Seismic Activity in Southwest Iceland Studied Skip to content

Seismic Activity in Southwest Iceland Studied

The series of earthquakes which hit near lake Kleifarvatn in the Krýsuvík area on Reykjanes peninsula, southwest Iceland, last weekend seems to have subsided completely. Only a few quakes were measured on Monday night, most of which were minor.


From Krýsuvík. Photo by Eygló Svala Arnarsdóttir.

Earth scientists are working on the data collected when the earthquakes hit—certain aspects are a mystery to them, reports.

A number of earthquakes have been registered in Iceland this year, both in the glacier Vatnajökull and on Reykjanes peninsula. asked geophysicist Magnús Tumi Gudmundsson whether a volcanic eruption could be coming up.

“Earthquakes are in fact a rather everyday phenomena in Iceland and both of these areas are known for seismic activity. The Reykjanes peninsula in particular often experiences tremors and earthquakes such as these often hit the Krýsuvík area—they are the consequences of tectonic plates sliding past each other,” Gudmundsson said.

“We here in Reykjavík sit on the North American plate but when you drive to the southern shore of the Reykjanes peninsula, you’re on the Eurasian plate,” he continued. “These plates are rubbing against each other and the rubbing creates tension which is released during earthquakes.”

Gudmundsson stressed that in most cases such series of earthquakes are not an indicator of an upcoming eruption. “There have been dozens of such series in the past 100 years but there hasn’t been an eruption on the Reykjanes peninsula since before 1300.”

“There will be an eruption on Reykjanes peninsula at some point in the future but there are no indications that it will happen in the coming years or decades,” he added.

In regards to Vatnajökull, Gudmundsson said it is another very seismically active area but it differs from Reykjanes in the sense that it is also one of the country’s most active areas in terms of volcanic eruptions.

Grímsvötn is by far the most active [volcano on Vatnajökull]. Twenty to 25 percent of all eruptions in Iceland occur in Grímsvötn. The last eruption there was a little over six years ago. There are some indications that it is coming close to another eruption. It isn’t unlikely that there will be an eruption there in the coming months or years,” he added.

Click here to read more about the series of earthquakes on Reykjanes and here to read more about the tremors on Vatnajökull.

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