17,000 earthquakes hit Iceland up to now week. An eruption may very well be imminent

17,000 earthquakes hit Iceland in the past week. An eruption could be imminent


The largest quake, a magnitude 5.6 on the Richter scale, occurred on the morning of February 24. It was the loudest in a swarm that continues to rattle residents within the close by capital metropolis of Reykjavík and the municipalities round it, the place two-thirds of the Icelandic inhabitants lives. Two bigger earthquakes — over magnitude 5.0 — additionally hit on February 27 and March 1.

The quakes have brought on little injury to this point, although Iceland’s Road and Coastal Administration has reported small cracks in roads within the space and rockfalls on steep slopes close to the epicenter of the swarm.

I have experienced earthquakes before however by no means so many in a row,” Reykjavik resident Auður Alfa Ólafsdóttir instructed Source. “It is very unusual to feel the Earth shake 24 hours a day for a whole week. It makes you feel very small and powerless against nature.”

In the fishing city of Grindavík, locals have had a front-row seat to the tremors. “I’ve not experienced anything like this before,” says Páll Valur Björnsson, who teaches on the native College of Fisheries and sits as a deputy member of Parliament.

“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,” he stated.

Iceland sits on a tectonic plate boundary that regularly splits aside, pushing North America and Eurasia away from one another alongside the road of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Most seismic exercise right here is simply picked up by delicate scientific gear. Occasional stronger tremors are an inevitable part of living in an active seismic region.

Only this time, there appears to be no finish to the rumble beneath the bottom.

Þorvaldur Þórðarson, a professor of volcanology on the University of Iceland, stated considerations over the latest exercise are comprehensible. “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,” he stated. With a number of volcanoes within the space, native officers have warned that an eruption may very well be imminent.

Aerial view taken on February 28, 2021 shows the lighthouse and the geothermal energy plant near the town of Grindavik on the Reykjanes peninsula, Iceland.

Elísabet Pálmadóttir, specialist in pure hazards on the Icelandic Meteorological Office, instructed Source that authorities are deploying surveillance gear within the space, from GPS and earthquake screens to net cameras and gasoline detectors.

She can also’t bear in mind having ever skilled so many earthquakes over such a protracted time frame. She warns {that a} extra highly effective occasion may very well be trigger for concern, and estimates that the realm might expertise a magnitude 6 earthquake or above.

“In this particular area, where we’ve seen activity in the past week, we could experience a magnitude 6.0 earthquake. But we could have a 6.5 to the east of the area, east of the Kleifarvatn Lake,” she says.

No cities look like in danger from lava flows within the occasion of a volcanic eruption, in response to the most recent modeling by the University of Iceland’s Volcanology and Natural Hazard Group, which launched maps of potential flows on Wednesday.

Lava flow modeling in Reykjanes Penninsula by University of Iceland researchers at the Nordic Volcanological Center.

“Based on the current model, no major town is in harm’s way,” volcanologist Ármann Höskuldsson instructed Source, including that Keflavík International Airport — probably the most direct connections between Iceland and the remainder of the world — would even be spared.

However, the principle highway connecting the airport to the capital, Reykjavík, may very well be impacted, as might some powerlines, he added.

Pálmadóttir notes that such fashions don’t account for doable harmful gases that may very well be emitted from a volcanic eruption.

The specter of a significant eruption recalls the Eyjafjallajökull eruption in 2010, which brought on one of many world’s largest air-traffic shutdowns since World War II. But Pálmadóttir says an analogous ash plume can be unlikely within the present scenario.

Þórðarson provides that “the magma composition here is very different, the intensity of explosive activity would be significantly less.”

On Wednesday afternoon, a tremor near the Keilir volcano, simply 20 miles south of the capital, prompted authorities to ban site visitors within the space. On its webpage, the Icelandic MET Office says comparable exercise has beforehand preceded eruptions.

Picture taken on February 27, 2021 shows a natural hazards specialist at the Icelandic Meteorological Office in Reykjavik, which is surveying the situation at the Reykjanes peninsula, Iceland.

Víðir Reynisson, Chief Superintendent at Iceland’s Department for Civil Protection and Emergency Management, instructed a information convention on Wednesday that an eruption was “more likely than not” inside the subsequent few hours. It can be the primary within the space because the 12th century.

For now, residents await indicators of an eruption, some with pleasure, others with anxiousness. Víkurfréttir, a neighborhood information service, has put in a video digicam pointing at Keilir, which can begin livestreaming ought to an eruption begin.

In the final 24 hours, the big earthquakes felt the earlier days have largely subsided — however the present lull might not final for lengthy. “It’s definitely not over,” says Pálmadóttir.

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