From Iceland — Eruptions To Persist For The Next 200 Years, Hafnarfjörður May Be At Risk Next

Eruptions To Persist For The Next 200 Years, Hafnarfjörður May Be At Risk Next

Published January 19, 2024

Photo by
Axel Sigurðarson

In a recent interview with Vísir, volcanologist Ármann Höskuldsson said that residing in Grindavík is currently not safe due to volcanic activity. He emphasises the need for people to relocate.

The latest eruption, which began on Sunday morning, January 14th, only lasted two days, yet reached the outskirts of the town of Grindavík, claiming three homes before petering out. Read our coverage here.

“The town has become very unsafe. It is primarily the fissures in the town that pose the greatest threat to people,” says Ármann. “While the volcanic eruptions are happening, it is not be advisable for people to stay in the town, and alternative accommodations need to be found, similar to what was done in Vestmannaeyjar.”

It is unlikely that residents will be able to return to Grindavík soon. “The land is rising. We know that more eruptions will occur. Considering how rapidly the land is rising in between, eruptions will likely be close together. This means that this state of uncertainty will continue at least this year. I firmly believe that we won’t see the end of this before another five to ten years.”

Ármann mentions that when eruptions begin in Eldvörp, west of the Blue Lagoon, people may start talking about the end of eruptions in Grindavík.

Asked if other settlements in the Reykjanes Peninsula could be at risk, Ármann says that this has been considered since 2021.

“The most challenging area in the future will be Hafnarfjörður. But the advantage is that we have seen how this works, meaning we can start preparing, planning, and anticipating how we respond if something happens there.”

He also notes that if eruptions occur in the Hengill area, Hveragerði could be at risk.

“In that case, it becomes a bigger problem than it is now because then Hellisheiði Power Station and Nesjavellir Power Station are in the danger zone. That means it could affect the heating supply in the capital area. Most of us live here and need a substantial amount of hot water. Hopefully, it’s further away in time, but we definitely need to start thinking about the future and integrate this threat into our overall planning. This is here to stay and will be for the next 150 to 200 years.”

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