Iceland Today

Will Öræfaglacier erupt? Unlikley but situation is being monitored

February 5, 2019

"There are still signs of the increase of magma and overheating in a few kilometers depth below Öræfajökull. The mountain continues to "grow"  a few centimeters a year. We therefore continue to follow the situation closely and consider us having a responsibility to do so. Generally speaking, however, the glacier is rather calmer than it has been for a long time. ”

This is stated by Kristín Jónsdóttir, geophysicist at the Icelandic Meteorological Office. There is continued turbulence in Öræfajökull glacier and regular smaller quakes occur that reach up to three levels of richter strength. The earthquake activity is similar to that before it began to increase significantly in 2017.

Indeed, over the last three months, both the number and the magnitude of tremors have decreased significantly. On Tuesday evening last week, however, a tremor occurred which originated just north of Hvannadalshnjúkar and measured 2.6 in richter strength. 

Worst case scenario (highly unlikley) would see many rivers coming from under the glacier if it erupts. Ice above the volcano is on average about 400 meters thick, so  major floods, loaded with mud, rocks, and ash would destroy everything in it´s path, including nearby farms, hotels and tourist attractions. The ash from this eruption would then be similar or even worse from the infamos Eyjafjallajokull, which nearly grounded airtraffic through out Europe.