Land continues to rise in Askja lake

Miðja landrissins virðist vera undir norðvesturhluta Öskjuvatns, hér fjær fyrir …

Miðja landrissins virðist vera undir norðvesturhluta Öskjuvatns, hér fjær fyrir miðri mynd, sem tekin var úr lofti síðdegis í gær. Magnússon

Land continues to rise at Askja lake and the slope from the water’s center continues to increase. This indicates the first results of surface measurements at the lake. A journalist and a photographer for Morgunblaðið accompanied scientists to Askja and Víti for annual measurements yesterday.

The Icelandic Met Office has received indications of surface changes at the lake and recently for a short-lived jet stream, which could be a sign of increased steam activity at Víti.

A lot can play a part

The scientists from the Meteorological Office gave little indication, however, of the explanations down at Víti yesterday, saying that there are many things that can play a part. They measured the amount of land and the slope, natural gas, and took samples from Víti. The University of Iceland is receiving the samples for examination later this week and it will be revealed whether the composition of natural gas at Víti has changed.

Expansion has also been measured at other volcanoes. Results of new measurements at Hekla show a greater expansion, implying that the next eruption will be more powerful than the last eruption. Land is also rising in the Torfajökull caldera.

The volcanologist Þorvaldur Þórðarson says it is not a good …

The volcanologist Þorvaldur Þórðarson says it is not a good idea to be in the vicinity of Askja lake at this time. Composite image

A steep rise in water temperature in Askja lake

The volcanologist Þorvaldur Þórðarson has warned that lava might be brewing in the Askja caldera under the lake. The temperature in the lake has gone up 9 degrees, from 18 degrees Celcius to 27 degrees. Furthermore, land has risen approximately 30 cm sine Septermber last year.

Magma possibly close to the surface

He says that given the temperature change in Víti, the magma could be relatively close to the surface.

“There’s no other reason than that there’s something heating up the groundwater there. All heat in the ground is created by a heat flow from magma. If the temperature increases, you’ve got something hotter coming in. This must be at a relatively shallow depth, because the geothermal water is not going to go many kilometers down into the crust.”

He says it is almost impossible for the sun to raise the water temperature in Víti as much as it is now, noting that he has spent a lot of time in the area and has never seen temperatures so high in the lake.

Askja caldera might be preparing for eruption

“All of these indications seem to point in the same direction of Askja being in the preparing stages. Obviously, we need to keep an eye on the temperature. If there are murmurs in the mountain, this can happen fast. At least we have to warn people about it.”

Þórðarson has previously appealed to the government to close the area at Askja, warning that a disaster could occur if an eruption started at the volcano while people are in the area.


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Later today

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