From Iceland — Volcano Update: Townsfolk Meet, A Calm Night, Eruption Least Likely Scenario

Volcano Update: Townsfolk Meet, A Calm Night, Eruption Least Likely Scenario

Published January 28, 2020

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Roman Zacharij/Wikimedia Commons

While a “state of uncertainty” has been issued for the Mt. Þorbjörn volcano, last night was a relatively quiet night for the location. The townspeople of Grindavík, located near the foot of the mountain, met yesterday with their mayor to discuss the matter, and a geologist has pointed out that the conditions around the volcano may have happened many times, without an eruption, before we had the tools to measure conditions properly.

As reported, inflation—a swelling of the ground—has been detected just west of Mt Þorbjörn since January 21st, coupled with a swarm of earthquakes just east of the area. This inflation may be caused by an accumulation of magma, or it might not be; it could lead to an eruption, or more earthquakes, or nothing at all. If anything does happen, there is no way of knowing for certain when—an eruption is not definitively imminent.

RÚV reports that it was a fairly quiet night on the Reykjanes peninsula, where the volcano is located. As more data is being recorded, scientists have concluded that a volcanic eruption is actually the least likely scenario out of all of the above.

Nonetheless, Grindavík mayor Fannar Jónasson held a public meeting with his constituents yesterday, where he appraised them of the situation. Individual townsfolk reporters spoke with expressed feelings of cautious preparation, but none said they were overly concerned.

One interesting point that has arisen comes from geologist Þóra Björg Andrésdóttir, who spoke with radio station Rás 2 this morning. She pointed out that the last time Mt. Þorbjörg erupted in 1211, and that while the inflation being detected is cause for attentive monitoring, the technology being used to measuring groundswelling in the millimetres and even fractions of millimetres is relatively new. It is therefore entirely possible that these conditions have happened many times before since the last eruption.

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