Scientists warn looming volcano blast in Iceland to mark new era that will last for centuries

Along the Reykjanes Peninsula, which lies 25 miles southwest of Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik, deadly volcanoes are brewing.

“Seismic activity began increasing in the south of the peninsula in October, with hundreds of earthquakes recorded there each day. On Nov. 10, authorities evacuated the town of Grindavík, with experts warning an volcanic eruption could take place in just days,” according to LiveScience.

Speaking with the magazine, University of Iceland’s Nordic Volcanological Center researcher Edward W. Marshall was blunt in his assessment.

Time’s finally up. We can get ready for another few hundred years of eruptions on the Reykjanes,” he said.

According to Marshall, it’s all part of a 1000-year cycle of volcanic activity that’s getting ready to kick off.

“The volcanism lay dormant for nearly 800 years, until it suddenly awoke in 2020. Then came the eruption of the Fagradalsfjall volcano on March 19, 2021. Volcanic coughs and sputters have occurred since, but a bigger eruption may be inevitable in the days ahead,” The Washington Post notes.

In a statement released this Monday, Iceland’s Meteorological Office (IMO) warned of a “significant likelihood of a volcanic eruption in the coming days.”

In the warning, the IMO explained that a magma tunnel stretching 9.3 miles has formed between Sundhnúkur and Grindavík.

“Magma in the tunnel — also known as a dike — appears to be rising to the surface, and there is a high risk of it breaking through. The greatest area of magma upwelling is currently close to Sundhnúkur, about 2 miles (3.5 km) northeast of Grindavík,” LiveScience notes.

“Researchers believe the amount of magma in the tunnel is ‘significantly more’ than what was present during the eruptions at Fagradalsfjall, which sparked back to life in 2021 after more than 800 years of inactivity,” according to the magazine.

Clive Oppenheimer, a professor of volcanology at the University of Cambridge, explained that volcanoes typically remain inactive for 600 to 1,200 years, after which eruptions kick off for hundreds of years.

“It looks like 2021 kicked off a new eruptive phase which might see the several fault zones crossing the [Reykjanes Peninsula] firing on and off for centuries,” he said.

The Reykjanes Peninsula reportedly lies situated above two tectonic plates that are being pulled apart. The strain between the two plates is reportedly released in bursts as part of the cycle.

“We are now in one of these pulses. Each eruption releases just a bit more of the stored-up strain, and eventually, when all of that strain has been released, then the eruptions will stop,” David Pyle, a volcanologist and professor of Earth Sciences at the University of Oxford, U.K, said.

According to the Daily Mail, the “thousands” of small quakes that have occurred in recent days have turned the community of Grindavik into a “ghost town.”

“Those who were allowed to return to their properties with emergency services to collect belongings were ordered to evacuate yesterday after the Icelandic Met Office said its meters had detected increased levels of sulfur dioxide – a possible indicator of an eruption. Videos have shown apocalyptic scenes in the deserted town, with homes torn apart and gaping chasms opening up in roads,” the Daily Mail notes.

Among those forced out of town was mother-of-four Magga Huld AfaÖmmudóttir, who the Daily Mail notes was given only seven minutes to evacuate after the earthquakes wrecked her home.

“Friday was terrible, the earthquakes did not stop for many hours, but we left our house Friday night at 9.00pm with clothes for two days and two boxes of photo albums, then just planned to come the next day to pick up more,” she told the Daily Mail.

“I feel ok, but get scared and jump at the slightest sound, and then we are homeless in one minute – I’ve got all kinds of emotions going on. We got to go inside the house on Monday. We had seven minutes to pick up what we wanted to save, but the emphasis was on personal things from my family – my mother, grandmother and grandfather – and clothes,” she added.


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