Grindavík evacuated due to possible magma intrusion beneath the town
A state of emergency has been declared in Grindavík and the town was evacuated after midnight last night.
Víðir Reynisson, the chief of the Civil Protection Department, says that there is no way to exclude the possibility of a dike reaching Grindavík.
Magma intrusion might be beneath Grindavík
According to data from the Icelandic Met Office, significant changes in the seismic activity was measured near Sundhnjúkar crater row north of Grindavík and deformation observed in the Reykjanes Peninsula yesterday afternoon. The seismic activity has moved south towards Grindavík. Based on how the seismic activity has evolved since 6 pm yesterday, along with results from GPS measurements, there is a likelihood that a magma intrusion has extended beneath Grindavík.
“The latest data from the Icelandic Met Office shows a considerable shift and a large magma flow that is forming and can open up and flow from the southwest to the northeast,” he says.
Not experienced anything like this in 50 years
All the residents in Grindavík were told to evacuate the town. The Red Cross, police and rescue-forces will remain in Grindavík into the night.
“It’s clear that we’re dealing with an event that Icelanders haven’t experienced since the eruption in Vestmannaeyjar. We’ve dealt with it together and we’ll dealt with it together,” Reynisson says.
He asks residents to keep their calm - this is no emergency evacuation. A decision has been made to make room for residents to take enough time.
Those in cars are asked to pick up pedestrians if they can. It is not necessary to stop at the Grindavík’s registration center on the way out of town.
According to the Icelandic Met Office it is not possible to determine where the magna might reach the surface, but the amount of magma is significantly more than was observed in biggest eruption in the last three years at Fagradalsfjall mountain.
140 stayed in emergency centers
Three emergency centers have been set up, in Keflavík, Kópavogur and Selfoss and 140 people stayed there last night. The information officer for the Red Cross, Oddur Freyr Þorsteinsson, said that 1700 people had registered with them since it was decided to evacuate Grindavík last night.
Þorsteinsson says that it is clear that many people from Grindavík were able to stay elsewhere than at the emergency centers. 66 people are staying in Kópavogur, 46 in Keflavík and in 28 in Selfoss.
Applicants for international protection in Reykjanesbær went to an emergency center in Borgartún early last evening, as stated in an announcement from the Civil Protection.
Grindavík was evacuated just after one o’clock last night, but the Civil Protection assumed that the town would be empty at three o’clock. The evacuation was successful as stated in the announcement.
It was possible to drive the car after it jumped up because of a fissure formed by the seismic activity. Photo/Gunnar Stefán Bjarnason
A big fissure in Grindavíkur road
Grindavík’s road was torn down by the most powerful earthquakes yesterday afternoon. Gunnar Stefán Bjarnason, a resident of Grindavík, and his wife were driving the road to Grindavík when a fissure formed in the road and their car jumped.
“We had been feeling the earthquakes in the car on the way. Then we saw the car before us slow down. We didn’t see anything before us. Then suddenly there’s a crack right before us. It didn’t rise up before us, it was just suddenly before us. We got very scared and the car just jumps. It was like driving on a ramp, then one wheel lands and then another,” Bjarnason says.
Never been so scared in my life
He says they didn't think much about getting to the edge of the road after the car hit the ground again. They just stopped the car and called the police.
“The police were ten minutes out on the way and came and closed the road,” Bjarnason says. They got out of the car before the police arrived and felt tremors all the time.
“I was in the countryside when Eyjafjallajökull was about to erupt. It was scary then. But I have never been so scared in my life as yesterday. I felt like the earthquake was just right below us. You kind of just jumped up and down,” he says.