Scientists in Iceland will drill down for a magma chamber to extract its power

The small Nordic nation seeks to become the world’s largest geothermal energy supplier.

Iceland is known for its gorgeous volcanic geysers and lava bleeding mountains, which attract a big deal of tourists looking for a unique experience and extreme sightseeing. Now its geologists think it’s time to employ the volcanic heat as a source of renewable energy and transform the country into a major producer of clean and unlimited power.

The only problem is they don’t know where exactly the chamber of magma lies beneath the Earth surface.

Therefore, the Geothermal Research Cluster (GEORG) in Reykjavík plans to drill two boreholes in order to find a reservoir of liquid rock and collect data about the potential of geothermal energy in Iceland and the best ways to harvest it, according to a NewScientist report

This ambitious project isn’t just about opportunities – it’s also about some risks, given that no one has ever drilled a tunnel straight to a pool with magma just waiting to gush out.

The biggest risk, however, is that finding a source chamber is quite difficult – though not impossible.

Tourists gathered around an emerging volcanic hill in Iceland. Credit: Reykjavík Excursions

In 2009, a geothermal drilling project for the Icelandic energy firm Landsvirkjun unexpectedly hit a magma reservoir near the volcano Krafla, causing no eruption and actually succeeding to open the Krafla Magma Testbed site for further research in 2013.

The Icelandic scientists want to repeat the success and learn more about the magma, behavior of volcanos, temperature oscillations, and movement of Earth’s crust – attempting in parallel to extract the heat for domestic needs. Drilling work will start in 2026.

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