From Iceland — Seismic Activity Increasing In Reykjanes Peninsula

Seismic Activity Increasing In Reykjanes Peninsula

Published September 30, 2021

Desirai Thompson
Photo by
Hafsteinn Róbertsson/Creative Commons

Tremors from a magnitude 3.7 earthquake were felt in the capital area and through Borgarnes at 1:52 last night, RÚV reports. This follows a 3.5 magnitude earthquake that was also felt in Reykjavík at 11:05 yesterday. Both quakes originated in the Reykjanes Peninsula around Keilir, roughly 32 kilometres from Keflavík Airport.

This increase in activity appears to have begun on September 27th. Nearly 400 earthquakes have been measured since midnight with most of them being relatively small. Yesterday, that number was around 700 with the highest measured ranging between 3-3.5 magnitude.

Scientists and civil protection joining forces

Due to the recent rise in seismic activity, the Scientific Council for the Civil Protection (Vísindaráð Almannavarna) will meet this afternoon to discuss the situation in the Reykjanes Peninsula. This meeting will occur once InSAR satellite images have been inspected, which will likely provide usual information.

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InSAR satellite imaging is used to make surface deformation maps, also known as interferograms, which illuminate a section of the  Earth’s surface by transmitting electromagnetic waves. Comparing the waves that bounce back with data from before a seismic event may shed much needed light on the event itself. This technology has become part of routine seismic monitoring over the past decade.

Bjarki Kaldalón Friis, nature conservation specialist at the Icelandic Met Office says, “There will be a review of the situation in Geldingadalur, Fagradalsfjall and up to Keilir […] and then the situation in Askja will also be reviewed.”

Closely monitoring the situation

The Met Office has so far recieved 80 reports from throughout Southwest Iceland in relation to the tremors.

The seismic activity originating around Keilir is located around the magma tunnel that formed before the eruption at Fagradalsfjall. According to Lovísa Mjöll Guðmundsdóttir, another nature conservation specialist at the Met Office, the quakes are likely connected to the eruption but it’s not possible to confirm that with certainty that at this time.

Hjördís Guðmundsdóttir, information officer at the Department of Civil Protection (Almannavarnir) states that, while they are closely monitoring the situation, there is no need for special preparedness at present.

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