By Austa Somvichian-Clausen 

A volcanic eruption in Iceland ‘could be imminent’ after more than 18,000 earthquakes hit the island in the past week, authorities have warned.

On Wednesday alone, there were about 2,500 earthquake detected and since midnight on Thursday almost 800 earthquakes measured, according to the Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO). 

While the eruption began as an effusive eruption – where lava runs from the volcano along the ground – the volcano then entered an explosive stage on April 14. This time, the explosion was measured as a four on the volcanic scale

The largest earthquake measured magnitude 5.6 on the Richter scale, which is enough to cause ‘some damage to weak structures’. 

The sudden burst in seismic activity has been centred around Reykjanes Peninsula, a densely populated region in southwest Iceland just south of capital city Reykjavík. 

Icelandic news service Víkurfréttir has begun streaming live on YouTube from the area on the Reykjanes peninsula where an eruption is considered likely to occur. 

Icelandic authorities are now expecting two volcanoes on the Reykjanes Peninsula – Mount Keilir and Mount Fagradalsfjall – to erupt in the coming hours. 

A volcanic eruption would be the first in the area since the 12th century. 

Thankfully, experts believe it is unlikely there will be a dramatic explosion of lava and ash into the sky, but instead, an eruption would take the form of a fissure eruption – a more steady emergence of lava from a fissure in the ground. 

“Of course it worries people,” Þorvaldur Þórðarson, a professor of volcanology at the University of Iceland, told CNN. “For this region, this is actually fairly unusual, not because of the type of earthquakes or their intensity, but for their duration. It’s been going for more than a week now.”

Graphic from the Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO) shows time, magnitude of earthquakes in the last 48 hours. IMO said: A magnitude 4.5 earthquake was measured at 08:54 at Fagradalsfjall. The quake was felt in the southwest corner of the country’ 

Experts have said that the most damage expected from the possibly impending eruption includes powerline damage, and the road connecting the capitol, Reykjavík, to the airport could be impacted. 

“The magma composition here is very different, the intensity of explosive activity would be significantly less,” Þórðarson assures.

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