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Summary of the ongoing seismic activities in Iceland.

By November 14, 2023January 12th, 2024News, The Algalif Blog

The ongoing volcanic eruption, that started on December 18th, and seismic activity near the town of Grindavik in the Reykjanes peninsula, do not affect the production capabilities or product delivery abilities of Algalif Iceland. All Algalif employees are safe and there is no danger to any Algalif facilities.

Algalif is located in a safe area next to the Keflavik International Airport about 25 km from the active area. Both the airport and all other businesses in the area are safe and open.

The geology of Iceland.

Iceland is a volcanic island and very young in a geological context. The island of Iceland is the result of slow lava buildup for the past 20 million years. It is located on the Mid-Atlantic ridge where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet. The plates move away from each other by a few centimeters every year. That means that earthquakes are quite common and there are volcanic eruptions on average every five years for as long as there is historical data.

Picture from Wikipedia.

Picture from Wikipedia.

The Icelandic power grid.

The Reykjanes Peninsula is partly an active volcanic area. That is one of the reasons some of Iceland´s geothermal power plants are located there. It has seen a lot of activity in recent years after being inactive for almost 800 years. This activity is located in a relatively small part of the peninsula near the town of Grindavik and east of that area. The international airport and Algalif are in another part of the peninsula, west of Grindavik in a non-active area.

About 2/3 of all electricity produced in Iceland comes from hydro sources and about 1/3 from geothermal sources. The Icelandic power grid is a circular one and all the major power plants are connected to the same grid. This means that even if something happens to the power lines or any other part of the grid, there is redundancy and always another route to get electricity to users. Therefore there is no reason for Algalif to make any special arrangements as enough green electricity for its continuous production of microalgae will be available.

Picture from Landsnet

Picture from Landsnet

Most of the island is a safe area.

The volcanically active area in Iceland stretches from the southwest corner to the northeast corner of the country, as seen in the picture. There are some rural towns in Iceland, that are located on, or very near, active volcanic areas. The main reason is that these towns developed before the active areas could be mapped out with modern scientific methods.

All major urban areas are located outside the active area. The same goes for the international airport in Keflavik and Algalif´s facilities. The airport is strategically based exactly where it is for several reasons, one of them being that it is a safe area regarding volcanic activities. This is also the reason why the area was chosen by the US government and NATO to build a military base a few decades ago.

Geothermal energy.

As Iceland is one of the most active volcanic areas on Earth, it is also an area where geothermal heat, with geysers and hot springs, is quite common. This gives Iceland a big advantage when it comes to central heating for homes and businesses, using hot water during the cold winter season. The production of green geothermal-based electric energy is a substantial part of the country’s electricity production. Only hydropower production is larger. This both increases the quality of life for the normal Icelander who can enjoy long showers and regular trips to the local public swimming pool and helps companies like Algalif to produce top-quality products in a sustainable way.

Picture from HS Orka

Picture from HS Orka

An eruption every other year for the last century.

At the same time, it requires constant management of the inherent risks of living on a volcanic island. The twentieth century saw more than 50 eruptions. One of them was in 1973 when a third of the town of Vestmannaeyjar was destroyed. Fortunately, only one person was lost from gas poisoning during that incident. In another instance in 1947 a scientist, doing measurements near the volcano Hekla, died.

In recent years there has been a lot of volcanic activity in Iceland. So far in the 21st century, there have been 13 eruptions. The most famous of them was in 2010 when the Volcano Eyjafjallajökull stopped air traffic for a few days in Northern Europe due to ash disbursement. Nobody has been lost in any of these 21st century events. This is largely because Icelanders have learned to live with the harsh nature on their island of fire and ice.

The current events.

The ongoing seismic and volcanic activity near the town of Grindavik in the Reykjanes peninsula looks to be a relatively small incident on the measurement of the potential scale of such events. However, it is situated very close to the old fishing village. There have been thousands of earthquakes there in the last few months, most of them small but some of them up to 4 in size. When this is written, a volcanic eruption started last night. It was powerful for the first few hours but has already slowed down a bit, even though it is still ongoing.  All inhabitants have been moved away from the area and the authorities are analyzing all available data with some of the world’s most experienced scientists to secure the safety of people. These are of course dramatic events and there has already been damage to roads and houses, but nobody has been injured.

In summary, Algalif is in a safe area near the Keflavik International Airport, about 25 km from the active area. Both the airport and all other businesses in that area are safe and open. The ongoing geological activity does not affect the production capabilities or product delivery abilities of Algalif Iceland. All Algalif employees are safe and there is no danger to any Algalif facilities.

This article was updated on December 19th.

By Svavar Halldorsson.


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