“High” likelihood of eruption in coming days or weeks

02.08.2022 - 21:06
Mynd: RÚV / RÚV
New satellite imagery clearly shows magma movement beneath the surface between Fagradalsfjall and Keilir on the Reykjanes peninsula, to the northeast of the site of last year’s volcanic eruption.

The satellite data were analysed by scientists today, with the images showing that the magma intrusion has caused significant deformation (up to 16 centimetres) of the crust in recent days to the west of Kleifarvatn lake, but it is not considered likely that magma will break through the surface there. It is far more likely that an eruption will occur at the site of smaller recent earthquakes—as was the case in early 2021.

The likelihood that a volcanic eruption will begin on the Reykjanes peninsula in the coming days or weeks has now increased yet again and is considered highly likely by earth scientists.

According to the Icelandic Met Office, distortion modelling indicates that the magma intrusion under Fagradalsfjall runs very shallow, at just a kilometre below the surface. The magma accumulation is believed to be taking place roughly twice as quickly as before the eruption last year.

Geophysicist Freysteinn Sigmundsson says the more vigorous magma accumulation this year, currently equivalent to ten Elliðaá rivers, could mean an eruption somewhat bigger than in 2021. Lava would likely flow north and could potentially reach the main Reykjanesbraut road, he says, adding, though, that it is still impossible to say with certainty that an eruption will occur.

In different earth sciences news, Grímsvötn has also been shaking today. Its largest quake was on Magnitude 3.7, and there have been around a dozen others along with it.

Grímsvötn is Iceland’s most active volcano, but seismic activity in the ice-covered southeast Iceland volcano is entirely unconnected to the volcanic system on the Reykjanes peninsula.

In light of the ongoing seismic news, as well as this year’s cold and unsettled summer weather, the ICE-SAR national search & rescue organisation has issued an appeal for travellers to register their travel plans on SafeTravel.is before setting off into the wilds, as life-threatening conditions can strike with little warning. There are too many foreign tourists landing in difficulties this year due to poor preparation and insufficient equipment, the organisation’s head told RÚV. The Safe Travel website has lots of helpful information to help keeps travellers safe.

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