Reykjanes Eruption Imminent As Magma Nears “Threshold”

litli-hrútur reykjanes

Increased seismic activity on the Reykjanes Peninsula suggests an imminent eruption between Hagafell and Stóra-Skógarfell. A volcanologist at the University of Iceland predicts the eruption could start as early as today, potentially marking a continued pattern of frequent eruptions in the area.

Eruption expected over the coming days

Seismic activity near the magma chamber not far from the town of Grindavík on the Reykjanes Peninsula has increased, indicating that the volume of magma is reaching its threshold. In an interview with Vísir today, Benedikt Ófeigsson, Director of Seismology at the Icelandic Meteorological Office, expressed his concern about people staying in Grindavík but hopes they are ready to leave town quickly.

Speaking to Mbl.is, Þorvaldur Þórðarson, professor of volcanology at the University of Iceland, echoed Benedikt’s concerns, stating that he expected another eruption on the Reykjanes peninsula soon.

“There is no indication that magma is on the move, and the seismic activity we saw last night is likely due to tension in the crust. This, however, tells us that an eruption is close. A threshold is being reached. I said the other day that the eruption would come on March 1, and I’m inclined to stick to that prediction.”

Þorvaldur added that an eruption could begin today or Monday at the latest.

“We are close to having enough magma to lift the lid. We are within those uncertainty margins in terms of volume, and the land uplift has become significant enough that it is in a similar position as it has been before,” Þorvaldur stated, noting that all signs were pointing to an eruption between Hagafell and Stóra-Skógarfell. “However, it cannot be ruled out that a fissure might open further north or south, with the highest likelihood being on the Sundhnjúkar ridge,” Þorvaldur observed.

A pattern that could continue for months or even years

Þorvaldur expects this recent pattern of eruptions on Reykjanes – where eruptions occur every three weeks and last between one to three days – to continue over the next months or even years,

“It is possible that a major earthquake could interrupt this sequence of events, although, in all likelihood, this will simply continue,” Þorvaldur remarked, noting that there have been six eruptions in the Reykjanes peninsula in less than three years.

Þorvaldur suggested that the authorities should consider opening the town of Grindavík, the Svartsengi Power Plant, and the Blue Lagoon more quickly following the next eruption while urging caution and advising against staying or working in these areas when another eruption seems imminent.

As previously noted by Iceland Review, if an eruption were to occur near the Svartsengi area, it would be the fourth eruption since December of last year. It is highly unlikely that such an eruption, as it is confined to a small area on the Reykjanes peninsula, would impact travellers in Iceland.