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Iceland Mag

Geology

Yesterday's earthquake swarms not connected: No signs of imminent volcanic activity

By Staff

  • Tearing us apart Iceland sits ontop the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. As the two tectonic plates drift in opposite directions, creating enormous forces which are released in earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Photo/Wikimedia commons. 

Two major earthquake swarms hit Iceland yesterday, bringing the total number of earthquakes in the past 48 hours to 575, with 15 major quakes larger than 3 on the Richter scale. It is therefore only logical to ask whether these two major swarms are connected?

Read more: Earthquake swarm on Reykjanes peninsula seems to be slowing down: 338 quakes since yesterday morning

Read more: Volcano Katla also trembled yesterday: Largest quake in the monster volcano since 1977

Seismologists who spoke to Icelandic media all agree that the two swarms in Katla and near Fagradalsfjall mountain on Reykjanes peninsula are probably not connected. Kristín Elíza Guðmundsdóttir, a seismologist at the Icelandic Meteorological Office told the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service that the fact that the two swarms hit at the same time was most likely a coincidence. Swarms like these are quite common at Reykjanes as well as in Katla, and both areas are very active geologically.

She added that neither swarm seemed to be connected to increased likelihood of an eruption. The monitoring systems of the IMO did not show any indication of growing volcanic activity.

Read more: Why the constant earthquakes? Iceland is slowly being torn apart

It is relatively common to see quakes in Katla at this time of year, she said. Due ot melting during summer, the weight of the ice cap of the glacier which covers the Katla caldera, is reduced, increasing the likelihood of quakes. However, a professor of geophysics at the University of Iceland did note, in an interview with the local news site Vísir, that the earthquake in Katla was unusually large, a 4.5 magnitude quake. This is the largest quake detected in the caldera since 1977.

 Katla in turn is long overdue for an eruption. Historically Katla erupts every 60-80 years: The last eruption took place in 1918.

The quakes on Reykjanes seemed to be a mix of regular seismic activity connected to the movement of the tectonic plants, and the regular movement of magma in a volcanically active area.

 

 

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