Over 1,200 earthquakes have been recorded at Fagradalsfjall on the Reykjanes peninsula since 10 PM yesterday. Scientists from the Icelandic Meteorological Office and the University of Iceland will meet with the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management to discuss the situation at 9 AM. A natural hazards expert with the Icelandic MET Office told RÚV this morning that if the activity continued there was “a possibility that an eruption could occur within a few days.”
Increasing uplift since April
As reported yesterday, increasing uplift (land rise) – a sign that magma is collecting below the surface – has been measured on the Reykjanes peninsula since the beginning of April. The peninsula has been the site of Iceland’s two most recent eruptions, in 2021 and 2022.
As of early yesterday, there seemed to be no indication that an eruption was imminent. Since 10 PM yesterday, however, over 1,200 earthquakes have been recorded at Fagradalsfjall on the Reykjanes peninsula. Eight earthquakes have been measured above 3 in magnitude. The largest earthquake is believed to have been at a magnitude between magnitude 3.6 and 3.7.
Scientists from the Icelandic Meteorological Office and the University of Iceland will meet with the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management to assess the situation at 9 AM.
Monitoring the situation closely
In an interview with Vísir this morning, Elísabet Pálmadóttir, a natural hazards expert at the Icelandic MET Office, stated that the situation was being closely monitored. When asked if scientists had detected any volcanic unrest, she replied that no unrest had been witnessed in the run-up to the last eruption in Fagradalsfjall; experts are mainly monitoring whether the earthquakes are moving closer to the surface, which has not happened since the swarm began yesterday.
As reported by Vísir, it is believed that the earthquakes originated with a magma intrusion at a depth of about 5 kilometres. “This is definitely a lot of activity, and we take it seriously,” Elísabet observed.
As reported by various outlets this morning, the earthquakes have been felt on the Reykjanes Peninsula, in the capital area, and the town of Akranes. Vísir notes that continued seismic activity is to be expected in the coming days. Furthermore, people are advised against travelling in the area near Fagradalsfjall due to, among other things, the possibility of avalanches.
Elísabet concluded her interview with Vísir by stating that the authorities were considering flying an aeroplane over the area today to monitor developments.
Eruption over the coming days “a possibility”
In an interview with RÚV this morning, Magús Freyr Sigurkarlsson, a natural hazards expert at the Icelandic MET Office, iterated Elísabet’s observation that the intrusion activity was taking place at a depth of approximately five kilometres and that magma was accumulating. Magnús noted that the activity was similar to the lead-up to the last eruption when there was intrusion activity for five days before magma was seen on the surface.
“If this continues we think that there is a possibility that an eruption could occur within a few days,” Magnús observed. He also noted that it appeared as if the earthquakes had moved closer to the surface this morning, although it was early to tell.
This article will be updated