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Eruption started north of Grindavík, lava enters city limits, Iceland

Eruption started north of Grindavík, Iceland january 14 2024

Another eruption began south-southeast of Hagafell, Reykjanes Peninsula, Iceland at 07:57 UTC on January 14, 2024. The latest images show the lava flowing toward the town of Grindavik. The perimeter was about 450 m (1 470 feet) from the northernmost houses in the town around 08:40 UTC.

According to the Icelandic Met Office (IMO), an intense series of earthquakes began at the Sundhnúksgígar crater row at around 03:00 UTC today, with more than 200 earthquakes over the next 3 hours.

The largest recorded earthquake was M3.5 at Hagafell at 04:07 UTC.

Approximately 45 minutes after the start of the eruption, images from the Coast Guard’s surveillance flight showed a crack had opened on both sides of the defenses that have begun to be built north of Grindavík.

Judging by the pictures, lava is now flowing towards Grindavík. Based on measurements from the Coast Guard’s helicopter, the perimeter is now about 450 m (1 470 feet) from the northernmost houses in the town.

Eruption started north of Grindavík, Iceland january 14 2024 bg
Image credit: IMO, Halldór Björnsson
Eruption started north of Grindavík, Iceland january 14 2024 bg2
Image credit: IMO, Halldór Björnsson

A red line on the map below shows the approximate location of the eruption:

map showing approximate location of eruption on january 14 2024
Credit: IMO

Live view of the eruption:

YouTube video

Just before the eruption started, the Norwegian Meteorological Agency updated the hazard assessment map in light of the interpretation of the latest data.

hazard assessment map january 14 2023 reykjanes iceland

Both real-time GPS measurements and borehole pressure readings (from HS Orka) showed major changes since the onset of earthquake activity. In addition, seismicity moved toward the town of Grindavik.

map showing latest earthquake activity reykjanes iceland january 14 2024
Image credit: IMO

The previous eruption in this region started on December 18, 2023, after months of intense seismicity and ground uplift, and ended on December 21.

Updates

15:30 UTC

The eruption near Hagafell-Grindavík has maintained the same strength for the past hour or so, IMO reported at 15:30 UTC.

Seismic measurements show that at the beginning of the unrest this morning, the magma-filled dike intrusion initially moved from the SE edge of Stóra-Skógfell and then continued southwest to the southern end of Grindavík.

At 05:30 UTC seismicity had reached the northern end of Grindavík and both seismicity and deformation measurements indicate the dike has since propagated beneath Grindavík town.

A new eruptive fissure opened at 12:10 UTC, just north of the town. Lava flows extruded from this fissure have now entered the town.

Due to the dike propagation, existing faults and fractures were reactivated and likely new fractures formed within Grindavík.

20:03 UTC

Two fissures are still erupting just north of Grindavík, the larger one is at Hagafell and the smaller one is right at the town’s border, IMO reported at 18:45 UTC, adding that lava flows from both fissures.

The smaller fissure, about 100 m (328 feet) long, which opened around 12:00 UTC, is just about 200 m (656 feet) from the Efrahópi neighborhood in Grindavík. 

Lava flows from it into the city limits and causes considerable damage there.

The northern and larger fissure that opened at 07:57 UTC is about 900 m (2 950 feet) long and lava flows from it mainly to the west. It is mostly to the north of the fortifications that have recently been under construction. They direct the lava flow to the west and the lava tongue has reached well over Grindavíkurveg and from there on to the southwest. 

A small part of the eruption is inside the dike, and the lava spread has been slowly expanding since this morning. 

The speed of lava flow is not high, but is highest in the middle of the lava tubes. The amount of magma flowing out of the fissures, the speed of the lava flow and the size of the lava will be better assessed tomorrow.

Along with the formation of the magma tunnel to the southwest this morning towards and probably under Grindavík, there was a large deformation in the area of ​​the eruption centers on new fissures and on older fissures that formed on November 10. 

When the magma tunnel formed last night, there was an extremely rapid deformation. After the second fissure opened, deformation decreased significantly and almost stopped as the day progressed, especially at Hagafell and north of it. Deformation is still measured within Grindavík, but it is decreasing. Decreasing deformation is considered to be a sign that magmatic pressure is reaching equilibrium. However, it is not excluded that more eruptions will form.

Pollution from the eruption is spreading to the south and southwest.

The Civil Defense has called for an information meeting at the Rescue Center in Skógarhlíð tonight at 19:00 UTC. At the meeting chaired by Víðir Reynisson, the director of Public Safety, the events of the day will be reviewed. Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir and Benedikt Halldórsson, head of the Earthquakes Program at the Icelandic Meteorological Office, will also be at the meeting.

YouTube video

References:

1 Eldgos hafið – IMO – January 14, 2024

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2 Comments

  1. I understand the impulse but “defenses” against a volcanic eruption and the flow of lava? Waste of time and resources. Case in point: the Big Island of Hawaii and its recent eruption/flow of lava. Remove as many possessions as possible and evacuate.

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