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800 Quakes Iceland, Blue Lagoon Shuts Down: World Famous Attraction Hit by 14-Hour Seismic Activity

Iceland declares state of emergency after powerful earthquakes, possible precursor to volcanic eruption. Grindavik village has evacuation plans in place.

Iceland has declared a state of emergency after a series of powerful earthquakes in the southwestern Reykjanes peninsula, which could be a precursor to a volcanic eruption. The National police chief declared the state of emergency due to the intense earthquake activity at Sundhnjukagigar, north of Grindavik. The Icelandic Met Office has warned that an eruption could take place in several days. The village of Grindavik, home to around 4,000 people, is located near the area where the earthquake swarm was registered. Evacuation plans are in place in case of an eruption.

Two strong earthquakes were felt as far away as the capital Reykjavik, rattling windows and household objects. The biggest tremor had a magnitude of 5.2, north of Grindavik. A road running north-south to Grindavik was closed after being damaged by the tremors. The Icelandic Met Office has registered around 24,000 tremors on the peninsula since late October, with nearly 800 quakes registered on Friday.

The IMO has noted an accumulation of magma underground at a depth of about five kilometers. The Department of Civil Protection has sent the patrol vessel Thor to Grindavik for security purposes and is preparing emergency shelters and help centers in several locations in southern Iceland. The Blue Lagoon, a popular tourist destination near Grindavik, has also closed as a precaution.

Iceland has 33 active volcanic systems, the highest number in Europe, and the Reykjanes volcanic system had remained dormant for eight centuries prior to the March 2021 eruption. Volcanologists believe the new cycle of increased activity could last for several decades or centuries. An eruption at another Iceland volcano in 2010 forced the cancellation of thousands of flights and left millions of travelers stranded.

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