From Iceland — Earthquake Roundup: New Data Raises Concerns Of Eruption, Swarms Continue

Earthquake Roundup: New Data Raises Concerns Of Eruption, Swarms Continue

Published March 2, 2021

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Art Bicnick

New satellite imagery indicates that the ongoing cluster of earthquakes which Iceland has been experiencing could be attributed, in part, to magma movement under the areas where the quakes have been strongest, Vísir reports. While this does not mean an eruption is definitely on the way, scientists are still monitoring the situation closely.

While Civic Protection now believes the magma movement is the most likely explanation for the quakes, scientists at the Icelandic Met Office emphasise that there are still no signs of an impending eruption. This is because magma movement in itself does not necessarily lead to an eruption; the magma may settle into place, or possibly retreat. More definitive signs of an eruption include rising of the surface of the earth and the emissions of certain gases.

That said, the possibility of an eruption is still now on the table. The scenarios that could play out, however, do not as yet indicate that this would be a devastating event.

Volcanologist Þorvaldur Þórðarson told RÚV that the recent measurements do not show whether an eruption is imminent; rather, they can give an idea of where lava would go if an eruption took place. By his estimation, such an eruption would neither be large nor especially dangerous. This was backed up by Kristín Jónsdóttir of the Icelandic Met Office, who said that if lava did surface in the area, it would likely not reach populated areas.

Geologist Páll Einarsson added that volcanoes are notoriously unpredictable, and it might take a very long time for magma to reach the surface, if at all. This is certainly true—while volcanoes in Iceland have eruption periods, it is impossible to predict when an eruption will happen, and any talk of a volcano being “overdue” to erupt is not exactly scientific.

In all, there have been some 1,800 earthquakes in Reykjanes since midnight last night at the time of this writing. 23 of them had a magnitude greater than 3, and three had a magnitude greater than 4, with the largest in that time period being a 5.1 at around five this morning.

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