From Iceland — Seismic Roundup: Quietest Night In Weeks, Scientists Outline Possible Scenarios

Seismic Roundup: Quietest Night In Weeks, Scientists Outline Possible Scenarios

Published March 18, 2021

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Roman Zacharij/Wikimedia Commons

The earthquakes of Reykjanes have quieted down considerably, with only five quakes with a magnitude greater than 3 recorded in the area since midnight before Wednesday. Scientists are nonetheless cautioning that it is still too early to dismiss the possibility of a volcanic eruption in the coming weeks.

To that effect, there are a few possible scenarios for how the situation could play out from here:

1. Earthquakes continue to decline over the next days or weeks.
2. Earthquakes up to a magnitude of 6 occur near Fagradalsfjall.
3. Earthquakes of a magnitude of 6.5 strike near Brennisteinsfjall.
4. Magma continues to flow into the deposit around Fagradalsfjall, leading to two possible outcomes:
4(a). The magma flow reduces and begins to harden.
4(b). The magma flow leads to an eruption that will probably not reach populated areas or infrastructure.

Benedikt Ófeigsson, a geophysicist at the Icelandic Met Office, told reporters that scientists are aware that some of the magma is already hardening, however, “As long as we are seeing magma flowing in, then I think we need to consider a significant chance, as long as it doesn’t stop then there is always a chance, that the magma leads to the surface.”

For more on the current situation and what may happen, check out our feature article on the earthquakes and volcanoes of Reykjanes.

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