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Earthquake swarm: what we know so far

24.02.2021 - 12:41
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 Mynd: Grafík/Birgir Þór - RÚV
A powerful earthquake swarm began on the Reykjanes peninsula this morning when two quakes at or over Magnitude 5 struck just after 10.00. Some 40 quakes larger than M3 have been recorded, and over ten bigger than M4. No damage to buildings or infrastructure has been reported, or any injuries—though loose items in some people’s homes were damaged or broken.

The biggest quake’s epicentre was 3.3 kilometres southwest of Keilir mountain at 10.05. It was Magnitude 5.7. The Met Office warns on its website that there is an increased risk of rockfalls and landslides. 

The swarm continues at this time and aftershocks tend to be short and sharp, and many have been felt clearly in the capital region. The seismic activity is all taking place on the Reykjanes peninsula. 

Kristín Jónsdóttir, natural disaster monitoring manager at the Met Office, told RÚV news that the earthquake swarm is unusual for featuring so many large quakes in such a short time. “I think we’ve never seen anything like it on the Reykjanes peninsula. It’s likely around ten quakes that are over four, and some of them were larger than five.” 

What makes this swarm unusual is that it has two active zones. One is to the east under Fagradalsfjall, and the other is in a similar spot to the 20th October quake: Núpshlíðarháls. 

Reykjanes experienced 41 earthquakes larger than Magnitude 3 this morning, and over a dozen of them were more intense than M4. 

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