An earthquake measuring 5.2 occurred around 5:30 this morning by Grimsey island in North Iceland, RÚV reports. At least six earthquakes over magnitude 3 were measured last night and this morning around 10-12 kilometres northeast of the island and felt by its residents. Around 2,000 earthquakes have been detected in the area since February 14th, part of a phenomenon known as a seismic swarm.
“There’s been a lot last night, the most we’ve had up till now. It’s been a nasty business and lots of big quakes and hard to sleep from the damn bother. People are constantly being shaken awake,” said Jóhannes Henningsson, a Grimsey resident.
Icelandic Met Office geophysicist Benedikt Ófeigsson says this is not the first swarm to occur in the area, though such an active one has not occurred since 1988, nearly 30 years ago. “A lot of tension has accumulated because it has been a long time since there was a big earthquake there. People have begun to think that there could be a big earthquake on the way,” he stated.
Though the source of the earthquakes is a fault line and a volcanic area, Benedikt states there is no indication the earthquakes are connected to volcanic activity. He compares the area to the Reykjanes peninsula, Southwest Iceland, where zones of seismic and volcanic activity overlap, making it difficult to determine which is causing the activity.
Benedikt says the Met Office is keeping an eye on the area to monitor for larger earthquakes, as the area can produce earthquakes over a magnitude of 6. “These are comparable earthquakes to those which occur in South Iceland,” said Benedikt. “We can’t rule that out. But in all likelihood this will die out and that’s what happens most often but a swarm like this can trigger a quake over magnitude 6.”