A series of hundreds of earthquakes, including two exceeding magnitude 5.0 and at least seven others exceeding magnitude 4.5, shook Iceland’s Reykjanes Peninsula on Friday. The seismic swarm suggests a potential eruption of the Reykjanes volcano in the coming days and prompted the Icelandic Meteorological Office to declare a civil protection alert phase.

The Fagradalsfjall volcano is located in the southern peninsula region of Iceland, approximately 40 km southwest of the capital Reykjavik. Numerous tremors shook the city and have already led to the closure of the Blue Lagoon, an Icelandic geothermal spa. Initially, it was unclear whether Fagradalsfjall was responsible for the increased seismic activity or whether an eruption was brewing elsewhere in the Reykjanes volcanic system.

A code orange level 3 out of 4 was declared on the universal volcanic ground alert scale, raising concerns at Keflavik International Airport, located just northwest of the seismically active region.

The Icelandic Met Office wrote that the earthquakes were located about 3 km northeast of Grindavík, with the fault slips occurring about 2 to 3 miles below ground.

“The signs that can be observed now… are similar to those observed on the eve of the first eruption of Fagradalsfjall in 2021, and are very similar to the seismic activity that was measured about a month before this eruption,” he said. writes the Icelandic Met Office. .

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The most likely scenario, he says, is that it will take several days for the magma to reach the surface and an eruption to begin.

However, the earthquake has already broken roads. It appears that up to three inches of uplift, or vertical movement of the ground, occurred near the volcano.

A total of 295 earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or greater were detected over the past 72 hours, with more than 90% occurring in the past day.

While Iceland is tectonically and volcanically active, this particular region around the Fagradalsfjall volcano remained dormant for over 6,300 years before December 2019. This was when a series of earthquakes, including two reaching a magnitude of 5.6 shook the peninsula. Then, on February 4, 2021, a magnitude 5.7 earthquake caused minor damage to homes. Six weeks later, on March 19, the volcano erupted and a fissure about 2,000 feet long began spewing lava.

It was later named Geldingadalsgos, representing a possible new shield volcano, and attracted widespread tourism. Several more fissures opened in April, but only one remained active as of May 2021. Another eruption from a separate fissure in Fagradalsfjall took place on August 3, 2022.

Then last summer, in early July, a new eruption started near Litli-Hrútur, which is also part of the Fagradalsfjall volcano. It was about 10 times larger than the first two eruptions. It finally decreased on August 5.

Another eruption of this magnitude is likely to occur in the wider Fagradalsfjall region on the Reykjanes Peninsula. Residents and travelers need not worry about a repeat of what happened in 2010, when an explosive eruption occurred at Eyjafjallajökull in south-central Iceland. It ejected 330,000,000 million cubic meters of material and produced a cloud of ash that rose nearly eight kilometers high. Most of European airspace was closed to aviation between April 15 and 20, 2010.

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