The Blue Lagoon, one of Iceland’s most iconic tourist destinations, is officially closed for the next seven days due to increased seismic activity.
The seismic activity has caused magma to flow towards the earth’s surface around the Reykjanes peninsula, home to the lagoon, the country’s international airport and the Svartsengi power plant, which supplies electricity to much of the region. In the past 24 hours, the region around the lagoon has experienced hundreds of earthquakes, including one measuring 5 on the Richter scale, according to Iceland Monitor.
The lagoon’s hotel accommodation, The Retreat and Silica Hotel, will be closed from Thursday until 16 November.
“Blue Lagoon has proactively decided to temporarily suspend operations for one week, even though the authorities have not increased the current level of uncertainty during this period of seismic activity,” the lagoon’s website reads. “The primary reason for taking these precautionary measures is our unwavering commitment to safety and well-being. We want to minimise any disruption to our guests’ experience and reduce the ongoing pressure on our staff. During this time, Blue Lagoon will closely monitor the seismic developments and reassess the situation as necessary.
“We have contacted all guests with confirmed reservations through 15 November,” the spokesperson said. “A full refund will be issued for all affected bookings during the closure period. We are also assisting our guests as best we can in finding alternative accommodations.”
To ensure the safety of both visitors and locals, Iceland’s Civil Defence has drawn up an evacuation plan that will allow people to get out of harm’s way as quickly as possible, according to Iceland Monitor. As Þorvaldur Þórðarson, a professor of volcanology and rock science at the University of Iceland, told the outlet, time really could be of the essence if things go wrong quickly.
“If there is an eruption in these places, it’s a pretty difficult situation and we can expect relatively high productivity at the beginning of an eruption. Then you might get what is called a felsic lava field,” Þorvaldsson told Iceland Monitor. “It can flood very quickly. It’s the beginning of the eruption that you’re most worried about.
Þorvaldsson added that while this is only “one scenario”, it’s important to think in terms of the worst-case scenario.
“… We can get a scenario where we have very little time to react, and I encourage people to keep that in mind and take action accordingly,” Þórðarson said. “Don’t think in terms of days, think in terms of hours.”
Iceland’s Civil Protection Agency told the BBC that communities around the eruption zone would have “a day and a half” to evacuate, and stressed to the news agency that if an eruption did occur, it would be nothing like the 2010 eruption, which closed airspace over Iceland for several days.
The earthquakes and potential danger appear to be confined to the peninsula. There are no travel restrictions and tour operators are operating as usual. If you have plans to travel to Iceland in the next few days, please check with your accommodation and any excursions to ensure things are running smoothly.