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Thousands evacuate in Iceland ahead of possible volcanic eruption

Seismic activity has caused fissures in roads near the town of Grindavik, Iceland. Associated Press/Photo by Brynjar Gunnarsson

Thousands evacuate in Iceland ahead of possible volcanic eruption

The Icelandic Meteorological Office said Wednesday recorded about 800 earthquakes overnight Wednesday in the southwestern part of the country. Most of the quakes originated in an underground magma dike. Hundreds more small earthquakes rumbled the area earlier this week, and researchers detected sulfur dioxide gas, indicating a high likelihood of a volcanic eruption. On Saturday, officials evacuated the town of Grindavík, located about 30 miles southwest of the capital of Reykjavik.

How would an eruption impact the region? The center of the seismic activity is close to a populated area, a spa lagoon, and a geothermal power plant, said Director of the Service and Research Division of the Icelandic Meteorological Office Matthew James Roberts. The earthquakes have already caused cracks in Grindavik’s roads. Iceland declared a state of emergency on Saturday.

Dig deeper: From the WORLD archives, read John Dawson’s report on scientists’ efforts to monitor possible volcanic eruptions.

Lauren Canterberry

Lauren Canterberry is a reporter for WORLD. She graduated from the World Journalism Institute and the University of Georgia with a degree in journalism, both in 2017. She worked as a local reporter in Texas and now lives in Georgia with her husband.

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