Iceland declared a state of emergency on Friday, a day after a series of powerful earthquakes were reported to have hit the southwestern Reykjanes peninsula, potentially causing a volcanic eruption.
The Icelandic Met Office (IMO) reports that in the 24 hours preceding Thursday, November 9 at noon, about 1,400 earthquakes were recorded, and in the first 14 hours of Friday, another 800 were recorded.
Seven of Thursday’s earthquakes had a magnitude of four or higher; these were all on the peninsula, between the mountain Sýlingarfell, which is to the east of the Blue Lagoon, and Eldvörp, which is close to the airport, CNN reported.
“The National police chief declares a state of emergency for civil defence due to the intense earthquake (activity) at Sundhnjukagigar, north of Grindavik,” the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management said in a statement.
“Earthquakes can become larger than those that have occurred and this series of events could lead to an eruption,” the administration warned.
The IMO said an eruption could take place “in several days”.
Blue Lagoon, located on the Reykjanes Peninsula, is Iceland’s largest manmade geothermal mineral bath, known for its geothermal pools, scenic beauty, and mineral-rich spa with skin-healing properties. It attracts tourists with skin conditions.
The official account of Blue Lagoon Iceland on X, formerly known as Twitter, shared that the tourist spot will be closed until 7am on November 16.
“The primary reason for taking these precautionary measures is our unwavering commitment to safety and wellbeing. We aim to mitigate any disruption to our guests’ experiences and alleviate the sustained pressure on our employees,” read the message on Blue Lagoon Iceland’s official website.
Grindavik, a village of 4,000 people, located three kilometres southwest of the registered earthquake swarm area, has evacuation plans in place in case of an eruption.
According to the IMO, if the accumulation of magma underground at a depth of about five kilometres (3.1 miles) starts moving towards the surface it could lead to a volcanic eruption.
“The most likely scenario is that it will take several days rather than hours for magma to reach the surface,” it said.
“If a fissure were to appear where the seismic activity is at its highest now, lava would flow to the southeast and to the west, but not towards Grindavik.”