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Small eruption is one future possibility

02.03.2021 - 09:19
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 Mynd: Skjáskot - RÚV
New satellite imagery received yesterday has swung scientific opinion towards the idea that magma may be gathering under the Reykjanes peninsula during the ongoing earthquake swarm. There is no indication of any volcanic activity at this time, however, and any eruption in the area would likely be small and the disruption minimal. Four quakes over Magnitude 4 were recorded overnight.

Geomorphologist Magnús Tumi Guðmundsson and volcanologist Þorvaldur Þórðarson were guests on RÚV’s Kastljós programme last night and agreed that a volcanic eruption will occur on the Reykjanes peninsula “soon”, but added that “soon” in geological terms could mean 100 or 200 years from now. 

An eruption near to Keilir, in the middle of the peninsula, would be a lava eruption, with slow-moving lava spreading over the landscape and very little ash production. Such an eruption would not threaten buildings or infrastructure unless it crossed a road or powerline. It could last weeks or even months and the lava would move at roughly walking pace. The biggest ever recorded lava flow on the Reykjanes peninsula covered 17 kilometres, but an area four kilometres long and two wide is more normal, and would be expected in this case. 

The scientists were keen to point out that while new evidence has now introduced an eruption as a possibility, that does not mean one is imminent. The earthquake swarm could still die out quietly. 

The swarm is still very much ongoing for now, though, and has brought 16 earthquakes over Magnitude 3 since midnight, and four over M4. The largest, at M4.6, came at 03.05 this morning. 

You can see an interesting 3D picture of the local area, with English descriptions, here. 

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