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Iceland volcano: Emergency declared over volcano Fagradalsfjall eruption concerns

Iceland has declared a state of emergency following a series of earthquakes that have raised concerns about a potential volcanic eruption. In response, authorities have ordered the evacuation of the southwestern town of Grindavík as a precautionary measure. The Icelandic Met Office expressed worries about the underground spread of a significant amount of magma, or molten rock, which could potentially surface in the area. The seismic activity has been centered around the Fagradalsfjall volcano on Iceland’s Reykjanes Peninsula, which had been dormant for 800 years before experiencing eruptions in 2021. The increased seismic activity prompted the closure of the nearby Blue Lagoon landmark, and over 20,000 tremors have been recorded in southwest Iceland since late October.

The Icelandic Civil Protection Agency clarified that the evacuation is a preventive measure, not an immediate emergency, and urged residents to remain calm. The agency stated that there is no immediate imminent danger, emphasizing that the evacuation is primarily aimed at ensuring the safety of Grindavík residents. The decision to evacuate came after the Icelandic Met Office could not rule out the possibility of a magma tunnel forming and reaching Grindavík. All roads into the town, home to around 4,000 people, are closed except for emergencies.

The Icelandic Met Office highlighted significant changes in seismic activity, with tremors moving towards Grindavík over the course of the day. It noted that magma likely extends beneath the town, and the exact location and timing of its emergence are uncertain. Iceland is known for its high geological activity, boasting around 30 active volcanic sites. Recent eruptions in the Fagradalsfjall area drew tourists to witness the formation of the “world’s newest baby volcano,” which had been dormant for eight centuries until the eruptions in 2021, 2022, and now 2023.

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