Lessons learnt from protective lava barriers

09.06.2021 - 12:32
Mynd: Bjarni Pétur Jónsson / RUV
Preparations are underway for how to deal with the lava threat to Suðurstrandarvegur road, on the south of the Reykjanes peninsula. Bogi Adolfsson, the head of Grindavík’s Þorbjörn search & rescue team, says that while the earth walls erected to protect the Nátthagi area did not stop the lava for long, there is a lot that can be learnt from them.

“We knew all along that we weren’t going to be stopping anything. We have seen that we can direct. That we can have an effect on the flow. We want to try and steer is so that it causes the least damage possible to Suðurstrandarvegur, if it comes down to it that the road is breached,” Bogi told RÚV radio today. 

He said it also seems increasingly likely that the lava will cover the existing hiking trail to the volcano at some point. He says agreement was reached yesterday to start preparing a new hiking route to the eruption site which will become the main trail when the current one is overcome. 

Rögnvaldur Ólafsson, the deputy civil protection chief at the State police, says it is still hard to say how long it will take for molten lava to reach Suðurstrandarvegur, but that it currently seems like it will be somewhere between two weeks and three months from now. 

If lava does cut off the road, access to the volcano, the town of Grindavík, and the rest of the Reykjanes peninsula will still be possible thanks to Reykjanesbraut—the bigger of the two main traffic arteries connecting the peninsula to the rest of the country. 

Click to follow RÚV English on Facebook.