Iceland remains under threat of volcanic eruption, two weeks after officials began warning residents a tourists that an eruption in the southwest of the country was “imminent” after earthquakes, and a series of magma spreading underground, hit the area.
According to the Icelandic Met Office, seismic activity in the country has been “relatively stable” for the past few days with a daily rate of about 500 earthquakes. On Monday, more than 170 earthquakes were detected, almost all of them “very small” and located near the town of Grindavík, which was evacuated earlier this month.
The country remains under threat of an imminent eruption—officials are still saying that an eruption along the magmatic dike between Hagafell and Sýlingarfell is “likely” as long as the magma inflow continues.
However, even with all that, seismic activity is decreasing slowly in the area. And, as more time passes, the likelihood of an “imminent” eruption decreases.
“It is possible that magma could emerge in the area between Hagafell and Sýlingarfell. However, as crustal relaxation continues to occur and seismicity decreases, along with a decrease in magma inflow to the intrusion, the likelihood of an imminent volcanic eruption diminishes with time,” the Met Office said.
With the threat of eruption decreasing, albeit slowly, Iceland’s Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management has transitioned from a Phase of Emergency, which is characterized by an event that has already begun and could lead to harm, to an Alert Phase, which means there is a heightened risk of an event happening.
“The Civil Defense confirms that the area is still well patrolled, and there is a danger. Residents will not be escorted into the area, but rescue teams will be on standby throughout the town,” the Department said.
Iceland’s Blue Lagoon, one of the country’s most well-known tourist sites, is closed and has been since Nov. 9. The Lagoon will remain closed until at least Dec. 7, at which point officials expect to reassess the situation.
Visit Iceland is telling travelers that flights are operating normally and are “unlikely to be affected in case of an eruption.”
“Potential disruption to flight traffic would depend on factors such as the location and size of the eruption. Typically, the impact of volcanic eruptions is confined to a specific, localized area near the eruption. Notably, previous eruptions in the area did not impact flights to and from the country,” Visit Iceland said, adding that travelers should check with their carrier for the latest information.
IcelandAir, the flag carrier of Iceland, said this week that all flights remain on schedule and that “we’re ready to welcome you.”
In terms of whether or not traveling to Iceland is safe, the Icelandic government says only those staying in the town of Grindavík should be on alert.
“If you have planned to stay in the vicinity of this area, please contact your hotel or travel agency directly to receive guidance. The rest of Iceland's hotels and attractions are operating as normal,” it said.