Locals in an evacuated area in Iceland were allowed to return home to collect basic necessities on Thursday and Friday, as officials warned of the possibility of an imminent volcanic eruption and earthquakes continued to shake parts of the country.
The Icelandic Meteorological Office said the Reykgnanes Peninsula in the southwestern part of the country has been rocked by thousands of tremors in recent days, and seismic activity has remained “steady” since November 11.
The town of Grindavik, about 35 miles from the capital, Reykjavik, has turned into a scene reminiscent of a doomsday movie, with huge cracks shattering concrete and the walls of houses, and steam rising from deep within the earth. The earthquakes led to the closure of the popular Blue Lagoon tourist attraction at Grindavik Spring on November 10.
The town, with a population of 3,400, was evacuated on Saturday.
On Thursday, one person from each family from Grindavik was allowed to return to collect basic necessities. Officials said. Earlier in the week, power was cut to half the city, but it has since been restored RÚVAccording to the Icelandic National Broadcasting Corporation.
Residents of 90 properties and local business owners contacted by local authorities will be allowed to enter the “danger zone” in Grindavík on Friday as well. Residents have been urged to take back only “very important items” such as pets, vital medicines, passports and other household essentials.
“Yesterday’s operations went smoothly but it took some time to allow everyone access and this will be an ongoing process throughout the next few days,” the police commissioner in Suiornes said in a statement. statement.
The Meteorological Office said 800 earthquakes were measured overnight Wednesday, most of them at the Sondhnok magma dam at a depth of 3 to 5 kilometers (1.86 to 3.10 miles). Furthermore, measurements of deformation (i.e. changes in the surface shape of the volcanic landscape) “are consistent with magma still flowing into the dike.”
Officials said measurements of sulfur dioxide – which is released from the volcano when magma is close to the surface – show “fluctuations in degassing due to magma bridging, but more measurements are needed to confirm.”
“The probability of an eruption remains high. If an eruption occurs, the most likely location is a magma dam,” the Met Office said on Wednesday.
She added that about 500 earthquakes had been detected around the dam since midnight on Friday.
Models show a 15-kilometre-long, or 9.32-mile-long, magma intrusion located just northwest of Grindavik, and it is estimated that “the infiltration is spreading upward slowly, and the magma is believed to be 800 meters (half a mile) or higher, below the surface.”
The Met Office said: “The probability of a volcanic eruption is high, and an eruption could be possible over a period of only days.”
Iceland is one of the most active volcanic hotspots in the world, as the island is located where two tectonic plates, the Eurasian plate and the North American plate, are slowly moving away from each other.
Movement along plate boundaries often triggers earthquakes, and as the planet’s crust breaks apart, magma can rise to the surface, triggering volcanic eruptions.
There are about 30 active volcanic systems in the country, according to the Met Office.
In 2010, a series of major eruptions at the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland produced a massive ash cloud that covered the area, causing widespread air travel cancellations across Europe.
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