Man missing after falling into a ground crack in Grindavik, Iceland

Graben-like formation in Grindavik still forming and mechanically active, Iceland

A man is missing after falling into a ground crack caused by recent volcanic activity on Iceland’s Reykjanes Peninsula. The incident occurred in Grindavik, a coastal fishing town near the site of a recent eruption, on Wednesday morning, January 10, 2024.

The man, who had been working to compact soil into the crevasse, disappeared on the morning of January 11, 2024. Over 200 people have been involved in the overnight search efforts, yet the individual remains unlocated.

Úlfar Lúðvíksson, the region’s police chief, expressed determination to continue the search until the man is found. He emphasized the challenging nature of the operation, given the uncertainty around the depth of the crack and the need to ensure the safety of the rescue team. The operation involves a careful approach, with two individuals descending into the crevasse at a time.

The seismic activity on the Reykjanes Peninsula, first noted in early November, led to ground cracks in and around Grindavik, resulting in the evacuation of nearly 4 000 residents. The town is situated near a 15 km (9.3 miles) long vertical intrusion of magma, which caused a significant eruption on December 18.

While the lava flows have moved northeastward, away from Grindavik and into uninhabited areas, authorities have taken measures to protect the town and the nearby Svartsengi geothermal power plant. This includes constructing earth walls and channels to divert any approaching lava flows.

The fissure eruption ended on December 21, but seismic activity continues in the area, with the Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO) warning of a potential new eruption along the vertical dike. Land uplift in the Svartsengi area is ongoing, indicating a continued accumulation of magma beneath the surface.

“Calculations from models relying on deformation measurements (GPS and satellite images) indicate that the amount of magma accumulated in the reservoir beneath Svartsengi has reached a level comparable to the volume that led to the formation of the magma conduit and the subsequent eruption on December 18 last year. This suggests that there is an increased risk of an eruption in the coming days,” IMO said on January 5, 2024.

Images below were captured several weeks before the December 18 eruption:


1 Man Missing After Falling Into Crack in Earth – Newsweek – January 11, 2024

2 Increased Risk of an Eruption in the Coming Days – IMO – January 9, 2024

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One Comment

  1. Journey to the Center of the Earth? No, not funny, but why try to compact earth into the crack when the volcanic activity is still continuing and no one really knows where that might surface?

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