The last week has been an incredible roller coaster of emotions for people from and visiting Iceland. Two of our tour groups were on trips to Iceland in the last week and got to experience the shock and awe of this amazing natural event. As of writing this, the Reykjanes volcanic system has still not erupted, but there are many updates to share since the one last week; so, let's get into it.
Since the last update, the Reykjanes Peninsula has experienced multiple magma dike and magma tunnel expansions. One of the more extreme intrusions occurred in a line from southwest to northeast and cutting directly through the town of Grendavik. Specifically, models showed a 15 kilometer, or 9.32 mile, magma intrusion located just northwest of Grindavik and it is estimated that “the intrusion propagated upwards slowly, with magma thought to be 800 meters (half a mile) or higher, beneath the surface."
Shortly after this uplift, the magma once again moved to a position northeast of the town, causing subsidence of the ground. While this is in itself a good sign for the potential eruption avoiding the town, the subsidence caused uneven landfall across the town, resulting in a massive, long fissure rupturing directly through it. Structural damage has been reported to many buildings as well as to utilities like power, water and heating water. That said, the magma moving away from the base of the town could prove these damages to be the best possibility considering.
As for uplift, it's actually advancing and uplifting at a faster rate than before. The uplift is generally occurring in the original area of concern southwest of the Blue Lagoon and the Power Plant. While the loss of a tourist destination like the Blue Lagoon would be sad and awful, the loss of the Power Plant while so many people are displaced would be absolutely tragic. Grendavik has already been evacuated to the point of a ghost town, but so many other communities on the peninsula depend on the power plant for electricity and heating during winter. Without the hot water supply from the geothermal plant, many will have to find alternative heating options for this winter.
In spite of the potential tragedy befalling the communities on Iceland's Reykjanes Peninsula, the outpouring of support and care from the pubic have been amazing. People have donated their hunting cottages and summer homes to those in need to ensure they will have a place to stay during, what could prove to be a months long evacuation from their homes.
Donations from those within Iceland and across the world have surged to help support the needs of those who have been displaced. The International Red Cross as well as the Iceland Red Cross have seen an uptick in donations and all tour companies across the country have helped utilize their assets to help provide assistance for those in need. While natural disasters are always... disasters, there is a silver lining in that they offer the opportunity for societies to showcase our humanity and care for each other.
As for the future, we will likely know within the coming week if an eruption will occur or if the solidifying magma will do its biggest damage via uplift and subsidence. Only time will tell, but the continued support and care for those effected will remain a priority for us.
Members of our staff have contributed here and we welcome our visitors and patrons to do the same. https://www.raudikrossinn.is/english/donate/donate-now/