Earthquakes, Uplift, and Eruptions: Busy Days at Iceland’s Met Office Skip to content

Earthquakes, Uplift, and Eruptions: Busy Days at Iceland’s Met Office

By Yelena

Photo: Photo: Golli. Keilir mountain, Reykjanes peninsula.

Icelandic Met Office staff have had their hands full in recent weeks, monitoring the Geldingadalir eruption, uplift at Askja volcano, and earthquakes on the Reykjanes peninsula and in West Iceland. Met Office staff are setting up additional equipment by Askja to continue monitoring the uplift (land rise) in the area. While the Geldingdalir eruption has shown no surface activity since September 18, an earthquake swarm has been active just northeast of the site for around two weeks.

Magma intrusion likely causing Askja uplift

An uncertainty phase has been in effect at Askja volcano, Central Iceland, since September 9 due to ongoing uplift. Met Office staff are at Askja today setting up additional monitoring equipment, Einar Bessi Gestsson, Natural Hazard Specialist at the Icelandic Met Office, told Iceland Review. While the cause of the uplift has not been confirmed, Einar says that evidence points to a magma intrusion several kilometres below the earth’s surface.

Geldingadalir eruption takes longest break

There has been no surface activity at the Geldingadalir eruption since September 18, the longest pause in activity since the eruption began on March 19, 2021. Data gathered by the University of Iceland’s Institute of Earth Sciences on October 1 showed that no new lava had been expelled by the eruption since the pause began. Einar confirms that no volcanic tremors have been detected during this period either.

Earthquakes on Reykjanes

Just northeast of Geldingadalir, however, an earthquake swarm has been ongoing for around two weeks. Originating just southwest of Keilir mountain, the swarm has calmed somewhat in recent days, though it produced an earthquake over M3 just after 9:00 PM yesterday evening. There are no volcanic tremors or uplift associated with the swarm, and if it is caused by a magma intrusion, it is relatively small and deep underground, Einar says.

West Iceland wakes up

While earthquakes and uplift are part of routine activity at Askja volcano, the same is not quite true of West Iceland. In the Langavatn area near Snæfellsnes peninsula, more earthquakes have been detected in the past four months than over the past 12 years. According to Einar, the Met Office has not increased monitoring of the area. No eruption has occurred near Langvatn for over a millennium, and eruptions there have historically been small.

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