published : 2023-11-19

Volcanic Eruption Imminent: Iceland Prepares as Seismic Activity Intensifies

Staggering seismic activity has led to closures and evacuations in Iceland

Icelandic landscape with a stunning view of the Reykjanes Peninsula, where the recent seismic activity has been taking place. (Taken with Nikon D850)

Iceland is on edge as the world anxiously watches the increasing seismic activity that could result in a volcanic eruption. The popular tourist destination has been experiencing numerous small earthquakes, causing tourist spots to close and roads to fissure. The Icelandic government is taking precautions and evacuating those in the potential path of the eruption.

To better understand this natural phenomenon, Fox News Digital consulted with two science experts who shed light on the causes of volcanic eruptions.

According to Erik Klemetti, an associate professor of Earth and environmental sciences, volcanic eruptions occur when molten rock (magma) rises from within the Earth. The magma, which is hot and full of dissolved gases, is less dense than the surrounding rock and therefore ascends. As magma rises, it also forms bubbles due to reduced pressure, similar to carbon dioxide bubbles forming when a soda bottle is opened.

A close-up shot of bubbling lava flowing from a volcanic eruption in Hawaii, showcasing the intense power of nature. (Taken with Canon EOS R)

Various events can trigger a volcanic eruption. For instance, a new batch of magma mixing with existing magma can lead to an eruption. Additionally, pressure buildup from accumulating magma in the Earth's crust can also cause an eruption.

It's not just Iceland experiencing volcanic activity. Other locations such as Alaska and Hawaii are also witnessing volcanic unrest. Great Sitkin in Alaska is currently erupting small lava flows, while three other volcanoes are on elevated alert. Kilauea in Hawaii, one of the most active volcanoes in the world, is also on elevated alert.

Iceland, known for its high volcanic activity, has seen previous eruptions on the Reykjanes Peninsula. The recent seismic activity, characterized by thousands of earthquakes beneath the surface, suggests magma rising up under the region. The Icelandic Meteorological Office predicts an eruption is imminent within the next few days.

An aerial photograph capturing the breathtaking beauty of an Alaska volcano as it erupts, sending plumes of ash into the sky. (Taken with Sony A7R IV)

Volcanic eruptions are often preceded by earthquakes as the magma fractures the Earth's crust to make its way to the surface. While volcanic tsunamis are relatively rare and typically occur if the volcano is situated on the coast, on an island, or underwater.

As Iceland prepares for a possible eruption, the world awaits in suspense, anticipating whether lava flows and fountains similar to those in Hawaii will soon be witnessed. The impact of such an eruption on the region and its inhabitants could be immense, emphasizing the volatile nature of our planet.