Seismic activity was detected in the northwestern part of Vatnajökull glacier over the past few days and there is full reason to be on the alert, according to geology professor Páll Einarsson. More earthquake sensors are needed, he said.
Vatnajökull. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.
The series of earthquakes occurred close to Kistufell and Bárdarbunga, which are among the most geologically active areas in the country, ruv.is reports.
“A few systems come together there. The largest is the Bárdarbunga system, which includes Veidivötn and Vatnaöldur and stretches way north of Dyngjujáls and west of Askja. Then there is the Grímsvötn system which lies further to the east,” Einarsson explained.
He said Bárdarbunga itself and a fissure swarm to the northeast of it seem to be the most active right now. Seismic activity has in fact been ongoing in the area since sensors were first placed there, peaking before the volcanic eruption in Gjálp in 1996.
However, it is difficult to tell whether the tremors that are occurring now are a consequence of that eruption or whether another eruption might be coming up.
“We need better sensors there. For example, it is difficult to measure the depth of the earthquakes in the area because sensors in the network in the center of the country are lacking. They would pick up movements in the earth’s crust, as a large part of the area is covered by a glacier,” Einarsson said.
“It is indisputable that the seismic activity is growing steadily in the area—the series of earthquakes over the past few days is an indicator of that. There is full reason to be on the alert. This is one of the most active areas in the country,” he iterated.
According to visir.is, several earthquakes were measured by Bárdarbunga on Saturday night, the strongest of which was 2.6 points on the Richter scale.
Almost 40 earthquakes have been measured in the area in the past few days, culminating with an earthquake which was 3.4 points on the Richter scale in strength.
However, there are no indications of an immediate eruption and according to the latest news on visir.is, the tremors have subsided for now. Yet scientists expect an eruption in Vatnajökull in the near future, possibly by the end of this year.
The earthquakes are still at a considerable depth; the risk of an eruption grows the closer the tremors are to the surface.
Click here to read more about recent earthquakes in Vatnajökull.