The Fictional Story of The 2020 Kiruna Mine Earthquake

Frigga, who tries to balance her risky job as a security manager in the Kiirunavaara mine with her family life, has to fight for her life and the lives of her loved ones when her city starts collapsing into the mine. (Netflix)

The town of Kiruna in the Swedish Arctic is sinking due to the giant mine below and the town is in danger of collapsing. The residents have to evacuate, but the mining town is sinking faster than anyone thought. This is the plot behind the new Netflix movie The Abyss, based on a real-life event.

In the Swedish disaster movie The Abyss all hell breaks loose when the mining town of Kiruna in Swedish Lapland collapses in on itself due to the iron mine - the largest in the world - below the town.

In the film, earthquakes sends people falling into the earth, and it is up to one woman, Frigga (Tuva Novotny), who knows the mine better than anyone else, to save the town and her family.

The disaster movie also starres Peter Franzén and Kardo Razzazi, and was directed by Richard Holm (Gåsmamman) with a screenplay by Holm, his son Robin Sherlock Holm (The Machinery), and Nicola Sinclair.

Real life scenario

Could this happen in real life? There is, in fact, truth to the story.

Kiruna - 200 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle - is positioned top top of a massive iron mine owned by mining company LKAB.

The excavation of the mine creates seismic activity, and the biggest quake occured in May 2020. The Abyss is a dramatized version of this natural disaster, with fictional fatalities and events.

Kiruna in Northern Sweden had to move for the billion-dollar mining industry to continue

While 13 miners were working at the time of the earthquake, no injuries occurred.

The move of a town

It was the threat of a sinking town that caused the unpresedented event of the slow demolishing of Kiruna, to save both the town and the billion-dollar mining industry. The new mining town are relocated only three kilometres east of the old one.

As the brand new center of Kiruna were officially opened autumn 2022 with HNN present, the massive relocation project - that started in 2004 - is set to complete in 2035.

The 2020 earthquake was a result of many factors. According to LKAB, mining first began in the area in 1989, and almost 1000 million tons of iron ore have been produced since than. The activity has strained and weakend the ground, also leading to increased  seismic activity.

Slowly sinking

Land subsidence causes the ground beneath Kiruna to slowly sink, and earthquakes could potentially exacerbate this issue as seen in The Abyss.

The Abyss was filmed in Kiruna and Stockholm, Sweden; Tampere, Finland; Brussels, Belgium; and on Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain.

Kiruna has a population of 22 500, and has been a mining company town since it was founded in 1900. The mine produces 80% of the EU’s iron supply.

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