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Volcano Erupts Again in Iceland


REYKJAVIK, Iceland — In a startling turn of events, a volcano in southwestern Iceland erupted for the second time within a month, unleashing lava that is advancing towards a nearby community and has already engulfed at least one home.

The eruption occurred early morning local time, shortly after the evacuation of Grindavik town due to a series of small earthquakes, according to the Icelandic Meteorological Office. Later on, a second fissure opened near the outskirts of the town, with lava gradually making its way towards residential areas.

Helpless residents are left to observe the unfolding natural spectacle through their screens. “We just watch it on the cameras and there’s really nothing else we can do,” shared Reynir Berg Jónsson, a resident of Grindavik, in an interview with Iceland’s RUV television.

Situated approximately 50 kilometers (30 miles) southwest of Reykjavik, Grindavik is home to around 3,800 people. The town has already experienced upheaval in the past, as it was evacuated in November due to a series of earthquakes that caused significant ground fissures between Grindavik and Sýlingarfell, a nearby mountain. As a result, the renowned Blue Lagoon geothermal spa—iceland’s major tourist attraction—also temporarily closed its doors.

After the volcanic eruption on December 18, residents were finally allowed to return to their homes on December 22. Since then, emergency workers have been tirelessly building defensive walls around Grindavik. However, these barriers are not yet fully complete, and lava continues to advance towards the community, as reported by the meteorological office.

It is worth noting that prior to last month’s eruption, the Svartsengi volcanic system, situated north of Grindavik, had been inactive for about 780 years. The volcano responsible for the current eruption lies just a few kilometers west of Fagradalsfjall, which had remained dormant for 6,000 years until unexpectedly coming to life in March 2021.

Lava Flow Threatens Grindavik: An Unfolding Disaster

Saturday’s volcanic eruption at Svartsengi in Iceland has caused significant concern as a “very rapid flow” of lava moves south towards the town of Grindavik. The Met Office has been able to issue warnings due to increased earthquake activity, which prompted the evacuation of Grindavik, ensuring the safety of its residents.

Iceland, known for sitting above a volcanic hotspot in the North Atlantic, experiences eruptions approximately every four to five years. However, the most disruptive eruption in recent memory occurred in 2010 with the Eyjafjallajokull volcano. The large amounts of ash it released into the atmosphere disrupted trans-Atlantic air travel for months.

The eruption that occurred on Sunday on the Reykjanes Peninsula is not expected to release substantial amounts of ash into the air. Operations at Keflavík Airport, therefore, continue as normal, as stated by Gudjon Helgason, the press officer for airport operator Isavia.

Meanwhile, residents in Grindavik are anxiously watching as streams of smoking lava slowly approach their homes. The anticipation of this unfolding disaster is almost unbearable for them. Nature photographer Jeroen Van Nieuwenhove expresses his empathy for those affected, stating, “I can’t really imagine what people are going through. The fact that you can see this on television, the fact that you can see this on webcams, it’s a bit of a weird feeling to see a town being destroyed almost in slow motion at this point.”

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