Increased Likelihood of Eruption as Magma Continues to Accumulate Skip to content
Art Bicnick. The 2024 Sundhnúksgígaröð eruption
Photo: Art Bicnick. The Sundhnúksgígaröð eruption in March 2024.

Increased Likelihood of Eruption as Magma Continues to Accumulate

The latest update from the Icelandic Met Office indicates that some 16 million cubic metres of magma have accumulated under the Reykjanes peninsula since March 16. The Met Office states that there is an increased likelihood of an eruption in the coming days, and that the next eruption will most likely occur in the Sundhnúksgígaröð volcanic crater system. There are, however, no concrete indicators that warn of an imminent eruptive fissure.

80 earthquakes detected since May 15

The Met Office reports that some 80 earthquakes were recorded in the area around the magma dyke since May 15, though most with a magnitude less than 1.0.

This seismic activity is similar to the background activity of recent days, with about 50 to 80 earthquakes recorded per day, most of them between Stóra-Skógfell and Hagafell mountains on one side and south of Þorbjörn mountain on the other side.

The Met Office states that signs of a new magma intrusion would be similar to before, with a localized micro-earthquake swarm near the magma dyke, acceleration in deformation, and pressure changes in boreholes in the area.

grindavík and sundhnúksgígar
National Land Survey of Iceland. The Sundhnúksgígar crater system lies north of the town of Grindavík.

Magma accumulates at the same rate

Although magma continues to accumulate at a steady rate beneath Svartsengi, the Met Office states that at this time, there is no reason to believe that anything else other than further accumulation will occur in the coming days.

In previous magma intrusions and eruptions, about 8 to 13 million cubic metres of magma have been added to the magma chamber beneath Svartsengi. The Met Office state that about 16 million cubic metres of magma have been added to the magma chamber beneath Svartsengi since March 16, when the last eruption began.

The Met Office states further that as the number of magma intrusions increases, more pressure is needed to trigger them. There is currently some uncertainty about when sufficient pressure will be reached to trigger a new magma intrusion and for the magma to reach the surface in an eruptive fissure.

The Met Office have also warned that the next Reykjanes eruptive fissure could form with very short notice.

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