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Iceland volcano: Current cycle of eruptions could last for decades

By Emily Bates

Iceland is bracing for a volcanic eruption, as thousands of small earthquakes have shaken the southern part of the Reykjanes peninsula since October. The earthquakes were caused by a huge amount of magma from deep inside Earth moving upwards and forming a 15-kilometre-long crack between 2 and 5 kilometres underground. As of 12.30pm GMT on 15 November, no volcanic eruption had begun.

In this part of Iceland, the volcanoes all seem to erupt around the same time every thousand years or so, in cycles called Reykjanes Fires, says Evgenia Ilyinskaya at the University of Leeds, UK. The last time this happened was around 800 years ago. “Now it’s pretty clear we are in this very active cycle again. We could be going into these kind of eruptions for the rest of our lifetimes,” she says. “Luckily, the eruptions that do happen in these [Reykjanes] Fires are all quite small.”