Expect an eruption at any time

Benedikt Gunnar Ófeigsson, the Icelandic Met Office’s deformation measurement director.

Benedikt Gunnar Ófeigsson, the Icelandic Met Office’s deformation measurement director. Composite image

According to the Icelandic Met Office’s deformation measurement director, Benedikt Gunnar Ófeigsson, the Icelandic authorities are still expecting a volcanic eruption at any time.

“The inflation continues at the same speed, the seismic activity is ongoing, and more than 17 million cubic meters of magma have been collected in the magma chamber under Svartsengi,” Ófeigsson told mbl.is when asked about the situation on the Reykjanes peninsula.

He says that the situation hasn’t changed much from day to day, but something is expected to happen. He says it is more a question of when it is going to happen than if it will happen.

“Mother Earth doesn’t necessarily do what we want”

“The eruption is making us wait and maybe we have to accept that Mother Earth doesn’t necessarily do what we want,” Ófeigsson says, who says scientists have been waiting for another eruption at Sundhnúkagígar crater row, which scientists consider to be the most likely location of the next eruption.

When asked if he thinks that it is now more difficult for the magma to reach the surface, he says:

“Yes, that’s the conclusion we’re drawing. We’ve seen signs that pointed to something being underway earlier this month, but then it stopped. The seismic activity has been quite constant and always in the same places, and we don’t see any signs that the inflation is slowing down.”

More resilience in the crust

According to Ófeigsson, scientists look back on the previous experiences of the Krafla fires in the 1980s. Then each new eruption needed more pressure to happen.

Perhaps now is the time when we wait for the system to reach its critical pressure. He says clearly that there is more resilience in the crust now.

“The situation in the crust is simply developing in a direction where it becomes more difficult for the magma to reach the surface and more pressure is needed. This is how systems develop and perhaps the difficult thing is that we don’t know beforehand what kind of change each event has in the system. That’s something we’ll see afterward,” he says.

Could it be a few more weeks before magma runs and a volcanic eruption occurs?

“Of course it is possible, but I think it is more likely to happen sooner. The way the system is behaving we’re expecting something to happen soon.”

He says that it is assumed that the notice of an eruption will be short as it has been in previous eruptions.

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