Iceland Records 1,400 Earthquakes in 24 Hours
A state of emergency has been declared in Iceland after more than a thousand earthquakes of magnitude 4 and up were recorded in the last 24 hours. Thousands of people living in the southwestern town of Grindavik have been asked to evacuate as a precaution.
A series of tremors have been felt on the peninsula, between Eldvorp, near the airport, and Sylingarfell, a mountain east of the Blue Lagoon. The Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management said earthquakes can become larger than those that have occurred and this series of events can lead to an eruption.
Iceland’s authorities say a volcanic eruption is imminent.
Molten Rock Underground Iceland
The Icelandic Met Office (IMO) expressed concerns about large amounts of magma (molten rock) spreading underground and likely to surface, meaning an eruption. Iceland’s Reykjanes Peninsula had been dormant for 800 years, before erupting in 2021.
Authorities recorded increased seismic activity in the area on Thursday and closed the landmark. They have witnessed more than 20,000 tremors in southwest Iceland since late October. An official warning stated that earthquakes and indications of volcanic activity have increased above normal levels on the Reykjanes peninsula, southwest of Reykjavik.
An expert sounded alarm saying the magma tunnel under Grindavik has reached its full width. “We have no idea how big the eruption would be if it did happen. There is nothing about the subject. There is great uncertainty as to how big it will be on the surface and where exactly it would erupt if it did.”
The IMO said the most severe quake they registered 4.8 west of Porbjorn, a mountain estimated to be a mile south of the Blue Lagoon, at 1 am on Thursday. “It is the largest earthquake since the activity began on October 25. While the accumulation of magma continues, seismic activity can be expected on the Reykjavik Peninsula because magma intrusion causes increased tension in the area.”
Puridur Aradottir Braun, manager of Visit Reykjanes, said on one hand they are witnessing an amazing real-time natural event that might only happen once in a lifetime. And on the other, it is a big event that they cannot control.
“We have to respect it and give it space. Volcanic activity is a fact of life in Iceland, and Icelanders have learned to live with its drawbacks and considerable advantages, such as geothermal energy.”