A volcanic period for the next centuries

The volcanic eruption in Fagradalsfjall might be the start of …

The volcanic eruption in Fagradalsfjall might be the start of a series of eruptions. mbl.is/Kristinn Magnússon

"There will be a volcanic eruption, the only question is when," says Þorvaldur Þórðarson a professor in volcanology at the University of Iceland when asked about the series of earthquakes in recent days and months in the Reykjanes peninsula. He adds that we have enter a volcanic period.

"What is normal and what is not normal is always a big question. The activity in the Reykjanes peninsula comes in periods where we see no activity for maybe 600 to 1000 years, and then we get volcanic periods of 200 to 400 years." He adds that volcanic eruptions often come in threes, so once one has erupted like we had last year, then two might follow shortly after and then there might be a period of inactivity.

Þorvaldur Þórðarson who is a professor in volcanology at the …

Þorvaldur Þórðarson who is a professor in volcanology at the University of Iceland. mbl.is/Eggert Jóhannesson

Eruptions for the next centuries

When he is asked whether the eruption in Fagradalsfjall last year might have marked the beginning of three volcanic eruptions, he thinks that might be the case. He doesn´t think it will, however, be the end of people living in the peninsula. „People used to live with the threat of volcanic eruptions in the old days. It obviously is not comfortable and it can cause all kinds of interruptions of the daily lives of the population. The sulphur pollution is not the best and if the eruption occurs close to populated areas, the running lava might cause havoc when it comes to structures and homes. There is always the possibility of that happening in certain areas,“ he says, but stresses the people have to be prepared for what is to come because this situation is here to stay for the next centuries.

We are going into a volcanic period says Þorvaldur Þórðarson …

We are going into a volcanic period says Þorvaldur Þórðarson professor of volcanology. Kristinn Magnússon

Could impact the tourist industry

Þórðarson says that in the big picture human lives should always be at the forefront. There need to be clear processes when it comes to evacuate areas in a safe manner. He also says that roads need to be under evaluation in case of something happening that might sever them in some areas by lava. If that would happen, it could seriously impact the tourist industry, he says.

"I think this should just be part of what we need to address as a society," and adds that this needs to be a general discussion in the country and not something that few people decide for the whole. He points out that if there were talks about building another international airport, then it would be vitally important that there is a social consensus for a new location. He thinks it is adamant to have this conversation sooner rather than later, when the volcanic period has already started.

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