Man-Made Quakes Disturb Katla Observation in Iceland Skip to content

Man-Made Quakes Disturb Katla Observation in Iceland

Almost 200 small earthquakes were picked up by sensors around the geothermal power plant at Hellisheidi outside Reykjavík on Friday. The earthquakes are created when Reykjavík Energy (OR) pumps water into the ground.


From Hellisheidi. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.

The strongest quakes measured around three points on the Richter scale and were reported to the Icelandic Meteorological Office by people living in Hveragerdi and Mosfellsbaer, Morgunbladid reports.

According to the Meteorological Office, the man-made quakes increase the load on earthquake sensors and interfere with the processing of information of actual seismic activity.

The volcano Katla, which lies underneath the icecap Mýrdalsjökull in south Iceland, is currently under close observation due to a series of minor earthquakes that have been ongoing since the glacial river Múlakvísl flooded in July.

“We have to assume that what we are seeing now may be events leading up to a volcanic eruption,” said geophysicist Páll Einarsson. “Múlakvísl has smelled of sulfur for some time […] and that is yet another indication of this unstable condition.”

He explained that the smell has to do with geothermal water coming from underneath the glacier; geothermal heat has increased there since last summer.

On Friday morning an earthquake measuring 2.7 points on the Richter scale was picked up in the Katla caldera. Last night there was also a slight tremor in the volcano, reports.

OR will continue to pump water into boreholes on Hellisheidi and therefore continued man-made seismic activity can be expected in the area.

Click here to read more about Katla and here to read more about man-made earthquakes on Hellisheidi.


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