EIt’s probably the calm before the storm. According to the meteorological office of Island The seismological activity in the southwest of the island has recently decreased significantly. From midnight to Monday lunchtime, around 900 smaller earthquakes were recorded at a depth of two to five kilometers. Just a few days ago there were significantly more and more severe earthquakes. According to the scientists, this “relaxation” suggests that the deformation of a magma-filled tunnel underground may have slowed – and that the magma is getting closer to the surface. An outbreak in the near future is considered likely.
Many residents of the evacuated town of Grindavík were able to briefly return to their homes on Monday under police supervision. Photos show dozens of cars in a long line on a road in a treeless landscape. They were led by rescue vehicles. The police said the operation was only to collect pets and important things such as medicine and passports. It is “not an operation without risk”, so everyone involved must follow the police’s instructions. The measure was limited to a small part of the town; Depending on the situation, it can now also take place in other parts. In addition, ships should be transported from the port of Grindavík on Monday. The town with a population of just over 3,000 was recently evacuated after there were many people in the area earthquake had given. The earthquake caused major damage to houses and infrastructure. The power is out, there are cracks in the streets and holes in the ground.
According to the meteorological institute, a magma tunnel around 15 kilometers long has formed in the ground, which runs diagonally under Grindavík from northeast to southwest. At its shallowest point, the magma is said to be around 800 meters below the earth’s surface. The earthquakes continued, but crustal movements were slowing, which was good, geophysicist Freysteinn Sigmundsson from the University of Iceland told state radio on Monday. There is further evidence of an inflow into the magma channel, but this has decreased significantly. It is possible that equilibrium could be achieved without an eruption. But also one outbreak is still possible, but probably less severe than initially feared.
The strongest seismological activity has recently occurred in the immediate vicinity of the sea and below the sea surface. Scientific models suggest that this is where an eruption is most likely. According to geologists, it is therefore necessary for the island to prepare for an underwater eruption and an explosive eruption.
Although Iceland is culturally part of Europe, it is completely different geologically. It is a comparatively young island, located in the middle of the ocean, consisting predominantly of basalt that emerged from tectonic fault lines. Volcanic activity occurs again and again. In 2010, Eyjafjallajökull erupted, which led to extensive restrictions on air traffic. There were also isolated eruptions under water. This is how the volcanic island of Surtsey came into being in 1963.
Volcanism is now part of everyday life and tourism on the island. There are many hot springs and geysers, some of which shoot hot water high into the sky. The most famous is probably the “Blue Lagoon”. Originally, hot water rich in minerals from a geothermal power plant was piped into a lava field to seep away. The resulting lake developed into a swimming pool with a luxury hotel. The Blue Lagoon was closed on Thursday because it is close to the underground magma tunnel.
The post first appeared on www.faz.net