Iceland records 17,000 earthquakes in the past week, volcanic eruption could be imminent
The largest quake, a magnitude 5.6 on the Richter scale, occurred on the morning of February 24. It was the loudest in a swarm that continues to rattle residents in the nearby capital city of Reykjavík and the municipalities around it, where two-thirds of the Icelandic population lives. Two larger earthquakes — over magnitude 5.0 — also hit on February 27 and March 1.
Authorities in Iceland on Wednesday said that a small volcanic eruption is possible on the southwestern tip of the country. As per the Icelandic Meteorological Office, nearly 17,000 earthquakes have hit the southwestern region over the past week. With multiple volcanoes in the area, local officials have warned that an eruption could be imminent.
Iceland sits on a tectonic plate boundary that continually splits apart, pushing North America and Eurasia away from each other along the line of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Most seismic activity here is only picked up by sensitive scientific equipment. Occasional stronger tremors are an inevitable part of living in a seismically active region.
Normally, Iceland is hit by 1,000 tremors a year. However, around 17,000 tremors have been recorded in eight days. This is the first time authorities have found such intense seismic activity in the region since the beginning of digital monitoring in 1991.