Iceland volcano – live: Eruption threat high as towns rocked by 80 earthquakes an hour

Searing hot magma is now just 500m beneath an Icelandic town, scientists say.

Iceland volcano – live: Eruption threat high as towns rocked by 80 earthquakes an hour
TOPSHOT - This photo taken on November 13, 2023 shows a crack cutting across the main road in Grindavik, southwestern Iceland following earthquakes. The southwestern town of Grindavik -- home to around 4,000 people -- was evacuated in the early hours of November 11 after magma shifting under the Earth's crust caused hundreds of earthquakes in what experts warned could be a precursor to a volcanic eruption. The seismic activity damaged roads and buildings in the town situated 40 kilometres (25 miles) southwest of the capital Reykjavik, an AFP journalist saw. (Photo by Kjartan TORBJOERNSSON / AFP) / Iceland OUT (Photo by KJARTAN TORBJOERNSSON/AFP via Getty Images)
Gaping chasms have appeared in roads across Grindavik, Iceland, as the country holds its breath for a possible volcanic eruption (Picture: AFP via Getty Images)

Iceland is bracing for what scientists warn could be an imminent eruption of Fagradalsfjall volcano on the island’s south west Reykjanes Peninsula.

This comes amid warnings from a volcanologist that the country needs to be prepared for a ‘new eruptive phase’ which could last centuries.

Around 1,100 earthquakes have been recorded since midnight, the equivalent of 80 per hour, according to Iceland’s Met Office (IMO), with gaping chasms leaving the town of Grindavik looking like a ghost town.

While official advice states it is still safe for tourists to travel to Iceland, warnings and a Civil Protection Alert remain in place.

The IMO warned on Tuesday that the volcano, in the Reykjanes Peninsula volcanic region, has a ‘significant likelihood’ of erupting following days of violent earthquakes.

Benedikt Ofeigsson, of the Icelandic Meteorological Office, said magma could now be just 500m beneath Grindavik.

The volcanic activity comes amid the backdrop of thousands of earthquakes over the past week with cracks forming beneath the surface of Grindavik, ripping roads in half, uprooting buildings and closing the nearby tourist attraction, the Blue Lagoon.