Magma close to the surface on Reykjanes peninsula

31.07.2022 - 11:19
There is an ongoing earthquake swarm on the Reykjanes peninsula, and the seismic activity is taking place at a shallower depth today that it was yesterday. This means that magma has moved closer to the surface. Despite this, it is not possible to predict whether it will break through into a new volcanic eruption. If it does, it would likely be close to the site of last year's Fagradalsfjall eruption.

The swarm started yesterday lunchtime and is still ongoing.

A natural hazards specialist at the Icelandic met office confirms that around 2,500 quakes have been recorded on the peninsula since yesterday, including 700 since midnight, and including 40 larger than Magnitude 3. Most have occurred to the northeast of Fagradalsfjall.

Natural hazards specialist Einar Hjörleifsson says the situation is being closely monitored: "The activity seems to be a bit shallower and the majority of the activity is now at two to three kilometres depth and there still seems to be a lot of activity in the swarm."

Deos that mean magma might be pushing its way to the surface?

"It means that it is at least higher than it was yesterday and we will just have to monitor it very closely today," Einar says.

He says the earhquakes are coming in waves and that the biggest so far was M4.2 at 04.06 this morning. It was followed by a 3.6 at 05.15. Both could clearly be felt in the capital region.

More powerful start than last swarm

Einar says that the current earthquake swarm is still smaller than the one around Christmas/New Year which did not end in an eruption. "But it has started powerfully, this earthquake swarm, but in many ways it is similar to that which occurred around New Year and it is therefore impossible to say whether magma will reach the surface."

The civil protection agency yesterday declared an uncertainty phase due to the earthquakes, and a yellow aviation alert due to the possibility of an eruption. Residents are advised to secure loose items and be aware of heavy items that could fall -- especially over beds and sofas. Hikers on the Reykjanes peninsula should also steer clear of steep slopes, as there is an increased risk of falling rocks.

RÚV's live volcano webcam at Fagradalsfjall, which was watched round the clock by people all over the world last year, has been turned on again and can be seen by clicking the play button above. Vigilant viewers may notice the camera shaking during some of the larger earthquakes.

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