It is one of the most famous attractions in Iceland: the world famous and beautifully magical Blue Lagoon, where tourists can enjoy magical white-blue and wonderfully warm water. But not now, because the most famous water source in Iceland will be closed for at least a week due to heavy seismic activity near the site. There is talk of an ongoing series of earthquakes and a possible imminent volcanic eruption.
One of Iceland’s biggest tourist attractions, the Blue Lagoon is a geothermal water spring on the Reykjanes Peninsula, about 40 kilometers southwest of Reykjavik and just 20 minutes from Keflavik International Airport. A new series of earthquakes began on the peninsula at the end of October, with thousands of tremors. Such swarms of earthquakes have already heralded volcanic eruptions three times since 2020. The Blue Lagoon was temporarily closed on Thursday due to the rumbling and will remain closed for the time being, at least until next Thursday.
Quake after quake
According to Icelandic authorities, around 1,400 earthquakes were measured on the peninsula in the 24 hours before Thursday afternoon, followed by 800 tremors in the first 14 hours of Friday. Of the quakes on Thursday, seven had a magnitude of 4.0 or more. In the previous 24 hours, 1,200 earthquakes were measured, mostly in the same area and at the same depth. The tremors can be felt as far away as Reykjavik.
Several guests have already fled
Several frightened guests are said to have fled the resort, which includes two hotels, of their own accord before the closure of the Blue Lagoon. The Icelandic news website ‘Víkurfréttir’ wrote that around 40 guests left on Thursday night after rocks fell on the road to the hotel lobby.
The strongest earthquake so far was also recorded on Thursday night: a magnitude 4.8 one west of Þorbjörn, a mountain about 1.5 kilometers south of the Blue Lagoon. “That was the strongest earthquake since seismic activity started on October 25,” the Icelandic Meteorological Agency said.
More than 20,000 tremors have been recorded since the end of October. The agency warned of “a complex process of magma movements” on the Reykjanes Peninsula. In addition to the many tremors, there are signs that the ground is swelling, perhaps under pressure from magma, it said. That could lead to a volcanic eruption. In December 2019, seismic activity returned to Reykjanes for the first time, after a break of about 800 years.
“As magma accumulation continues, seismic activity can be expected as magma intrusion creates increased stresses in the area,” authorities explained. The situation will be closely monitored in the coming days. The fact that stronger tremors are recorded than at the beginning does not necessarily mean that an eruption is imminent. According to the experts, there are no indications that magma moves to shallower ground layers.
The closure of the Blue Lagoon should be seen as a precautionary measure, it is said. “The main reason for this is our unwavering commitment to safety and well-being,” read a statement on the wellness destination’s website.
Iceland is one of the most geographically active regions in the world. The aviation warning level was raised from green to yellow, but air traffic was not disrupted.
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