EGU21-16134, updated on 28 Mar 2022
EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Volcano-seismic 2020 unrest in Reykjanes Iceland: The MAGIC multi-parametric rapid response during Covid-19 lockdown

Philippe Jousset1, Gylfi P. Hersir2, Alina Shevchenko1,7, Kristjan Agustsson2, Egill A. Gudnason2, Claus Milkereit1, Achim Morschhauser1, Eva Eibl3, Thomas Walter1,3, Thomas Reinsch1,5, Kemal Erbas1, Christopher Wollin1, Anna Schantz1,4, Friedemann Samrock6, Thorbjorg Agustsdottir2, Torsten Dahm1,3, Olafur Flovenz2, and Charlotte Krawczyk1,4
Philippe Jousset et al.
  • 1GFZ Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany (
  • 2ISOR, Reykjavik, Iceland
  • 3University of Potsdam, Institute of Geosciences, Potsdam, Germany
  • 4Technical University of Berlin, Germany
  • 5Fraunhofer IEG, Bochum, Germany
  • 6ETH Zürich, Switzerland
  • 7Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Russia

The plate boundary between the American and Eurasian plates runs in southwest Iceland along a 5-10 km wide seismicity zone on the Reykjanes Peninsula. There, tectonic spreading events take place as continuous seismic release and seismic episodes (swarms and individual large events) with recurrence interval of about 40 years and volcanic episodes at intervals of 800-1000 years. The crust in Reykjanes is, therefore, particularly thin and hot and geothermal energy is currently harnesses in two areas on the western part of the peninsula in Reykjanes and Svartsengi.

Since January 2020, earthquake swarms with larger events up to M5.6 have been occurring frequently over the entire Reykjanes Peninsula, accompanied by unusual uplift (up to 12 cm) and subsidence cycles in the Svartsengi-Eldvörp fissure swarm. This raises the question whether we might be at the beginning of a new volcanic episode. In order to classify such processes at an early stage, multidisciplinary geophysical measurements are particularly valuable.

The Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO), University of Iceland as well as ISOR and several partners responded immediately after the unrest began. As soon as January 2020, GFZ proposed a rapid response field campaign (MAGIC: MultidisciplinAry imaGIng and Characterization of the magma/fluid reservoir beneath Svartsengi). Only one week after the uplift start and first earthquake swarm, we connected a Distributed Acoustic Sensing interrogator to a 21 km long telecommunication fibre optic cable which crosses the uplift and swarm area. In addition, while we complied to strict constraints due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the rapid response activities comprised deployment of several additional sensors including broadband seismology, rotational seismology and we performed repeated surveys including gas-, gravity-, electromagnetic-, airborne and ground magnetic- measurements.

We present preliminary results from various techniques and discuss their role in discriminating different scenarios aiming at explaining the magma-tectonic unrest phase. In particular, we analyze how the combination of airborne snapshots of ground morphology can be combined with the high temporal and spatial resolution deformation fields along the fibre optic cable.

How to cite: Jousset, P., Hersir, G. P., Shevchenko, A., Agustsson, K., Gudnason, E. A., Milkereit, C., Morschhauser, A., Eibl, E., Walter, T., Reinsch, T., Erbas, K., Wollin, C., Schantz, A., Samrock, F., Agustsdottir, T., Dahm, T., Flovenz, O., and Krawczyk, C.: Volcano-seismic 2020 unrest in Reykjanes Iceland: The MAGIC multi-parametric rapid response during Covid-19 lockdown, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-16134,, 2021.