Magma Collecting Under Öræfajökull Volcano

Measurements at Öræfajökull volcano indicate that magma is collecting in a magma chamber under the glacier on top of the volcano, RÚV reports. Earthquakes at the ice-covered Öræfajökull volcano have increased this year, along with the inflation and disforming of the volcano due to the magma collecting in the magma chamber.

This was revealed in citizen’s meeting held by the Civil Protection and Emergency Management group of Hornafjörður, which was held in Hofgarður in Öræfi yesterday evening. Kristín Jónsdóttir, group leader of Iceland Meteorological’s Office disaster monitoring, stated that an increased number of earthquakes larger than two on the Richter scale was measured at Öræfajökull compared to last year.

In an interview with RÚV, Kristín revealed that all measurements indicate that Öræfajökull is preparing to erupt. However, a timetable cannot be set at this point in time as it’s impossible to tell how much magma is needed to create the pressure needed for an eruption. The Icelandic Met Office will continue to keep a close eye on developments in the area.

Measurements indicate a clear inflation and deformation of the volcano. Magma is collecting at a depth of just over five kilometres deep. In November 2017, satellite images revealed that the cauldron in the glacier had sunk noticeably. Iceland Review covered that turn of events here. Measurements at that time also showed an increased electroconductivity in Kvíá river, which is derived from minerals found in glacial run-off. Measurements also indicated that geothermal heat in the river had reduced in the last year. The Kvíá river has not been displaying signs of changes in recent times, but will continue to be monitored.

Area of desolation

Authorities have been carefully monitoring the Öræfajökull volcano, which has not erupted for 289 years. Öræfajökull, which can be translated as ‘Wasteland Glacier’, has the highest peak in Iceland – Hvannadalshnjúkur which has an elevation of 2109.6 metres (6,921 feet). Öræfajökull gathers its name from its eruption in 1372, as it was renamed after the eruption which desolated the nearby area. The volcano that was once known as Knappafellsjökull know had the name Öræfajökull. The word ‘öræfi’ is translated as wasteland in Icelandic.

Öræfajökull is within the boundaries of the Vatnajökull National Park. Vatnajökull (Water Glacier) is the largest ice cap in Iceland as it covers around eight percent of the land.

Steroids Use Growing in Iceland

A recent episode of news program Kveikur brought to light just how common steroid use is in Iceland, particularly among young men. Testosterone prescriptions have increased dramatically over the last decade, and are double the rate prescribed elsewhere in the Nordic region. Icelanders are also 50% more likely than individuals in other western nations to suffer from body dysmorphic disorder.

Hafrún Kristjánsdóttir is a psychologist and sociologist, as well as former athlete, who researches the behaviour of young men and athletes. She says men get the message from a young age that it’s important to be big and strong. “You are a five-year-old boy and your heroes in life are Superman, Batman, and Hulk, and men like that, and they are all on steroids. If you look at them. They have a big six-pack and they are swollen. And it’s not uncommon to see little boys in playschool flex their muscles and when they draw themselves, they’re drawing a six pack.”

Icelanders had such a role model in Jón Páll Sigarmsson, a strongman, powerlifter, and bodybuilder who was first in the world to win the World’s Strongest Man title four times. Steroid use is widely considered a factor in his early death at the age of 32. His son Sigmar Freyr Jónsson spoke frankly about his own use of steroids in the episode, saying although they first made him feel energised and confident, they quickly began to affect his quality of life. “When I was at my strongest and heaviest, I didn’t feel like I was strong,” Sigmar stated, describing negative side effects such as loss of sex drive and even breast development, which led him to undergo several surgeries. “I stopped using steroids for a whole year, and I was a little worried because I wasn’t yet 30 but I felt that my sex drive and virility didn’t come back for a whole year.” Sigmar stated. “It wasn’t a direct fear of death that made me stop. It was more just wanting a better quality of life.”

Brigir Sverrisson, CEO of the Doping Control Committee of the National Olympic and Sports Association of Iceland, says the organisation wants to work with gyms to combat steroid use. “Gyms have expressed interest in taking a stand against drug abuse and they have a lot of power to do so,” he stated.

Ordinary Citizens to be Invited to Address Parliament

Pirate Party MPs have proposed a bill suggesting that every month ten citizens be allowed to address parliament about current events, RÚV reports. Each address would not take more than two minutes and the speakers would be randomly chosen from the voting registry.

In a report accompanying the bill, it’s stated that in the Nordic countries, there’s no precedent for voters speaking at parliament and that Icelandic laws don’t allow for it either. Suggestions have been made about how to increase the influence of ordinary citizens over the operations of parliament. The Constitutional Council had suggested that voters could suggest items of business for parliamentary discussion. This bill does not propose that voters can suggest items of business, only that they can address the parliamentary gathering.

There’s precedent for other people than members of parliament, ministers, or the President to address parliament, such as the address by Pia Kjærsgaard, president of the Danish parliament, at the celebratory gathering of parliament at Þingvellir this summer. Her address was contested in the media due to her controversial political opinions.

Björn Leví Gunnarsson, Pirate party MP, told RÚV that the goal is to bring Parliament closer to the people and vice versa – it is democratic to allow voters to address parliament.