The Icelandic Coast Guard sailed out last Saturday to investigate reports of a dark column of smoke emerging from the ocean, possibly indicating an underwater eruption. While the smoke had disappeared by the time coast guard ship Þór arrived at the site, Icelandic experts told RÚV underwater eruptions are not uncommon though they often go unnoticed. The smoke was spotted off the coast of the Reykjanes peninsula, not far from Iceland’s ongoing eruption on land.
Coast guard ship Þór sailed west from Krýsuvíkurberg cliffs on Saturday evening after a traveller at Selvogsviti lighthouse reported seeing a column of smoke out at sea, RÚV reports. When the ship arrived at the site, sometime after 10:00 PM, there was no smoke to be seen, according to Ásgeir Erlendsson, the Icelandic Coast Guard’s communications officer. Bryndís Ýr Gísladóttir, Natural Hazard Specialist at the Icelandic Met Office, stated IMO equipment had not detected any activity that would indicate a submarine eruption near Krýsuvíkurberg. That does not mean, however, that an eruption did not occur.
“We can’t rule out anything of the sort,” stated Þorvaldur Þórðarson, Professor of Volcanology. “We know that there are often eruptions on the oceanic ridge that we don’t notice until they are over. Or even until we start mapping the area and see a new formation on the seabed. Whether what was seen yesterday is testimony of an eruption or not is difficult to say.” Þorvaldur says data is now being reviewed in the hope of finding an answer.