Residents, business owners and their employees in the small fishing town of Grindavik, Iceland, were given the green light by local police to return home after a volcano erupted earlier this week.
The villagers were evacuated last month due to fears of an eruption after the region experienced a series of earthquakes for weeks. The volcano finally erupted on Monday, according to officials.
The town, with just under 4,000 residents, is located near Iceland’s main airport. They were told they could return to the area on Saturday and stay overnight.
The Icelandic Meteorological Office said Friday evening that while the activity in the area has ceased, it still remains in “considerable” condition. The office also explained that weather could affect monitoring.
“We emphasize that conditions can change rapidly, and that weather conditions can significantly affect the sensitivity of our monitoring networks,” officials wrote in an updated release. “Under such conditions, the warning time could shorten considerably.”
In the last 24 hours, according to the meteorological office, nearly 90 earthquakes were recorded in the Grindavík, Sundhnúksgígar and Svartsengi regions — but they were at a lower scale.
Known broadly as the Svartsengi volcano, according to the Associated Press, the mountain had been dormant for around 780 years. The latest event marked the most powerful eruption in recent years, including when another volcano — Fagradalsfjall — erupted in March 2021 after 6,000 years of dormancy.
Scientists said the lava flow spread across an area of about 1.4 square miles on the Reykjanes Peninsula — about 31 miles southwest of Reykjavik.
“The stress that has built up over centuries now has been released by ripping the crust apart,” Tumi Gudmunsson, a geophysicist at the University of Iceland, said Thursday, per the AP. “That opens a pathway for the magma that’s coming from below to the surface.”
“We had this event where magma reached the surface and we had this very quick and powerful eruption, short lived and the lava formed,” Gudmunsson added.
The Associated Press contributed reporting.
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