Note that this is a developing situation. Visitors and residents alike are advised to avoid the active area.
Since significant seismic activity on Reykjanes resumed on July 4, some 4,700 quakes have been recorded. The largest quake so far recorded, M4.8, occurred yesterday morning, July 5. Additionally, 13 earthquakes above M4 have been recorded, with a slight decrease in seismic activity since last night.
Geologists have indicated that the current earthquake swarm on the Reykjanes peninsula suggests a more aggressive magma intrusion than in 2021 and 2022. Land uplift on the Reykjanes peninsula is currently measured at 3cm. While the total uplift is similar to previous eruptions, it has been measured across a larger area on the peninsula. The previous 2021 and 2022 Fagradalsfjall eruptions saw more localised land uplift.
Currently, the eruption is expected to take place in the area between the mountains Keilir and Fagradalsfjall.
Experts have also speculated that Reykjanesbraut, the main road connecting Reykjavík and Keflavík International Airport, could be threatened given the right circumstances. In a statement to Vísir, volcanologist Þorvaldur Þórðarson said: “The current seismic activity is located north of the 2022 volcanic fissure, and if the fissure opens to the north, then this will be towards the shield volcano known as Þráinsskjöldur. It is possible that the lava would then run down to the coast, across Reykjanesbraut. If the fissure opens to the north, it has a direct path to the road and down to the coast. However, in order for that to happen, it needs to reach a certain size or a certain output so that it can flow fast enough.”
Notably, even in a worst-case scenario, serviceable roads still connect the capital area to Keflavík International Airport.
Geologists have also expressed concern for tourists already flocking to the expected eruption site.
Geologist Jóhann Helgason stated to RÚV that it was highly dangerous for tourists to explore the area unrestricted: “Tourists are flocking to the area, and I find it highly dangerous because one doesn’t know where people are, nor do they know where an eruption might occur if it were to happen. Handling such circumstances can be very difficult [… ] The lava flow could easily cut off areas.”
In addition to the obvious dangers posed by volcanic fissures and toxic gases, the area in question is also less accessible than previous eruption sites. So far, no plans have been announced to close the area to foot traffic.
Tourists and residents alike will receive SMS notifications from the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management upon arrival in the area, warning them of falling rocks and the possibility of an imminent volcanic eruption.