As seismic activity and subterranean lava flows escalate in the Reykjanes peninsula, Icelandic authorities are taking proactive measures to safeguard a geothermal power plant in the region. Concerns of an impending volcanic eruption have prompted the evacuation of nearly 4,000 residents from the fishing town of Grindavik.
Despite a reduction in seismic activity, the Icelandic Meteorological Institute emphasized on Tuesday that the probability of an eruption remains high. Approximately 800 earthquakes were recorded in the area between midnight and noon on Tuesday, a decrease from the previous two days.
Rikke Pedersen, head of the Nordic Volcanological Centre in Reykjavik, noted that diminished seismic activity before an eruption is not necessarily indicative of reduced risk. “Less seismic activity typically precedes an eruption because you have come so close to the surface that you cannot build up a lot of tension to trigger large earthquakes,” she explained.
In preparation for potential lava flows, authorities are gearing up to construct a substantial dyke around the Svartsengi geothermal power plant, situated just over 6 kilometers from Grindavik. The plant, operated by HS Orka, supplies power to the entire country, and while any disruption would not affect Reykjavik's power supply, protective measures are imperative.
Iceland's Justice Minister, Gudrun Hafsteinsdottir, informed state broadcaster RUV that materials and equipment equivalent to 20,000 trucks were being mobilized to fortify the plant. The construction of the protective dyke is contingent on formal approval from the government.
Residents of Grindavik, who were temporarily allowed back to their homes on Monday and Tuesday to retrieve belongings, face an uncertain situation. Kristin Maria Birgisdottir, a Grindavik resident, expressed her readiness to seize the opportunity to collect personal items. However, the overall atmosphere remains tense as the region grapples with the potential threat of a volcanic eruption.