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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Volcanic eruption in Iceland disrupts heating and roads with lava fountains


GRINDAVIK, Iceland — The southwestern⁣ region of Iceland witnessed a volcanic eruption for the third ‍time since ‍December ‍on Thursday. The eruption sent lava streams soaring as high as 260 feet into the sky, leading to an emergency alert as numerous households were left without ⁣heating in the heart of winter.

The ground in the Reykjanes peninsula cracked open, releasing bright ⁢orange molten rock. The lava flow crossed a road near the Blue Lagoon, a high-end geothermal spa, forcing it to shut down due to the eruption.

By Thursday afternoon, the eruption’s intensity had subsided, according to the Icelandic Met Office, which is​ responsible for‍ monitoring volcanic activity.

However, the lava flow damaged water pipes in the region‍ just south⁤ of the capital, disrupting the supply of geothermally-heated‌ water used for home heating. This led the Civil Protection Agency‌ to⁢ elevate its alert level to emergency status.

Despite losing access ‍to hot ​water, Reykjavik’s Keflavik Airport managed to maintain its usual operations. The temperature in ⁣the area was 19 degrees Fahrenheit and was expected ‍to drop ⁢to 14 ‍in the evening.

Rikke Pedersen, the head of the Nordic Volcanological Centre research group based in Reykjavik, reported that over 20,000 ⁤people had lost access to hot water.

The Civil Protection Agency urged residents in‌ the affected area to ‌limit their use of⁣ electrical heaters to one​ small unit per household to avoid power outages.

Restoring hot water through an​ emergency pipeline, which was already​ under construction, could take several days, the agency warned.

Volcanic eruptions in the Reykjanes⁣ peninsula are ​known as fissure eruptions. These ‍eruptions typically do not cause large explosions or significant ash dispersal into the​ stratosphere.

However, scientists are ⁤concerned that these eruptions could persist ⁢for years. ⁣In response, ‍Icelandic authorities have begun constructing dykes to redirect the burning lava flows away ⁤from ⁣homes and crucial infrastructure.

The​ lava stream came ⁢dangerously close to the peninsula’s Svartsengi geothermal power ​plant, coming within 0.6 miles, according to Pedersen.

Workers were seen attempting to⁣ fill in gaps ​in the protective⁢ dykes built ‌along the road as the lava flowed. “They are doing everything ​possible to prevent the lava from reaching the power plant,” Pedersen stated.

Historical ⁢Context⁣ of Eruptions

The most recent fissure eruption, the sixth since 2021, ‍was approximately 2 miles long, according to Iceland’s meteorological office. Intense earthquake activity began around 5:30 a.m., followed by the eruption⁢ half an hour later.

A smoke plume rose 3 km into‌ the air, as reported by‌ the Met Office. Reykjanesbaer, Iceland’s fifth-largest municipality, announced that all schools would be closed on Friday.

The previous eruption ‍in the area began on Jan.⁤ 14 and ‌lasted about two days. The lava flows reached the outskirts of the Grindavik fishing town, leading to the evacuation of its nearly 4,000 ⁣residents and setting some ‍houses on fire.

Thursday’s eruption occurred some distance from Grindavik and was not expected to pose a direct threat ⁢to the town, Icelandic geophysicist Ari Trausti Gudmundsson told Reuters.

Iceland’s President Gudni Johannesson shared an image of the distant flames and smoke on social media, taken from his ‍residence.

“As ⁣before, our‍ thoughts‍ are with the people of Grindavik who cannot ‍reside in their beautiful town. This too shall pass,” Johannesson ​wrote.

Despite lowering the threat level of the volcanic system, authorities have warned of potential future eruptions as the land⁢ in the area ⁤continues to rise due ‌to underground magma accumulation.

The Reykjanes peninsula alone houses six active volcanic systems and could‍ experience eruptions intermittently for decades‍ or even​ centuries, according to Gudmundsson.

Other parts of the country are home to more powerful volcanoes. In 2010, ash clouds from eruptions at Eyafjallajokull in southern ​Iceland spread over large parts of Europe,​ grounding approximately 100,000 flights and forcing hundreds of Icelanders to evacuate their homes.

However, unlike Eyafjallajokull, the Reykjanes ⁢volcano systems are not located under glaciers and are therefore not expected to produce similar-sized ash clouds.

Iceland, roughly the size of the U.S. state of Kentucky, is home to over 30 active volcanoes. This makes the North European island ‍a prime destination for volcano tourism, a niche market that attracts thousands of adventure seekers.

Truth Media Network
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  1. Volcanoes, although majestic, can be quite disruptive. Natural disasters like these remind us of the power and unpredictability of our planet. Stay safe, everyone!

  2. Agree: It’s unfortunate to see the disruption caused by volcanic eruptions. Nature’s power can be both awe-inspiring and troublesome. Stay safe, Iceland.


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