Increased Geothermal Activity at Askja Skip to content
Photo: Páll Stefánsson. Lake Askja in summer.

Increased Geothermal Activity at Askja

Satellite images taken two days ago indicate increased geothermal activity at the bottom of Lake Askja, part of the Askja volcanic system in Iceland’s highland. Increased geothermal activity coincides with land deformation (uplift) and seismic activity in the region. There are no signs of an imminent eruption.

The Volcanology and Natural Hazard Group at the University of Iceland published a series of satellite images of Askja on their Facebook page yesterday, showing large thaw holes in the ice on the lake as compared to previous years. “The thaw holes that appeared [January 8] are big and can only be explained by increased geothermal heat in the water. That’s in line with the signs of uplift and earthquakes that have been measured (see Icelandic Met Office). So, it is therefore worth being vigilant about Askja these days.”

GPS measurements show that the land around Askja has risen about half a metre since August 2021, when monitoring began. The development has been relatively steady, with little seismic activity. In September 2021, the National Police Commissioner declared an “uncertainty phase” due to the uplift that remains in effect.

The last eruption at Askja occurred in 1961. It lasted 5-6 weeks and produced about 0.1km3 of basaltic lava, considered a moderate eruption. Askja lake is the youngest caldera in the volcanic system, occupied by a lake measuring 12km2 [4.6mi2] and 200m [656ft] deep. Askja erupts on average 2-3 times every century.

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