Do Not Rule Out Chance of Eruption

Keilir mountain.

Keilir mountain. Photo/Eggert Jóhannesson

Vala Hafstað

Scientists do not rule out the chance of a volcanic eruption on the Reykjanes peninsula, Southwest Iceland, as the swarm of earthquakes that began Wednesday last week continues.

Satellite pictures received yesterday show increased movements of the surface of the earth, which, according to scientists, might be best explained by possible magma intrusion under the area of the greatest seismic activity, mbl.is reports.

If an eruption were to occur, it would likely be in the area between the north end of Fagradalsfjall mountain and Keilir mountain. The village of Vogar is the only populated area nearby.

“Lava flow would not be a threat to populated areas,” states Kristín Jónsdóttir, natural hazards specialist at the Icelandic Met Office, “but what could cause a problem is pollution from volcanic gases.”

mbl.is/Kristinn Magnússon

Earthquakes can cause movement of the surface of the earth, but the Scientific Council of the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management concluded at an online meeting last night that the extent of these movements is such that magma intrusion is a likelier cause. The Council discussed the following possible scenarios:

- Seismic activity could taper off in the coming days or weeks.

- Seismic activity could increase with larger earthquakes, of up to 6 in magnitude, hitting the vicinity of Fagradalsfjall mountain.

- An earthquake of up to 6.5 in magnitude could hit, the source of which would be in Brennisteinsfjöll mountains.

- Magma intrusion could continue near Fagradalsfjall mountain. If that happens, either of the two could occur:

  1. Magma intrusion activity could decrease, and the magma could solidify.
  2. Magma intrusion could result in an effusive eruption, i.e. one where lava steadily flows, which most likely would not be a threat to inhabited areas.

The present activity on the Reykjanes peninsula is hard to predict. New data are expected later in the week, which could further shed light on the reason for this swarm of earthquakes. The Council will meet again today to further review data received.

Since midnight, more than 800 tremors have been recorded on the Reykjanes peninsula, mbl.is reports.

Around 3 am, two earthquakes in excess of magnitude 4 hit the area, one of them measuring 4.3, the other one 4.6. A total of four earthquakes in excess of magnitude 4 hit overnight and 15 in excess of magnitude 3.

You can view a table, showing all the quakes and their locations here .

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