- Cover photo: The 2014 Holuhraun eruption. Photo: jmarti20 from Pixabay
Earthquakes & Volcanic Eruptions
For a week now, earthquakes have rocked the Reykjanes Peninsula and Iceland’s capital city of Reykjavík. A majority of these quakes originated near Mt. Keilir on the Reykjanes Peninsula, about 24 km (15 mi) from the city. Now it looks like these earthquakes were a sign of a volcanic eruption.
At around 2:20 PM (GMT), the Icelandic Met Office sent out an announcement stating that seismographs have detected turbulence in the ground south of the mountain Keilir. Earthquake turbulence is when many small quakes become one continuous wave. In the past, this has been an indicator that an eruption is imminent.
Volcanologist Þorvaldur Þórðarson said in an interview with the Icelandic news outlet, Vísir, that this turbulence is a strong indication that magma is on the move. However, he says that there is no guarantee that it will break through the ground. The situation will be clearer in the next few hours.
How Dangerous is the Situation?
Iceland’s Chief of Police said in a press conference at 4 PM today that there is no immediate danger.
A helicopter is flying over the area, and there are still no signs of magma breaking through. Scientists are also relying on satellite imagery to determine possible directions the lava might flow; currently, it looks like it will head in a direction away from any settlement.
Iceland is a volcanically active land, which means scientists are always monitoring possible eruption zones. In October of 2020, another swarm of earthquakes occurred on the Reykjanes Peninsula. Since then, the area has been under special observation. The magma’s behaviour is fitting nicely into the scientists’ probability models.
The type of eruption possible on the Reykjanes Peninsula is a lava eruption. That means that the magma usually flows slowly from an opening and not in an explosive eruption. Previous eruptions in the area have always been small, and there is no indication this one will be any different….if it even happens at all. The chances of gas pollution are also minimal.
Live Web Feed from Mt. Keilir
Below is a live web feed from South Iceland’s news outlet, Víkurfréttir of the mountain Keilir. Just south of it is the potential eruption zone.