Iceland Experiences 18,000 Earthquakes In Just One Week
More than 18,000 earthquakes have been experienced in the southwestern region of Iceland over the course of the past week.
These earthquakes would suggest that there could potentially soon be a volcanic eruption at the Reykjanes Peninsula.
As per the Icelandic Meteorological Office, the largest of the quakes was a 5.7-magnitude tremor which was recorded February 24 at approximately 10 am local time. Just 30 minutes later, a magnitude 5 struck.
Two further large earthquakes – which exceeded a magnitude of more than 5.0 – also hit on February 27 and March 1 respectively.
So far, the quakes haven’t resulted in much damage, although small cracks have reportedly appeared in roads as well as rockfalls on steep slopes close to the epicenter of the swarm. However, those living in the area have been left concerned.
Páll Valur Björnsson, from the the fishing town of Grindavík, told CNN that he has ‘not experienced anything like this before’.
Valur Björnsson, who works as a teacher at the local College of Fisheries and sits as a deputy member of Parliament, continued:
We are used to it; it started one year ago. But it is much more now – very unsettling. I’m not afraid but this is uncomfortable. I woke up twice last night because of [tremors].
There was a very big one when I went to sleep, and I woke up with one. It is difficult but you have to learn to live with it.
Iceland is positioned on a tectonic plate boundary that continually splits apart, pushing North America and Eurasia further away from each other down the line of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.
The majority of seismic activity here is only detected by sensitive scientific equipment, with the occasional stronger tremors understood to be an inevitable part of living within an active seismic region. However, the duration of these tremors is thought to be unusual.
Þorvaldur Þórðarson, a professor of volcanology at the University of Iceland, told CNN:
Of course it worries people. For this region, this is actually fairly unusual, not because of the type of earthquakes or their intensity, but for their duration. It’s been going for more than a week now.
We are battling with the ‘why’ at the moment. Why is this happening? It is very likely that we have an intrusion of magma into the [Earth’s] crust there. It has definitely moved closer to the surface, but we are trying to figure out if it’s moving even closer to it.
This series of large tremors could be enough to trigger a volcanic eruption, Iceland’s meteorological agency has warned. However, this ‘should not threaten inhabited areas of the peninsula’.
Further seismic activity is expected, with the possibility of a magnitude 6 or 6.5 earthquake being experienced in some areas.
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