Increased magma in the dike

mbl.is/Eggert Jóhannesson

GPS data shows increased magma flow into the dike near Grindavík and there is a possibility of more fissures opening up today or in the next few days.

This is what Lovísa Mjöll Gudmundsdóttir, a natural-hazard specialist at the Icelandic Met Office, says.

A volcanic eruption began just before eight o’clock this morning near Grindavík. Just after 12 o’clock, a new fissure was formed at the edge of the town.

Not possible to exclude that more fissures will open up

“It’s just continuing to simmer from the fissures and there’s a continuing seismic activity. It’s more at Hagafell but also something in Grindavík,” says Guðmundsdóttir.

“There is no way to exclude that more fissures will open up. GPS data showed us that there is increased magma flowing into the chamber, and thus there is a possibility of more fissures opening up.”

She says that it is not possible to determine when new fissures will open up if they do. It could happen today or in the next few days.

The eruption seen from above.

The eruption seen from above. mbl.is/Árni Sæberg

New fissure is lower in the country

“This new fissure is lower in the country than the fissure above, and the most negative picture is that the activity that was above shifted to this new fissure and it stopped erupting from the upper fissure,” Þorvaldur Þórðarson volcanologist at the Icelandic University and adds that this scenario is worse than expected.

Þorvaldsson sees two scenarios.

“One is that if the shift is made, then the activity will continue in the lower fissure and as long as the eruption is ongoing, lava will form which will continue to flow towards the town. The other scenario, which is even worse, is that this is an addition to what is happening in the upper fissure. This increases the eruption,” Þórðarson says.

He says it is very possible that more eruption fissures may form since events have reached this point.

mbl.is/Árni Sæberg

More likely that fissures open lower

“Unfortunately, the chances are higher that there will be fissures lower than above the country because it’s easier for the magma to push through there. It seems to me that the fissure is always getting longer, which is not a good sign. The situation has unfortunately become very bleak for Grindavík, but hopefully it’s all going to be on the right track,” Þórðarson says.

When asked if he is aware of how long the eruption can last, he says:

“Assuming that the magma is being emptied out of the storage chamber that had accumulated during these events that we’re looking at, which is similar in volume to the one that was created before the eruption on December 18, I would think that since the productivity now was considerably lower at the beginning than during the eruption on December 18, it would take longer to empty out the storage compartment. So it might be one week or more.”

He says he hopes that there will be no additional magma levels, but if this happens, the eruption may last much longer, and as it lasts longer, more lava will be created, which could put the larger community in Grindavík at a serious risk.

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