Iceland's Looming Eruption Linked to Volcanic 'Pulses' Dating Back Hundreds of Years
© AP Photo / Marco Di MarcoИзвержение вулкана на полуострове Рейкьянес в Исландии
© AP Photo / Marco Di Marco
Seismic activity in Iceland surged in October, with hundreds of daily earthquakes rattling the south of the Reykjanes Peninsula. On November 10, the town of Grindavík was evacuated, anticipating a volcanic outburst within days.
Iceland is on the verge of a volcanic awakening, as experts predict a prolonged era of eruptions on the Reykjanes Peninsula, lasting up to 500 years. The looming eruption, deemed part of a millennial volcanic pulse, has set the region on edge.
A magma tunnel, stretching 9.3 miles beneath Sundhnúkur and Grindavík, has formed, raising concerns of an imminent eruption. The Icelandic Met Office reports a high risk of the magma breaking through, with the greatest upwelling currently near Sundhnúkur.
13 November, 08:39 GMT
Experts, including Edward W. Marshall from the University of Iceland's Nordic Volcanological Center, warn the anticipated eruption may surpass the 2021 Fagradalsfjall event in magnitude.
The 2021 eruption marked the beginning of a new cycle, with geological records indicating that periods of inactivity last 600 to 1,200 years, succeeded by pulses of eruptions lasting 200 to 500 years.
"It looks like 2021 kicked off a new eruptive phase which might see the several fault zones crossing the [Reykjanes Peninsula] firing on and off for centuries," said Clive Oppenheimer, a professor of volcanology at the University of Cambridge in the UK.
The Reykjanes Peninsula, situated above tectonic plates pulling apart, undergoes cycles of strain release through volcanic eruptions. "We are now in one of these pulses," David Pyle, a volcanologist and professor of Earth sciences at the University of Oxford, has explained.
The outcome remains uncertain, as researchers debate whether the magma tunnel will result in an eruption. As the region holds its breath, Marshall predicts a waiting period of a few days to three weeks for a potential eruption.