EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Temporal seismic velocity changes during the 2020 rapid inflation at Mt. Thorbjorn-Svartsengi, Iceland, using ambient seismic noise

Yesim Cubuk Sabuncu1, Kristin Jonsdottir1, Corentin Caudron2, Thomas Lecocq3, Michelle Maree Parks1, Halldor Geirsson4, and Aurelien Mordret2
Yesim Cubuk Sabuncu et al.
  • 1Icelandic Meteorological Office, Iceland
  • 2ISTerre, UGA, Grenoble, France
  • 3Royal Observatory of Belgium, Belgium
  • 4University of Iceland, Iceland

The Reykjanes peninsula, SW Iceland, was struck by intense earthquake swarm activity that occurred in January-July 2020 due to repeated magmatic intrusions in the Reykjanes-Svartsengi volcanic system. GPS and InSAR observations confirmed surface deformation centered near Mt. Thorbjorn, and during the unrest period, approximately ~14,000 earthquakes (-2≤M≤4.9) were reported at the Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO). We investigate the behavior of the crust as a response to these repeated intrusions to provide insights into volcanic unrest in the Reykjanes peninsula. Our study presents temporal seismic wave velocity variations (dv/v, in percent) based on ambient noise seismic interferometry using continuous three-component waveforms collected by IMO, ( for the period from April 2018 to November 2020. The state-of-the-art MSNoise software package ( is used to calculate cross-correlations of ambient seismic noise and to quantify the relative seismic velocity variations. We observe that magmatic intrusions in the vicinity of Mt. Thorbjorn-Svartsengi have considerably reduced the seismic wave velocities (dv/v, -1%) in the 1-2 Hz frequency band. Seismic velocity changes were compared with local seismicity, GPS and InSAR data recorded close to the repeated intrusions, and modelled volumetric strain changes. We found a good correlation between the dv/v variations and the available deformation data. The Rayleigh wave phase-velocity sensitivity kernels showed that the changes occurring at depths down to ~3-4 km in the crust were captured by our measurements. We interpret the relative seismic velocity decrease to be caused by crack opening induced by intrusive magmatic activity. Monitoring the Mt. Thorbjorn-Svartsengi volcanic unrest is crucial for successful early warning of volcanic hazards since the center of uplift is only 2km away from a fishing village and major infrastructure in the area, such as water supply and geothermal power. For the first time in Iceland, we have provided near-real-time dv/v variations to obtain a more complete picture of this magmatic activity. Our findings are supported by the analysis of other primary monitoring streams. We propose that this technique may be useful for early detection of future intrusions/increased magmatic activity. This study is supported by the Icelandic Research Fund, Rannis (Grant No: 185209-051).

How to cite: Cubuk Sabuncu, Y., Jonsdottir, K., Caudron, C., Lecocq, T., Parks, M. M., Geirsson, H., and Mordret, A.: Temporal seismic velocity changes during the 2020 rapid inflation at Mt. Thorbjorn-Svartsengi, Iceland, using ambient seismic noise, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-12924,, 2021.


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