At around 3:45 pm yesterday an earthquake hit the southwest portion of Iceland, measuring at 6.2 on the Richter scale. The earthquake’s epicenter has been placed somewhere around Ingólfsfjall mountain, few kilometers north of the town of Selfoss in southwest Iceland, but tremors could were felt all around the county.Homes in Hveragerdi and Selfoss suffered severe damage but no casualties were reported.
A series of aftershocks followed but none measured over 4.0 on the Richter scale.
Geologists classify this earthquake as a so-called “Sudurlands” (South Icelander) earthquake. Such earthquakes are normally large and followed by a series of other earthquakes, but are not related to volcanic activity. Volcanic activity is high in that area but geologist believe the Sudurlands earthquakes to be a part of other geological movement in the Earth’s crust. A similar earthquake hit the same area in 2000.
No houses collapsed (houses in Iceland are designed specifically to withstand earthquakes of this magnitude) but residents in Hveragerdi and Selfoss described the damage inside their houses as if there had been an explosion. Some bridges are damaged and in some places the roads have split open. Walls are cracked. In some places the roads were closed until yesterday evening. There are no reported casualties or serious accidents, but a number of people had small cuts from shattered glass.
The Civil Protection Department went to the highest alert, and people in Hveragerdi and Selfoss were advised to stay out of their houses, particularly those houses which appeared to have cracks in walls after the largest tremor. Rescue squads set up tents for the residents and people were evacuated from hospitals and retirement homes and had to stay outside while there was still thought to be a risk of large aftershocks. The state of alert was lowered yesterday evening.
The weather in south east was very good yesterday, sunshine and temperature around 17 °C.