The land on Iceland’s Reykjanes peninsula has risen some 3 cm [1.2 in] since October 27, indicating an eruption might be on the way. Uplift (the scientific term for this geological activity) has occurred before all three eruptions on Reykjanes in the past three years. While there are no indications that an eruption is imminent, the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management has declared an uncertainty phase on the Reykjanes peninsula.
Earthquakes and faster uplift
A powerful earthquake swarm began on the Reykjanes peninsula on the night of October 24 just north of the town of Grindavík. The most powerful earthquakes at the start of the swarm measured M3.9 and M4.5. More than 7,000 earthquakes have been detected in the area since, including an M5.0 earthquake on October 27.
On October 27, the land in the area began to rise, indicating a magma intrusion in the earth below. This is the fifth time that uplift is measured at the location since 2020. The rate of uplift is faster than uplift that occurred in 2020 and 2022 in a similar area. All three eruptions that have occurred on the Reykjanes peninsula in the past three years were preceded by earthquakes and uplift.
Land rise close to Blue Lagoon
The midpoint of the uplift is some 1.5km to the northwest of Þorbjörn mountain, near the Blue Lagoon. The Blue Lagoon’s Director of Sales, Operations, and Services told RÚV that the company is meeting with authorities daily to monitor the situation and has updated their contingency plans. The temperature of the water in the lagoon is monitored regularly and no changes have been detected.
More eruptions can be expected on Reykjanes
In March 2021, an eruption began on the Reykjanes peninsula following a period of nearly 800 years with no eruptions in the area. That eruption lasted around six months and was followed by two shorter eruptions in 2022 and 2023. Geologic activity on the Reykjanes peninsula is characterised by seismic periods lasting 600-800 years, alternating with volcanic periods lasting 400-500 years and experts have stated that more eruptions can be expected on the peninsula in the coming decades. None of the three recent eruptions have impacted inhabited areas or infrastructure.