From Iceland — Volcanologist Calls For Increased Government Preparation

Volcanologist Calls For Increased Government Preparation

Published February 26, 2024

Photo by
RÚV – Ragnar Visage

Volcanologist Þorvaldur Þórðarson took to local radio station Bylgjan Monday morning to discuss satellite imagery showing land rise throughout the country — not only on the Reykjanes peninsula.

He’s calling on the government to begin preparations for a range of scenarios, namely the possibility of an eruption to the northern end of Sundhnúkar (an area that has erupted in recent months), and lava flowing northward from there, overtaking Reykjanesbraut. Reykjanesbraut is the road connecting the Keflavík international airport to the capital area and beyond.

Þorvaldur clarified that the likelihood of that occurring is very small, but being prepared would be better than being reactive.

In addition to the ongoing inflation being measured under Svartsengi on the Reykjanes peninsula, where a magma reservoir has been feeding recent eruptions in the area, satellite imagery shows land rise in other parts of the country, including under Vatnajökull glacier. While land rise under the glacier could be the result of ice melting, Þorvaldur notes that the same land rise is not being seen at Hofsjökull of Langjökull, which are melting at a similar rate to Vatnajökull.

Þorvaldur questions if the reason for the land rise if the existence of mantle plume beneath the country, centred to the east of Vatnajökull.

If that theory proved true, Þorvaldur said the result would be increased volcanic activity and larger volcanic eruptions throughout Iceland.

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