Implementing the Krafla Magma Testbed (KMT): linking volcanology and geothermal research for future hazard and energy solutions

Yan Lavallee, Anette Mortensen, Paolo Papale, John Eichelberger, Freysteinn Sigmundsson, Ben Kennedy, Marlene C. Villeneuve, Philippe Jousset, Donald B. Dingwell, Sigurdur Markusson, Vordís Eríksdóttir, Bjarni Pálsson, Jeff Tester, Sigrún Nanna Karlsdóttir, John Midgley, Hjalti Páll Ingolfsson, John Ludden

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Driven by the need to understand magmatic systems, to improve volcano monitoring strategy, and to develop next-generation, high-enthalpy, geothermal energy, we introduce the Krafla Magma Testbed (KMT) – located in Northeast Iceland. KMT aims to establish the first magma observatory – an international, open access, scientific platform to advance ductile zone to magma research via drilling and novel sensor systems. This frontier undertaking will enable direct, in situ sampling, instrumentation and manipulation, and monitoring of magma and its interface with solid Earth’s crust, vastly advancing models of high-temperature crustal processes.

This initiative is enabled by past geothermal drilling at Krafla volcano that was serendipitously intersected and thus determined the exact location of magma for the first time. This unprecedented experience, including safe control of the wells, provides the basis for KMT, which stands to transform modern volcanology and geothermic disciplines.

KMT will develop a long-term infrastructure (>25 years) for the conduct of interdisciplinary scientific, engineering, technological, and educational activities. The Krafla volcano has the advantage of a long history of geological study, volcano monitoring, and drilling as well as supporting surface facilities combining to produce the safest and most efficient base from which to explore Earth beyond the solidus.

KMT will be the place to develop (1) our science of hot and molten Earth; (2) new ways of understanding and monitoring volcanoes; (3) our ability to extract and exploit geothermal energy sources; and (4) new technology and materials that function in the most extreme conditions in planetary systems.

The value of potential gains in fundamental understanding of crustal processes is beyond our possibility to estimate. There is the prospect of an order of magnitude gain in geothermal energy productivity. The need to improve understanding of the source of catastrophic eruptions and to better forecast them is a compelling humanitarian one.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2023
EventEGU General Assembly 2023 - Austria Center Vienna, Vienna, Austria
Duration: 23 Apr 202328 Apr 2023


ConferenceEGU General Assembly 2023
Abbreviated titleEGU 2023
Internet address

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