20 Million Cubic Metres of Magma Beneath Svartsengi Skip to content
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Photo: Golli. Blue Lagoon & Svartsengi Power Station .

20 Million Cubic Metres of Magma Beneath Svartsengi

Land uplift at Svartsengi indicates that another eruption remains highly likely, according to the Icelandic Meteorological Office. Approximately 20 million cubic metres of magma have accumulated in the magma chamber below Svartsengi.

Another eruption remains “highly likely”

Well before the end of the latest eruption at Sundhnúkagígar – which ceased on May 9, after chugging along for 54 days – there were indications that another eruption was in the offing. Little has changed since then.

Land uplift at Svartsengi on the Reykjanes peninsula continues steadily, with around 20 million cubic metres of magma having accumulated in the magma chamber, according to deformation data reported by the Icelandic Meteorological Office on its website.

In an interview with RÚV in February, a geophysicist noted that experience has shown that eruptions in Reykjanes have begun when the volume of magma in a given chamber reaches between 8-13 million cubic metres (although dependent on a variety of factors).

In light of this accumulation, it remains “highly likely that a new magma intrusion and subsequent eruption will occur,” the MET Office notes. The timing and exact location of such an event, however, remain uncertain. “Nonetheless, it is most likely that the magma intrusion will happen in similar areas to the six intrusions since November.”

400 earthquakes registered

As noted on the MET Office’s website, approximately 400 earthquakes have been recorded near the former eruption sites over the past seven days. The largest earthquake measured 2.2 in magnitude and was located near Sundhnúkur.

“Yesterday, nearly 100 earthquakes were recorded in the area, and until 6:30 PM [yesterday], nearly 70 quakes were measured. The crust in the disturbance area between Stóra-Skógfell and Hagafell is heavily fractured, making it likely for magma to reach the surface easily. These disturbances may not be accompanied by significant seismic activity, and the warning time could be short.”

The Icelandic MET Office stresses that visiting the vicinity of the eruption sites remains hazardous. The hazard assessment remains unchanged from last week.

A hazard map for the Svartsengi area on the Reykjanes peninsula
Hazard Map / The Icelandic Meteorlogical Office

For more information on tourist safety on the Reykjanes peninsula, see our latest In Focus Article.

“With four eruptions in the Sundhnúkagígar crater system during this spell, it’s no wonder that prospective tourists have been asking themselves if it’s still safe to visit Iceland. The short answer is ‘yes, absolutely.’ The long answer is ‘yes, but use common sense!’”

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