Iceland’s volcano Mt Thorbjon could blow off for the first time in about 1,000 years, experts warn. The prediction has been issued after GPS stations have monitored a strange quantity of ground uplift, which is a potential indication of magma accretion beneath the Reykjanes peninsula.
The Icelandic Meteorologic Office has issued a warning on Sunday stating that earthquake clusters and ground uplifting near Mt Thorbjon in southwest Iceland are a ’cause for concern.’
Since January 21st, the soil surrounding Mt Thorbjon has been uplifted by approximately one inch (2 centimeters), at around three to four millimeters per day. The soil rise was confirmed by both GPS stations and radar satellites collecting InSAR imaging.
The Icelandic Met Office said: “The inflation is most likely a sign of magma accumulation at a depth of just a few kilometers.”
A continual earthquake alert since January 21st has also inflamed speculation that the volcano is awakening. Two earthquakes occurred on January 22nd at magnitude 3.7 and 3.4, respectively, and were felt from the Rykjanes peninsula and all the way to Borgarnes. Mt Thorbjon is located approximately 31 miles (51 kilometers) from the country’s capital, Reykjavik.
Is Iceland’s Mt Thorbjorn Awakening?
Even though the volcano has pointed towards accumulating magma deep underneath the ground, the accretion has been declared to be ‘very small.’
The Icelandic Meteorologic Office believes that approximately 35 million cubic feet (one million cubic meters) of magma could be boiling under the volcano at the moment. The earthquake swarms, which began manifesting earlier this month, are also lessening. However, the agency said the fact that the swarms were happening together with the uplift was worrying.
The Icelandic Met Office said: “The activity has only been ongoing for a few days and it is uncertain if it will escalate to more serious activity. Based on current information, the following scenarios are considered possible, without stating which is most likely or within what timeframe.”
The first scenario is the accretion of magma deep underneath the volcano; this possibility could conduct to an invasion of molten rock into Mt Thorbjon and an explosive eruption.
There is also the chance that the magma construct will stop on its own with no dangerous events. The magma could also invade the volcano without a blow-off or cause massive earthquakes up to magnitude 6.
The second possibility implies that the ground raise is not triggered by magma but by tectonic activity. If this is the case, the tectonic activity could conduct to a larger earthquake up to magnitude 6.
The Icelandic Met Office said: “A state of uncertainty has been declared. The aviation color code has been raised to yellow for Reykjanes.”