Earthquakes Resemble Ones Prior to Fagradalsfjall Eruption

Geophysicist Magnús Tumi Guðmundsson.

Geophysicist Magnús Tumi Guðmundsson. Photo/Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management

Vala Hafstað

The national police commissioner, in consultation with the Suðurnes chief of police, has activated the uncertainty phase of the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management, due to the ongoing seismic activity near Fagradalsfjall mountain, Southwest Iceland, mbl.is reports. See our prior report here .

This picture was taken by Fagradalsfjall at the beginning of …

This picture was taken by Fagradalsfjall at the beginning of September. That eruption was recently declared over. mbl.is/Kristinn Magnússon


It cannot be ruled out that the reason for the present seismic activity is that magma is accumulating and moving closer to the surface of the Earth, geophysicist Magnús Tumi Guðmundsson tells mbl.is .

“This [seismic activity] resembles the earthquakes a month prior to the [Fagradalsfjall] eruption,” he states. Most of them are at a considerable depth, of about six kilometers.”
He adds that scientists must wait for the results of various measurements, including GPS data and satellite data, to see whether divergence is taking place and whether there are signs of magma movement. “We need to wait for all of those before drawing too many conclusions,” he notes.

Magnús Tumi points out that we may be experiencing the beginning of a series of events that could continue for decades:

“When we speak of the Fagradalsfjall eruption, we’re speaking of that event alone. We need to differentiate between an eruption on the one hand and a sequence of divergence or volcanic activity on the Reykjanes peninsula on the other hand.

“Looking back at history, an eruption just ended — one of average size for the peninsula. And if we look at the last volcanic period and go back about a thousand years, we find there were periods of frequent eruptions, followed by about a hundred years of no eruption.

“We don’t know where we are [in such a series of events]. We don’t know what the development will be like in the coming years or decades. All we know is that there is ongoing activity, and by that I mean for years and centuries to come,” Magnús Tumi concludes.

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