Dike intrusions on the Reykjanes peninsula could potentially damage important infrastructure, both on the peninsula and in the capital area, RÚV reports. This per a Morgunblaðið interview with geoscientist Páll Einarson, who explained that regardless of whether they lead to a volcanic eruption or not, such intrusions could impact the geothermal systems that feed water and heating utilities, as well as geothermal power plants.
A dike (also spelled dyke) is a kind of igneous, or magma intrusion, a “vertical or steeply-dipping sheets of igneous rock” that forms “as magma pushes up towards the surface through cracks in the rock.”
Páll told interviewers that there have been magma intrusions in three or four places on Reykjanes that haven’t caused any serious problems, but one in the wrong place could do permanent infrastructural damage. Currently, there’s no sign that such an event is imminent but Páll explained the recent eruption of Fagradalsfjall in Geldingadalur valley is part of a complex chain of events on the peninsula.
A variety of scenarios are possible in the future, Páll continued, including volcanic activity on land or at sea, or intrusion activity around the Krýsuvík and Svartsengi geothermal areas, the Heiðmörk conservation area on the outskirts of Reykjavík, or the Bláfjöll mountains.
Páll noted that eruptions on Reykjanes tend to be small to medium fissure eruptions, and added that the capital may yet experience intense earthquakes as part of this ongoing activity on the peninsula, but there’s no way to say when these might occur.