Seismic Roundup: Quakes Quieting, Eruption Still On The Table, Grindavík Residents Fleeing

Seismic Roundup: Quakes Quieting, Eruption Still On The Table, Grindavík Residents Fleeing

Published March 16, 2021

Photo by
Art Bicnick

The earthquake swarm that started late last February has calmed considerably, according to the latest data from the Icelandic Met Office. There have only been 12 quakes with a magnitude of 3 or greater since midnight on Sunday, the largest being a 4.3 recorded at around 22:30 Monday night. Thousands of smaller quakes are still being reported in the area.

That said, scientists caution that a volcanic eruption is still very much in the cards so long as the current situation continues.

Freysteinn Sigmundsson, a geophysicist at the University of Iceland, told RÚV that updated satellite imagery has shown that the magma under the surface of the Fagradalsfjall area has been steadily moving towards the surface. While it was estimated to be about a kilometre beneath the surface last week, it was risen some 100 to 200 metres since then. At the same time, the surface of the ground has been distorted by this movement, rising and sinking by centimetres in the area.

Benedikt Ófeigsson, a geophysicist from the Icelandic Met Office, seconded this, adding, “I think we need to assume that there will be an eruption while this continues, especially when we see the surface rise this much, there’s a lot of changes to the landscape that are entailed.”

As reported, residents of nearby Grindavík have been fed up with the constant quakes, with many of them reporting being unable to get a full night’s sleep because of them. Fannar Jónasson, the mayor of Grindavík, told Stöð 2 that many residents have left town just to be able to get a decent eight hours in. In some cases, places to stay have come from helpful Icelanders from outside of town.

“We’ve gotten some offers, such as summer cottages, people who have summer cottages and want to offer them as a gesture of goodwill,” he told reporters. “Those who are willing to do this are of course welcome to get in touch with us at Grindavík Town Council.” He furthermore encouraged hotel owners to make the same offer, saying that the town was willing to work out “something that would be beneficial for both parties.”

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