Two earthquakes occurred around 5:30 pm (6:30 pm Belgium time) on Friday, with the strongest measuring 5.2 magnitude according to preliminary assessments by the Icelandic Meteorological Institute (IMO). The earthquake was felt as far away as Reykjavik, about forty kilometers from the seismic zone, and in large parts of the southern coast of the island.
The Civil Defense said in a press release: “The Chief of the National Police declared a state of emergency for the Civil Defense due to increased seismic activity in Sundhnjokajijar, north of Grindavik.”
The authorities also said: “Earthquakes may become stronger and these events may lead to a volcanic eruption.”
The International Maritime Organization warned that an eruption could occur “within days.”
The municipality of Grindavik, with a population of about 4,000 and located 3 kilometers from the area where the earthquakes occurred on Friday, was evacuated as a precaution. On Thursday, the tourist attraction Blue Lagoon, a geothermal pool southwest of the capital Reykjavik, was closed as a precaution.
About 24,000 earthquakes have been recorded in Reykjanes since the end of October. There were 800 earthquakes between midnight and 2 pm on Friday.
The Meteorological Institute also reported the accumulation of magma at a depth of 5 kilometers. If it reached the surface of the Earth, it would cause a volcanic explosion. There have been three eruptions in Reykjanes since 2021, all in remote areas.
Iceland has 33 active volcanic systems, the highest number in Europe. In 2010, the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano paralyzed air traffic in Europe.
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