The Icelandic Met Office (IMO) has warned that volcanic instability may be experienced in the south-western peninsula of the country for decades, after repeated earthquakes warned of impending eruption in the fishing town of Grindavik.
The Icelandic authorities took the decision to build protective barriers around the Svartsengi geothermal power plant in the country's southwest near the capital Reykjavik, amid recent fears of volcanic eruption.
It is unlikely that the imminent volcanic eruption will lead to a disaster caused by toxic gases affecting the whole of northern Europe, as has happened in the past. Though there may be manageable and short-term local effects from toxic fumes, Icelanders have plenty of experience with volcanic outbreaks and are taking necessary precautions, including the evacuation of Grindavík.
While there is still a small chance that the magma will not break through to the surface and cause an eruption, in the event of an outburst, the local impact is unpredictable. Recent seismic activity indicates that a huge magma pocket has formed directly beneath Grindavík, which could have devastating local consequences in the event of an eruption. Icelanders must prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
There's a 5% chance that there will be another VEI level six (or higher) volcanic eruption on Earth before 2025