Expert warns of potential volcanic eruption in Iceland

(Xinhua) 11:52, November 19, 2023

HELSINKI, Nov. 18 (Xinhua) -- Kristin Jonsdottir, the head of the volcanic activity department at the Icelandic Meteorological Office, has expressed concerns about the current state of seismic activity in the Reykjanes Peninsula region in southwest Iceland.

As the days progress, both the frequency and intensity of earthquakes are gradually diminishing, accompanied by a decrease in the rate of land deformation.

"We measure fewer and smaller earthquakes as time goes on," Jonsdottir told a press briefing on Saturday, as reported by RUV, Iceland's national broadcaster.

Although the magma intrusion continues to deepen and widen, the process is notably slower than in previous days. This diminishing activity is indicative of magma reaching significant heights in the Earth's crust, raising the possibility of an eruption, similar to the events leading up to the 2021 volcanic activity.

"While model calculations still indicate ongoing magma flows into the intrusion, it must be considered probable that an eruption will occur," said Jonsdottir.

Data analysis points to the most significant widening occurring in the middle of the intrusion, specifically in the area west of Hagafell. This location is identified as the most likely site for a potential eruption, although Jonsdottir emphasizes that eruptions could happen anywhere along the intrusion.

She said that the precise location of the magma source is crucial for predicting potential lava flows. If the source is indeed in the middle, west of Hagafell, lava could flow towards the town of Grindavik, as well as to the north and west.

Last Saturday, the town of Grindavik, home to approximately 4,000 people on the Reykjanes Peninsula, was evacuated. Civil Defense declared a Level of Danger in the area.

According to the Icelandic Meteorological Office, a magma corridor lies beneath the town of Grindavik, and a fissure could open anywhere in that magma corridor.

The mayor of Grindavik, Fannar Jonasson, said on Saturday at the press briefing some 1,200 households in the town need (more permanent) shelter.

According to Vidir Reynisson, director of Iceland's Civil Defence, a design exists for a defense wall that could protect Grindavik from lava flow. "That is part of what we are considering." 

(Web editor: Zhao Tong, Liang Jun)


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