Land uplift measurements indicate rising eruption risk in Svartsengi area, Iceland

Land uplift measurements indicate rising eruption risk in Svartsengi area, Iceland

The Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO) warns of an increased risk of eruption in the Reykjanes area, following their analysis on January 9, 2024, which reveals magma accumulation beneath Svartsengi similar to levels prior to the December 18 eruption.

Recent seismic activity and land uplift measurements have heightened concerns about a potential volcanic eruption in the Reykjanes Peninsula. The latest report by IMO indicates a substantial accumulation of magma beneath Svartsengi, reaching levels comparable to those that triggered the eruption on December 18, 2023.

Earthquake activity, primarily concentrated between Hagafell and Stóra Skógfell near the center of the intrusion, continues to mirror patterns observed in recent days.  Additionally, there is ongoing seismic activity in Fagradalsfjall, persisting since December 18.

A significant indicator of the looming threat is the ongoing land uplift in the Svartsengi area.

Data from the GPS station SENG shows a steady trend of elevation increase since the December 18 eruption. The current rate of uplift is approximately 5 mm (0.2 inches) per day, resulting in the area now being around 5 cm (2 inches) higher than before the December 18 eruption last year.

Relative measurements from the GPS station SENG in Svartsengi October 23 - January 9, 2024
Relative measurements from the GPS station SENG in Svartsengi from the beginning of October 2023 to present, displaying north, east, and vertical components (top, middle, bottom). The bottom curve shows land uplift in millimeters, with today’s measurement indicated by a green dot. Credit: IMO

On January 5, IMO released an updated hazard map (below), with plans for reassessment on January 12. This map provides a hazard-based appraisal of the Grindavík – Svartsengi region, incorporating the latest monitoring data, seismic activity, ground deformation, and geodetic modeling results. The assessment also evaluates the likelihood of volcanic hazards in each of the six zones depicted on the map.

hazard map for volcanic unrest january 5 2024


1 Increased Risk of an Eruption in the Coming Days – IMO – January 9, 2024

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