Standing on a hill just north of Grindavík, one can see the town and the ongoing volcanic eruption. It’s hard not to wonder if the town will survive this disaster. There’s no electricity or hot or cold water in the town, and all residents have been evacuated. The new lava flow has entered the town, destroying three houses and rendering it deserted. It’s a surreal experience to see this once-thriving fishing town now completely empty and fraught with danger. The ground beneath the town has shifted by nearly 1.4 meters, and there’s a risk of a sudden lava flow breaking open at any moment.

The nation needs to unite in solidarity during this time, as was demonstrated 51 years ago when the inhabitants of Heimaey were forced to evacuate after a volcanic eruption occurred just east of Vestmannaey. Volcanologists and scientists are uncertain about what may happen next in Grindavík or whether the entire Reykjanes peninsula has been awakened, as it is a short distance from several volcanoes to the main city area. However, one thing is certain: the future of this town, which has a population of 3500 people, completely depends on Mother Nature. During volcanic eruptions, we humans are just tiny beings. This was evident to the Icelandic Times / Land & Saga scout on the second day of the eruption. The volcanic eruption in Reykjanes ended after two and a half days. However, scientists believe this is just the beginning of volcanic activity in the area.

As we passed, we saw the volcano erupted in two places along the fissure.

Channel 2 (Stöð 2) reporters at work.

There was no sign of life in Grindavík. There was no traffic, electricity, hot or cold water.

The coast guard ship Þór is docked outside the harbour, with a response team in a secure location.

You can hardly see the Blue Lagoon buildings just north of Grindavík, but the protective walls were built at Svartsengi Power Plant and Blue Lagoon in record time.

The Coast Guard helicopter carries scientists who are mapping the eruption.

The lava engulfs Grindavíkurvegur Road, the main transportation route to the town.

RÚV reports live during an additional news hour.

The protective walls at Grindavík have successfully directed the lava flow to the west instead of crossing the town.

 

Grindavík 15/01/2024 – A7R IV, A7C, A7R III : FE 1.8/135mm GM, 1.8/20mm G, FE 200-600mm G

Photographs & text: Páll Stefánsson