Iceland remains under a state of emergency amid a series of daily earthquakes that are prompting fears of volcanic eruption.
More than 1,500 earthquakes have hit since early Tuesday with officials warning that a volcanic eruption remains imminent.
The 1,500 earthquakes that struck on Tuesday and Wednesday were preceded by 900 earthquakes on Monday.
Sputnik reports: Researchers have detected sulfur dioxide, a colorless gas with a strong odor that can cause breathing issues and irritate the eyes. The high presence of sulfur dioxide indicates magma is likely near the surface.
The Icelandic Meteorological Office warned on Wednesday that the likelihood of an eruption “remains high” and that the current status is unchanged from recent forecasts.
“The probability of an eruption is still considered high,” the Wednesday report read. “In the event of an eruption, the most likely location is at the magma dyke.”
Matthew James Roberts, the director of the Service and Research Division at the Icelandic Meteorological Office, described a “thin sliver of magma” more than 9.3 miles (15km) long that is making its way to the surface in the town of Grindavik in the Reykjanes Peninsula, home to about 3,800 people.
Roberts told US media he fears a “Hawaiian-style, lava-producing volcanic eruption,” noting it is under a populated area and close to infrastructure.
While most of the earthquakes were small, described as “microquakes,” the largest registered as a magnitude 3.1 quake, strong enough to cause minor damage to buildings.
The fault line between the North American Plate and the Eurasian Plate runs through Iceland, including the Reykjavik Peninsula.
Images from the area show roads broken apart by large crevices and holes. Thousands have been forced to evacuate the area and the Icelandic Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management has declared a state of emergency throughout the country, warning that an eruption could come at any moment.
“We have this tremendous uncertainty now,” Roberts said. “Will there be an eruption? And if so, what sort of damage will occur?”