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Seismic activity sparks evacuation of Iceland’s famed Blue Lagoon

Seismic activity sparks evacuation of Iceland’s famed Blue Lagoon seen here – ​Experts warn an eruption of magma could take place within hours.
Sergio Pitamitz/VWPics/Universal Images Group/Getty Images via CNN Newsource

Experts warn an eruption of magma could take place within hours.

By Catherine Nicholls, Abel Alvarado and Nectar Gan, CNN

(CNN) ­Iceland has evacuated its world-famous Blue Lagoon due to nearby seismic activity that suggests an “imminent” volcanic eruption, the country’s public broadcaster RÚV reported Saturday.

Magma has begun flowing after “intense seismic activity” in the area around the lagoon, a popular geothermal spa known for its milky-blue, comforting warm waters, according to RÚV.

The depth of the magma, around four kilometers (2.5 miles), means an eruption could take place within hours, volcanologist Thorvaldur Thordarson told RÚV.

The nearby town of Grindavík is also being evacuated, according to RÚV. Police said the evacuation was “going well” and there had been only a few people in the town in recent days, the public broadcaster added.

In a statement on its website Saturday, Blue Lagoon said it had initiated an evacuation of its premises due to “increased seismic activity in a known area, a few kilometers away.”

Operations would be closed at least until the end of Sunday, when the situation would be reassessed, it said.

“We will continue to closely follow the guidelines and recommendations of the authorities, working collaboratively with them to monitor the progression of events,” the statement added.

Located just under an hour’s drive from Iceland’s capital and largest city Reykjavik, the Blue Lagoon is one of the country’s most popular tourist attractions.

The site is part of southwest Iceland’s Reykjanes Peninsula – a thick finger of land pointing west into the North Atlantic Ocean from Reykjavik. As well as the Blue Lagoon, the peninsula is home to Iceland’s main airport, Keflavik International.

Iceland is one of the most active volcanic areas on the planet. Rather than having a central volcano, the Reykjanes Peninsula is dominated by a rift valley, with lava fields and cones.

In November, the Blue Lagoon was closed for a week after 1,400 earthquakes were measured in 24 hours.

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