From Iceland — Seismic Roundup: Eruption Could Occur With Little Warning, Quakes Continue

Seismic Roundup: Eruption Could Occur With Little Warning, Quakes Continue

Published March 10, 2021

Photo by
James Ashworth

There have been 27 earthquakes since midnight that were measured with a magnitude greater than 3 in Reykjanes, at the time of this writing, with the largest being a 5.1 recorded at about 03:15 this morning. Almost all of these were located near Fagradalsfjall, one of a few possible locations currently mapped up for a possible fissure eruption.

Smaller quakes spaced very close together still continue to be recorded at this site, and RÚV now reports that a clearer picture is forming of the magma beneath the surface of the area. Scientists say it could breach the surface with little to no warning.

According to the latest measurements, the magma deposit—which is roughly located between Keilir and Fagrasdalsfjall, two mountains in Reykjanes—is only about a metre wide but seven kilometres long and five kilometres deep at its deepest point. At this depth, more magma is streaming upwards at approximately 15 to 20 cubic metres per second.

It is believed to be only about one kilometre beneath the surface at its most southerly point, near Fagradalsfjall, and about two kilometres beneath the surface near Keilir. The magma near the southern point is also hotter, and is more likely to seek the surface there.

If that happens, says Freysteinn Sigmundsson, a geophysicist at the University of Iceland, the eruption will most likely be comparable to the 2010 Fimmvörðuháls eruption: mostly spewing lava, with little to no ash. Experts have also determined the lava is highly unlikely to reach populated areas or important infrastructure.

That said, if an eruption happens, it may come with little to no warning. As such, all relevant parties are monitoring the situation closely. The Grapevine will keep you apprised of any new developments as they arise.

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