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Lava threatens to sever Road

Fears rise Meradalir Lava may damage infrastructure

University of Iceland

The recent eruptions at Fagradalsfjall 2021 and Meradalir (2022) have been located conveniently close to Reykjavík. The current eruptions orange magenta plume is easily visible from the city on a clear night. Though the 2021 eruption threatened to slice through a section of the coast road and damage the broadband running alongside, the lava stopped short and it remained a tourist-class eruption. 

The current activity at Meradalir may prove more destructive. The eruption is currently expressing lava at a rate of 18ms per second, which is more than twice the rate of last year.  Until now the lava has pooled in the valley. It has now reached a depth of eight meters and is expected to overflow the valley walls, opening up a direct path to the coast road. Route 427 links Grindavík and Ölfus and carries south bound traffic from the airport, bypassing Reykjavík.  The lava will also pass over a broadband fibre cable. Last year a section of cable was isolated and buried deeper. The lava may soon test these measures.  

Some of the earth barriers were successful diverting lava last year, these defences did not face the same volume of lave. Lava is heavy is heavier than concrete. And measures may be limited to preserving sites of historical importance in the lava’s path. 

If the lava continues to flow and reach the sea it is possible Iceland will get a little bit bigger, though the seas gets very deep after a few hundred meters at this section of the coast. 

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