Reykjanes peninsula

Fagradalsfjall eruption

Increased activity on the Reykjanes Peninsula for over a year, starting with a rapid uplift and intense seismic activity in the vicinity of Mt. Þorbjörn in January 2020


The beginning of the current period of unrest on the Reykjanes Peninsula can be traced back to January 2020, when a rapid uplift and intense seismic activity started in the vicinity of Mt.Þorbjörn . It was immediately clear that the course of events was unusual, compared to the background activity in the area over the last decades. Soon after the unrest started, the Scientific Advisory Board of the Icelandic Civil Protection assumed that we might be witnessing the start of an extended period of unrest on the Reykjanes Peninsula, with alternating periods of earthquake swarms propagating along fissure swarms, possibly within different volcanic systems and with the possibility of rifting and volcanism as well. Eventually, this turned out true, as is evident from the intense seismic activity during the last year and the eventual eruption in Fagradalsfjall. Periods of rifting and volcanism occur at intervals of 800-1000 years on the Reykjanes Peninsula, alternating with periods of earthquake episodes occurring at intervals of a few tens of years. The latest eruption was the Reykjanes Fires in 1210-1240 AD, where eruptive fissures within both the Reykjanes and the Eldvörp-Svartsengi volcanic systems were active, producing extensive lava flows. The latest earthquake episodes on the Peninsula occurred during 1927-1955 and 1967-1977. However, the current seismic activity is by far the most intense on the Reykjanes Peninsula since the start of instrument recording.

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