Complex volcano-tectonic unrest affecting the Reykjanes Peninsula, Iceland

An episode of complex volcano-tectonic unrest is currently affecting the Reykjanes Peninsula, the Icelandic Met Office (IMO) said on October 29, 2023. It is interpreted to result from multiple deformation sources at depth, which are interacting and affecting a wide area across the peninsula.

IMO reported persistent ground deformation around the Þorbjörn and Svartengi areas on the Reykjanes Peninsula, based on the latest cGPS data. Updated at 08:00 UTC on October 29, the data highlighted deformation rates surpassing those observed in similar events in 2020 and 2022.

Seismic activity to the north of Grindavík has shown a downward trend in 24 hours to 14:00 UTC on October 29. Earthquake depths remained consistent, with no significant variations. Despite the decrease in seismic events, the ongoing ground uplift could potentially instigate renewed seismic activities, which might be perceptible to residents.

LOS deformation october 26 - 28 2023 reykjanes peninsula iceland ICEYE
“Line-of-sight” (LOS) deformation measured by the ICEYE SAR satellite between 05:21 UTC on October 26 and 05:21 UTC on October 28. Satellite data provided in collaboration with ICEYE
cGNSS THOB station reykjanes peninsula iceland october 29 2023
8-hour solution for the cGNSS THOB station in Þorbjörn showing the latest data point updated at 08:00 UTC on October 29, 2023

The present deformation is part of an intricate series of volcano-tectonic disturbances affecting a broad region across the Reykjanes Peninsula. These disturbances are understood to originate from multiple deformation sources located deep within the Earth’s crust. Their combined effect has led to the current state of unrest on the peninsula.

New satellite data, which were expected to be delivered on October 29, 2023, will contribute to the creation of a new interferogram. IMO anticipated publishing these results today, October 30, to offer further insights into the deformation processes that have taken place on the peninsula over the past 12 days.


1 Ground uplift continues northwest of Þorbjörn – IMO – October 29, 2023

Featured image credit: ICEYE


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