It cannot be stated with any certainty that the recent unusual activity picked up by sensors at the volcano Hekla in south Iceland is a signal of an imminent eruption, according to geophysics professor Páll Einarsson.
Hekla. Photo by Geir Ólafsson.
Einarsson told ruv.is that the volcano is certainly ripe for an eruption but the sensors are new and there isn’t enough experience with them to draw any conclusive assumptions.
In the past few days the sensors around Hekla have shown unusual movements in the earth’s crust and these movements were picked up by all the sensors.
Scientists aren’t familiar with the volcano’s behavior in this sense as they haven’t had the opportunity to monitor such movements before, Einarsson reasoned.
However, he is not in doubt that Hekla is ready to burst. The volcano has been extending slowly but surely in the past years as magma is accumulating below it. Hekla has been preparing to erupt ever since the last eruption concluded in 2000.
The Civil Protection Department of the National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police was notified of the latest developments yesterday, as were civil protection committees in south Iceland. However, no special action will be taken for the time being.
Hekla will continue to be monitored closely; its eruptions have usually started without much advance warning. In 2000, a series of earthquakes commenced one and a half hours before magma thrust its way to the surface.
Einarsson said this is in fact the longest advance warning Hekla has given; in some cases it is much shorter, only 25 minutes in 1970, for example. The volcano has erupted in approximately ten-year intervals in the past decades.
Click here to read more about the current activity in Hekla.