800 EARTHQUAKES ROCKED ICELAND ON FRIDAY
A state of emergency has been declared in Iceland after thousands of tremors raised fears of a volcanic eruption.
A series of powerful earthquakes rocked the country’s southwestern Reykjanes peninsula, signalling that there was an increased likelihood of a volcanic eruption in the region.
The Icelandic Met Office (IMO) warned that an eruption could take place “in several days”.
According to the IMO, Since late October, 24,000 tremors have been registered on the peninsula, and “a dense swarm” of nearly 800 quakes registered between midnight and 2pm GMT on Friday.
Sky news reports: Authorities have ordered thousands living in the southwestern town of Grindavik to evacuate as a precaution and have closed the nearby Blue Lagoon tourist attraction.
The area around Mount Thorbjorn on the Reykjanes Peninsula has been shaken by hundreds of small earthquakes every day for more than two weeks due to a build-up of volcanic magma – molten rock – around three miles (5km) underground.
Land in the region has risen by 9cm (3.5in) since the end of October, according to the Icelandic Met Office (IMO).
Scientists are closely monitoring the situation for any indication the seismic activity is getting closer to the surface.
Iceland, which sits above a volcanic hotspot in the North Atlantic, averages an eruption every four to five years.
The most disruptive in recent times was the 2010 eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano, which spewed huge clouds of ash into the atmosphere and led to widespread airspace closures over Europe.
The Reykjanes Peninsula on Iceland’s southwestern coast includes a volcanic system that has erupted three times since 2021, after being dormant for 800 years.
The evacuation of Grindavik came after the IMO warned “significant changes have occurred in the seismic activity” and that magma could have extended under the town, which is located about 33 miles (53km) from the capital Reykjavik.
The IMO said: “At this stage, it is not possible to determine exactly whether and where magma might reach the surface.”