Iceland earthquake weaker, but volcano warning continues

  • By Robert Plummer
  • BBC news

video caption,

A couple of movie houses shake as tremors hit Icelandic town

Seismic activity has subsided in southwest Iceland, but a volcanic eruption is still expected, scientists say.

Although more than 500 earthquakes have struck the Reykjanes peninsula since midnight, they have been weaker than in the past two days.

But experts stress that a 15km-long (9 miles) river of magma running under the peninsula is still active, threatening the now-evacuated town of Grindavik.

Most of the tremors have occurred during it, and hundreds of people have fled.

Cracks have appeared on the city’s roads as subsidence takes its toll on the area.

Grindavik is only 15 km south of Keflavik International Airport, but flights still arrive and depart as normal.

The resulting ash cloud brought chaos to the European airline industry for a full week, with more than 50,000 flights cancelled.

So far, however, no similar air pollution has occurred.

A man who was forced to leave Grindavik has said he fears he will never see his home again.

Gisli Gunnarsson, 29, a music composer born and raised in the city, told the PA news agency the situation was “ugly”.

His girlfriend Caitlin McLean from Scotland, who was visiting him at the time, captured the moment on Friday when the furniture and light fixtures shook violently in Mr Gunnarsson’s home.

“Four o’clock on Friday, [the earthquakes] just started being non-stop. Just constant big earthquakes for hours,” Gunnarsson said.

“First of all, the thought that you might never see your hometown ever again, it’s tough.

“We all rushed out [Grindavik] so quickly, in a matter of hours, so we didn’t really think at the time that it might be the last time we see our home, so it’s been hard.”

Thousands of tremors have been recorded around the nearby Fagradalsfjall volcano in recent weeks.

They have been concentrated on the Reykjanes Peninsula, which had remained dormant to volcanic activity for 800 years before an eruption in 2021.

Iceland has declared a state of emergency, while the Icelandic Meteorological Office has said there is a significant risk of an eruption.

Thor Thordason, professor of volcanology at the University of Iceland, told the BBC that the magma was now less than 800m below the surface and that an eruption appeared imminent.

“Unfortunately, the most likely eruption site appears to be within the boundaries of the town of Grindavik,” he added.


Cracks appear on a road due to volcanic activity near a police station in Grindavik, Iceland on November 11

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