Iceland: a possible awakening of volcanoes?
One awakening every 1,000 years
In the centuries to come, Iceland may well face strong volcanic activity again. More than 8,000 earthquakes have been recorded since the beginning of the year, raising the level of the earth by almost 10 cm, a phenomenon which would be due to the intrusion of magma under the earth’s layer.
“It seems that after being relatively spared for several centuries, this region is waking up,” said English volcanologist Dave McGarvie of the University of Lancaster. The particularity of Reykjanes volcanoes compared to conventional volcanoes is the duration of their activity. The peninsula in question is made up of five volcanic systems which would erupt in a coordinated way every 1000 years.
They can stay awake for 300 years and experience eruptive episodes of several decades, the last having occurred from the 10th to the 13th century. “The people of Reykjanes Peninsula and their descendants will have to remain on their guard for several generations, and prepare to be evacuated on time,” added Dave McGarvie. The event could also significantly disrupt flights from nearby Keflavik Airport.
Iceland has over 130 active volcanoes
10 years ago it was the Eyjafjallajökul volcano that sowed chaos in Iceland. This volcanic massif, covered with an ice cap and rising to an altitude of 1,650 km, has paralyzed plane flights on a global scale. Eyjafjöll, its real name, is part of red volcanoes, massifs whose eruption results in lava flows and sometimes explosions. This is what happened in 2010 with the huge ash cloud that covered the European sky. However, the eruptions of Eyjafjöll are very rare, volcanologists counting only five in history.
Much more feared by Icelanders, the Katla is a much more active and destructive volcano. Located south ofIceland, it has experienced 21 subglacial eruptions and is currently under surveillance, the scientists occasionally observing signs of activity suggesting a possible eruption.