Earthquake 30 km north west of Vestmanneyjar islands

Today (5-March-2019) at 12:59 UTC a magnitude 3,2 earthquake took place 30,6 km north west of Vestmannaeyjar islands. This was a single earthquake and no aftershocks have happened since this earthquake took place.


The earthquake (green star). Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

At this location there are no known fault lines or active volcanoes. This is possibly a intra-plate earthquake. They do happen every few months somewhere in Iceland and most of them are not detected or felt.

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Magnitude 3,4 earthquake just off Surtsey island (Vestmannaeyjar volcano)

During the night (31-January-2019) a magnitude 3,4 earthquake took place close to Surtsey island (Vestmannaeyjar volcano). According to Icelandic Met Office this is the largest earthquake in this location since 1992.


The earthquake activity close to Surtsey island. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

Few minor earthquakes took place at this location after the largest earthquake. Good detection is difficult due to distance from the SIL network and how remote this location is.

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Earthquake activity in Vestmannaeyjar island volcano (off the coast)

For the past two days there has been a minor earthquake activity in Vestmannaeyjar island volcano. This is the first time since 2015 an earthquake activity appears in Vestmanneyjar island volcano. This earthquake activity was minor, with largest earthquake only having magnitude of 1,5. Depth was around 17 km with only one earthquake at 14,2 km depth. The earthquakes formed a straight line going from NE-SW direction.


The earthquake activity in Vestmanneyjar island volcano. This activity is out in the ocean. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

Total of four earthquakes took place and since Wednesday 30-August-2017 everything has been quiet. There is no reason to assume that this going to result in anything at this time. Last eruption in Vestmannaeyjar island volcano system was in 1973. The problem however is that this volcano eruption history is not well document as it is under the ocean.

Notable eruptions have taken place in the following years according to Global Volcanism Program.

1637 October – 1638 February 28 +- 60 days (documentation error margin). Possibly South West of Heimaey island.
1896 September – Unknown. South or South east of Hellisey island.
1963 November 8 – 1967 June 5, Surtsey island formed.
1973 January 23 – 1973 June 28, Heimaey island (Eldfell).

Smaller eruptions might have happened without being detected in earlier times (or even big ones). The depth suggests magma movements but at the moment this magma is currently deep and doesn’t show any signs of reaching the surface. I don’t expect any eruption to happen but I don’t know this system activity well due to lack of it.

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Increased ground heat measured in Surtsey island

It was in the news yesterday (21-July-2015) that scientists have measured higher ground heat in Surtsey Island. The change is 10 degrees (Celsius) from measurements taken some two to three years ago. The theory is that the ground in Surtsey island started to warm up after an earthquake that happened last spring (2015). There have been few earthquakes in Vestmanneyjar volcano system during the past few years, no major swarms have taken place so far.

It is clear by the increased ground heat that magma is on the move in Vestmanneyjar volcano system. It’s too early to know if an eruption is going to take place in next few years. At the moment there is nothing imminent suggesting that is the case, volcanoes often warm up at the surface just too cool down. The largest risk now in Surtsey island are possible steam explosions. They are only risk to local bird and plant life in the summer time.

Icelandic News – in Icelandic

N√Ĺjar tegundir finnast √≠ Surtsey (R√ļv.is)

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