Iceland’s famous Blue Lagoon spa temporarily shuts down over volcanic threat

The ‘precautionary measures were taken to ensure safety and well-being for all,’ Blue Lagoon says

Olivia Hebert,Alisha Rahaman Sarkar
Thursday 09 November 2023 22:06 GMT
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Related: Huge volcano in Iceland

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Iceland’s famous Blue Lagoon spa has temporarily shut down, one week after a series of earthquakes led guests to vacate the hotel.

The Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa southwest of Reykjavík, will be closed until 30 November amid fears of an imminent volcanic eruption.

Thousands of alarming earthquakes since late October prompted 40 guests at the spa to reportedly leave the resort’s premises earlier this month.

Nearly 4,000 people from the fishing town of Grindavik were evacuated last weekend as cracks began appearing on the roads. The town is 34 miles from Reykjavík and is home to the Blue Lagoon.

In a statement posted to its website, the spa explained: “The chances of a volcanic eruption on the Reykjanes Peninsula have significantly increased... At this moment it is not possible to determine when or where an eruption might occur.”

“On 9 November, Blue Lagoon made the proactive decision to temporarily close its facilities, affecting operations at Blue Lagoon, Silica Hotel, Retreat Spa, Retreat Hotel, Lava, and Moss Restaurant.

“Considering disruptions to our guests’ experience and the sustained pressure on our employees, these precautionary measures were taken to ensure safety and well-being for all,” it added.

The seismic activity began in an area north of Grindavik where there is a network of 2,000-year-old craters, geology professor Pall Einarrson, told state broadcaster RUV.

He added that the magma corridor is about 10km-long and spreading.

The Icelandic Met Office (IMO) has detected more than 23,000 tremors since October, with 1,400 occurring on 2 November alone, BBC reports. Officials detected an earthquake of 5.0 magnitude that midnight in the Fagradalsfjall volcanic area, the largest spike since the seismic activity began.

Seven subsequent earthquakes reportedly had a magnitude of 4 or above, with one occurring at 12.13am about 4.2km east of Sýrlingafell. Another occurred at 2.56am about three km southwest of Þorbjörn, and one at 6.52am east of Sýrlingafell. The IMO added that magma was also accumulating northwest of Thorbjorn mountain, close to the famed turquoise hot springs.

The Blue Lagoon Spa was one of many businesses in the area that shut down temporarily, after authorities expressed concerns that magma would potentially rise to the surface.

Blue Lagoon manager Helga Árnadóttir explained to the Iceland Monitor: “We were aware that this type of earthquake meant there was no danger, as civil protection had responded, but we thought it was important to respond in this way at this time.”

Following reports that frightened visitors left the Blue Lagoon spa in droves, Árnadóttir told the outlet that only one group of guests left the premises with the aid of the staff. She added: “Generally, the guests were naturally worried and aware of the situation, but the majority were very calm. Our staff did extremely well, as always, in helping the guests and informing them, as they always do. The guests appreciated that.”

As for whether or not the luxury hotel will sustain financial damage from the earthquakes, the manager said that finances were secondary to their staff and guest’s safety.

Iceland has some of the most seismically active regions in the globe, with nearly 30 active volcanic sites including Litli-Hrutur, or Little Ram, which erupted in the Fagradalsfjall area in July. It was dubbed the “world’s newest baby volcano.”

The Independent has contacted Blue Lagoon for comment.

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