Iceland is an extremely popular travel destination in every season for its unique natural landscapes, hot springs and the opportunity to witness the elusive Northern Lights. It is generally considered an extremely safe place for travelers, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t fall victim to natural disasters.
In the last two weeks, seismic activity in one of the regions of the country has increased significantly and it seems that a volcanic eruption is imminent. See travel and stay advisories and advice amid volcanic eruption fears.
Is it safe to travel to Iceland?
November is usually a good time to visit Iceland as it is not the peak of the season and conditions are favorable for viewing the Northern Lights. Since November 11, however, seismic activity in the southwestern part of the Reykjanes peninsula has intensified, and magma is rising menacingly and coming out of the ground in places amid thousands of tremors. The country is in a state of emergency, which was declared on November 10. However, the Iceland Travel Advisory does not recommend against travel.
As of 12:30 on Sunday, November 12, 1,000 earthquakes were recorded in the area around Mount Torbjörn and near Grindavik, a town on the Reykjanes Peninsula. The town was evacuated as a precaution. Grindavik is located about 60 km from the Icelandic capital Reykjavik. Residents were given until 16:00 on 13 November to re-enter their homes and gather essentials, but were then evacuated again.
As of November 17, approximately 2,000 earthquakes have been recorded, with the greatest activity in a specific area north of Hagafell. Most of the seismicity is micro-earthquake activity, involving earthquakes below 1 on the Richter scale. The strongest earthquake has a magnitude of 3.0 on the Richter scale
On November 21, the population is still waiting to find out what will happen to their city. A 15-kilometer dike has formed that descends northwest of the city toward the Atlantic Ocean – and Grindavik is in the path of the expected eruption.
What is the probability of a volcano erupting?
Extremely large. Iceland’s meteorological service has warned that this could happen within “a few days” and an eruption is now considered imminent. Although it is difficult for experts to predict exactly when it will happen, it is believed that the situation can escalate very quickly. There are very clear traces of magma along the emerging dike.
How long is the Blue Lagoon closed for?
The Blue Lagoon, one of Iceland’s most popular tourist attractions, will be closed until November 30, but is expected to be extended. It is already “preventatively” closed for two weeks, as it is only 6 km from the most affected area. The Northern Light Inn, located adjacent to the Blue Lagoon, will also remain closed.
Source: iStock by Getty Images
Are there any flight cancellations?
Flights to and from Keflavik Airport are operating as normal. Visit Iceland stated that “it is not possible at this time to draw a conclusion as to what impact a possible volcanic eruption on the Reykjanes Peninsula may have on air traffic to and from Iceland”.
If you have a flight booked to Iceland, it’s best to keep an eye on the airline’s website to find out if your trip will be affected. Many airlines said they would contact passengers if and when the situation changed.
What are your rights if you have booked a trip to Iceland?
As no foreign ministry in Europe has advised against travel, it is likely that your journey will continue as normal. Unless the recommendations change, it is unlikely that you will be able to cancel your trip without penalty. Contact your tour operator directly for the necessary up-to-date information about your trip. If you don’t use one, you better cancel your trip in good time.
How often do earthquakes happen in Iceland?
Earthquakes are very common in Iceland. The country is located on the border of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet. That’s why Iceland has an abundance of fascinating natural attractions, but also 33 active volcanoes. The frequency of tremors in the last few weeks has been significantly higher than usual, which is why a state of emergency has been declared.
When was the last earthquake?
In July 2022, an earthquake measuring 5.4 on the Richter scale shook the southern part of the peninsula. In 2008, two 6.1 magnitude earthquakes struck Iceland between the towns of Selfoss and Hveragerdi, not far from Reykjavík.
The last volcanic eruption was in 2021, but before that the Reykjanes Peninsula was dormant for 800 years.
Photo: Earthly Mission