Thorbjörn volcano (Reykjanes Peninsula, Iceland): volcanic unrest continues with new inflation and earthquakes
Wed, 17 Jun 2020, 06:5606:56 AM | BY: MARTIN
The Icelandic Met Office (IMO) reported that in mid-May deformation data (GPS and InSAR measurements) started to show again signs of inflation, suggesting that a third intrusion since the beginning of this year is occurring west of Thorbjörn. The intrusion began around mid of May but the seismic activity started to increase toward the end of the month (30 May). About 2000 earthquakes have been detected since then and several events are located East of Thorbjörn, few kilometers North of the town of Grindavík. The largest earthquake of this swarm occurred on 13 June with magnitude M 3.5.
The seismicity around Grindavík last week (image: IMO)
Since the beginning of the volcanic unrest, in January this year, the total uplift measured in the area is assessed to be around 12 cm. Between the inflation periods, slight deflation has been observed, probably reflecting the cooling of the intruded magma or the interaction with the geothermal system. Numerical modelling results show that this third intrusion is occurring roughly in the same area as the previous ones, i.e. at about 1 km West of Thorbjörn, at a depth of 3-4 km, with a width of few hundreds of meters and oriented NE-SW for about 6 km.
Weekly gas measurements at two sites near the area of the intrusion changes occasionally over time but the interpretation is still unclear. No chemical changes have been detected at the geothermal power plant in Svartsengi. However, measurements of the geothermal system reveal an increased permeability and increased fluid flow in the surrounding rock, which can be linked to the earthquake activity, inflation and uplift in the area, which triggered the creation of new cracks and opening of older ones.
Source: Icelandic Met Office volcano activity update 17 June 2020
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