Hundreds Of Quakes Recorded In Southwest Iceland; No Signs Of Impending Volcanic Eruption

Hundreds Of Quakes Recorded In Southwest Iceland; No Signs Of Impending Volcanic Eruption

Published February 25, 2021

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Art Bicnick

Yesterday’s string of unusual and powerful earthquakes, almost entirely localised in southwest Iceland, continued to give off seismic activity through the night. While larger quakes may be on the way, there is mercifully no indication that a volcanic eruption in the area is imminent.

Starting yesterday morning at around 10:00 Icelandic time, dozens of earthquakes of a magnitude greater than 3—with the largest being a 5.7—began to rumble in Reykjanes, Iceland’s southwestern peninsula. The area is especially seismically active, but the strength and frequency of the quakes was regarded as unusual by scientists who monitor this activity in Iceland.

RÚV reports that this activity continued through the night, with some 242 quakes recorded between midnight and 7:00 this morning. 20 had a magnitude greater than 2 and two were greater than 3, with a 3.1 recorded just after 1:00 and a 3.4 measured at around 3:30.

In all, 57 earthquakes of a magnitude greater than 3 have been measured since yesterday at 10:06.

Amongst the possible explanations for the quakes that was being explored was the chance that volcanoes in Reykjanes such as Mt. Þórbjörn were readying to erupt. Measurements taken of the volcanoes, however, showed that there were no signs of an impending eruption.

The southwest region has nonetheless been placed on high alert, as there is still a strong chance that earthquakes of an even greater magnitude may be on the way.

The two most reliable sources for earthquake and volcano activity—the home pages for the Icelandic Met Office and Civic Protection—crashed due to the ensuing web traffic those sites received. Vísir reports that 70,000 people trying to visit at the same time crashed the server, and Civic Protection’s site was brought down as well.

Ingvar Kristinsson of the Icelandic Met Office told reporters that the site has experienced failures due to high traffic before, and are currently taking steps to be able to ensure that up to 100,000 people could conceivably visit the site at the same time without crashing it.

The morning has thus far been a calm one in Iceland, but the country continues to hold its breath for what may be larger quakes to come.

Note: Due to the effect the Coronavirus is having on tourism in Iceland, it’s become increasingly difficult for the Grapevine to survive. If you enjoy our content and want to help the Grapevine’s journalists do things like eat and pay rent, please consider joining our High Five Club.

You can also check out our shop, loaded with books, apparel and other cool merch, that you can buy and have delivered right to your door

Support The Reykjavík Grapevine!
Buy subscriptions, t-shirts and more from our shop right here!

Show Me More!