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Grindavík - Þorbjörn
Photo: Golli.

Land Rises Four Centimetres on Reykjanes

The land around Svartsengi, on the Reykjanes peninsula, has risen 4 centimetres since April 21. The uplift is most likely due to a magma intrusion 4-5km below the surface. Satellite images published by the Icelandic Met Office indicate the intrusion is 7-8km long and stretches west of Þorbjörn mountain and underneath Svartsengi Power Station. An earthquake swarm is ongoing at the site, but there is no sign of volcanic unrest.

These geological events are reminiscent of landrise that occurred in the area in 2020. While in that instance, the magma that was collecting underground never reached the surface, a volcanic eruption did occur nearby on the peninsula in 2021, at Fagradalsfjall. While the 2021 eruption was far from infrastructure, the growing magma intrusion is located underneath a geothermal power plant, which is at risk of damage if magma reaches the surface.

Residents of the nearby town of Grindavík were invited to a town hall meeting yesterday evening to discuss the geological activity and go over preparedness in the case of an eruption. Travellers and hikers on the Reykjanes peninsula are warned to stay away from steep inclines, where earthquakes can cause landslides or rockfall. The Civil Protection Department website features earthquake preparedness information in English.

Experts have stated that it is too early to say whether the activity will result in an eruption.

The Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management has declared an uncertainty phase in the area and the aviation code for the area has been changed to yellow.

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