Low Water Levels Indication of New Iceland Eruption? Skip to content

Low Water Levels Indication of New Iceland Eruption?

Low water levels in rivers, springs and waterholes in the vicinity of the volcano Hekla in south Iceland is an indication of an upcoming eruption, according to a resident. Others say they are merely caused by low precipitation and lack of snow in the mountains.

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Hekla. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.

“It is too significant to be caused by lack of precipitation,” former parliamentarian Drífa Hjartardóttir, who lives near Hekla at Keldur in Rangárvellir, told Fréttabladid.

She said the water level has dropped by 30 centimeters at the spring Keldnalaekur outside her home. “And this has happened before, a few weeks and months in advance of an eruption the water decreased in this way.”

Hjartardóttir said the development has taken place throughout the autumn and the water level in the spring keeps decreasing. “I have lived at Keldur for a long time and I have never seen as little water in the springs before.”

Sverrir Haraldsson, a farmer at Selsund in Rangárvellir, close to Hekla, believes one shouldn’t be too quick in connecting the low water levels with an imminent eruption.

“I don’t think this is unusual considering a few snowless winters and overall low precipitation,” he said, adding that the water hasn’t suddenly disappeared. “But the development has progressed significantly this year.”

Haraldsson admitted that lower water levels in the vicinity of Hekla are one of the indications of an eruption, yet stated, “the weather conditions just haven’t been normal.”

Hjörleifur Sveinbjörnsson, a geologist at the Icelandic Meteorological Office, said there hasn’t been any earthquake activity near Hekla recently.

However, he wouldn’t rule out that the low water levels could be a sign of an upcoming eruption—it could be a longer-term indicator than earthquakes are, he said.

“Hekla has naturally been prepared for a long time. But indicators have never showed any significant development until about two hours before an eruption,” Sveinbjörnsson said, pointing out that that had been the situation before the last eruption in 2000.

At the same time he pointed out that unusually low precipitation has widely been reported which has caused the water levels in rivers and lakes to drop.

A sharp downturn could be an indication of an imminent eruption but when the development has taken place over a longer period it is more likely the result of lack of precipitation, Sveinbjörnsson concluded.

Click here to read other eruption-related news.

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