Unrest at Öræfajökull, Iceland’s second deadliest volcano, continues to grow – March 2018 is most active month on record


After lying dormant for nearly more than 250 years the volcano suddenly began showing signs of growing activity in the fall of 2016. Since then the seismic activity has been picking up. The seismic monitoring system of the Icelandic Meteorological Office has picked up fourteen significant tremors in the the volcano during March. This makes March the most active month for the volcano since systematic measurements began in 1976.

ÖRÆFAJÖKULL. oraefajokull is the tallest peak in Iceland and the second deadliest volcano in Iceland. Öræfajökull has erupted twice in the last 1000 years, raining destruction and death on the surrounding countryside. Photo/Gunnþóra

Páll Einarsson, a geophysicist with the IMO, told the local newspaper Morgunblaðið that the tremors have been relatively minor, but they point to signifcant activity in the volcano, and are most likely caused by magma movements. The relatively small tremors are also notable because the volcano has historically been very quiet. They are a clear sign something unusual is going on.

The tremors in Öræfajökull and the caldera of the volcano have always been relatively small, so there is very good reason to keep a close eye on the development.

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Oraefajokull volcano location map in Iceland

A replay of the Eyjafjallajökull eruption?

The scientist stressed that this unrest doesn’t mean imminent eruption. Volcanos move very slowly and it can take years, even decades, for a volcano to work itself up into an eruption. The behavior of Öræfajökull now is similar to the activity of Eyjafjallajökull volcano in 1998. Twelve years later (in 2010) Eyjafjallajökull finally erupted. This means we might have to wait for a decade for an eruption in Öræfajökull…

Or the next eruption is just around the corner at Iceland’s second deadliest volcano.

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