Iceland has evacuated a town and issued a heightened aviation alert due to growing concerns that a volcano may erupt.

On Saturday, inhabitants of a fishing village in southwest Iceland evacuated their residences due to heightened fears of a potential volcanic eruption. This led to civil defense officials declaring a state of emergency in the area.

Police decided to evacuate Grindavik after recent seismic activity in the area moved south toward the town and monitoring indicated that a corridor of magma, or semi-molten rock, now extends under the community, Iceland’s Meteorological Office said. The town of 3,400 is on the Reykjanes Peninsula, about 50 kilometers (31 miles) southwest of the capital, Reykjavik.

According to the Meteorological Office, it is currently not feasible to accurately predict when and where magma may emerge on the surface.

The aviation alert level has been raised to orange by authorities, signaling a higher possibility of a volcanic eruption. Volcanic eruptions can pose a significant threat to aviation as they can release abrasive ash into the atmosphere, potentially causing engine failure, damage to flight systems, and reduced visibility.

In 2010, a significant volcanic activity in Iceland resulted in major disruptions to flights between Europe and North America. This event caused airlines to lose approximately $3 billion in revenue due to the cancellation of over 100,000 flights.

The region has experienced a series of small earthquakes on a daily basis for over two weeks, prompting an evacuation. Scientists are keeping a close eye on the buildup of magma approximately 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) below the surface.

Worry over a potential volcanic eruption grew on Thursday morning after a 4.8 magnitude earthquake occurred in the region, leading to the temporary closure of the well-known Blue Lagoon geothermal resort.

According to geology professor Pall Einarrson, the seismic activity originated in a region to the north of Grindavik. Within this area lies a network of craters that are approximately 2,000 years old. Einarrson stated on Iceland’s RUV that the magma pathway is expanding and stretches for around 10 kilometers (or 6.2 miles).

According to the speaker, the largest earthquakes have occurred in the area beneath a collection of old craters. However, the magma corridor has since extended and now runs under the city of Grindavík and is continuing towards the ocean.