The number of earthquakes is rapidly increasing since Mar. 4, when we first told readers a volcanic eruption could be brewing in Iceland. According to Financial Times, in the last few weeks, more than 34,000 quakes have been recorded on the Reykjanes Peninsula as the country is on "high alert" for the next volcanic eruption.
"Never before have so many people in Iceland experienced so much seismic activity," Thorbjorg Agustsdottir, a seismologist at the government-run Iceland GeoSurvey, told FT. "They're getting tired of being woken up and ask: when's it going to stop?"
Most of the quakes are around the south-west Reykjanes peninsula that includes Reykjavík, the capital of Iceland, home to 122,000 residents, the Keflavík International Airport, and critical infrastructure.
34,000 Quakes Rock Iceland In Weeks
Melissa Anne Pfeffer, an atmospheric volcanologist at the Icelandic Meteorological Office (the nation's volcano monitoring agency), said the magma is one or two kilometers below the surface; an eruption could happen at any time.
"The magma intrusion was about 7km long, up to 2km deep but only 1 metre wide," she said.
Evgenia Ilyinskaya, a volcanologist at the University of Leeds in the UK, said the swarm quakes are occurring near Reykjavik and the country's main airport. She said critical infrastructure such as power plants are also nearby.
The latest swarm of quakes has annoyed the heck out of residents who are constantly woken up in the middle of the night.
"It's quite annoying . . . to have your house swaying all the time," Agustsdottir said of residents in the town of Grindavik that is the worst affected by the quakes.
The last major incident was the Eyjafjallajökull eruption in 2010, which caused a massive shutdown of the world's airline industry as ash plumes circulated into the atmosphere. If an eruption is seen, this could be disastrous for the industry as it attempts to recover from the pandemic downturn.