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Iceland volcano – live: All eyes on ‘imminent’ eruption as stormy weather disrupts monitoring systems

Authorities in Iceland fear stormy weather conditions could affect monitoring systems as the country awaits an “imminent” volcanic eruption.

Just 165 small tremors have been recorded in the affected region since midnight on Monday, compared to the thousands that jolted the town of Grindavik in the days prior.

The Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO) says the volcano could erupt with just 30 minutes’ notice as magma is now sitting just below the earth’s surface.

The wait for the eruption is gripping the country, with thousands glued to a live stream showing a glowing red rift in the ground running through Grindavik.

The IMO said it is likely the adverse weather conditions are impacting “both the sensitivity of earthquake detection and real-time GPS monitoring”.

Kristín Jónsdóttir, a senior IMO official, said people will “just have to wait in suspense for the next few days” to see how events play out.

She said decreasing earthquake activity could also be a sign that magma has reached very close to the earth’s surface, adding that the scenario is not unlike what was seen prior to a previous eruption in 2021.

Key Points

  • Icelandic authorities fear sudden volcano eruption

  • Ground near power plant swells as chamber beneath floods with magma

  • Peninsula braced for new ‘eruptive cycle’ to bring decades of volcanic instability

  • When will Iceland volcano erupt and what happens when it does?

Christmas decorations flicker and children’s bikes left to rust in Grindavik

10:43 , Andy Gregory

My colleague Barney Davis was among the first international journalists to enter the evacuated town of Grindavik yesterday. He reports:

The once bustling harbour town has been left empty since 10 November – the day the ground opened up and caused all the children and the elderly to flee, not knowing what was around the corner or if they would even see home again.

Early Christmas decorations are left still switched on and children’s bikes have been left to rust in the front yard of a home with an enormous crack down the side – simply because it stood in the way of the shuddering faultline stretching from the mountains through the little town and into the Atlantic.

One street has its houses now kneeling forwards and a huge fissure splits Grindavik’s only old people’s home.

The town’s fish and chip shop still has its garish advertising hoarding switched on offering an eerie respite from the horrific hailstorms that descend every three minutes upon this desperate Englishman.

Evacuating 3,700 residents was no mean feat. They were told to turn off the electricity in their homes and close all windows. You can see the signs flapping in the high winds, declaring the home was successfully emptied.

Collapsed homes, sinkholes and broken roads: Inside Iceland’s ghost town of Grindavik

Evacuation zone 'still dangerous' as eruption could occur with only minutes' notice

09:23 , Andy Gregory

The evacuation zone at Grindavik is “still dangerous”, with conditions meaning residents would have just a few minutes’ warning to escape prior to an eruption. a civil defence official has told The Independent.

Speaking to The Independent as international media were allowed into the town for the first time since it was evacuated, Hjordis Gudmundsdottir said: “It is still dangerous here. This is why we don’t let normal people or the media in until now.

“I have never seen anything like it before. Usually we will have a few minutes warning to get out but with the weather like it is today we have even less.” A weather warning is in place for strong gale-force winds in eastern Iceland.

It came as authorities said rescue workers could get as little as “30 minutes’ notice” before the anticipated volcanic eruption.

“The challenge that we have is that we will not see any strong evidence that the magma is coming up, we will see some small earthquakes and we can see how they will probably form in one place rather than another,” Vídir Reynisson, the head of the civil protection and emergency management agency, told Fox News.

Grindavik residents allowed to return for full days to collect items

09:02 , Andy Gregory

Residents in the evacuated town of Grindavik will be allowed to return to their homes for much longer than previously to rescue their valuables.

Authorities are expected to lower the threat level in the area at 11am this morning, from which point it is intended that residents will be permitted to be in Grindavik between the hours of 9am and 4pm every day.

Residents can now drive themselves to the town rather than be escorted by emergency officials, and advised to walk to and from their homes in a way that allows them to evacuate at short notice.

 (Barney Davis/The Independent)
(Barney Davis/The Independent)

Emergency risk set to be revised. police say

08:16 , Andy Gregory

The threat level in the area of Grindavik is set to be revised at 11am – from one of “emergency” to “danger”, police said on Wednesday evening.

The police commissioner and local authorities made the decision following a new assessment by the Icelandic Meteorological Office, which states that the probability of a sudden eruption within the town limits of Grindavík has been decreasing every day and is now considered small.

Land is still rising in Svarteng and the magma there could flow again under the magma tunnel under Grindavík, but the Norwegian Meteorological Agency said that signs of this would be detectable on seismic and GPS sensors.

There is still a possibility of a volcanic eruption in the area above the magma tunnel, most likely between Hagafell and Sýlingarfell, and civil defence teams will continue to keep the area well patrolled.

In case you missed it: The Independent at site of road blockade to Grindavik

00:03 , Maira Butt

Only pre-approved residents were allowed access to Grindavik on Wednesday as 78 who registered request to return to collect belongings were allowed through from 9am.

The Independent’s Barney Davis reported from the scene of an emergency blockade staffed by search and rescue workers.

Only an 18-wheeler lorry was allowed through.

Civil Defence press conference summary

Wednesday 22 November 2023 23:03 , Maira Butt

Officials held a press conference on Wednesday to update the public on the most recent developments following the Icelandic Met Office’s “high risk” of volcanic eruption.

The Red Cross advised that it was ok to be “gentle” during this time, advocating the use of “age appropriate” language when speaking to young children.

Víðir Reynisson, the Director of Civil Protection, said that a group of experts would be looking at the possibility of pumping water over the lava to cool it in the event the volcano erupted.

Over 700 people have requested housing after being evacuated from the town of Grindavik.

Officials confirmed that media access would be reconsidered and reporters would be allowed a better opportunity to take photos and cover the story.

Police thanked volunteers and emergency services and reminded people that services were getting used to a new situation.

A press conference with the National Defence, Red Cross and Icelandic police officials (Almannavarnir)
A press conference with the National Defence, Red Cross and Icelandic police officials (Almannavarnir)

Danger zone expanded by Iceland Met Office

Wednesday 22 November 2023 22:02 , Maira Butt

The site of Grindavik’s volcanic eruption has been expanded to include a wider area in its ‘danger zone’.

Iceland’s Met Office expanded the area on Tuesday amid suggestions that a larger area than expected could be affected. See the most recent map below.

The purple area is the highest danger zone , encompassing Hagafell, north east of the town of Grindavik (Icelandic Met Office)
The purple area is the highest danger zone , encompassing Hagafell, north east of the town of Grindavik (Icelandic Met Office)

There are three danger areas as can be seen on the above map, according to The Iceland Monitor:

Orange: Danger zone A: Danger due to seismic activity.

Red: Danger zone B: Danger due to possible eruption (including the earth cracking open suddenly, eruption with little forewarning, lava flowing and dangerous gas pollution).

Purple: Danger zone C: Increased danger of eruption like in zone B, and even more danger of earth opening suddenly and dangerous gas pollution. In this zone escape routes need to be clear, gas monitors are needed and gasmasks if you go into the area.

Earthquakes around Grindavik a ‘harbinger’ of bigger events in future

Wednesday 22 November 2023 21:01 , Maira Butt

Earthquakes in and around Grindavík can be a harbinger of other and bigger events in the near future, according to RUV’s Kveikur.

They report that an eruption could herald a reshaping of the Rekjanes peninsula.

Critical infrastructure could be destroyed and some residents have told The Independent that they would reconsider moving back in future.

Is it safe to travel to Iceland? Your rights if you have a holiday booked

Wednesday 22 November 2023 20:01 , Maira Butt

Simon Calder reports:

The earth is at its most restless in Iceland right now. The Reykjanes peninsula, southwest of Reykjavik, is seething with seismic activity sparking hundreds of small earthquakes.

The town of Grindavík, just 10 miles south of Keflavik International Airport, has been evacuated as a precaution.

Yet flights are continuing to arrive and depart as normal. These are the key questions and answers on consumer rights.

I am in Iceland. Will I be able to leave?

Yes, assuming the international airport remains open. So far operations have been normal. You may be keen to leave earlier than booked, in order to guarantee your getaway, but at present you will not be able to switch flights without paying a penalty.

Read the full piece here.

In pictures: roads rendered unusable following thousands of earthquakes

Wednesday 22 November 2023 19:03 , Maira Butt

Risk of volcanic eruption in Iceland remains high (REUTERS)
Risk of volcanic eruption in Iceland remains high (REUTERS)
A gaping hole was seen in the middle of key roads (REUTERS)
A gaping hole was seen in the middle of key roads (REUTERS)
Smoke was seen from holes where residents say cats are hiding because its ‘warm' (REUTERS)
Smoke was seen from holes where residents say cats are hiding because its ‘warm' (REUTERS)

‘It’s like a dystopian movie’: Iceland residents describe ‘apocalyptic’ scenes

Wednesday 22 November 2023 18:00 , Maira Butt

Lydia Patrick reports:

Residents from a small Icelandic town under threat from a volcanic eruption have described their ‘apocalyptic’ existence as they fear for their future.

Grindavik resident Andrea Ævarsdóttir, 46, told The Independent: “Everything just seems so unreal, I feel like I’m in a dystopian movie. I’m just waiting to wake up from this nightmare.”

The mother was getting ready to go into Reykjavík to celebrate her son Björgvin Hrafnar’s 16th birthday when their house started to shake on Friday.

Read the full piece here.

Iceland volcanic eruption still ‘expected and imminent’

Wednesday 22 November 2023 16:57 , Barney Davis (in Reykjavik)

Barney Davis reports from Reykjavik:

Jon Baglundsson, spokesperson for the ICE-SAR, a volunteer rescue team escorting hundreds to retrieve valuables, said it’s “now a waiting game”.

He told The Independent: “Since the village was evacuated over a week ago we have been working to let residents retrieve their most heartfelt valuables in small numbers every day.”

Mr Baglundsson added: “The seismic activity has dwindled slightly but land is still rising to the northwest of the town.

“An eruption is still expected and imminent but we just don’t know when or where. There is no time limit but they are asked to go as quickly as they can.”

Read the full piece here.

Iceland seismic activity sounds like ‘doors slamming, hail pelting against a tin roof'

Wednesday 22 November 2023 16:30 , Maira Butt

Researchers at Northwestern University have added the sounds of Iceland’s earthquakes and other seismic activity to an app so listeners can hear hear rather than see activity ahead of an “imminent risk” of eruption.

In a statement on their website, the University said:

“So far, Iceland’s recent, ongoing seismic activity sounds like a jarring symphony of doors slamming, hail pelting against a tin roof or window and people cracking trays of ice cubes.”

They added: “By listening to activities recorded by the Global Seismographic Network station (named BORG), located to the north-northeast of Reykjavik, people can hear how the seismic activity has changed around the Fagradalsfjall area.”

In case you missed it: Iceland volcano could erupt like a ‘can of fizzy drink’

Wednesday 22 November 2023 15:55 , Maira Butt

Matt Mathers reports:

A volcano close to erupting in Iceland could explode like a “can of fizzy drink,” an expert has said.

Magma has been building underneath Iceland and Margaret Hartley, a senior lecturer in Earth sciences at the University of Manchester, said an eruption was a case of when, not if.

“I do think an eruption will take place, but the big question is when that might happen,” she told Live Science.

An eruption would take place when an open fracture connecting the magma dike to the Earth’s surface opens up.

“The most likely way to create this fracture is that a pressure build-up of gas bubbles in the dike will force magma towards the surface, breaking the crust apart,” she said.

“The process is a bit like shaking up a can of fizzy drink — as soon as a crack opens in the top of the can, the drink escapes with lots of frothing.”

Read the full piece here.

The purple area is the highest danger zone , encompassing Hagafell, north east of the town of Grindavik (Icelandic Met Office)
The purple area is the highest danger zone , encompassing Hagafell, north east of the town of Grindavik (Icelandic Met Office)

Elderly people evacuated from nursing home rehoused say Red Cross

Wednesday 22 November 2023 15:30 , Maira Butt

Many elderly people were evacuated from a nursing home in Víðihlíð following earthquakes and “high risk” threats of a volcanic eruption in the area, according to RUV.

Elfa Dögg, a team leader at the Red Cross, confirmed that this group of vulnerable people were now in housing and getting the services they needed in response to a question by Iceland’s morning paper.

Over four thousand people were ordered to leave their homes in Grindavik amid thousands of earthquakes and the threat of an “imminent” volcanic eruption.

Thousands of people have had to leave their homes amid serious warnings (AFP via Getty Images)
Thousands of people have had to leave their homes amid serious warnings (AFP via Getty Images)

Tenants permitted to cancel leases in Grindavik according to attorney

Wednesday 22 November 2023 15:00 , Maira Butt

The legal status of tenants was discussed at a tenant’s association meeting last night, according to RUV.

In the opinion of attorney Gísl Tryggvason, tenants from Grindavík have the right to cancel their leases due to the situation that has arisen there.

Chairman of the tenant’s association said: “We mustn’t forget that there are 1,200 new families on the rental market who were not on the rental market before. So all Grindvíkings, or most of them, are now becoming tenants, and they also need to realize what their position is in the rental market, which we all know is very unhealthy.”

Video: The Independent at site of town roadblock where there is ‘high risk of volcanic eruption’

Wednesday 22 November 2023 14:30 , Barney Davis in Reykjavik

Grindavik remained subject to a roadblock this morning as search and rescue ensured no access was permitted to the site where there is a “high risk of volcanic eruption” according to Iceland’s Met Office.

The Independent’s Barney Davis is reporting live from Iceland where media are said to be allowed more open access to take photos and share public information soon.

Media will be allowed into area ‘in orderly manner’ after complaints

Wednesday 22 November 2023 14:00 , Maira Butt

Media will be allowed into the Grindavik area ‘in an orderly manner’ according to a press conference held by the country’s civil defence team.

It comes after the Journalists Association of Iceland made an appeal about the lack of media access to sites relating to the volcanic eruption.

The complaint mentioned that journalists are usually working in dangerous conditions, including in disaster and conflict areas that ordinary citizens have been ordered to leave, saying in a statement on their website “one of the roles of the media is to report news from such areas”.

The Minister of Media had previously said she regretted that media access had not been better. However, officials at the press conference on Wednesday morning said it was important to remember that officials were finding their feet in new territory.

Red Cross says ‘important to be gentle’ and speak to children in ‘age appropriate’ manner

Wednesday 22 November 2023 13:30 , Maira Butt

A team leader at the Red Cross, Elfa Dögg Leifsdóttir, told a press conference that it was important to be gentle during this time of disruption for local residents as they wait for the outcome of a potential volcanic eruption.

She said “fluctuations are normal at times like these”. She advised people to “rest well, be patient with yourself and others”.

Ms Leifsdóttir told the conference that it was also important to ensure children were included in discussions on the threat of a volcano in a manner which was “age appropriate”.

Ms Leifsdóttir of the Red Cross told the conference it was ‘important to be gentle' (almannavarnir)
Ms Leifsdóttir of the Red Cross told the conference it was ‘important to be gentle' (almannavarnir)

Over 700 requests for accommodation says Iceland’s National Defence

Wednesday 22 November 2023 13:15 , Maira Butt

There have been over 700 requests for accommodation by Grindavik residents according to Iceland’s National Defence in an interview with RUV.

The government website has added a portal for the over 4,000 evacuated residents to request housing as well as commercial premises to continue business.

There is also a form available on the site for residents to request access to the town to retrieve belongings. Emergency personnel have accompanied these trips so far, with 78 scheduled to enter the town today.

Víðir Reynisson, Director of Icelandic Defence told the press conference that the flow of magma must stop before restrictions can be reconsidered (Almannavarnir)
Víðir Reynisson, Director of Icelandic Defence told the press conference that the flow of magma must stop before restrictions can be reconsidered (Almannavarnir)

Possibility of ‘pumping water on lava’ say officials

Wednesday 22 November 2023 12:53 , Maira Butt

Icelandic officials say they are considering all possibilites when it comes to a possible volcanic eruption, including pumping water over the lava. Experts previously said that the volcano could erupt like a “fizzy drink”.

Víðir Reynisson, director of the Icelandic National Defense told RUV at a public meeting this morning:

“We are in the European cooperation on civil defense and there are all kinds of teams that are registered there.

“Among other things, there are teams that pump flood water, and we wanted to investigate whether it was possible to use the equipment that pumps an uncontrollable amount of water and bring it to the edge of the lava.”

‘Economy could be strongly affected by eruption’ says Bank of Iceland

Wednesday 22 November 2023 12:30 , Maira Butt

Iceland’s central bank kept its key policy rates unchanged on Wednesday due to uncertainty around the effects of a possible volcanic eruption.

“There is significant uncertainty about the economic consequences of a possible volcanic eruption in the region and the impact on the government’s need for funding, which could have a considerable impact on treasury bond yields,” the central bank said.

“If a large eruption takes place near key infrastructure, the resulting damage could be substantial. The economy could also be strongly affected by a protracted eruption,” the central bank said.

“The impact on tourism, other exports, public sector performance, the exchange rate and inflation could be significant,” it added.

Residents permitted to enter evacuated town are contacted

Wednesday 22 November 2023 12:00 , Maira Butt

Those who will be allowed back into Grindavik have been contacted, according to Iceland’s RUV.

According to the announcement which was made by the police chief in Suðurnes, contact had been made with a total of 78 residents of Grindavik who will be allowed the chance to enter the town today.

Only contacted residents are permitted to enter the town, and must register in advance. Emergency personnel will be trasported along with residents.

They will be allowed to enter from 9am, while businesses will be allowed in from 3pm.

Chief superintendent says ‘restrictions are being considered'

Wednesday 22 November 2023 11:27 , Maira Butt

Víðir Reynisson, the chief superintendent of the Office of the National Commissioner for the Police has told a press conference that ‘restrictions are being considered’.

He said limitations on access and movement into the area would be adjusted once there was information that the flow of magma into the magma tunnel had stopped, which was not the case at present.

Víðir Reynisson told the press conference that the flow of magma must stop before restrictions can be reconsidered (Almannavarnir)
Víðir Reynisson told the press conference that the flow of magma must stop before restrictions can be reconsidered (Almannavarnir)

Icelandic civil defence unit holds press conference

Wednesday 22 November 2023 11:17 , Maira Butt

Iceland’s Civil Defence unit held a press conference at 11am on Wednesday.

Officials thanked the volunteer-led efforts, police and fire brigade services as well as the media for sharing public information.

They have reiterated that the situation on the ground remains unchanged.

Iceland’s Met Office has retained a warning that the risk of an eruption is ‘high’

Civil defence and police were present at the press conference (Almannavarnir)
Civil defence and police were present at the press conference (Almannavarnir)

Work on defence walls to keep out lava stopped due to bad weather

Wednesday 22 November 2023 11:15 , Maira Butt

Work being done to build defence walls to keep out the flow of lava was halted on Tuesday night due to bad weather, according to the Iceland Monitor.

“Work on the defense walls was basically stopped last night,” a construction engineer told The Monitor.

“It’s a bit affected by the weather, but the Met Office issued a statement that it couldn’t monitor the area safely with air quality meters, so we took the decision to stop last night and we’re going to stop today as well.

“We’ll then re-evaluate the situation later today, before the night shift starts. So this is the situation at the moment.”

A large crack is seen in the road (AP)
A large crack is seen in the road (AP)

Iceland’s central bank keeps rates on hold amid threat of volcanic eruption

Wednesday 22 November 2023 10:45 , Maira Butt

The central bank of Iceland will keep its key policy interest rate unchanged at 9.25 per cent amid uncertainty around ongoing earthquakes, saying a potential volcanic eruption outweighed the risk of soaring inflation.

The Bank of Iceland’s monetary policy committee said: “The MPC has decided to keep the key interest rate unchanged, owing to uncertainty about the economic impact of seismic activity on the Reykjanes peninsula.”

Almost 4,000 people were evacuated this month from a coastal town as the ground shook, roads cracked and buildings suffered structural damage from thousands of quakes, and as scientists feared molten rock could imminently rise to the earth’s surface.

Located between the Eurasian and the North American tectonic plates, Iceland is a perennial seismic hot spot, but direct volcanic threats to inhabited areas are still rare.

In pictures: Town at site of eruption closed by search and rescue roadblock

Wednesday 22 November 2023 10:15 , Barney Davis in Reyjavik

The sun is rising at the Search and Rescue roadblock at Grindavavikurvegur letting 18 wheeler lorries out but no residents in.

The recently expanded lockdown zone from the north side has closed the only available road to the thermal baths of Blue Lagoon.

No residents are allowed past the roadblock (Barney Davis)
No residents are allowed past the roadblock (Barney Davis)
Only 18-wheeler lorries were allowed through (Barney Davis)
Only 18-wheeler lorries were allowed through (Barney Davis)
The Search and Rescue roadblock at Grindavavikurvegur (Barney Davis)
The Search and Rescue roadblock at Grindavavikurvegur (Barney Davis)

‘Leave the area!’: Emergency alerts sent to people around Grindavik

Wednesday 22 November 2023 09:46 , Barney Davis (in Reykjavik)

The Independent’s Barney Davis is reporting live from the ground in Iceland.

People have received a text message from 112 emergency updates.

“The area around Grindavík has been closed. No entry – LEAVE THE AREA!”

Rescue teams say eruption “now a waiting game"

Wednesday 22 November 2023 09:21 , Barney Davis (in Reykjavik)

Iceland watches on helplessly as rescue workers escorting locals back to the evacuated fishing town of Grindavik say it is “now a waiting game” before an eruption.

Gripped viewers are glued to main TV News channel RUV.is as it plays a live stream of the glowing crater with modern Icelandic electronic music underneath as the countdown continued on Tuesday.

Jon Baglundsson, spokesperson for the ICE-SAR, a volunteer rescue team escorting hundreds to retrieve valuables, said it’s “now a waiting game”.

He told The Independent: “Since the village was evacuated over a week ago we have been working to let residents retrieve their most heartfelt valuables in small numbers every day.

“This project has been going quite well and running smoothly.

“This takes time, there are 1,200 homes. People are mostly coming back for pictures of children, grandchildren on hard drives or whatever people store on their memories nowadays.”

Read the full piece here.

Thousands have been evacuated from Grindavik (REUTERS)
Thousands have been evacuated from Grindavik (REUTERS)

Iceland's Met Office records 'considerably' fewer earthquakes overnight

Wednesday 22 November 2023 07:45 , Barney Davis

From midnight there have been around 50 earthquakes detected centred around the magmatic intrusion near Grindavík compared to the 1,500-1,800 earthquakes that jolted the town daily.

The Met Office added that no events larger than Magnitude 2.0 have been detected today, so far.

A spokesman conceded: “It can be anticipated that the intense weather passing over the country affects the sensitivity of the seismic network to detect micro-earthquakes, making it difficult to assess whether the seismic activity is decreasing.

“Waves affect the low-frequency signals in the seismometers where waves appear as noise. Fog and dark hail also affect the visual confirmation of the eruption with cameras.”

Is it safe to travel to Iceland?

Wednesday 22 November 2023 07:30 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

The earth is at its most restless in Iceland right now. The Reykjanes peninsula, southwest of Reykjavik, is seething with seismic activity sparking hundreds of small earthquakes.

The town of Grindavík, just 10 miles south of Keflavik International Airport, has been evacuated as a precaution.

Yet flights are continuing to arrive and depart as normal. These are the key questions and answers on consumer rights.

Simon Calder has more.

Is it safe to travel to Iceland? Your rights if you have a holiday booked

Eruption at magma dyke would likely be within days, says top official

Wednesday 22 November 2023 07:00 , Alexander Butler

If an eruption is going to occur in the magma dyke near Grindavik, it will likely be “within days”, Iceland’s civil defence chief has said.

According to Iceland’s national broadcaster RUV, Víðir Reynisson told reporters this morning: “We have very clear signs of magma along the dyke. It is estimated at less than 1km depth.

“Since then we have not seen signs of it getting closer to the surface. The likely time of something happening along the dyke, especially in the center, if it happens, is within days not weeks.

“If this continues without an eruption the chance of one decreases with time pretty rapidly. But then we see the changes at Svartsengi which possibly introduce the next stage of this.”

Iceland residents fleeing imminent volcanic eruption told they face months away from home

Wednesday 22 November 2023 06:30 , Alexander Butler

At a Civil Defence briefing last week, director Víðir Reynisson said there was significant damage to houses and pipes in the evacuated town of Grindavik, my colleague Athena Stavrou reports.

The fishing town has been the most affected area in Iceland, as the magma tunnel snakes beneath the ground leaving huge cracks in roads.

While the eruption is most likely to happen in Hagafell, there is a possibility that it could happen anywhere along the magma tunnel.

Mr Reynisson said: “This plus uncertainty about earthquakes means that residents have to prepare to live elsewhere in the coming months.”

Locals have been permitted to briefly enter their homes for five minutes this week to collect their valuables and pets but need prior authorisation.

Iceland officials reveal where volcano will likely erupt

Journalists call for media access to Grindavik

Wednesday 22 November 2023 06:00 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

Journalists in Iceland have criticised the authorities for restricting media access to the small fishing town of Grindavik, which was evacuated ahead of an imminent volcanic eruption.

“It is the role of the media to gather information, share information, allow the voice of the public to be heard and provide restraint to the authorities,” said Erla Björg Gunnarsdóttir, editor of the Vísis newsroom.

“These restrictions in Grindavik prevent this role of the media altogether,” the editor was quoted by state broadcaster RUV as saying.

Þorsteinn Ásgrímsson Melén, deputy news director of mbl.is, said: “There are many things that need to be monitored and it is natural that the media have their eyes on it.”

Both editors claimed that the government did not consult with the media before shutting down access to reporters.

“We need to stop treating the media like naughty kids on a field trip to Grindavik. We cannot convincingly tell about what is happening in Grindavik while reporters are not allowed to enter,” Ms Erla added.

Met Office says stormy weather could disrupt monitoring systems

Wednesday 22 November 2023 05:42 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

Authorities in Iceland fear stormy weather conditions could affect monitoring systems as the country awaits an “imminent” volcanic eruption.

Just 165 small tremors have been recorded in the affected region since midnight on Monday, compared to the thousands that jolted the town of Grindavik in the days prior.

The IMO said it is likely the adverse weather conditions are impacting “both the sensitivity of earthquake detection and real-time GPS monitoring”.

“Waves affect the low-frequency signals in the seismometers where waves appear as noise. Fog and dark hail also affect the visual confirmation of the eruption with cameras,” it added.

Owners of over 100 properties allowed to enter Grindavik briefly

Wednesday 22 November 2023 05:30 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

The owners of more than 100 properties were allowed to enter Grindavik briefly to collect their belongings that were left behind during the evacuation last week.

Nearly 4,000 residents of the small fishing town were evacuated after a swarm of earthquakes triggered a volcano eruption warning.

All the residents were asked to arrive at a meeting point outside Grindavik, following which they were escorted into the town and back by security personnel.

Businesses operating in Grindavik to receive housing assistance

Wednesday 22 November 2023 05:00 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

Companies and businesses operating in the small fishing town of Grindavik would be able to request assistance in finding housing.

Companies are urged to register information related to their business on the website island.is/grindavik.

They have been asked to fill in the minimum requirement in square metres and the "number of employees at the company that need work facilities on the premises".

Area near power plant entering ‘new eruption phase’, says volcanologist

Wednesday 22 November 2023 04:30 , Alexander Butler

The area near the Svartsengi power plant has entered a “new eruption phase”, an Icelandic volcanologist has suggested.

The land near the power plant is swelling as a chamber some 4.5 kilometres below the surface fills with magma at a rate of around 50 cubic metres per second, according to Professor Thorvaldur Thordarson – in a repeat of the events which saw huge fissures appear in the ground earlier this month.

“I think the likelihood of an eruption in the northern part of the Sundhnúkar crater row or in Illahraun lava increasing every day. I think the likelihood of an eruption there is increasing because of the land rise in that area,” Professor Thordarson told Iceland Monitor.

He added: “We’re in a new and a changed situation and we’ve entered a new the eruption phase, and so it’s very constructive for us to think about what kind of preventive measures we can take. What can we do before an eruption occurs that will help us reduce its impact on society and infrastructure?”

Roads crack open in Grindavik

Wednesday 22 November 2023 04:00 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

This image taken with a drone shows cracks at an intersection in the town of Grindavik, Iceland (AP)
This image taken with a drone shows cracks at an intersection in the town of Grindavik, Iceland (AP)
A member of search and rescue team jumps over the crack in a road in the fishing town of Grindavik (REUTERS)
A member of search and rescue team jumps over the crack in a road in the fishing town of Grindavik (REUTERS)

Fewer earthquakes recorded ahead of ‘imminent’ volcanic eruption

Wednesday 22 November 2023 03:30 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

Just 165 earthquakes, all below magnitude 2 on the Richter scale, were recorded on Tuesday ahead of the anticipated volcanic eruption, the Icelandic Met Office (IMO) said.

This is considerably fewer than in the last few days when 1,500-1,800 earthquakes were recorded per day.

However, officials said this did not necessarily mean that seismic activity had reduced.

“It can be expected that the intense weather passing over the country has an impact on the sensitivity of the seismic monitoring system to detect the smallest earthquakes, making it difficult to assess whether the seismic activity is decreasing overall,” the Met Office said.

Iceland braces for ‘imminent’ volcanic eruption with just 30 minutes warning

Wednesday 22 November 2023 03:00 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

Iceland watches on helplessly as rescue workers escorting locals back to the evacuated fishing town of Grindavik say it is “now a waiting game” before an eruption.

Gripped viewers are glued to state broadcaster RUV as it plays a live stream of the glowing crater with modern Icelandic electronic music underneath as the countdown continued on Tuesday.

It comes as 1,200 households scramble to grab as many “heartfelt” objects as they can under observation from rescue teams from the town above the volatile Reykjanes Peninsula.

The police checkpoint lies 25km (15.5 miles) away from the town but only 12km (7.5 miles) from cracks starting to form across the roads and stretching far into the mountains.

Barney Davis reports from Rejkavik.

Iceland glued to ‘imminent’ volcano eruption amid 30 minute warning

Ground near power plant swells as chamber beneath floods with magma

Wednesday 22 November 2023 02:30 , Alexander Butler

The land near the Svartsengi power plant is now rising even faster than it did prior to the subterranean events which led to huge cracks appearing in the ground there earlier this month, a volcanologist has said.

Land swelling is common prior to volcanic eruptions, and Professor Thorvaldur Thordarson said the ground is now rising some 5.5 times faster than it did 10 days ago, with the flow of magma into the storage chamber – which sits 4.5km below the surface – now around 10 times faster, at around 50 cubic metres per second.

“The land is rising much faster now. This happens simultaneously because the magma is creating space and thus raising the surface of the earth,” Professor Thordarson told Iceland Monitor.

If this speed continues, the volcanologist believes the Svartsengi power plant will have reached its previous position in five to 15 days.

“What happens then, it’s hard to tell,” he said. “We might get an eruption, we might have a re-run of the activitites that happened on 10 November or just something completely new.”

‘It’s like a dystopian movie’: Iceland residents describe ‘apocalyptic’ scenes as they flee volcano threat

Wednesday 22 November 2023 00:30 , Lydia Patrick

Residents from a small Icelandic town under threat from a volcanic eruption have described their ‘apocalyptic’ existence as they fear for their future.

Last Friday, thousands of Grindavik residents were ordered to leave as the town was rocked by hundreds of earthquakes. The small fishing town is 34 miles from Reykjavík and is home to the famous tourist attraction the Blue Lagoon.

Many have been unable to return to the ‘danger zone’ to collect their belongings, as earthquakes continue to strike the town.

Iceland residents describe ‘apocalyptic’ scenes as they flee volcano threat