Iceland on Sunday declared a state of emergency in response to a series of earthquakes, prompting authorities to evacuate thousands of residents in the southwestern town of Grindavík as concerns grow over a potential volcano eruption.
The government met in an emergency cabinet meeting after the Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO) highlighted a considerable risk of an eruption, with the probability increasing on the Reykjanes peninsula, reports BBC News.
“The probability of an eruption has increased since this morning and an eruption could start at any time in the next few days,” the IMO said in a statement.
Continued activity of a 9-mile long river of magma beneath the peninsula has also increased concerns, according to Thor Thordason, a volcanology professor at the University of Iceland.
“That’s why we’re talking about an imminent eruption unfortunately. The most likely eruption side appears to be within the boundary of the town of Grinadvik,” Thordason told the BBC.
Recent weeks have seen thousands of recorded tremors around the nearby Fagradalsfjall volcano, and over 20,000 tremors have occurred in southwest Iceland since late October.
The region has remained dormant to volcanic activity for 800 years before experiencing an eruption in 2021.