After suffering 24,000 earthquakes in less than a month, Iceland is preparing for the next: a volcanic eruption

The geothermal spa Blue Lagoon of Iceland, famous for its dreamlike images, with an extensive lagoon of milky blue water that opens in the middle of a lava field with the monte Þorbjörn In the end, it hasn’t opened today. Not even yesterday. Not even the day before yesterday. It’s actually closed several days and does not plan to open until Thursday Of the next week. And that’s with luck. The reason: perhaps the baths in its peaceful spas and luxury hotels are relaxing, but not enough for visitors to ignore the hundreds of earthquakes that are shaking the area. And yes, hundreds is literal.

The worst thing, however, is not the tremors.

The country’s authorities fear that be the anteroom of a volcanic eruption, which has forced a preventive evacuation and declaring a state of emergency.

A cluster of earthquakes. The ground shakes in the Península de Reykjanes, in southwestern Iceland. And with astonishing frequency. The Guardian it needs that since the end of October the region has recorded no more and no less than 24,000 earthquakes, a figure that is known precisely thanks to the measurements of the Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO). If the figure is staggering, the count of the last few days is even more so. In one of your latest updatesposted just yesterday, the Icelandic observatory reported 800 earthquakes in a matter of hours.

“Earlier today a magnitude 4.1 earthquake occurred near Sýlingarfell, west of Sundhnjúkagígar. A dense swarm of earthquakes began around 7 a.m. this morning in the same area, and about 800 have been recorded since midnight,” details the IMO in a notice posted on their page yesterday at two in the afternoon. The record includes 9 tremors with a magnitude greater than 3 and at a depth of around five kilometers, although the agency clarifies that in recent hours other more superficial ones have been noted and it predicts earthquakes of up to M5.5.

With an eye on the future. More than the historical record, what most interests Icelanders and seismologists is what can happen from now on. The IMO recognized on Friday that “there is a possibility of larger earthquakes” than those recorded so far, and warns: “This sequence of events could lead to an eruption.” The authorities have already made a move.

Civil Protection has been in charge of evacuating Grindavík town At the same time that the National Guard has declared the state of emergency. The decision, clarifyis taken for the “considerable displacement” and magma tunnel that is forming “and could open”, but the authorities also insists that there is “no imminent danger”: the evacuation of Grindavík is “preventive”.

Composite Image 10 Nov

Earthquakes recorded by the IMO on November 10 (until 6:48 p.m.).

Indications, but not certainties. At least for now, the IMO acknowledges that it cannot determine precisely whether the magma could reach the surface and, if so, where it would do so. “Based on how seismic activity has evolved, together with the results of GPS measurements, there is a possibility that a magma intrusion has spread beneath Grindavík,” clears the body.

It does specify that the amount of magma is “significantly greater than that observed in the largest magma intrusions associated with eruptions in Fagradalsfjall“, volcano that erupted in March two years ago.

“Significant changes”. Fagradalsfjall is located on the peninsula of Reykjanes. The IMO specifies now that “significant changes” in seismic activity have been recorded near Sundhnjúkagígar, north of the fishing town of Grindavík, in the same region of southwestern Iceland. In the town there live 4.000 personas. In recent years Reykjanes has suffered three eruptions: March 2021, followed by others in August 2022 and last July.

“The indications that can now be seen in Sundhnjúkagígar are similar to those observed on the eve of the first eruption in Fagradalsfjall in 2021 and are very similar to the seismic activity that was measured approximately a month before that eruption. The most likely scenario now , taking into account the activity that culminated in the start of the eruption on March 19, 2021, is that the magma will take several days—rather than hours—to reach the surface,” clarifies IMO.

Images: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia e IMO

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