Mt. Þorbjörn Volcano Likely Not Going To Erupt After All

Volcano Update: Mt. Þorbjörn Very Likely Will Not Erupt

Published February 11, 2020

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Art Bicnick

Mt. Þorbjörn, the volcano that seemed on the cusp of erupting just two weeks ago has calmed down significantly since then, along with the attendant seismic activity, to where specialists now believe regional activity will soon stop without an eruption. This update was brought to light this morning on the home page of the Icelandic Met Office.

As reported on January 27th, ground inflation was detected just west of Mt. Þorbjörn on January 21st, most likely caused by magma accumulation, along with a swarm of earthquakes to the east. This in turn prompted the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management to declare “a state of uncertainty”, with residents of Grindavík, near Mt Þorbjörn, were advised to be on alert.

As is always the case with volcanoes, however, which way the situation would go from there was impossible to say with any certainty, but an update posted this morning should put some minds at ease:

In the last days the earthquake activity has decreased near Grindavík. Small earthquakes are still being detected there.

Indications are that the crustal deformation pattern has changed, however uplift has slowed down. In total the uplift is about 5 cm since the 21st of January.

The most likely explanation of the uplift and earthquake activity is that a magmatic intrusion is located at 3 to 5 km depth just west of Þorbjörn. It is most likely that this activity will stop without an eruption. The next meeting of the scientific council of Civil Protection will be next Thursday.

In fact, when referring to “small earthquakes”, the latest data shows most tremors near Mt. Þorbjörn measuring no greater than 1.5 in magnitude—a magnitude which is actually quite normal for the region.

As such, you can probably breathe a little easier if you were planning to fly to Iceland in the near future.

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