The National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police, in agreement with the Commissioner of the Police in Suðurnes, has decided to enter the emergency phase of the Civil Protection Agency due to the volcanic eruption in the Reykjanes Peninsula. The Civil Protection Coordination Centre has been activated.

“Today and the following days, all routes into Grindavík will be closed to everyone except emergency responders and contractors who have a mission to enter the danger zone at Grindavík. We would like to ask people not to approach the eruption and to be aware that the gas coming from this can be dangerous. Scientists need a few days to assess the situation. We reassess the situation every hour and ask passers-by to respect the closures and show this understanding.” Said the Commissioner of the Police in Suðurnes.

While the possibility of air traffic disturbance cannot be entirely ruled out, scientists consider it an unlikely scenario and right now flights in and out of the country are operating on schedule.

Iceland is no stranger to volcanic activity and experiences a volcanic event every five years, on average. This is the fourth eruption in the last three years, none of which caused harm to people or disrupted air traffic. Icelandic authorities and the public are highly prepared for such events, and Iceland has one of the world’s most effective volcanic preparedness measures. Iceland’s geoscientists possess vast experience in dealing with volcanic activities.

The red line shows the 4 km long volcanic fissure. Grindavík on the bottom left. Map from the Icelandic Met Office.

Photo from the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management, taken early morning on the 19th of December.