Medieval and recent SO2 budgets in the Reykjanes Peninsula: implication for future hazard

This is a Preprint and has not been peer reviewed. This is version 3 of this Preprint.

Add a Comment

You must log in to post a comment.


There are no comments or no comments have been made public for this article.


Download Preprint


Alberto Caracciolo , Eniko Bali, Eemu Ranta, Sæmundur Ari Halldórsson, Guðmundur H. Guðfinnsson


Exposure to volcanic SO2 can have adverse effects on human health, with severe respiratory disorders documented on short- and long-term timescales. Here, we use melt inclusion and groundmass glass data to calculate potential syn-eruptive SO2 emissions during the medieval and the recent 2021-2024 eruptions across the Reykjanes peninsula, the most populated area of Iceland that has recently undergone magmatic reactivation with the 2021-2024 eruptions at Fagradalsfjall and Svartsengi. We target 16 individual eruptions from the medieval volcanic cycle at the Reykjanes peninsula, the 800-1240 AD Fires, along with the 2021-23 Fagradalsfjall eruptions and the 2023-24 eruptions at Sundhnúksgígar. We calculate potential SO2 emissions across the Reykjanes peninsula to be in the range 0.004-6.3 Mt. These estimates correspond to mean daily SO2 emissions in the range 1000-111000 tons/day, higher than the mean SO2 measurements of 5240 ± 2700 tons/day during the 2021 Fagradalsfjall eruption. By using pre-eruptive sulfur values preserved in undegassed melt inclusions, we develop an empirical approach to calculate best- and worst-case potential SO2 emission scenarios of any past or ongoing RP eruption of known effusion rate. We conclude that the potential sulfur emissions across the RP can be significantly higher than observed during the 2021 Fagradalsfjall eruption, mainly because of the more evolved nature and higher sulfur contents of magmas erupted during the medieval time. Based on dominant NW wind directions on the Reykjanes peninsula, eruptions in Brennisteinsfjöll pose the greatest health hazard to the capital area. Sulfate aerosol produced during long-term eruptions may impact visibility and air quality in the Keflavík airport area. Our findings enable assessment of SO2 emission scenarios of future eruptions across the Reykjanes peninsula and can be used together with gas dispersal models to forecast SO2 pollution at ground level and its impact on human health.



Geochemistry, Geology, Volcanology


SO2 emissions, Reykjanes Peninsula, melt inclusions, sulfur budgets, magma degassing


Published: 2023-11-23 15:02

Last Updated: 2024-04-06 02:14

Older Versions

CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

Additional Metadata

Conflict of interest statement: