Volcano Triggers Evacuation of Iceland Tourist Attraction

Volcano erupted for the 3rd time since December
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 8, 2024 4:02 AM CST
Iceland Volcano Erupts for 3rd Time Since December
A view of the volcano erupting, north of Grindavik, Iceland, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024.   (AP Photo/Marco Di Marco)

A volcano in southwestern Iceland erupted for the third time since December on Thursday, sending jets of lava into the sky and triggering the evacuation of the Blue Lagoon spa, one of the island nation's biggest tourist attractions. The eruption began at about 1am Eastern along a nearly two-mile fissure northeast of Mount Sundhnukur, the Icelandic Meteorological Office said. The event is taking place about 2.5 miles northeast of Grindavik, a coastal town of 3,800 people that was evacuated before a previous eruption on Dec. 18, the AP reports.

The Icelandic Meteorological Office said that lava was flowing to the west and there was no immediate threat to Grindavik, or to a major power plant in the area. Civil defense officials said that no one was believed to be in the town at the time of the eruption, Icelandic national broadcaster RUV reported. "They weren't meant to be, and we don't know about any," said Víðir Reynisson, the head of Iceland's Civil Defense. The nearby Blue Lagoon thermal spa was closed when the eruption began and all the guests were safely evacuated, RUV said.

The Icelandic Met Office warned earlier this week of a possible eruption after monitoring a buildup of subsurface magma for the past three weeks. Hundreds of small earthquakes had been measured in the area, capped by a burst of intense seismic activity about a half-hour before the latest eruption began. Grindavik, about 30 miles southwest of Iceland's capital, Reykjavik, was evacuated in November when the Svartsengi volcanic system awakened after almost 800 years with a series of earthquakes that opened large cracks in the earth between the town and Sylingarfell, a small mountain to the north. The volcano eventually erupted on Dec. 18, sending lava flowing away from Grindavik. A second eruption that began on Jan. 14 sent lava toward the town.

(More Iceland volcano stories.)

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