From Iceland — About A 50/50 Chance Of A New Eruption--Or Eruptions

About A 50/50 Chance Of A New Eruption–Or Eruptions

Published April 19, 2022

Photo by
Art Bicnick

Þorvaldur Þórðarson, a professor of volcanology and petrology at the University of Iceland, contends that there is now about a 50/50 chance that there will be renewed volcanic activity on the Reykjanes peninsula this year, RÚV reports. He also believes that it is just as likely that there will be several simultaneous eruptions.

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Reykjanes peninsula is especially seismically active, even within an Icelandic context. It has been just over a year since the Geldingadalir eruption captured international attention, but even as that eruption has calmed significantly, Reykjanes is showing signs of renewed activity that Þorvaldur believes points to another eruption–or eruptions–on the horizon.

He points out that the earthquakes that have been recorded in the area recently are in a very specific area, and the real question is whether the impending eruption, if it happens, will come up at sea or on land. Þorvaldur added that he believes it just as likely that there will be multiple eruptions as there will be just one.

Þorvaldur said that there are pros and cons to consider with both land and sea eruptions.

“If it’s just a little neat tourist volcano, like we have at Fagradalsfjall, then it’s fine having an eruption on land,” he said. “But if it’s bigger and more powerful, then that’s a whole other story regarding both lava flow and sulphur pollution.” Land eruptions naturally produce more sulphur pollution than sea eruptions, on account of the steam produced, and emissions from sea eruptions are far more likely to return to the surface of the earth quickly rather than drift far through the air.

That said, a sea eruption is not without its minuses, depending on its size. “If it’s a significantly large eruption or with explosive power then we can have ashfall on land, which can significantly disrupt life,” he said.

As it is now, scientists are of course closely monitoring the situation. We will provide any updates if and when they arise.

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