The Svartsengi geothermal power plant, which is threatened by a volcanic eruption in Iceland, is to be protected by dams. The country’s largest bulldozer was brought to the Reykjanes peninsula, reported the broadcaster RUV. The 104-ton device, whose engine, according to the company, can produce more than 860 hp, is intended to build five-kilometer-long dams to protect the important power plant from lava.

Grindavík is located around 40 kilometers southwest of the capital Reykjavik and has been threatened by a possible volcanic eruption for days. The approximately 3,700 residents had to leave their homes last Saturday night because an approximately 15 kilometer long magma tunnel runs under Grindavík to the seabed. The nearby Blue Lagoon, one of Iceland’s most famous tourist attractions, had previously been closed. The Icelandic Meteorological Service said seismic activity caused by the magma tunnel was decreasing. However, the risk of an outbreak remains, Kristín Jónsdóttir, head of the department responsible for natural disasters, told broadcaster RUV. “We are very vigilant in this regard. And we see, especially in past eruptions, that exactly when this (movement) decreases, an eruption is approaching.”

The Icelandic authorities have named a possible location for the molten rock to erupt from the magma tunnel that has been active for weeks. The deformation of the ground points to an area about two kilometers north of the evacuated town of Grindavík, said civil defense director Vídir Reynisson. The Svartsgeni geothermal power plant is around 1.5 kilometers away. Reynisson said the plant provides heating for 30,000 people. The protection of the system has the highest priority. The construction of walls to stop escaping magma is happening faster than expected.

Watch the video: Possible volcanic eruption – the life of Icelanders with the fear of a big bang.

According to Reynisson, magma is still flowing into the tunnel and is estimated to be 1,000 meters below the earth’s surface. “There is a high risk of an outbreak in the next few days, but we cannot quantify it precisely,” he said. If an eruption does not occur, the probability of an eruption decreases fairly quickly over time.

Volcanologist Olafur Gudmundsson from Uppsala University told Swedish news agency TT over the weekend that the tunnel was formed because the magma encountered resistance on its way to the Earth’s surface and then spread horizontally. It could break out somewhere or solidify.

According to seismologist Björn Lund, a volcanic eruption in this part of the Reykjanes Peninsula would be the first in about 800 years. In the area around Grindavík there are fissure volcanoes that form when a crack opens in the ground through which lava shoots upwards in a fountain – sometimes hundreds of meters. However, this is probably not an explosive eruption like the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull in 2010 because the lava at Grindavík is composed differently. “If you stay a few hundred meters or a kilometer away, there is no great danger,” said the Uppsala University scientist TT. However, a lot of sulfur dioxide, which is harmful to health, is produced.