Scientists Forecast End to Geological Unrest Near Grindavík

reykjanes eruption litli hrútur

Two geoscientists have predicted a need for increased magma accumulation beneath Svartsengi on the Reykjanes Peninsula to trigger a new intrusion. Utilising Icelandic Meteorological Office data, their analysis suggests that the current geological unrest near the town of Grindavík will conclude between July 1 and August 15.

Past predictions proved accurate

According to a recent forecast by two geoscientists, a greater volume of magma is now required to accumulate beneath the Svartsengi area on the Reykjanes Peninsula than before to initiate a new magma intrusion. The experts, volcanologist Haraldur Sigurðsson and geophysicist Grímur Björnsson, have observed a deceleration in magma accumulation and anticipate that the geological disturbances near the town of Grindavík will subside by late summer.

“Earthquakes, magma intrusions, and eruptions have plagued the residents of Grindavík since November 10, 2023, to this day,” the two scientists wrote on Haraldur Sigurðsson’s online blog. “When will these disasters end? When can residents return home and the fisheries resume operations in one of Iceland’s largest fishing ports? We believe that scientific data now available allow us to estimate when the movements of magma and eruptions in the Sundhnúkur crater row will cease.”

On the Channel 2 nightly news yesterday, reporter Kristján Már Unnarsson delved into these prognostications.

“They predict that the disturbances near Grindavík will conclude by late summer, that is, in four to five months. It’s worth recalling that during the Holuhraun eruption, which began at the end of August 2014, Haraldur boldly predicted that the eruption would end by the end of February or the beginning of March. He could hardly have been more precise, as the end of the eruption was declared on February 28. Therefore, there is reason to listen to him,” Kristján observed.

Forecast based on data from the Icelandic MET office

Kristján detailed how Haraldur and Grímur derive their forecasts from data provided by the Icelandic Meteorological Office. This includes a chart documenting five significant geological events since November, encompassing three eruptions and two magma intrusions that failed to culminate in eruptions. Utilising this data, the two experts have developed their own analytical chart to project when the current geological unrest will conclude.

A graph from the Icelandic MET Office
Icelandic Meteorological Office

“It shows how the magma inflow under Svartsengi has been gradually slowing. In the tremors in November, when everything was shaking, the magma inflow measured over 700,000 cubic metres per day. Since then, the inflow has steadily decreased,” Kristján commented.

A magma graph from Haraldur Sigurðsson's online blog

Kristján explained that the scientists believe this magma inflow follows a linear trend. Based on this trend, the two scientists predict that this geological unrest will conclude sometime between July 1 and August 15.