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Iceland volcano – live: Eruption threat high as workers race to shield power plant

Huge cracks appear on roads in Icelandic town at risk of volcanic eruption

Fears an Icelandic volcano will erupt remain high as magma spreads underground and huge cracks appear in the roads of a town most at risk.

Seismic activity in southwestern Iceland decreased in size and intensity on Monday, but the risk of a volcanic eruption remained significant, authorities said.

Around 900 earthquakes hit the south of the country on Monday, with tens of thousands of tremors reported in the region of Reykjanes in recent weeks.

Almost 4,000 people were evacuated from Grindavik over the weekend as authorities feared that molten rock would rise to the surface of the earth and potentially hit the coastal town and a geothermal power station.

On Tuesday authorities scrambled to build a defence wall around the Svartsengi power plant, located just over six kilometers from Grindavik, to protect it from lava flows amid fears of an eruption.

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The Icelandic Meteorological Office said on Saturday there was a “considerable” risk of an eruption on the Reykjanes peninsula because of the size of the underground magma intrusion and the rate at which it was moving.

Lava spurts and flows after the eruption of a volcano in the Reykjanes Peninsula

(Reuters)

Maira Butt15 November 2023 01:06

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Construction of lava barriers begins

The construction of lava barriers has begun around Svartsengi power plant and the Blue Lagoon.

The walls are being built to shield the power plant from being damaged and destroyed in the event of an eruption.

Iceland’s Parliament approved a bill just before midnight last night to enable the building of lava barriers, which will be financed through a tax hike, according to Iceland Review.

Maira Butt15 November 2023 00:01

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Volcanic eruption will not be as harmful as fossil fuels

Threats of an eruption have caused thousands of earthquakes in the last few days, but Mark Gongloff for Bloomberg writes that fossil fuels are still a hundred times more harmful.

In an attempt to clarify rumours circling on social media, the journalist confirmed that planet-warming gases could be emitted. But their scale and content would not be as harmful as the equivalent toxins emitted through human consumption and waste.

Maira Butt14 November 2023 23:15

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Icelandic Met Office reports increased levels of sulfur dioxide indicating “magma very high in earth’s crust”

Benedikt Ófeigsson at the Icelandic Met Office, has told RÚV that their new meters have detected increased levels of SO2, or sulfur dioxide.

He confirmed that the discovery had been shared with Grindavik’s police chief who had therefore made the decision to evacuation the town.

While he said this was their sole indication of a volcanic eruption occuring, he confirmed that gas does not appear this way unless magma is very high in the earth’s crust.

Cracks emerged in the town

(REUTERS)

Maira Butt14 November 2023 22:01

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Residents allowed in for second day to quickly collect belongings

Residents were allowed to return to the town of Grundavik to quickly collect belongings for a second day.

The evacuated citizens of the town at the centre of the disruption, were directed by police and authorities over designated safe roads to return to their homes and collect essential goods.

Police directed citizens back into and out of the town for the second day

(Getty Images)

Maira Butt14 November 2023 21:03

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In Pictures: Thousands evacuate as scientists warn eruption “likely”

Residents wait in a long line of cars to get into Grindavik to collect personal items on November 14, 2023 in Grindavik, Iceland. For the second day residents were allowed in to quickly collect personal belongings.

(Getty Images)

A resident from the town of Grindavik, Iceland, takes some of their belongings from their hous

(AP)

A view of packed household goods after Iceland’s Civil Protection Agency ordered a complete evacuation of Grindavik due to volcanic activity near Grindavik, Iceland

(via REUTERS)

Maira Butt14 November 2023 20:01

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Iceland news channel apologises for behaviour of employee amid volcano chaos

Iceland’s biggest news channel, RÚV, has apologised for the behaviour of an employee who was recorded trying to get into a locked property amid volcano chaos.

Residents had left their homes and evacuated the town of Grindavik, when the employee was recorded looking for keys to get into the property.

In a statement on their website, they said: “RÚV’s reporters have tried to cover the events in Grindavík with respect for the residents and their property, and the work practices seen in the video are not in the spirit of the work rules or the spirit in which the news agency operates.

We have attributed the incident to a misunderstanding and chaos at the scene, but will subsequently review our work procedures and work rules and urge all those who go to the scene to respect the privacy and property of Grindvíkin, and not cause them more inconvenience or grief than they already have.”

An employee was recorded trying to enter a building which had been locked by a resident after evacuation

(via REUTERS)

Maira Butt14 November 2023 19:02

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Could toxic gas spread across Europe if volcano erupts?

Experts have discussed the possibilites of the spread of smoke and toxic gas across Europe in a repeat of the disruption caused in 2010 which saw hundreds of flights cancelled across Europe.

Sky News spoke to Dr Phil Collins, deputy dean and reader in geology and geotechnical engineering at Brunel University London, who suggested it could also be compared to the eruption of Laki in 1783 for comparison due to similarities in geology.

He told the broadcaster: “There may be a substantial release of volcanic gases such as sulphur dioxide which reacts with water in the ground and atmosphere to create tiny droplets of sulphuric acid, and fluorine.

“A large Icelandic eruption at Laki in 1783 released enough toxic gas to kill large numbers of livestock in Iceland, leading to a famine.

“The gas spread across northern Europe, including the British Isles, leading to changes in weather patterns and a significant number of deaths from lung problems. There were knock-on effects elsewhere in the northern hemisphere.

“At present, it doesn’t look like a Laki-scale disaster is likely, but there will be local and regional effects.”

He said a smoke cloud was unlikely as in 2010 there was a glacier on top of the eruption – hence the rising cloud. That isn’t the case at Fagradalsfjall eruption, Dr Collins says.

The 2010 eruption caused widespread disruption across Europe

(AFP)

Maira Butt14 November 2023 17:45

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Grindavik resident dashes back home to collect belongings

A Grindavik resident dashed back home to collect some belongings after the town was evacuated

Kristin Maria Birgisdottir, who works for the town municipality, said on Tuesday she only had the clothes she had worn for work on the day the town was evacuated.

“I’m getting prepared in case I get a chance to visit my house and get some of my belongings,” said Birgisdottir, who has moved to a summer house with her family.

Some residents had to be driven into Grindavik in emergency responders’ cars, while most inhabitants were allowed to drive into Grindavik in their private cars accompanied by emergency personnel.

Matt Mathers14 November 2023 17:00

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Reykjavik won’t be affected by any outage at power plant

Disruption to the Svartsengi geothermal power plant will not affect supplies in Iceland’s capital.

A spokesperson for HS Orka, operator of the power plant, said the plant supplies power to the entire country, although a disruption would not affect power supply to Reykjavik.

Iceland’s justice minister Gudrun Hafsteinsdottir told state broadcaster RUV that equipment and materials that could fill 20,000 trucks were being moved to the plant.

Construction of the protective dyke around the power station was awaiting formal approval from the government.

File photo: A general view of some tourists swimming in the Blue Lagoon hot pool on the Reykjanes Peninsula on Iceland. To the rear of the picture is the Svartsengi Power Plant. This is a world famous hot pool.

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Matt Mathers14 November 2023 16:30

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