Volcano Alert: U.S. Embassy Reykjavik, Iceland November 13, 2023

Location:  Grindavik, Reykjanes Peninsula, southwest Iceland

Event:  The Icelandic Meteorological (Met) Office warned of the high probability of a volcanic eruption in the next few days in or near Grindavik, 26 miles (42 km) due southwest of Reykjavik, on the Reykjanes Peninsula.  The National Police Commissioner of Iceland raised the Civil Protection Service Level from “Alert” to “Emergency,” its highest level, in response to increasing seismic activity and ordered the evacuation of Grindavik at 11 p.m. on November 10.  The primary road to Grindavik (Rt 43 – Grindavíkurvegur) and Nesvegur, west of Grindavik, is damaged by earthquakes and is closed.  All other roads to Grindavik have been closed.

There are no current impacts to flight operations at Keflavik Airport (KEF), though the Aviation Alert Level is Orange.  The Met Office also noted a slightly increased probability of an explosive sub-marine eruption that could disrupt flights, though this is not the most likely scenario.  The Icelandic government and tourism service providers activated their emergency response plan to coordinate communication with visitors.  The Red Cross has opened shelters for evacuated residents.

According to scientific analysis of sensor data, the magma chamber now extends 9 miles (15 km) from Kálfellsheiði, northeast of the Svartsengi power plant and the Blue Lagoon, to the southwest into the sea outside Grindavik.  Scientists believe the earthquakes released tension in the area around the magma chamber under the town of Grindavik, and the deformation of the ground may indicate that magma could be closer to the surface than the half-mile (800 meters) previously measured.

If an eruption occurs, follow the instructions of Icelandic authorities.  Volcanic hazards may include lava, toxic gases, ash, and heavy smoke from fires ignited by lava.  Do not walk on new lava – it may be only a thin crust with molten lava just beneath the surface.  Commercially available face masks (e.g., dust masks, N95, or surgical/medical) offer no protection against volcanic gases that may accumulate in low lying areas.

Actions to Take:


U.S. Embassy Reykjavik, Iceland
+354-595-2248 (after hours)
Contact Reykjavik Consular