Note that this is a developing situation. Even geologists cannot predict volcanic eruptions with absolute certainty. We recommend checking out the Meteorological Office if you want to stay up-to-date. A live stream of the area can also be accessed here.
Visitors and residents alike will have noticed the earthquakes that have been rocking the capital area. In fact, some 1,600 earthquakes have been measured on the Reykjanes peninsula since 10 PM last night.
While there’s no cause for concern, here’s what we know so far about what might be the next volcanic eruption in Iceland!
Iceland’s most recent volcanic eruptions, in 2021 and 2022, were located in the Fagradalsfjall area of the Reykjanes peninsula. The 2021 Geldingadalir eruption lasted for several months, but the 2022 Meradalir eruption was relatively short-lived, lasting for only a couple weeks in August of last year.
Both of these eruptions were caused by an underground magma intrusion, which could be detected by increasing land uplift. Currently, some 2 to 2.5 cm of land uplift has been measured on the Reykjanes peninsula.
Of course, with magma once again flowing under the peninsula and swelling the empty lava tunnels, all of this pressure has to go somewhere, resulting in the earthquakes that have been felt lately in the capital area. It’s worth noting that the large majority of these quakes are imperceptible to people. On the map of the Reykjanes peninsula seen above, the quakes of magnitude 3 and greater are marked with a green star. These are the quakes that you’ll notice!
As of this morning, July 5, a “state of uncertainty” was declared by the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management. Although there’s no cause for concern, residents and visitors are encouraged to be careful. During larger quakes, it’s possible for unsecured items in your home or hotel to come loose and fall. For those driving near the epicentre of the quakes on the Reykjanes peninsula, they may want to avoid sections of the road near steep slopes, as the quakes may cause small landslides in places.
Volcanic eruptions are an amazing sight to see. While it’s possible to visit them safely, it goes without saying that this is a dangerous natural phenomenon. Fault lines can develop unexpectedly, and in addition to blazing-hot lava, eruption sites also produce copious amounts of toxic gases. It is not recommended to go out to the previous eruption sites while the situation is still developing.