A possible volcanic eruption in Iceland.. What could happen if this happens?

2023-11-29 2023-11-29T19:56:25Z
ندى ماهر عبدربه
ندى ماهر عبدربه
صانع مُحتوى

ArabiaWeather - Iceland declared a state of emergency and asked more than 3,000 citizens to evacuate the coastal town of Grindavik, in anticipation of the expected eruption of a volcano on the southwestern peninsula.

Scientists from the Iceland Meteorological Office detected changes in the situation earlier in the month, noting magma approaching the surface, and concluded that the "most prominent area of rising magma" is centered 3.5 kilometers northeast of Grindavik.

So what details are known about the potential eruption in Iceland, and what are the risks associated with it? How might this potential eruption affect travel and daily life in the affected areas? Why is Iceland, despite its small size, a place that is home to so much seismic activity?

What happens if a volcano erupts in Iceland?

Iceland's Civil Protection Agency announced this month that the country is facing events "the likes of which its 360,000 residents have never seen before, at least since the Vestmannajjar eruption" in 1973 that destroyed about 400 homes.

Here are details about what happens in the event of a volcano eruption:

  • Changes in nature

The magma corridor, 15 kilometers long, runs from northwest of Grindavik directly to the Atlantic Ocean.

  • Magma and its effect

Magma is a mixture of molten and semi-molten rock beneath the Earth's surface, and can cause eruptions when it reaches the surface, forming lava.

  • Impact of undersea magma

If magma erupts under the sea, the eruption will be more powerful than on land, and may pose a greater threat.

  • Water effect

Michele Bolato of Imperial College London suggests that the interaction of magma with seawater could make the eruption more explosive, and could cause a phenomenon similar to the Surtsey Island eruption in 1963.

  • Impact on surrounding areas

Experts indicate that the volcanic eruption may affect Grindavik in particular, and the impact may last for several years.

Experts point out that the extent of the volcanic eruption in Iceland is not clear

Bill McGuire, Emeritus Professor of Geophysical and Climatic Hazards at University College London , noted that

“There is currently no reason to believe that this eruption will be particularly large,” noting that “it is difficult to predict the size of the eruption.”

McGuire confirmed that the city of Grindavik, which was evacuated, may be in real danger, as he said:

“It all depends on where the magma reaches the surface, but the situation is not looking good for the city’s residents.”

However, there is a possibility that magma may not be coming to the surface, as Dave McGarvey, a volcanologist at Lancaster University in the UK, points out:

“Not all the rock barriers break through the surface to form an eruption... maybe only one in three or four.”

Indeed, some effects of the seismic activity are visible, as roads and infrastructure in the area have been damaged, and the famous “Blue Lagoon” spa has been closed as a precaution. More specifically, McGuire says:

“Toxic fumes are a real concern, the most important of which is sulfur dioxide, which can be corrosive and cause breathing problems.” He stresses that this depends on the direction of the wind, and may affect local residents and tourists.

Is Reykjavik safe from the effects of the current volcanic eruption?

Grindavik is about 70 kilometers (43 miles) southwest of Reykjavik, Iceland's capital. So far, authorities have not issued an evacuation order for Reykjavik, indicating they believe the city will not be affected by the potential eruption.

However, Iceland's only international airport, Keflavik, is located less than 20 miles from Grindavik, meaning it could be directly affected if the eruption closes airspace.

Will the volcanic eruption affect travel?

Experts do not expect the volcanic eruption to cause chaos similar to that witnessed by Iceland in 2010, when the Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted, and this optimism is due to the possibility that the eruption will include ice masses that caused the release of a huge gray cloud.

Since in 2010 , many flights were canceled, and the lives of millions were affected due to volcanic ash that affected air traffic, and experts point out that the current volcano is expected to raise lava less, and therefore its impact on travel may be less.

However, it is reported that the volcanic eruptions in 2014 and 2021 were not a major concern, as damage was limited to land areas away from populated communities, and this scenario shows the importance of assessing the location and intensity of the eruption to understand its potential impact and take appropriate precautionary measures.

Why is Iceland home to so many volcanoes?

The presence of many volcanoes in Iceland lies in the exceptional position that the country occupies on the boundaries of tectonic plates. It is located at the continuous intersection of the North American and Eurasian plates, as they move away from each other along the midline of the Atlantic Ocean. Under Iceland extends the mantle plume, which is an area where the... Temperatures are higher than average, which contributes to the melting and thinning of the Earth's crust. These conditions make Iceland home to 32 active volcanoes , where volcanic activity arises as a result of this constant movement and interactions in the Earth's interior.

Read also:

Possible volcanic eruption in Iceland...and the evacuation of more than 3,000 residents in the town of Grindavik

More than a thousand tremors in just 24 hours in Iceland and expectations of a volcanic eruption


Sources:

cnn

independent

This article was written originally in Arabic and is translated using a 3rd party automated service. ArabiaWeather is not responsible for any grammatical errors whatsoever.
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