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Reykjavik Volcano is going to Erupt

3 minute read - 29 Apr 2017

Reykjavik volcano?

Is that possible? I asked so he repeated – „Yes. I am afraid that on top of everything the city’s volcano system is going to erupt.“ This was the psychic friend of mine that got me interested in the Volcanoes around Reykjavik.

It was in the middle of the financial crises in 2008, our banks had failed coursing a domino effect of bankruptcy and unemployment. People were furious, asking “how could this happen?” and “who is responsible?”

I was a vice city counsellor at the time and my friend continued “I have had the same vision several times the last few months. A huge lava stream is coming down Elliðaárdalur valley from the volcano system closest to Reykjavik. The destruction is massive and I really think this could happen any time now. You are in the city politics, you have to do something about this!”

Doing the right thing

Highly unlikely, I thought, but wanted to do the right thing so I started phoning the authorities. I described my friend’s vision and asked if they thought this could actually happen. The response was a relief – at first. “Don’t worry about this”, they said, “this is not going to happen”. But in parts the city is built on top of rather recent lava fields, so I asked if something like that could happen again. “Of course, geologically speaking”, the said, “but not for a very long time, not the next 2 or 3 centuries at least”.

This was calming to hear this but since eruptions often come unexpected I asked what kind of a plan we had for the city should the volcanoes erupt sooner.  There was a rather long pause on the other end of the line. It turned out there is no plan should the volcanoes erupt. I was not so calm anymore.

However, not being a specialist in the field, I decided not to worry more about this if our best geologists would agree that eruptions close to the capital are highly unlikely the next 2-3 hundred years. I phoned three of the best, described my friend’s vision and asked: “Do you think this could happen?” The response in all cases was “what do you mean could? It is of course going to happen. It is only a matter of time”. Knowing that geologist have quite a different sense of time than most people I asked about the time frame. “The thing is”, they said, “that the

Reykjavik volcano system

and it’s sister systems are forming a semicircle around the capital. The systems are all fissure based which means the eruption can break out anywhere on a very long line. Two of those systems tend to erupt every 500-1.000 years. The mean value is around 750 years and last time they erupted was around 800-900 years ago. The third one has a different rhythm, erupts approximately every 2000 years. Last time it erupted was 2000 years ago. That volcano sent a lava stream down the valley your friend saw in his vision 4.600 years ago. And now it’s due again.”

The geologists said it would hardly be more than 100 years until the next eruption started but next week was also just as likely. “In fact we have been waiting for something like this to happen for several decades” one of them said.

It would start with hundreds of small earthquakes deep underneath the lake Kleifarvatn as the magma bursts up the fissures above the magma chamber underneath.

Dofri Hermansson

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