Met Office Warns of Possible Eruption in Reykjanes Next Week Skip to content
iceland eruption 2022
Photo: Golli – Meradalir Eruption 2022.

Met Office Warns of Possible Eruption in Reykjanes Next Week

Magma accumulation beneath Svartsengi indicates a likely eruption next week. A specialist with the Icelandic Meteorological Office advises against overnight stays in Grindavík, due especially to the short warning period and the potential for eruptions within town limits.

Eruption likely next week

Magma continues to accumulate beneath the Svartsengi area on the Reykjanes peninsula, a buildup that mirrors precursors observed in recent volcanic eruptions in the area. According to the website of the Icelandic Meteorological Office, if the magma accumulation continues at the current rate, the volume of magma will reach the threshold next week that is believed to be necessary to trigger the next magma intrusion or even an eruption.

In an interview with RÚV yesterday, Benedikt Ófeigsson, a geophysicist at the Icelandic Meteorological Office, suggested that, given the circumstances, this outcome must be anticipated. The last three eruptions on the Reykjanes Peninsula have taught experts that this is the most likely sequence of events.

He estimated that about 6 million cubic metres of magma have accumulated beneath Svartsengi. This figure is expected to reach 8 million cubic metres just after the weekend, and experience has shown that eruptions start when the volume reaches between 8-13 million cubic metres.

The Meteorological Office does not see a reason to raise the threat level in the area at this time, however, although an update will be provided on Monday. “Unless circumstances change, the threat level will be raised in several areas concurrent with the increased volume of magma beneath Svartsengi, which means an increased likelihood of an eruption.”

Staying overnight in Grindavík “not wise”

In an interview with Vísir yesterday, Kristín Jónsdóttir, a natural hazards specialist with the Icelandic Meteorological Office, stated that the area around Grindavík was facing considerable risk.

“Given the magma accumulation in Svartsengi, we believe there is a very high likelihood of an eruption next week. The area around Grindavík is considered to be at considerable risk. As long as there is ongoing magma accumulation, a magma intrusion could occur, most likely next week.”

Kristín emphasised the precarious nature of the situation, in light of the fact that the authorities had recently allowed residents to stay overnight in town and businesses to operate: “Of course, there’s also this uncertainty, so it’s uncomfortable having so many people in the area, and it puts a lot of pressure on us, who are monitoring the area,” she added.

When asked if the experts could predict in advance where the eruption will occur, Kristín responded thusly: “It’s most likely to occur along the magma conduit, but it is long, and part of it stretches beneath Grindavík. We have seen before that eruptions have occurred within the town limits. Of course, this is very serious,” Kristín stated.

As noted by Vísir, after the first eruption in the ongoing series of eruptions, the warning signs have become increasingly shorter. This time, the warning could be just half an hour, according to Kristín.

“What we also see in these repeated events is that the warnings are always getting shorter and shorter. Most recently, just over half an hour passed from the first earthquakes being detected to the start of the eruption. If the seismic activity moves south towards Grindavík, it would take a bit longer, so there will be some warning. But we’re talking about maybe half an hour, an hour, which is a very short time,” she said.

“The Meteorological Office assesses that there is considerable danger, and I would say that it is not wise to stay overnight in Grindavík,” Kristín observed. As far as working in town was concerned, Kristín stated that such a thing was slightly different: “Of course, it’s different to be working there when people are awake and know the evacuation routes and so on. But as I say, I don’t think it’s wise to stay overnight,” she concluded.

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