Volcanic eruption ‘remains a possibility’ at Reykjanes Peninsula, says Icelandic Met Office

Aerial view taken on February 28, 2021 shows the Blue Lagoon near the town of Grindavik on the Reykjanes peninsula, Iceland, some 50 kilometres west of the capital Reykjavik, atop the Mid- Atlantic Ridge, one of the three most seismically active areas on the planet. (Photo by Halldor Kolbeins/AFP via Getty Images)
Officials at the Icelandic Meteorological Office are warning that a volcanic eruption at Reykjanes Peninsula in the country’s southwest “remains a possibility” as scientists recorded another harmonic tremor pulse early Tuesday morning.

Scientists at the Met Office detected a sudden increase in seismic activity at 5:20 a.m. local time near Mount Fagradalsfjall. The Met Office reported nearly 2,500 tremors on Tuesday, with most of them located in the vicinity of Fagradalsfjall.

At 18:45 the frequency of minor earthquakes increased but no signs of a volcanic tremor have been detected, Icelandic officials said. A few earthquakes above magnitude 3.0 were detected along this activity, the largest a 3.3-magnitude at 19:49, officials said. The tremors were felt in the nearby community of Grindavik.

Police close the road on March 03, 2021 to all traffic approaching an area where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates meet, near the town of Grindavik on the Reykjanes peninsula, Iceland, some 50 kilometres west of the capital Reykjavik. (Halldor Kolbeins/AFP via Getty Images)

Kristín Jónsdóttir, group manager for nature monitoring at the Met Office, told Iceland’s Visir news site that the activity is probably an indication of the rapid expansion of the magma tunnel that has formed between Fagradalsfjall and Keilir.

Elísabet Pálmadóttir, a nature conservation specialist, at the Met Office, that there are no signs on webcams that magma has broken its way to the surface.

Government officials warned last week that they are expecting a relatively small eruption, of the type classified as a fissure eruption (sometimes referred to as Icelandic-type). This type of eruption does not usually involve large explosions or significant production of ash dispersed into the stratosphere. Instead, a relatively slow flow of lava is likely to emerge from a fissure or fissures in the ground, officials said.

Still, authorities are urging residents in the south-west of the country to remain vigilant and avoid steep terrain in the Reykjanes peninsula due to risk of falling rocks and boulders as well as landslides.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: What ancient earthquakes along the Denali fault in Yukon can tell us about what could come in Canada, CBC News

Denmark/Greenland: Ice-Blog: Greenland earthquake and tsunami – hazards of melting ice? Irene Quaile

Iceland: Icelandic authorities warn of possible eruption as thousands of earthquakes shake the country, Eye on the Arctic

Sweden: Sweden’s Arctic : Earthquake rattles workers inside Arctic iron mine, Radio Sweden

United States: Powerful 7.8 earthquake hits Alaska isles; tsunami threat over, The Associated Press

Levon Sevunts, Radio Canada International

Born and raised in Armenia, Levon started his journalistic career in 1990, covering wars and civil strife in the Caucasus and Central Asia. In 1992, after the government in Armenia shut down the TV program he was working for, Levon immigrated to Canada. He learned English and eventually went back to journalism, working first in print and then in broadcasting. Levon’s journalistic assignments have taken him from the High Arctic to Sahara and the killing fields of Darfur, from the streets of Montreal to the snow-capped mountaintops of Hindu Kush in Afghanistan. He says, “But best of all, I’ve been privileged to tell the stories of hundreds of people who’ve generously opened up their homes, refugee tents and their hearts to me.”

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