Iceland’s looming volcano blast is just the beginning of a new era of volcanic eruptions that will last for centuries, with the build-up of magma beneath the coastal town of Grindavik signaling that more is to come, scientists have warned.
The Fagradalsfjall volcano on the Reykjanes Peninsula is threatening to erupt, with Iceland’s Met Office saying that the ‘likelihood of a volcanic eruption is high’ and could happen at any time in the coming days.
After 800 years of inactivity, a 2021 eruption marked the start of a new cycle of volcanic activity, and now Cambridge volcanologist Clive Oppenheimer, says that blast may have kicked off ‘a new eruptive phase’ which could last centuries.
‘Time’s finally up,’ Edward W. Marshall, a researcher at the University of Iceland’s Nordic Volcanological Center told Live Science. ‘We can get ready for another few hundred years of eruptions on the Reykjanes.’
The region has been rattled by around 1,100 new earthquakes since midnight, with experts warning that magma is rising ever closer to the earth’s surface fueling fears of an imminent volcanic eruption.
Thousands of quakes over the past few days have turned the fishing community of Grindavik into a ‘ghost town’, with 4,000 residents forced to evacuate.
Those who were allowed to return to their properties with emergency services to collect belongings were ordered to evacuate yesterday after the Icelandic Met Office said its meters had detected increased levels of sulphur dioxide – a possible indicator of an eruption.
Videos have shown apocalyptic scenes in the deserted town, with homes torn apart and gaping chasms opening up in roads. Mother-of-four Magga Huld AfaÖmmudóttir, who was only given seven minutes to gather things from her house on Monday, said her family was left homeless after terrifying earthquakes completely wrecked their property.
‘Friday was terrible, the earthquakes did not stop for many hours, but we left our house Friday night at 9 pm with clothes for two days and two boxes of photo albums, then just planned to come the next day to pick up more,’ Magga told MailOnline.
‘I feel ok, but get scared and jump at the slightest sound, and then we are homeless in one minute – I’ve got all kinds of emotions going on,’ said the 50-year-old.
‘We got to go inside the house on Monday. We had seven minutes to pick up what we wanted to save, but the emphasis was on personal things from my family – my mother, grandmother, and grandfather – and clothes.’
Sharing the video from inside her home, Magga described her devastation at losing the house she and her husband worked years to buy.
Footage shows how her home was ripped from its foundations by the force of relentless quakes, forcing the family to flee on Friday taking just a few belongings. Around 4,000 residents were evacuated from Grindavik on Saturday morning, hours after Iceland declared a state of emergency.
The southwestern Reykjanes Peninsula has been shaken by thousands of quakes since a seismic swarm hit on October 25, with Iceland ‘on edge’ as it anticipates Fagradalsfjall, just a few kilometres from Grindavik, will erupt.
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