In Iceland, work teams are in action 24 hours a day to protect a power station and homes from the action of lava flows from volcanoes near the capital, Reykjavik. These volcanoes that were inert for almost 800 years and are now returning to activity on the Reykjanes peninsula, where around 30 thousand people live.
Construction of defense walls to stop lava flows
Concerned about an imminent eruption in November, authorities decided to build defense walls around a significant Svartsengi geothermal plant, located on the peninsula. The Icelandic Civil Protection Emergency Management strategy is that the barriers are capable of deflecting the lava and not blocking it completely, thus preventing it from accumulating and overflowing.
Protection of neighboring cities and infrastructure
The construction of defenses is also planned around the nearby city of Grindavik, an important fishing port in Iceland and home to almost 4 thousand inhabitants. With the threat of a recent eruption north of the city, residents needed to evacuate.
The first barrier erected proved effective in diverting lava from Grindavik, however, when fissures appeared on the other side of the blockage, lava penetrated the city, causing some homes to burn. Currently, the barriers constructed are around 40 meters wide, between 8 and 10 meters high and 4 meters wide at the highest point.
The Department of Civil Protection is still developing other protective measures, digging hot water pipes deeper underground and elevating power and telecommunications lines to protect them from the action of lava flows.
A threat that could last for centuries
According to experts, the six volcanic systems in the region should be active for up to three centuries, taking into account that five eruptions have already been recorded since 2021. The population of Iceland and experts remain on alert, looking for ways to adapt to live with these geological phenomena in the coming years.