The southernmost part of Vatnajökull glacier.
© Loftmyndir.is
The southernmost part of Vatnajökull glacier.
Several relatively strong earthquakes have been detected in one of the most powerful volcanoes in Iceland since yesterday. A total of 15 quakes have been recorded in the volcano in the past 48 hours, including two significant 2+ quakes: A 2.7 magnitude quake yesterday, Tuesday evening, at 20:13 and a second 2.6 magnitude quake today Wednesday at 12:45.

Volcano kept under close surveillance

According to the Seismic Monitoring System of the IMO the epicenter of yesterday's 2.7 magnitude quake was in the Southeastern part of the volcano's caldera at a depth of only 100 m (330 ft), while today's 2.6 magnitude tremor had an epicenter in the norther edge of the caldera at a depth of 2.2 km (7,200 ft) below the surface. Historically earthquakes have been extremely rare in Öræfajökull. Recently the volcano has been showing significantly greater levels of activity.

Öræfajökull is the southernmost part of Vatnajökull glacier. Its summit, Hvannadalshnjúkur, is the tallest peak in Iceland, standing at an elevation of 2,110 meters (6.920 ft). Öræfajökull glacier covers a giant volcano which last erupted in 1727. Following this eruption the volcano was completely dormant until a couple of years ago when it started to show activity again.

Öræfajökull erupts in steam-blast eruptions, also known as phreatic eruptions. In addition to the 1727 eruption it has erupted only once since Iceland was settled in the Viking Age. In 1362 Öræfajökull erupted in the second deadliest eruption in Icelandic history, destroying one of the most prosperous farmland regions in South Iceland, killing all inhabitants and livestock at 20-40 farms.

The volcano is not particularly active, erupting at an interval of several hundred years. The 1362 eruption is considered to be the largest tephra eruption in the world in the last 1000 years.