Thinning Ice Could Lead To More Volcanic Activity - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Thinning Ice Could Lead To More Volcanic Activity

Published February 2, 2015

Nanna Árnadóttir
Photos by
Axel Sigurðsson

The “ice” of Iceland is melting rapidly, causing the land to rebound from the Earth’s crust, reports Quartz.

According to recently published research by a team of scientists from the University of Arizona, as this process intensifies it risks upping the frequency of volcanic eruptions.

This is because the heavy weight of the glaciers weigh down the earth they cover and as the ice thins in Iceland the high heat content at lower pressure creates conditions more likely to melt the rising mantle rocks—feeding more magma to volcano systems.

Richard Bennett, a UA associate professor of geosciences points out that the last time Iceland’s glaciers got skimpy — about 12,000 years ago — volcanic activity leapt thirtyfold in some parts of the island.

Evidence suggests that higher latitudes are warming faster than the global average but what scientists haven’t understood is whether the ground’s bounce-back comes from glaciers that melted long ago or whether this is due to recent climate change.

In Iceland’s case however, climate change is considered the culprit. Bennett and his team figured this out by attaching GPS receivers to rocks all over Iceland, and then calculating how far the rocks traveled over time.

Worryingly, this change is happening much faster than previous research suggested. If melting continues at its current pace, by around 2025, some parts of Iceland will be rising at a rate of 1.6 inches a year.


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