Seven Infrastructure Problems in Urgent Need of Fixing

Engineers say that when infrastructure works, most people do not even think about it. But they recognize it when they turn on a faucet and water does not come out, when they see levees eroding or when they inch through traffic, the driver’s awareness of the highway growing mile after creeping mile.

President Biden has announced an ambitious $2 trillion infrastructure plan that would pump huge sums of money into improving the nation’s bridges, roads, public transportation, railways, ports and airports.

The plan faces opposition from Republicans and business groups, who point to the enormous cost and the higher corporate taxes that Mr. Biden has proposed to pay for it.

Still, leaders in both parties have long seen infrastructure as a possible unifying issue. Urban and rural communities, red and blue states, the coasts and the middle of the country: All are confronting weak and faltering infrastructure.

plagued by delays and cancellations, with similar problems affecting railways along the Northeast Corridor.

bridge has remained a source of frustration. Rusty and creaky, it has been listed as “functionally obsolete” in the federal bridge inventory since the 1990s, and it has a history of bottlenecks and crashes.

There is a $2.5 billion plan to fix the bridge and build a new one alongside it, but in Covington, Ky., some have expressed worries about the proposal. The mayor told The Cincinnati Enquirer that it was an “existential threat,” citing the size of the proposed bridge (some traffic would still cross over the old one, as well).

told local reporters at a news conference on Wednesday. “Hopefully somewhere in the bowels of this multitrillion bill, there’s a solution.”

Puerto Rico

a serious earthquake on Jan. 7.

The collapse brought attention to the more than 600 schools on the island that shared a “short column” architectural design, which makes them vulnerable to tremors. Teachers and parents were wary of reopening, and the schools with that design risk remain closed. Children who had gone to them are still learning remotely.

In addition, nearly 60 schools were closed after inspections following the earthquakes showed structural deficiencies. About 25 had “persistent” problems that predated the earthquake and its aftershocks, Puerto Rico’s education secretary told The New York Times last year.

residents went weeks with a boil notice in place.

The water crisis inflamed enduring tensions in Jackson, ones that grip many communities where white residents have fled and tax bases have evaporated. The city has old and broken pipes. It does not have the funding to repair them. City officials estimated that modernizing Jackson’s water infrastructure could cost $2 billion.

The storm also caused power failures for millions of people across Texas, which has prompted lawmakers there to weigh an overhaul of the state’s electric infrastructure. At least 111 people died as a result of the storm, according to state officials, and it also caused widespread property damage and left some residents to face huge electric bills.

conclusions were stark: A historic flooding event had caught up with years of underfunding and neglect.

The country has roughly 91,000 dams, a majority of which are more than 50 years old, and many are an exceptional rainfall away from potential disaster. As dams have aged, the weather has grown more severe, rendering old building standards outdated and creating conditions that few considered when many of the dams were built.

Residential development has also steadily spread into once rural areas that lie downstream from the weakening infrastructure. According to the Association of State Dam Safety Officials, about 15,600 dams in the country would most likely cause death and extensive property damage if they failed. Of those, more than 2,330 are considered deficient, the group said.

is not likely to let up soon, given new weather patterns driven by climate change. And some of the officials whose towns and cities were most affected by the 2019 floods are adamant: Simply refurbishing levees is not going to work anymore.

“Levees aren’t going to do it,” said Colin Wellenkamp, the executive director of Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative, an association of 100 mayors along the Mississippi River. His group presented a plan to the White House last month detailing a “systemic solution” to flooding. It includes replacing wetlands, reconnecting backwaters to the main river and opening up areas for natural flooding.

A plan that simply replaces infrastructure, rather than rethinking what it encompasses, will be ineffective and ultimately unaffordable, Mr. Wellenkamp said. He is not sure whether his group’s proposals have been folded into the Biden plan. But he sees little choice.

“This is a losing game unless we incorporate other, larger solutions,” he said.

Campbell Robertson and Frances Robles contributed reporting.

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Japan Earthquake Is Followed by Tsumani Warning

A 7.2-magnitude earthquake shook northeastern Japan on Saturday evening, prompting a tsunami warning that was quickly lifted.

The quake, which hit just after 6 p.m., lasted for over 30 seconds and could be felt strongly in Tokyo, hundreds of miles from the epicenter.

The epicenter was roughly 35 miles below the ocean’s floor off the coast of Miyagi Prefecture, according to the Japan Meterological Agency. The authorities initially warned of the possibility of a tsunami of about 3 feet, but the warning was soon lifted.

earthquake and tsunami that devastated Fukushima Prefecture, also in the northeast, and led to a triple nuclear meltdown.

Power was out in some parts of Miyagi, just north of Fukushima, NHK said.

Tokyo Electric Power Company, which maintains the disabled plants in Fukushima, said on Twitter that it was checking for damage there. Another utility, Tohoku Electric, wrote that it was checking the status of a nuclear power facility on Miyagi’s coast.

JR East said it had temporarily halted service on part of the high-speed rail system that it operates in the country’s northeast.

Hikari Hida contributed reporting.

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Iceland Volcano Erupts After Weeks of Earthquakes

A volcano erupted in Iceland on Friday, essentially turning the night sky into a real-life lava lamp.

No injuries were reported. Just joy — and the odd traffic jam.

The eruption occurred on Friday evening near Mount Fagradalsfjall, about 20 miles southwest of the capital, Reykjavik, the Icelandic Meteorological Office said on Twitter. The agency said that the lava fountains were small by volcano standards, and that seismometers were not recording much turbulence.

Friday’s event was nothing like the eruption 11 years ago of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland, which spewed so much ash that it grounded flights across parts of Europe for weeks.

Still, it was southwestern Iceland’s first eruption in about 800 years, and the lava was stunning. So a lot of people were excited.

and Instagram, noting that she had once filmed a music video at the site.

“We in iceland are sooo excited !!!” she added. “We still got it !!! sense of relief when nature expresses herself !!!”

an unusually busy spell of seismic activity in southwestern Iceland that began around December 2019. Tens of thousands of quakes have shaken the area in recent weeks, leading scientists to believe that an eruption could be imminent.

There is a long history of volcanic activity in Iceland. The country straddles two tectonic plates, which are themselves divided by an undersea mountain chain that oozes molten hot rock, or magma. Quakes occur when the magma pushes through the plates.

wrote on Twitter as the lava started flowing slowly southwest, away from Reykjavik.

wrote Sigridur Kristjansdottir, a seismologist in Iceland. Nonspecialists also expressed excitement online.

The colors in the sky were indeed spectacular. Imagine the Northern Lights, but in blood orange instead of the usual electric green. Or the glowing orbs of an early Mark Rothko canvas.

Or Björk’s orange hair, circa 2011, a few years before she filmed her music video in the vicinity of Mount Fagradalsfjall.

Elian Peltier contributed reporting.

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10 Years After Fukushima Disaster, This Nurse May Be the Region’s Best Hope

Rina Tsugawa recalls a charmed childhood amid rice paddies in northern Japan, hopping on bicycles with her sister and roaming the streets of their village, where monkeys sometimes descended from the mountains and neighbors offered the girls sweets as they popped into their homes.

The sisters were the only children in their hamlet in Fukushima Prefecture, living with their mother and grandparents in the house where their grandfather was born. On that terrible day a decade ago when Fukushima was struck by a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami, setting off a triple meltdown at a nuclear power plant, a 12-year-old Ms. Tsugawa was at school 90 miles inland. As the powerful shaking jolted her sixth-grade classroom, she and her classmates hid under their desks, crying in fear.

In the years since, many of her peers have left for jobs in Tokyo and other cities, an outflow common to rural Japan but accelerated by the disaster in Fukushima. Ms. Tsugawa has different plans. After graduating this month from nursing school, she ultimately wants to return to her hometown to care for the aging residents who helped raise her.

“They gave us so much when we were little,” said Ms. Tsugawa, now 22. “I want to help these elderly people stay healthy longer.”

several towns near the nuclear plant remain uninhabitable.

many graying and shrinking communities, where jobs are sparse, the lifestyle is inconvenient and birthrates are low. The town’s population, which peaked at close to 20,000 in 1950, has fallen to 6,000. Aging residents are close to half of the population, and health care workers are in short supply.

Katsuei Hirasawa, the country’s 10th minister for reconstruction since the disaster, said in a news briefing. “We must communicate that there are no safety-related issues in produce from Fukushima.”

Timothy Mousseau, a biologist at the University of South Carolina who has studied how radioactive contamination has affected animals and plants in Chernobyl and Fukushima.

As the disaster unfolded, Ms. Tsugawa did not learn just how devastating it was until her grandparents turned on the television later that afternoon. Like a horror movie on an endless loop, they watched scenes from the tsunami as it devoured the coastline. The next day, they learned of an explosion at the nuclear plant. A wall of water had knocked out the reactors’ cooling systems.

Although the residents of Nishiaizu never evacuated, Ms. Tsugawa began to read news items and social media posts insinuating that Fukushima was tainted. “There were these rumors that everyone in Fukushima was dangerous,” she recalled. “And that if you got close to them, you might get radiation sickness from them.”

When her mother, Yuki Tsugawa, took a business trip outside the prefecture about a year after the nuclear accident, someone scrawled the word “baka” — “stupid” — on the side of the car she had been driving. Ms. Tsugawa, 47, said she wondered if her Fukushima license plate was the reason.

Her elder daughter said she had no qualms about the safety of her hometown, where she hopes someday to raise her own family. “Just because there are some areas that are not safe,” she said, “doesn’t mean that all of Fukushima is unsafe.”

With her decision to become a geriatric nurse, Ms. Tsugawa is giving the prefecture exactly what it needs.

The demand for nursing care across Japan is so great that before the pandemic, the country began to relax its longtime insularity and allow more workers to be hired from other countries. In Fukushima, there is already a shortage of doctors and nurses. Kiyoshi Hanazumi, chief of the prefecture’s social welfare division, said that based on current trends, it will meet only about three-quarters of its needs for health care workers for older residents by 2025.

Ms. Tsugawa said she had wanted to become a nurse ever since she was 3 years old. Her grandfather had been hospitalized with lung cancer, and she observed the kindness of the medical staff who treated him.

Her interest in geriatric nursing developed over time. While their mother worked as a welfare coordinator in Nishiaizu, Ms. Tsugawa and her younger sister, Mana, 19, would accompany their grandmother, Haruko Tsugawa, 74, to visit neighbors.

“Everyone treated them as honorary grandchildren,” Mrs. Tsugawa said.

A year after the 2011 disaster, Yoshihiro Yabe, 42, also wanted to reclaim this kind of community. Mr. Yabe, a landscape architect, decided to return to Nishiaizu, where he was born, and start a family.

At one time, Mr. Yabe had planned to escape. But now he wants to reverse the migration that is all too common from his hometown.

When the earthquake and tsunami struck, Mr. Yabe was training in Canada and hoping to find a job in the United States.

“I was watching media in Japan and all over the world, and I felt that Fukushima was labeled as a contaminated prefecture,” he said. “So who would come here to create new businesses or want to start agriculture or raise their babies?”

Mr. Yabe said he felt he had to return, and he moved into his ancestral home — it has been in the family for 19 generations — and renovated some old storage warehouses for miso and soy sauce, converting them into a small inn.

He took over a local arts center and established an artists’ residency. Over the last eight years, he said, he has recruited 60 people to live in Nishiaizu, some from Tokyo and others from different parts of Fukushima Prefecture.

The town is far from resuscitated. Near Mr. Yabe’s home, half of the houses are abandoned. Aside from his 8- and 3-year-old daughters, he said, “I am the youngest guy” in the neighborhood.

Ms. Tsugawa, who starts a residency at the hospital connected to Fukushima Medical University in April, is also likely to be the youngest person in Sugiyama — population 21 — which is the enclave of Nishiaizu in which she grew up.

Even her mother had not originally intended to raise Ms. Tsugawa and her sister in Nishiaizu. Yuki Tsugawa attended technical college in Koriyama, more than 50 miles away, married and gave birth to Rina and Mana. Only after divorcing did Yuki move back in with her parents in the 100-year-old wood and slate-roofed home where she had been raised.

“If I stayed married, I probably would have stayed out” of Nishiaizu like most of her childhood classmates, Yuki Tsugawa said. “I often think ‘wow, nobody ever came back,’” she said.

Rina Tsugawa, who said she wanted to specialize in caring for patients with dementia, knows her town may struggle to survive.

“Of course, I don’t want my little village to disappear,” she said. “But even if we do things to try to get new people to come, that isn’t really happening. It’s difficult to make progress.”

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Covid-19 Conundrum in Rome: More Homeless on Streets as Shelters Shrink

ROME — On an icy evening last month, Akas Kazi, a 35-year-old originally from Bangladesh, huddled under a blanket in the portico of one of Rome’s main post offices, as Red Cross volunteers distributed hot meals of pasta and tea.

Working in a restaurant kitchen had barely paid the bills, but after the restaurant closed six months ago — yet another casualty of the pandemic — Mr. Kazi found himself living on the street. “No work, no money for rent,” he said.

Job searches had been fruitless: “There’s nothing,” he said. And even sleeping on friends’ couches was not an option. “Everyone has problems because of Covid.”

The winter has been especially hard: Since November, 12 homeless people have died on the streets of Rome, where a growing number of people have ended up because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Rome branch of the Catholic charity Caritas.

Community of St. Egidio, a Catholic charity. Capacity there fell to 10 beds from 30, after wooden partitions were erected between the cots to ensure social distancing.

Caritas estimates that some 7,700 people are on the streets. Some social workers put the number at almost twice that. For City Hall, “those are absurd numbers” and don’t reflect reality, said Veronica Mammì, the municipal councilor in charge of social services, who estimated the number of homeless at closer to 3,000.

Daniele Archibugi of the Institute for Research on Population and Social Policies, Italian Research Council, who is studying the financial impact of the pandemic in Italy, noted that many Italians work in the country’s informal economy and are not recorded, “so one of the problems is to find and reach them.”

isolation shelter, repeatedly testing its guests, who must remain there for 10 days before they are sent to other refuges.

Of the 200 men who have passed through the shelter in the past month, only one tested positive. “It’s almost miraculous,” said Mr. Farneti. (There is some anecdotal evidence that the isolated lives of homeless people make them less vulnerable to the virus.)

Rome’s Red Cross. “And the homeless suffer because bars and restaurants are closed so it’s more difficult to find food.”

association that lobbies for the rights of the homeless.

Twice a week, and more often when it’s cold, the Red Cross team brings food and blankets, as well as face masks and hand sanitizer, to those whom Emiliano Loppa, a volunteer coordinator, described as Rome’s “most isolated people.” They live downtown in makeshift camps under the bridges along the Tiber River, under porticos and even in the nooks of ancient ruins.

died on the streets, including Modesta Valenti, who became something of an icon when she died in 1983 after an ambulance refused to transport her.

Over the past year, the number of homeless people has “clearly increased,” Mr. Signifredi said. with a housing crisis adding to the problem, even though the government made evictions illegal during the state of emergency. “We have said that the pandemic unleashed the poverty of the penultimate — those who barely made it to the end of the month and now can’t make it to the 10th, so they come to us or Caritas,” he said.

St. Egidio has opened several new dormitories and also drafted an agreement with a hotel whose rooms had been empty since the pandemic began. But it’s not enough. “We’ve asked authorities to react more quickly to emergencies,” because the emergency was not going away anytime soon, he said.

“The kind of poverty has changed,” said Claudio Campani, a coordinator of the Forum for Street Volunteers, an umbrella group for some 50 associations that assist Rome’s homeless. “Now you have the so-called ‘new poor’ who go to live in their cars before ending up on the street.” And while many homeless people are immigrants, “the number of Italians has increased,” he said.

For Mr. Pavani, the year has been one long cautionary tale.

“The thread that binds us to normality is so fine that it can take very little — loss of work, a weakness, a separation — for that thread to break and for us to fall and lose our life story and roots,” he said.

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A City Is Rebuilt After Japan’s 2011 Tsunami—Now It Needs People

RIKUZENTAKATA, Japan—Ten years after one of the world’s largest earthquakes triggered a tsunami that wiped out much of this city, major reconstruction is nearly complete. A 40-foot-high concrete wall guards the coast, a seven-floor city hall is set to open, and only a few dirt-carrying trucks still rumble down the main street.

Yet the future remains precarious for this remote community, where more than 1,700 people, or 7% of the population, were killed in the disaster.

With state-led financial support receding, Rikuzentakata struggles to stave off the decline seen in other rural parts of Japan. Many survivors have settled elsewhere, and large expanses of downtown land lie unused.

Ten years after the tsunami, Rikuzentakata has become a town of vast open spaces.

Rikuzentaka in March 2011, days after the city’s commercial and residential heart was almost entirely swept away.

Photo: NICOLAS ASFOURI/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

A woman sought to recover belongings in Rikuzentakata in March 2011.

Photo: Ko Sasaki for The Wall Street Journal

Major reconstruction is nearly complete, but many former residents haven’t returned to Rikuzentakata.

Momiko Kinno pushed her elderly mother along in a cart to escape the wave that carried away their home and thousands of others in Rikuzentakata on March 11, 2011. After eight years in a temporary shelter, Ms. Kinno, now 75 years old, moved into a new two-story house in the downtown area surrounded by empty lots and “for sale” signs. Her son and daughter moved to other cities to work.

“I don’t think many people will return around here,” she said.

Recovery work from the 2011 disasters on Japan’s northeastern coast, including the meltdown of three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, has been one of the world’s most expensive revival projects. Public spending so far is almost $300 billion. The U.S. government spent about $110 billion on recovery after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The commercial and residential heart of Rikuzentakata, which sits on a low-lying coastal plain, was almost entirely swept away, and the city alone accounted for about a tenth of the deaths from Japan’s worst postwar natural disaster. In 2014, a project began to use soil and rock from a mountain top to raise the central area by more than 20 feet. The final sections are due to be completed this year as part of land redevelopment work costing over $1.4 billion.

In 2017, a 40-foot-high concrete wall stretching more than a mile along the bay next to the city was completed, part of 270 miles of new sea walls built in the region since the disaster.

Reconstruction created a “disaster bubble,” said Masayuki Kimura, whose home and family-run bakery were both destroyed by the tsunami. Mr. Kimura restarted his business out of an old train car and quickly doubled his pre-tsunami sales as an influx of workers, volunteers and disaster tourists snapped up his German-style baumkuchen layer cakes and other treats.

Masayuki Kimura’s family bakery was destroyed by the tsunami. He reopened, moving to a succession of larger premises.

He reopened, first in an old train car, pictured in November 2011.

Photo: Hisashi Murayama for The Wall Street Journal

The bakery is now located in a mock-European brick building at the edge of town.

The government of the prefecture, or state, temporarily took over his debts of $300,000, and he was able to borrow more, moving his business to larger premises twice, most recently in 2015 to a mock-European brick building on a hill at the edge of the town.

With the recovery work almost finished and short-term visitors reduced, especially during the coronavirus pandemic, Mr. Kimura’s sales are down by 20% from their peak. The 63-year-old still has $900,000 in bank debt. He is working on developing cakes for vegans and people with allergies as a way to boost online sales.

“I’ve realized that to survive I have to compete with shops in other towns,” he said.

The government offered subsidies and debt relief for businesses in the disaster region as part of its 10-year recovery plan. It says a new five-year, $15 billion package will be primarily targeted at support for individuals, including mental healthcare.

Rikuzentakata Mayor Futoshi Toba wants more assistance to revive the local economy now that reconstruction is over. Less than half of the city’s redeveloped land is in use.

As part of reconstruction, the central area of Rikuzentakata has been raised by more than 20 feet.

The new sea wall stretches more than a mile along the bay.

“We’ve finally created the conditions to try to attract businesses back here, just as government support programs are winding down,” he said.

Mr. Toba, who began the job two months before the disaster and lost his wife to the tsunami, said the decision to raise large areas of the city was intended to encourage people to stay, but the prolonged project contributed to population loss.

“People can put up with living in temporary accommodation for a year or two, but when it’s seven or eight years they’re going to consider options elsewhere,” he said.

Thousands were forced into temporary housing or moved away from Rikuzentakata after the disaster. The city’s population was 18,601 at the end of February, down almost 25% from a decade earlier.

In an unusual twist, the birthrate in Rikuzentakata briefly rose to become one of the highest in Japan after the disaster, a phenomenon sometimes seen after major earthquakes. It is now in line with the national average, far below the level needed to keep the population stable.

At the current rate of decline, Rikuzentakata’s population will more than halve by 2060. More than 50% of residents are forecast to be over 65 by 2040.

Oyster farmer Sakae Yoshida used to have 30 staff but now has eight because most have retired. The bay near Rikuzentakata is known for its plump, fist-sized oysters, supplied to luxury hotels in Tokyo. The tsunami created better growing conditions for oysters by dredging the sea bed, but it is hard to take full advantage of the opportunity, Mr. Yoshida said.

Sakae Yoshida with oyster shells. His staff has dwindled as most have retired. ‘There is no one to take over the work,’ he says.

“Everyone has gotten older, and there is no one to take over the work,” the 73-year-old said as he and his wife finished sorting the day’s harvest at a small plant next to the tsunami wall.

A few younger people have returned. Twenty-four-year-old Rinnosuke Yoshida moved back to Rikuzentakata last summer to work on his grandparents’ vegetable farm after attending college near Tokyo and a brief period working in advertising sales. Most of his high-school friends have moved to other cities.

Rinnosuke Yoshida, who isn’t related to the oyster farmer, said he preferred the clean air of the countryside and living by the sea. He also said he was motivated by the wishes of his father, Toshiyuki, who wanted to work on the family farm after retirement but was killed in the tsunami.

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His grandfather, who is 87 years old, and grandmother, who is 82, sometimes tell him how he looks and talks just like Toshiyuki, who was their son. Toshiyuki was a baseball coach at Rinnosuke’s high school. Both Rinnosuke and his elder brother, who lives in the prefectural capital, were keen baseball players. Rinnosuke recently started playing again with a local club team.

On March 11, he expects he will drive his mother and grandparents to the family gravesite to pay their respects to his father. “I’m not torn by his death, but of course at times I want to see him,” he said.

He hopes to get married this year to his high-school sweetheart, who is training to become a nurse. She will find out in March if she passed her exams to become qualified. They plan to stay in Rikuzentakata and start a family.

A replica of a lone pine tree that survived the tsunami, before succumbing to salination in the soil. Behind it is the collapsed Rikuzentakata youth hostel.

Write to Alastair Gale at alastair.gale@wsj.com and Miho Inada at miho.inada@wsj.com

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Tsunami Warning Lifted for New Zealand After 8.1-Magnitude Earthquake

SYDNEY — A tsunami warning for parts of New Zealand was lifted on Friday afternoon, hours after officials had told residents of coastal areas to evacuate in the wake of an 8.1-magnitude earthquake in the South Pacific.

The earthquake was recorded early Friday morning near the Kermadec Islands, which are between Tonga and New Zealand’s North Island, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center urged the public in the region to be vigilant and to closely monitor the situation, saying that “tsunami waves have been observed.”

At 1:15 p.m. local time, the National Emergency Management Agency in New Zealand told residents who had earlier evacuated that it was safe to return to their homes. It said that the “largest waves have now passed.”

Twitter.

Less than two hours before the 8.1-magnitude earthquake, seismologists recorded a 7.4-magnitude earthquake about 31 miles west, the U.S. Geological Survey said. The agency said that the first earthquake was most likely what is known as a foreshock.

Six hours earlier, a 7.3-magnitude earthquake was reported about 560 miles to the south, seismologists said.

Damien Cave reported from Sydney, Neil Vigdor reported from Greenwich, Conn., and Natasha Frost reported from Auckland.

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In Iceland, 18,000 Earthquakes Over Days Signal Possible Eruption on the Horizon

Similar tremors have been observed ahead of volcanic eruptions in the past, and the Icelandic Meteorological Office said that magma movements were a likely cause for the continuing activity. The agency has warned that an eruption could occur within days or weeks.

“The two tectonic plates are moving away from each other, and that movement has created the conditions for magma to come to the surface,” said Freysteinn Sigmundsson, a research professor of geophysics at the University of Iceland.

Dr. Einarsson said that out of the five volcanoes in the Reykjanes area, magma movement had been observed near at least three of them since the seismic episode began in December 2019. “We may be entering a new active period in the peninsula,” he added. “There seems to be food for some eruption.”

Iceland has about 30 active volcanoes, but volcanologists say an eruption in Reykjanes won’t threaten inhabited areas on the peninsula. “We’re talking about an effusive eruption, rather than explosive,” said Dr. Sigmundsson, explaining that the lava would likely bubble out with little explosive force.

He added that any activity is unlikely to be as disruptive as the eruption that occurred in 2010, when another volcano in Iceland released a plume of ash so vast that it caused one of the most significant air-traffic interruptions in decades, stranding millions of passengers in Europe, some for weeks.

The meteorological office said the volcanic activity could occur near Fagradalsfjall, 20 miles south of Reykjavik, or near the Keilir mountain close by. Hundreds of volcano enthusiasts have been riveted to live cameras in the area, and a website asking “Has there been an eruption yet?” has kept them up-to-date. (It still read “Nei” — No — as of Thursday afternoon, but a playlist on the website helped with the wait.)

The meteorological office said that among possible scenarios, the ongoing seismic activities could decrease in the coming days or weeks, but the peninsula could also face more earthquakes, up to magnitude 6.5.

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