Expert Alert: Iceland earthquakes may be warning of impending volcanic eruption

Earth Sciences Professor Justin Revenaugh studies volcanic seismicity

MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL (11/15/2023) — A state of emergency was declared this week for Iceland, as the area prepares for a possible volcanic eruption. So far, thousands of earthquakes have been recorded in the area, which has led to evacuations in Grindavik. Experts at the Icelandic Meteorological Office say that there is a “significant likelihood” of an eruption in the coming days.

Justin Revenaugh, Ph.D., a seismologist, geostatistician, and head of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at University of Minnesota Twin Cities College of Science and Engineering, can comment on the current situation.

Justin Revenaugh, Ph.D

“Volcanoes, unlike many natural hazards, almost always provide warnings. They can come in multiple forms: increases in gas emissions, changes in the size and shape of the volcano, and earthquakes. Volcanic seismicity accompanies magma movement in the subsurface. Grindavik, Iceland experienced over 2,000 earthquakes this past weekend alone, a large acceleration in seismic activity that has been heightened for several months already. While no immediate eruption is assured, this sort of acceleration frequently precedes eruptions.”

Revenaugh’s research focuses on earthquakes and the construction of Earth's continents. He has worked with volcanic seismicity on Volcano Arenal in Costa Rica.


Justin Revenaugh, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences