We expect many more outbreaks in the future. – Now a new period has begun

We expect many more outbreaks in the future.  – Now a new period has begun

Experts announced on Thursday that the outbreak in Iceland has ended. But in crisis-hit Grindavik, uncertainty reigns.

The houses are still empty.

Many of them are crooked and banned.

There are large cuts and cracks in the roads as a result of the volcanic activity that swept the region.

The short version

In the weather-worn restaurant building, there is light from the window. Olafur Arenberg waves us in, while his wife, Inga Gundórsdóttir, holds out her arms.

-We are having a difficult time. Our house is there, she says and points.

-And we cannot live in it.

The man nodded.

-We have no money, no job, and no home.

The Icelandic couple doesn't know where to celebrate Christmas.

Now they live in a small house with their relatives. They sleep in bunk beds. Well, one of them is asleep.

– I don't sleep at all, says Gündürsdóttir.

Threatened with imprisonment

They are both angry with the authorities. They believe that the closed city should have been more accessible.

Recently, they defied the law and slept for six nights at their home across the street from the restaurant.

On the sixth day, the police knocked on the door and threatened us with imprisonment.

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Then they gave up.

Behind them, paintings of fishing boats hung on the wall.  Arenberg was captain of all seven.  The last piece was sold in 2012. The following year, they bought the town's shipyard, which is now a fish restaurant and hotel.

Behind them, paintings of fishing boats hung on the wall. Arenberg was captain of all seven. The last piece was sold in 2012. The following year, they bought the town's shipyard, which is now a fish restaurant and hotel.

Gunndòrsdottir misses the place day and night.

-And yet, we're talking about never coming back. Just find a new place.

She fears more outbreaks in the future.

-We cannot afford this arrangement every year. It will just keep going.

And they're not the only ones feeling uncertain about returning to the volcano-prone city.

When magma movements beneath the Earth's crust caused thousands of earthquakes on a Friday in November, Gudjon Sigtrygsson was called by the local rescue service. Not everyone in the city was able to evacuate.

As the ground shook beneath them, he helped the elderly people out of the nursing home.

The tremors were stronger than anything he had known. The panic came in waves.

“This is not good,” he managed to think.

Then he himself was told to get out.

– Feels broken

The next day was a bad day, Sigtrygsson says. He reached the nearby town of Selfoss, but he was crying and did not know where to go. For hours he wandered around randomly.

Two days later, he was allowed into his hometown for a quick hour. Since then, he has returned several times.

– Feels broken. The entire city is empty.

They were all times of painful encounters.

-We know the history of the island, but you are not prepared. Not when it happens so soon.

Thoughts run through my head: What about my children? Christmas? money?

-It's hard not knowing if I'm going home. I don't know if I want to go back someday.

Geologist John Høkor Steingrímsson believes that the area around Grindavik will experience 10 to 15 volcanic eruptions in the near future.

– In the next 15 years, we will see many outbreaks here.

Steingrímsson points to the latest research, but also to history.

In short, it's like this: Iceland is located directly above the Mid-Atlantic Mountain Range. The ridge represents the separation between two cortical plates. They are spaced apart, which means they recede from each other. When this happens, magma rises between them and can turn into a volcanic eruption.

Stingrimsson says that Iceland has 130 volcanoes. It is divided into 32 volcanic systems.

There are six of them on the Reykjanes Peninsula. It is the system of Svartsinje and Reykjanes that has now become a reality.

The geologist explains that the latter witnessed a period of activity between the years 700-1240.

– Now a new period has begun.

As of 2021, the Reykjanes Peninsula had not erupted in 800 years. This winter's outbreak is the third in a few years. There is no indication that it is the latter:

– The outbreak will only continue.

Work on blast

Today, forty houses in Grindavik have been completely destroyed. One hundred were slightly injured. The city is full of holes and cracks, some of which reach a depth of twenty meters.

– Thirty trucks agreed to fill a small crack outside the sports hall, Stingrimsson says.

Work is now underway at full capacity to repair the city's sewage networks and water pipes.

The worst damage occurred near the crack in the town church, which is about two kilometers long.

Crack is not new.

Grindavik stands on 2,400-year-old lava. In very old photos you can see the crack.

They probably didn't know that when they built homes here in the 1950s and 1960s, Steingrimson says.

– Or maybe they knew it something There was, but it did not have the same basic requirements for mapping as it does today.

Steingrímsson understands all those who do not want to return to Grindavik.

At the same time, calm will return when the period ends, he adds.

– People have their lives here.

He believes many will appeal it.

Dalila Awolowo

Dalila Awolowo

"Explorer. Unapologetic entrepreneur. Alcohol fanatic. Certified writer. Wannabe tv evangelist. Twitter fanatic. Student. Web scholar. Travel buff."

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