones in the affected area using cell broadcasting via cell towers. The alert will be broadcast to areas affected by serious disasters. Most capable devices entering the area during the cell broadcast should receive the alert. If your phone is on, capable and inside the targeted location, you should get the alerts. You don’t have to download an app or subscribe to a service, just ensure your phone is capable and updated. You will not be able to respond to the message. In case of an emergency please call 112.

UPDATE: Nov. 10, 2023 — 23:25

Director of Civil Protection Víðir Reynisson Is delivering a live television update at the time of writing and has announced the mandatory evacuation of the town of Grindavík to happen tonight.

He stresses that residents must leave town in the next two to three hours.

Víðir clarified for reporters that this is not an “emergency evacuation,” which would require the town to be vacated within 30 minutes.

Evacuating residents are told to turn off the electricity in their homes and close all windows when leaving. They are further asked to post a paper on the door or street-facing window indicating that  the home has been evacuated.

UPDATE: Nov. 10, 2023 — 23:00

Authorities are ready to evacuate Grindavík. The Icelandic Met Office said that the situation is developing quickly.

Víðir Reynisson will be delivering a live update from the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management shortly.

UPDATE: Nov. 10, 2023 — 22:15

The Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management has launched a page with information in Icelandic, English and Polish to keep people informed about the situation on the Reykjanes peninsula.

It can be found here:

UPDATE: Nov. 10, 2023 — 21:10

The Icelandic Met Office has measured signs that a lava tunnel is forming toward the surface at Sundhnúkar. However, an eruption has not begun.

This information was shared in the latest alert from the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management, translated in full below:

Very clear signs are now appearing on the Met Office’s gauges of the formation of a magma tunnel toward the surface. The highest probability remains that magma will emerge north of the watershed at Sundhnúkar and, according to the lava flow model conducted earlier this evening, lava will not flow to Grindavík.

More information is not available at this time, but will be updated as soon as it is available.

HS Orka requests that Grindavík residents to call HS Veitur at 422 5200 if they experience flickering electricity.

UPDATE: Nov. 10, 2023 — 20:30

National broadcaster RÚV reports that trucks are on site and build defences around HS Orka’s Svartsengi power plant and the town of Grindavík. The berm will be 4 km  long and six to eight metres tall, according to the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management.

UPDATE: Nov. 10, 2023 — 20:15

The Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management has made an announcement on the likelihood of an eruption at Sundhnúkar.

The signs that can be seen now at Sundhnúkar are similar to those seen on the eve of the first eruption at Fagradalsfjall in 2021 and are very similar to the seismic activity that was measured about a month before the eruption.

Looking at the sequence of events that ended in the March 19, 2023, eruption — and though the seismicity is not significantly deepening so far — we are probably looking at several days rather than hours before magma reaches the surface.

If a crack were to appear where the seismic activity is highest now, lava would flow to the southeast and to the west, but not towards Grindavík. Civil Defense ran a lava flow model this evening, based on the most likely location of an eruption. That model does not indicate that lava will flow towards Grindavík.

This evening, Civil Defense requested that the Coast Guard deploy its patrol vessel Þór to Grindavík for security purposes. Þór has departed Reykjavík and is expected to arrive in Grindavík tonight.

Aid stations will be opened in the next hour (this is written at 19:50) in Grindavík sports hall, the Sunnubraut sports hall in Reykjanesbær, Vallarskóla in Selfoss, and at Krónan in Kópavogur. In Grindavík, the station is only for collection and information and if people need help going elsewhere. Refreshment, information and accommodation if necessary will be available to those who seek it.

Attention is drawn to the fact that Grindavíkurvegur is currently closed due to damage. People are advised to take Suðurstrandarvegur on their way to Selfoss and Reykjavík or Nesvegur if they choose to go to Reykjanesbær. Repairs on Grindavíkurvegur are ongoing and information will be provided if and when Grindavíkurvegur will be reopened.

UPDATE: Nov. 10, 2023 — 19:22

Director of Civil Protection Víðir Reynisson told the TV station Stöð 2 this evening that there is currently no reason for residents of Grindavík to leave town and that there are no signs currently that an eruption has begun, Ví reports.

Vidir Reynisson COVID-19 coronavirus Art Bicnick

Photo: Art Bicnick

Grindavík has been shaking incessantly for three hours.

Víðir told the station that roads have been damaged by the earthquakes, and cracks have formed in some houses.

“This could be the start of the process we’ve been waiting for, of magma making its way to the surface, but there’s still no evidence of that happening yet,” he said.

According to rescue teams Grindavík residents are leaving town. Grindavíkurvegur remains closed, but could be opened in the coming hours.

UPDATE: Nov. 10, 2023 — 18:51

The location of the increased seismic activity is centred on Sundhnúkagígar, a row of craters just north of Grindavík that last erupted in the Reykjanes fires that lasted from the years 950 to 1240.

When speaking with the Reykjavík Grapevine on Wednesday, volcanologist Þorvaldur Þórðarsson said the volcanic lineament Sundhnúkar would be the worst place for an eruption to take place, due to the short distance from that lineament to the Svartsengi power plant.

The southern end of that existing lineament is just 1 km from the town of Grindavík.

The full text of the warning from the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management is as follows:

The National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police, in consultation with the Police Commissioner of Suðurnes, declares a Civil Protection Alert Phase due to an intense earthquake wave at Sundhnjúkagígar, north of Grindavík. Earthquakes may become bigger than those that have already occurred, and this sequence of events could lead to an eruption. However, there are still no signs that the magma is nearing the surface. Its progress is being closely monitored.

As before, residents are encouraged to follow the information on, vedur.isand in the media.

The Civil Protection Alert Phase means that the risk is increasing, and measures are being taken to ensure the utmost safety of those who live/stay in the area. This is done by increasing precautions in the relevant area.

UPDATE: Nov. 10, 2023 — 18:44

The Reykjavík Grapevine has spoken with a resident of Grindavík who is currently packing up their belongings to store in the capital. They told the Grapevine that a number of their neighbours have already moved out of the town or are preparing to do so as the earthquakes increase in intensity.

Those leaving Grindavík are limited to driving on Suðurstrandarvegur, as the seismic activity has rippled and cracked Grindavíkurvegur, necessitating its closure.

Photos from RÚV show Grindavíkurvegur damaged by seismic activity.

UPDATE: Nov. 10, 2023 — 18:15

The Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management has declared a Civil Protection Alert Phase on the Reykjanes peninsula as a swarm of higher magnitude earthquakes have shook the area. More than 800 earthquakes have occurred since 7:00 this morning, with more than 131 measuring over 3.0 in magnitude in the last 48 hours. The strongest recorded today measured 5.2. Many of the stronger quakes have been felt in Reykjavík and as far away as Selfoss.

A screenshot from the Icelandic Met office shows the location and intensity of earthquakes on the Reykjanes peninsula.

Meanwhile, the Icelandic Meteorological Office has issued an orange aviation colour code for the area, indicating a “volcano is exhibiting heightened unrest with increased likelihood of eruption.”

A screenshot from the Icelandic Met Office shows the orange alert level of the Reykjanes volcanic system.


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