Hundreds of small earthquakes have been detected in the region Upptyppingar since Friday last week, located about 20 kilometers east of the volcano Askja and north of Vatnajökull glacier. Experts say a volcanic eruption may follow.
Most of the earthquakes occurred at a depth of 13 to 15 kilometers. If their source moves closer to the surface by a few kilometers, the likelihood of a volcanic eruption increases, Sigthrúdur Ármannsdóttir, a geographer at the Icelandic Meteorological Office, told Fréttabladid.
There were, however, fewer earthquakes in the area yesterday than in the days before, but that may only be a temporary condition, Ármannsdóttir said.
According to Magnús Tumi Gudmundsson, a professor in geophysics at the University of Iceland, the area north of Vatnajökull glacier is volcanically active though there has not been an eruption there for 1,000 years. The volcano Askja last erupted in 1961.
Because geologists have no experience of volcanic eruptions in Upptyppingar, it is difficult for them to predict whether there will be an eruption there in the near future. Gudmundsson said other signs are likely to appear before an eruption begins, like shallower earthquakes.
Upptyppingar is a popular tourist spot in summer but few go there in winter. No one lives nearby, so a volcanic eruption would probably not cause much danger or damage. Never the less, the area will continue to be under surveillance.