Öræfajökull 17. nóvember 2017. Ljosmynd: Ágúst J. Magnússon.

Status of Öræfajökull volcano

The Department of Civil Protection meets with scientists


After a series of meetings with scientists from The Icelandic Meteorological Office, The University of Iceland and Iceland Geosurvey, The Department of Civil Protection has issued the following statement.

Status of Öræfajökull volcano:

  • Öræfajökull volcano is showing clear signs of unrest with an inflation phase for at least a year and a half.
  • The inflation is ongoing and it is reflected by increased seismic activity and characteristic deformation pattern.
  • There are no signs of decrease in the inflation rate or the seismicity. The state of unrest persists despite a decrease in geothermal activity since last December.
  • The source causing the inflation is most likely injection of new magma. The volume change since the start of the unrest is of the order of magnitude of 10 million m3 (about 0.2 m3/sec) comparable to the intrusion activity in Eyjafjallajökull some years before the eruption in 2010.
  • New resistivity measurements indicate the presence of geothermally altered rocks at shallow levels inside the caldera consistent with intermittent high temperature geothermal activity as seen in many other volcanoes.

Scenarios and hazards:

  • Öræfajökull is in a typical preparation stage before an eruption but the temporal evolution and the outcome is unknown.
  • Increase in the geothermal activity with associated floods and gas release is a possible scenario.

Civil Protection preparedness:

  • Civil Protection and earth scientists have held public information meetings regarding the unrest in Öræfajökull with both local population and tour operators in the area around Öræfajökull. Further meetings are planned in late September.
  • An emergency evacuation plan to be used in case of a sudden eruption in Öræfajökull has been prepared. The plan is available here:
  • Work on a response plan for volcanic eruptions in Öræfajökull is ongoing.
  • The number of instruments for volcano monitoring has been increased on and around the volcano. Natural hazards specialists at the Icelandic Meteorological Office monitor changes in activity, they alert Civil Protection if they detect changes in the volcano´s activity.
  • The Icelandic Meteorological Office, the Institute of Earth Sciences and Iceland Geosurvey in cooperation with the Iceland Glaciological Society have increased research efforts at Öræfajökull to deepen understanding of increased seismic activity, increased inflation of the volcano as well as changes in subglacial geothermal activity.
  • Telecommunications operators have improved cell phone coverage in the area.

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