Increased Earthquake And Volcanic Activity In Iceland

A map of Iceland painted with its flag.

Keep your eye on Iceland

In March 2103, Iceland’s history changed when the Reykjanes Ridge off Iceland’s coast had 5 earthquakes between 4.6 and 5.3 magnitude. Before these recent upticks, earthquakes of this magnitude were far and few between. The last major episode on the Reykjanes Ridge ended about 671 years ago. One of its last eruptions was documented off Iceland’s coast in 1926.

Aftershocks No More

If  two or more earthquakes occur in a short time-span, geologists typically call these “aftershocks” or follow-up “vibrations.”  This doesn’t apply anymore. The Earth’s crust is now shifting at such an increased rate, numerous earthquake swarms are splitting the Earth’s crust apart in ways we have never witnessed before. Now, “aftershock” means “swarm.”

Longest Mountain Range In The World

The longest mountain range in the world is under the middle of the Atlantic Ocean; hence, the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The Ridge marks the boundary between different tectonic plates, but its biggest characteristic is magma (liquid rock) that comes up from the mantle (under the hardened crust) and reaches the sea-floor. The liquid rock can ooze out slowly, inch by inch, or explode onto the surface as volcanic lava, but either way, this is the primary location where new crust is made on the Earth’s surface. The Atlantic Ocean is widening, which causes it to push against the Pacific Ocean, which is shrinking. Before this ridge formed, Greenland and Great Britain were so close, they were connected by a land bridge.

Activity Is Picking Up

One of the many underwater volcanoes erupting today.

One of Iceland’s many underwater volcanoes.

The Reykjanes Ridge is a part of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge that rises above the ocean’s surface to the southwest of Iceland. Activity around the volcanoes at Reykjanes began intensifying on February 8, 2012 when a swarm of about 40 earthquakes were recorded with low magnitudes between 2.0  and 3.0. On September 17, 2012, another earthquake swarm lasted for several hours, and the strongest earthquake had a magnitude of 3.5.

Today, there is a lot of earthquake activity both north and south of Iceland, and the magnitudes are increasing. The time has come to prepare for increases in both volcanic eruptions and earthquake activity around the Reykjanes Ridge.

Keep your eye on Iceland in the weeks and months to come.

Two Earthquakes Shake Atlantic Ocean

The USGS small globe showing the 5.9 Earthquake off the Azores Islands, Portugal on April 30, 2013.

5.9 earthquake off the Azores Islands, Portugal on April 30, 2013 – USGS

Tuesday morning on April 30, 2013, two earthquakes just 30 minutes apart shook the Atlantic. The quakes were on opposite sides of the ocean, and surprisingly, neither rumbler created tsunami waves. The Azores Island 5.9 magnitude quake occurred 18 miles off the coast of Portugal 6.2 miles under the sea. (I consider this a 6.0 quake, but similar to gasoline prices advertised at $3.99 a gallon as opposed to $4.00 a gallon, many public posts try to make people think that “things” are not as bad as they could be.)

The USGS small globe showing the Caribbean earthquake April 30, 2013.

5.3 earthquake in the Caribbean Sea on April 30, 2013 – USGS

Thirty-one minutes later and 31 miles offshore Saint John’s, Antigua and Barbuda, a 5.3 quake rocked the Caribbean Sea 31 miles below the water.

Keep An Eye On Iceland

It would be unusual if the weaker parts of the Atlantic Ocean around Iceland and the Mid-Atlantic Ridge did not respond to these two Atlantic quakes occurring just 31 minutes apart on opposite sides of this vast ocean. Over the next week, keep an eye on the volcanoes around Iceland and on the volcanic Canary Islands, south of the Azores. And, monitor the Caribbean for more earthquake swarms.

As if upcoming hurricane season in the Atlantic isn’t enough to keep islanders on their toes, now they are experiencing large rumblers….




Underwater Volcano Alert

One of the many underwater volcanoes erupting today.

One of the many thousand underwater volcanoes around the world.

Have you ever been to Hawaii? The island of Hawaii is one of the most beautiful places on Earth, but it is also one of the most dangerous because the entire island is actually the top of an underwater volcano, including Kilauea and Mauna Loa on the island of Hawaii — two of the world’s most active volcanoes. That’s no big deal as long as the volcano isn’t active, but what happens when it “wakes up?” What happens when all the underwater volcanoes start waking up? Like what’s happening today…..

Volcano Alert

The volcanoes on the ocean floor are much more active than volcanoes on the ground. In fact, the magma that pours from them is constantly creating new sea floor, and new crust creates surface pressure that causes global earthquakes. There are about 1,500 volcanoes on land that are known to have been active over the past 10,000 years, and 75 percent of them are located along the Pacific Ring of Fire. There are an even larger number of submarine volcanoes, but exactly how many is unknown. There are hundreds of thousands of volcanoes that have been active during the Earth’s lifespan that we do not know about. On average, 50-70 volcanoes erupt every year, but there have never been as many volcano alerts as we are seeing today.

Living Next To A Volcano

Volcanoes are not randomly distributed over the Earth’s surface. Most form on the edges of continents, along island chains, or beneath the the sea forming long mountain ranges. Between 1980 and 1990, volcanic activity killed at least 26,000 people and forced nearly 450,000 to flee from their homes. Over the past 100 years, our population has grossly increased, and we have built mega-cities too close to these very same “natural disaster zones” – skyscrapers, nuclear power plants, and a network of concrete and steel bridges encircle the Earth’s deadliest volcanoes.

Active Island Volcanoes

The most active volcano on Earth is Kilauea on Hawaii. The second most active volcano in the world is Mount Etna on Sicily’s east coast. There are more than 300 volcanic vents across Mount Etna, ranging in size from small holes to massive craters hundreds of miles across.The third most active volcano is Piton de la Fournaise in the Indian Ocean. It erupted in 2006, 2007, and in 2008. On April 20, 2010, the Eyjafjallajokull volcano suddenly erupted 75 miles southeast of Reykjavik, Iceland.  Lava burst from the crater melting the Eyjafjallajokull glacier sitting atop the volcano, and its chunks were as big as a jeep.

Now, after over 100 years of inactivity, the Earth’s underwater volcanoes are waking up. If the major cities and urban structures that we have positioned too close to these volcanoes are destroyed, let’s rebuild them somewhere else, you think?