Swarm of 20,000 earthquakes could make Iceland’s volcanoes erupt

Residents have been ‘waking up to earthquakes’ every day for more than a week.

Iceland’s Reykjanes peninsula has been shaken by more than 20,000 earthquakes this week. Scientists expect an imminent volcanic eruption.
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More than 20,000 earthquakes have shaken southern Iceland this week, rattling the capital city of Reykjavik and keeping geologists on their toes as all signs point to a pending volcanic eruption, the Icelandic Meteorological Office(IMO) reported on Thursday (March 4).

This week’s marathon of quakes continues a swarm of seismic activity that began on Feb. 24, when a 5.7-magnitude earthquake struck near Iceland’s Reykjanes Peninsula — about 20 miles (32 kilometers) from the capital city.

Earthquakes in the 5.0- to 5.9-magnitude range are considered moderate, and can result in slight damage to nearby buildings, according to Michigan Technological University. Fortunately, the quake’s epicenter was far enough from the island’s populated areas that no damage or injuries were reported.

The vast majority of the thousands of quakes that have followed the Feb. 24 event have been minor, with only two temblors registering above magnitude 5.0, according to the IMO. Still, residents of Reykjavik have felt the shaking day after day, with some “waking up with an earthquake, others [going] to sleep with an earthquake,” Thorvaldur Thordarson, a professor of volcanology at the University of Iceland, told The New York Times.

While disconcerting, there is “nothing to worry about,” Thordarson added, as the quakes have all been minor and distant enough to leave Reykjavik unharmed. (Meanwhile, the IMO issued a warning of increased landslide risk on the Reykjanes Peninsula, but had no further guidance for city-dwellers.)

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