Iceland’s Crust Rises

Tim Vanderpool

UA geologists have discovered that Iceland’s rapidly retreating glaciers are prompting parts of the island nation’s crust to rise by a startling 1.4 inches each year. Never before have contemporary glacier melts — caused by global warming — been directly linked to what’s described as a trampoline effect.

“Iceland is the first place we can say accelerated uplift means accelerated ice mass loss,” University geosciences professor Richard Bennett told UA News.  

After analyzing data from 62 GPS measuring points across Iceland —some of which have been in place since 1995 — principal investigator Sigrun Hreinsdottir and her colleagues found a landscape that was “rebounding” from the Earth’s crust, a phenomenon correlating directly to 11 billion tons of ice melting away each year.  

Scientists believe this process will also put molten magma on the move, in what ranks among Earth’s most active volcanic zones. Reduced pressure from heavy ice, along with the rising land, could prompt the melting of mantle rocks, feeding molten flows that nourish volcanoes. This volatile mix may not only portend the future for Iceland, but for the rest of the planet as well.