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In the span of 48 hours, Iceland has been hit by 1,485 earthquakes, causing concerns of a potential volcanic eruption due to the ongoing seismic activity.
The Reykjanes peninsula in the southwest of the country has experienced the majority of tremors, with small earthquakes occurring daily for over two weeks. These tremors are a result of volcanic magma accumulating three miles below the surface.
As a precautionary measure, thousands have been instructed to leave the town of Grindavik due to the presence of a magma tunnel beneath the surface.
The travel advisory from the UK foreign office has been revised, cautioning about the growing possibility of a volcanic eruption.
The official notice states that there has been a rise in earthquakes and signs of volcanic activity on the Reykjanes peninsula, located southwest of Reykjavik.
“The Icelandic authorities continue to monitor the area closely, particularly the area northwest of Mt Thorbjörn near the Svartsengi power plant and the Blue Lagoon. On 10 November, a Civil Protection Alert was declared after an intense swarm of earthquakes.
As a precautionary measure, the town of Grindavík was evacuated. Certain roads have been shut down and it is recommended for visitors to avoid the region.
The Keflavik International Airport is currently functioning normally. Although there is currently no volcanic activity, there is a growing potential for an eruption to take place.
It is recommended to keep an eye on local news and heed the guidance of authorities regarding travel to the specific area.
However, it did not recommend avoiding travel to the country, as flights from the UK are still operating.
Airline and vacation companies are continuing to run their trips as scheduled, therefore passengers do not have the option to cancel their plans automatically.
Iceland is extremely vulnerable to natural disasters due to its location on the Mid Atlantic Ridge. This area is where the North American Plate and the Eurasian Plate are separating, causing frequent volcanic activity and earthquakes.
The exact magnitude of the increasing volcanic danger remains unknown to experts.
Dr Evgenia Ilyinskaya, an associate professor at the school of earth and environment at the University of Leeds, shared on X, formerly Twitter: “Still much uncertainty about what the scientific data are telling us about the magma intrusion under #Grindavik but the general consensus is that the intrusion is larger than has been seen in recent eruptions.”