Earthquake Of 3.1 Magnitude Recorded Near Skiing Area

bláfjöll ski area iceland

A tremor, measured to have a magnitude 3.1, was recorded just north-northwest of Bláfjöll, a popular skiing area, in southwest Iceland yesterday, at around 5:30 PM.

The tremor came from a depth of about 4.5 kilometres, and was felt in the capital area. This was followed by some minor aftershocks, none of them measuring above 3 in magnitude. Bláfjöll is about 30 kilometres southeast of Reykjavík.

Bjarki Kaldalóns Friis, a natural hazard expert at the Icelandic Met Office, told RÚV that earthquakes in this area are unusual. Normally, tremors are more likely to be recorded both northeast or southeast of the area. Most importantly, he added, there are no signs of volcanic activity in the making at this location.

Seismic activity has been decreasing in the Grindavík area over the past few days but, as the Icelandic Met Office reports, magma accumulation under Svartsengi is continuing, at about 8mm every 24 hours. As such, while the Met Office has reduced Grindavík’s hazard level to orange, meaning “significant”, they caution that it is still a very dangerous place to visit.

“The current hazard is now referred to as ‘subsidence into a fissure,’ describing the danger that may be present where fissures are hidden beneath unstable surfaces that could collapse and develop sinkholes,” their most recent assessment reads in part.

Grindavík residents are expected to soon learn how, if at all, they may visit their homes to retrieve more belongings.

Icelanders Encouraged To Count Birds For An Hour Today

Bird

BirdLife Iceland (Fuglavernd) is asking the general public to participate in the Annual Bird Count, which runs from January 26th to 29th.

Iceland is home to numerous bird species, and keeping track of them all can be a daunting task. Fortunately, the part the general public plays is fairly straightforward. One need only observe their yard for an hour, and count how many birds of which species they see. Those who do not have a yard are encouraged to visit a public park for the count instead.

For those unfamiliar with Iceland’s different bird species, BirdLife Iceland has a helpful print-out (.pdf) that can be used for reference. Once the count is completed, one need only visit this Google form to submit the results.

BirdLife Iceland emphasises that one should only count birds that they see actually land in their yard, or in their area of a public park. Birds who are in flight are not to be counted, in order to avoid birds being counted twice.

Demonstration in Support of Palestine in Front of Iceland’s Parliament

Pro-Palestine demonstration, January 27th

As promised, despite the shutting down of the solidarity tent, where Palestinians and their allies had been camped in front of Parliament from December 27th until their permit expired on January 24th, demonstrations calling upon the Icelandic government to take action regarding Palestine have continued.

Demonstrators assembled at Hallgrímskirkja church in downtown Reykjavík at around 2:00 PM yesterday and then marched west, chanting, drumming and carrying banners, before reaching Austurvöllur, the square in front of Parliament. Among the attendees were esteemed author Illugi Jökulsson, who gave a speech, as well as rapper Alexander Járl performing a musical number.

Bashar Murad performs

The highlight of the event was Palestinian singer Bashar Murad, who is set to compete in Iceland’s Söngvakeppnin song contest. Bashar first came to the attention of most Icelanders after the Icelandic band Hatari represented Iceland at Eurovision in 2019, which that year was held in Tel Aviv. The band visited Palestine and became acquainted with Bashar Murad, who was already an established artist, and collaborated with him.

At the demonstration, Bashar gave an a cappella performance of “Mawṭinī”, which means “My Homeland”, the lyrics to which were written by the Palestinian poet Ibrahim Tuqan with music by Lebanese musician Mohammed Flayfel composed for it in 1934. The song has a long and storied history, and is considered by many to be the unofficial second national anthem of Palestine.

The demands remain the same

The demands of the protesters, reiterated at the demonstration’s conclusion, have not changed. Palestinians in Iceland have implored the Icelandic government to follow through on their policy of family reunification, wherein those seeking international protection in Iceland may also be reunited with their families. This policy has been applied, for example, to Ukrainians in Iceland, but the family members of many of the Palestinians in Iceland are still in Gaza, and they want the government’s help in retrieving them. The government has thus far contended that it is not obliged to fulfill this request.

In addition, they have asked that the government cease deportations of Palestinian asylum seekers, and they have called for a meeting with government ministers.

Demonstrations are likely to continue, as per a statement organisers of the solidarity tent made shortly after it was taken down: “Our shared responsibility does not end at this tent; it extends to the ongoing pursuit of justice, peace, human dignity and the protection of vulnerable lives in Palestine. We feel that we have no choice but to continue.”