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It is one of the main attractions that draw visitors to Iceland, to float in its relaxing warm blue waters.
But the world-famous Blue Lagoon geothermal pool has been closed for a week due to current seismic activity around the site.
The site is part of the Reykjanes Peninsula in southwestern Iceland – a thick finger of land that points westward into the North Atlantic Ocean from the capital, Reykjavik. In addition to the Blue Lagoon, the peninsula is also home to Iceland’s main international airport, Keflavik.
Iceland is one of the most active volcanic regions on the planet. Instead of a central volcano, the Reykjanes Peninsula is dominated by a rift valley, with lava fields and cones.
According to the Icelandic Meteorological Office, about 1,400 earthquakes were measured in the 24 hours before about midday on Thursday, November 9, in addition to another 800 earthquakes in the first 14 hours of Friday. Seven of Thursday’s tremors were magnitude 4 or greater – and they all occurred on the peninsula, between Eldvorp, near the airport, and Mount Selinjarfell, located east of the Blue Lagoon.
The strongest quake, measuring 4.8, was recorded west of Örbjörn, a mountain about a mile south of the Blue Lagoon, just before 1 a.m. Thursday.
“It is the largest earthquake since activity began on October 25,” the Met Office wrote in a bulletin on Thursday.
“As magma accumulation continues, seismic activity can be expected on the Reykjavik Peninsula because magma seepage causes increased stress in the area.”
A spokesperson for the local tourism board told CNN that the quake could be felt as far away as Reykjavik.
In the past 24 hours, 1,200 earthquakes were measured, most of them in the same area and at the same depth – about five kilometers (three miles) below ground level. “Seismic activity is likely to continue, with occasional intensity, while magma accumulation continues,” he wrote on November 8, adding that “uplift continues in the region.”
By Friday, the area was still active, with about 800 earthquakes already measured since midnight, according to the 2pm local time bulletin from the Icelandic Meteorological Office. A “heavy swarm” of earthquakes began at 7 a.m., culminating in a 4.1 magnitude quake near Selingarville just before 2 p.m.
However, it was also difficult to suggest that an eruption was not necessarily imminent. “The fact that there are now larger earthquakes than before in the area does not necessarily mean an increased rate of magma accumulation,” the Met Office bulletin said on Thursday.
Friday’s bulletin warned that earthquakes of up to 5.5 magnitude “can be expected” as magma continues to accumulate underground. However, they noted, “At this point, there are no indications that magma is making its way to the surface.”
Sergio Petametz/VWPics/Universal Images Group/Getty Images
The Blue Lagoon has been closed for at least a week.
The Reykjanes Peninsula has now been rated yellow – one notch above the rest of the country’s green areas – due to the risk of a volcanic eruption.
According to a statement from local tourism authority Visit Reykjanes, current activity is similar to that of last year. Vagradalsfjall eruption, about 8.5 miles southwest of Blue Lake. Fagradalsfjall volcano has erupted every year since 2021. Its most recent eruption occurred from July 10 to August 8, 2023. When hiking trails reopened in August, visitors were warned not to walk on the still “hot” lava.
“There is no way to accurately predict if, where or when this could lead to a volcanic eruption or the potential size of such an explosion,” Soreur Aradóttir Braun, director of Visit Reykjanes, told CNN.
“This ongoing course of events closely resembles the lead-up to the three previous eruptions on the Reykjanes Peninsula in 2021, 2022 and 2023, but it may also fade away similar to the events we saw in 2020.”
“On the one hand, we are witnessing an amazing natural event in real time that may only happen once in a lifetime. On the other hand, it is a major event in nature that we cannot control. We have to respect it and give it space. Volcanic activity is a fact of life in Iceland, and Icelanders have learned to live with its significant disadvantages and advantages, such as geothermal energy.
“We have an excellent team around us, monitoring and reporting at any time.”
She stressed that the earthquakes occurred in a “relatively isolated part of Iceland” but said visitors to the peninsula “may need to adjust their daily itinerary.”
If an eruption occurs, warnings will be sent to any mobile phone in the area – including foreign phones.
The Blue Lagoon pool, spa, hotels and restaurants were closed on November 9 and are scheduled to reopen at 7 a.m. on November 16, according to a statement on the website, which continues: “The primary reason we are taking these precautionary measures is our unwavering commitment to safety and well-being. ”
“Although the Icelandic authorities have not raised the level of uncertainty during this seismic period, the main reason for these precautionary measures is our firm commitment to prioritizing the safety and well-being of our guests and employees,” a spokesperson for the venue told CNN. ”
Any visitors with reservations will receive a full refund. They confirmed that guests with reservations until November 15 have already been contacted.
Other tour operators near Mount Þorbjörn have also done so Pending activities Until at least November 16, according to the local tourism board. One road has been closed, and access to the Elvörp geolocation has been halted.
The closures will be re-evaluated on November 16, according to a notice from the tourism board.
According to the BBC, he was a representative of the Icelandic Civil Protection Agency He was sent to Grindavikthe town located 2.5 miles south of the Blue Lagoon, “to prepare for a possible evacuation of the town” in the event “magma comes to the surface.”
RÚV, Iceland’s national broadcaster, has created a channel Live broadcast The area, including the Blue Lagoon.
“We must stress that seismic activity is part of Icelandic life, and although Icelanders have adapted to the unique natural terrain, our priority is always the safety of our citizens,” Lea Gestdóttir Jait, head of public relations and communications at Business Iceland, told CNN. Guests and local communities. The temporary closure of Blue Lagoon is a precautionary measure due to recent seismic activity. “We are monitoring the situation closely and will continue to provide updates from local authorities.”
CNN has contacted the Icelandic Meteorological Office and the Icelandic Civil Protection Agency for comment.
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