Icelandic Earthquakes


Shreya Madan, Editor

With a swarm of 17,000 earthquakes hitting Iceland within the span of a week, the unprepared citizens and visitors are left frightened: fearing that something bigger is to come. According to the Icelandic Meteorological Office, these earthquakes hit the southwestern region of Reykjanes during the past week. The largest quake which had a magnitude 5.6 on the Richter scale, occurred on the morning of February 24. Two larger earthquakes which also had magnitudes over 5.0 hit on February 27 and March 1.

“I think seeing that big increase in earthquakes is both crazy and very interesting. Most of these are probably not felt but a good number still are felt and that can really worry people,” said Caitlin Pannell, a science teacher at Hidden Valley.

Others also expressed their concern about the people in Iceland.

“17,000 earthquakes are absolutely crazy! I hope everyone is okay and I wish them the best,” said Aanandi Parashar (9).

The cause for the absurd number of earthquakes has a lot to do with the country’s location.

“It is not unusual for Iceland to feel earthquakes, because it sits right on top of a divergent plate boundary. With these boundaries’ plates are being pulled apart so the seismic and volcanic activity is not extreme as say a convergent boundary, but can still be a safety issue.” Pannell explained.

“Since the country of Iceland is located on the top of the Atlantic ridge, where the American and Eurasian plates meet, when they shift it causes earthquakes,” Aanandi recalled.

With this unusually large number of earthquakes, the question is if it’s leading to larger events.

“These earthquakes probably mean that a volcano is going to erupt soon. The people living near these active spots are probably prepared at a moment’s notice to evacuate if needed. The last big eruption Iceland had was in 2010 and it put so much ash into the air that is caused major disruptions in European air travel and a lot of people got stuck in Europe waiting for it to calm down. From what I have heard this should be a gentler eruption with more lava and less ash but could still cause a lot of damage. Volcanoes can give warning signs that they are about to erupt, and I think this is one is gearing up to erupt. We will see!” Pannell revealed.

Overall, safety is the biggest concern for the residents of Iceland which is being closely monitored by Iceland’s government and procedures are in place to evacuate people as soon as the smallest tremors indicating an eruption start. So far Iceland hasn’t suffered any major damage and hopefully the country will continue to stay unharmed.