Just as life seemed to be getting back to some sort of normality in the Icelandic town of Grindavík, seismic activity has caused an emergency evacuation and is again threatening local infrastructure.
Residents had moved back in having previously evacuated in November amid a state of emergency and fears of an eruption of the lava enveloping the town. Local facilities and businesses, such as the Blue Lagoon spa in Svartsengi, 4 km north of Grindavík, had only completely re-opened just days ago.
Also in Svartsengi is the world’s first combined geothermal electric and hot water power station, built in 1976. Surrounded by protective dykes, the plant produces electricity and hot water serving the Reykjanes Area. It remains operational at the time of writing.
Animals under threat from fissures of burning lava
Despite ongoing monitoring by Icelandic authorities and attempts to build walls to steer lava flows away from crucial infrastructure, two fissures of burning lava have opened up close to the town of Grindavík. One is around a kilometre away, but the other is just 100 metres from the built-up area and has set buildings on fire and led to a 3 am evacuation of residents.
While residents escaped being engulfed, the welfare of the local animal population, such as sheep left in pens, is exercising minds. “The animals are in captivity and it is very important that they are rescued,” said Linda Karen Gunnarsdóttir, chairperson of the Animal Protection Association of Iceland. In addition, there are concerns for pets left behind in the town.
Blue Lagoon spa
The Blue Lagoon spa meanwhile is closed again as of 14 January. According to a statement, it had just re-opened its hotels in “close collaboration” with authorities, following the reopening of the Blue Lagoon, Blue Café, Lava Restaurant, Retreat Spa, Spa Restaurant, and the on-site Blue Lagoon Skincare retail store on 6 January 2024.
Now, though its website has announced another closure: “A volcanic eruption commenced southeast of Hagafell Mountain on the morning of January 14. Following an increase in seismic activity detected in the area on the previous night, we took the precautionary measure of evacuating all our operational units. The current eruption site is at a safe distance from Blue Lagoon. Consequently, we will remain closed today, Sunday, January 14. Further updates and information will be provided here as they become available.”
The spa and hotel has said that all guests with bookings during this temporary closure period will be contacted and guests wishing to modify or cancel their bookings are kindly directed to do so through Blue Lagoon’s online booking portal.