From Iceland — Seismic Roundup: Quakes Move West, Scientist Says Could Be Prelude To Eruption

Seismic Roundup: Quakes Move West, Scientist Says Could Be Prelude To Eruption

Published March 19, 2021

Photo by
Art Bicnick

Ten earthquakes with a magnitude greater than 3 have been recorded since midnight last night, according to the latest data from the Icelandic Met Office. In a surprise twist, none of these were located near the Fagradalsfjall mountain—rather, they have all been located just off the southwestern tip of the Reykjanes peninsula.

In fact, the last recorded quake near Fagradalsfjall with a magnitude of 3 or greater, at the time of this writing, was at around 11:20 yesterday morning. The location of the new quakes is at a major fault line, Reykjaneshrygg, strongly indicating continued seismic activity. However, Elísabet Pálmadóttir of the Icelandic Met Office cautioned that it is not possible to connect this newest activity with the ongoing activity near Fagradalsfjall.

While the decreasing quakes has given people reason to relax, Kristín Jónsdóttir, a specialist at the Icelandic Met Office, told RÚV that decreased seismic activity can also be a precursor to a volcanic eruption.

She points out that increased earthquakes followed by a quieter period was in fact exactly what was observed when Krafla, near Mývatn in northern Iceland, last erupted. As such, it is still far too early to say that a volcanic eruption in Reykjanes is no longer in the cards.

Read more about the situation in Reykjanes and the possible scenarios that could play out in our newest feature story on earthquakes and volcanoes in Reykjanes.

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