Icelandic volcano Mt Thorbjon is threatened with eruption

Icelandic volcano Mt Thorbjon is threatened with eruption
Icelandic volcano Mt Thorbjon is threatened with eruption

Icelandic volcano Mt Thorbjon could explode for the first time in about 1,000 years, experts warn. The forecast was released after GPS stations tracked a strange amount of land uplift, a potential sign of magma accretion beneath the Reykjanes Peninsula.

The Icelandic Meteorological Office issued a warning on Sunday stating that earthquakes and land uplift near Mount Torbjon in southwestern Iceland are cause for concern.

Beginning on January 21st, the soil around Mount Torbjon was raised by about one inch (2 centimeters), about three to four millimeters per day. The uplift was confirmed by both GPS stations and radar satellites collecting InSAR images.

Icelandic volcanologists said: "All this is most likely a sign of magma accumulation at a depth of only a few kilometers."

The persistent earthquake warning since January 21 has also rekindled speculation that the volcano is waking up. On January 22nd, there were two earthquakes of magnitude 3, 7 and 3, 4, respectively, which were felt from the Rykjanes peninsula to Borgarnes itself. Mt Thorbjon is located approximately 31 Miles (51 kilometers) from the country's capital, Reykjavik.

The Icelandic Meteorological Office estimates that about 35 million cubic feet (one million cubic meters) of magma can currently boil under the volcano. The earthquake swarms that began to appear earlier this month are decreasing. However, the agency said the fact that swarms are occurring with the rise is worrying.

"This activity only lasts a few days and it is not known if it will develop into a more serious activity. Based on current information, different scenarios are considered possible, without indicating which one is most likely and in what time frame."

The first scenario is magma accretion deep beneath a volcano; this opportunity could lead to the intrusion of molten rock into Mount Torbjon and an explosive eruption.

There is also a chance that the accumulation of magma will stop on its own without any dangerous events. Magma can also invade a volcano without exploding, or cause powerful earthquakes up to a magnitude of 6.

The second possibility suggests that the uplift is not caused by magma, but tectonic activity. If so, tectonic activity could lead to a larger earthquake up to magnitude 6.

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