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Iceland Mag

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  • General

    Iceland police stop crazed foreign traveller: Was driving at 155 kmh (96 mph) on icy road

    By Staff

    Police Keeping us safe, also from drivers who don't understand what the spedometer is for, and are unable to correctly judge their own driving ability. Photo/Vísir

    Our hats off to the Police in South Iceland who stopped a traveller on the Ring Road in South East Iceland on Saturday. The traveller, who was from Hong Kong, was doing 155 kmh (96 mph) on the Ring Road near the farm Hólar in Hornafjörður fjord, where the speed limit is 90 kmh (56 mph). The road was covered in ice and icy patches, as well as melting snow and slush. According to a statement from the Police in South Iceland the "danger of this kind of driving is obvious."

    Read more: Hair raising video captures the moment when driver near Reykjavík narrowly escapes death

    The officer canceled the man's drivers license on the spot, banning him from driving in Iceland. A passenger in the car was ordered to take the wheel. The man was also presented with a hefty fine, which he paid on the spot.

    Sixteen other drivers were stopped in South Iceland in the past week for speeding. 

    Speeding which verges on criminal insanity
    By stopping the man the Police in South Iceland most likely saved his life, the life of his fellow travellers and perhaps even some other drivers. The speed limit is based on good conditions: People should always adjust their speed in accordance to conditions. Driving at nearly double the speed limit when the road is covered in ice and melting snow borders on criminal insanity. Even a tiny mistake or the smallest of disturbances will cause a driver to lose control of his vehicle under these conditions.

    Please be safe, buckle up, slow down and respect the speed limit, obey the traffic laws and always adjust your driving and travel plans based on conditions!

  • Geology

    Civil Protection Agency declares uncertainty phase due to seismic unrest north of Iceland

    By Staff

    Grímsey The only settlement on the island is a tiny village, home to 90 people. Photo/Pjetur Sigurðsson

    The National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police and the District Commissioner of Police in North East Iceland have declared a Civil Protection Uncertainty phase due to seismic unrest on the ocean floor north of Iceland. The declaration follows the intense earthquake activity which began on January 28. The current swarm began on Wednesday February 14.

    Read more: Scientists unsure what's going around Grímsey: Massive earthquake swarm might have peaked

    A 5.2 magnitude event early Monday morning (February 19) and the ongoing earthquake swarm are the causes for the declaration of a uncertainty phase.

    The Icelandic Civil Protection Agency notes that the earthquakes have been in an area known for earthquakes, and that the the current swarm resembles a second earthquake in 2013, when a 5.4 magnitude quake was detected.

    A second uncertainty phase is in effect for Öræfajökull volcano in S.E. Iceland.

    Read more: Uncertainty phase still in effect for Öræfajökull volcano

    Uncertainty phase/level is characterized by an event which has already started and could lead to a threat to people, properties, communities or the environment. At this stage the collaboration and coordination between the Civil Protection Authorities and stakeholders begins. Monitoring, assessment, research and evaluation of the situation is increased. The event is defined and a hazard assessment is conducted regularly.

    There is seldom advance warning of an earthquake.  Therefore, it is important to take security measures ahead of time and to learn how to respond. For more information on how to respond to an earthquake check the website of the Civil Protection Agency.

  • Geology

    Scientists unsure what's going around Grímsey: Massive earthquake swarm might have peaked

    By Staff

    A quiet fishing village Lífe in Grímsey revolves around the sea. Photo/Pjetur

    The intense earthquake swarm at Grímsey island appears to have slowed down somewhat today. The swarm, which began on Wednesday, has continued unintirrepted, but the power of the quakes has dropped since early morning. Only two magnitude 3+ quakes have been detected since 8:35 today, Monday morning.

    Earth has been shaking since February 14

    grimsey_map.jpg
    Grimsey A tiny island off the north coast of Iceland. Photo/Google Maps

    The current swarm, which began on Wednesday February 14, is only the latest in an episode of intense seismic activity which began on January 28. The quakes peaked yesterday evening and early morning, with a total of 64 powerful 3+ earthquakes, including 8 quakes which were 4 and above on the Richter scale. The largest quake to day, a massive 5.2 magnitude earthquake, hit at 5:38 this morning.

    Read more: Intense earthquakes in Grímsey highly unusual. Volcanic eruption unlikely

    The Icelandic Meteorological Office lists several recent seismic episodes which bear some resemblance to the current episode. In April 2013 a powerful earthquake swarm followed a large 5.5 magnitude quake. Similar swarms have been detected in May and September 1969, late December 1980 and in September 1988.

    Did the swarm already peak?
    Scientists at the Icelandic Meteorological Office say it is difficult to predict what will happen next. Gunnar Guðmundsson, a geophysicist at the IMO told the National Broadcasting Service RÚV that the 5.2 magnitude quake could have been the "main quake" of the seismic episode, signaling the peaking of the activity. If that is the case we can expect the activity to slow down and things return to normal for the 90 inhabitants of Grímsey.

    Read more: Grímsey residents refuse to be rattled by constant quakes: Kids' birthday party turned into geology lesson

    Gunnar told RÚV that while the current episode is somewhat unique it has parallels in previous episodes of seismic activity in the area.

    "We know of earthquake swarms which have hit the area. These have included quakes which are around 5 on the Richter scale. For example in September 1988, when we saw an intense swarm which lasted 10 days. This swarm included several quakes which were 5 or above."

    A more powerful quake or an eruption looming?
    However, Gunnar admits that while he things the most likely next step will be that the swarm begins to slow down, there are also other examples from history which might be relevant. This includes a 1910 earthquake event south of Grímsey when a 7+ magnitude quake hit the area. "We can't rule out more powerful quakes, and it's very difficult to predict those quakes".

    Read more: Why the constant earthquakes? Iceland is slowly being torn apart

    A volcanic eruption is also a distinct possibility. All the quakes have been in the Tjörnes fracture zone, which is known for high levels of geothermal and seismic activity. A volcanic system called Nafir is located beneath the fracture zone. The system is known to have been active since Iceland was settled, but it has not produced any known major eruptions in the past 1,000 years. 

    Gunnar told RÚV that there are no signs of magma movements associated with the earthquakes. "We haven't seen anything which suggests magma movements. The quakes seem to be caused by tectonic movements, but it is also likely that there are some fluids involved, perhaps also gases, that these are being pushed to the surface. 

    Grímsey earthquakes 19.feb.18
    Grímsey earthquakes Black triangles show the location of seismic montiroring stations. Grímsey island is at the center of the map. The image shows the location of all earthquakes measured in 1994-2017 (gray dots). The gray dots outline the layout of the fracture zones off the north coast of Iceland. The black arrows, marked HFF show the directions of the movement of the crust at the Húsavíkur-Flateyjarmisgengið, which is the southernmost part of the Tjörnes fracture zone. The red dots show the location of quakes in the current seismic episode, black stars are quakes larger than 4 and the white star shows the epicenter of the 5.2 magnitude quake. The current seismic episode is centered in Skjálfandadjúp, a submarine rift valley, along Grímseyjarbrotabelti, which is part of the Tjörnes fracture zone. Photo/IMO

     

  • Geology

    Intense earthquakes in Grímsey highly unusual. Volcanic eruption unlikely

    By Staff

    Tjörnes fracture zone Seismic activity on the ocean floor north of Iceland in February. Photo/IMO

    The swarm shaking the tiny Grímsey island, the most remote and northernmost settlement in Iceland has continued unabated over the weekend. The intense seismic episode appears to have changed character, becoming more intense with a higher frequency of powerful quakes.

    The swarm originated in the submarine Tjörnes fracture zone which is created by the movement of the continental plates in opposite directions. It is still too early to say whether the quakes are a harbinger of anything bigger, an volcanic eruption or a massive earthquake. Geophysicists and seismologists have not detected any immediate signs of volcanic activity in connection to the quakes. 

    Read more: Grímsey earthquake swarm still gathering strength: 64 powerful 3+ quakes in past 48h

    Grímsey
    Grímsey A small island inhabited by 90 people. Photo/Visit Akureyri

    Eruptions are not common in the system, which is known for high levels of seismic and geothermal activity. The last known volcanic eruption in the Tjörnes fracture zone took place in 1867, south of Grímsey. Two eruptions near Grímsey were recorded in 1372 and 1785 in old annals. However, it should be kept in mind that submarine eruptions are difficult to detect without modern scientific equipment, and the frequency of eruptions in the system in previous centuries could have been far higher than written records suggest.

    Geophysicists believe that it is more likely that the intense seismic activity is a predecessor for a massive earthquake. Powerful earthquakes in the Tjörnes fracture zone are frequently preceded by intense earthquake swarms. A 7+ quake was recorded in 1910.

    The epicenter of the quakes has been at significant depths of several kilometers. 

    Read more: What's going on in Grímsey? Intense earthquake swarm likely a harbinger of something bigger

    The quakes began late afternoon on Wednesday and has continued unintirrupted. Since the swarm began nearly 3,0000 quakes and tremors have been detected. Most of the quakes have been relatively small, 1-2 on the Richter scale, but the swarm has included nearly 100 relatively powerful 3+ quakes. Any quake larger than 2.5 on the Richter scale can be felt clearly in the small village on Grímsey island. 

    A Grímsey resident told the National Broadcasting Service that the quakes are becoming very "annoying" and "disturbing."  

    Icelandic geology, fracture zones, seismic activity
    ICELANDIC GEOLOGY Iceland sits ontop hte North Atlantic Ridge: To the south the Reykjanes spreading ridge, to the north Kolbeinsey spreading ridge. Between these two we have several volcanic zones and seismic zones. These are characterized by high levels of geological activity. The most active volcanoes and geothermal areas are located in these zones. Photo/IMO

     

  • Geology

    Grímsey earthquake swarm still gathering strength: 64 powerful 3+ quakes in past 48h

    By Staff

    Tjörnes fracture zone trembles The location of earthquakes in the past 48 h. Quakes larger than 3 are identified with a green star. Photo/IMO

    The earthquake swarm at Grímsey island on the north coast of Iceland which began on Wednesday last week has continued over the weekend. The Icelandic Meteorological Office has detected a total of 1.500 quakes have been recorded over the past 48 hours, including 64 quakes larger than 3 on the Richter scale. Of those 8 quakes were larger than 4. The largest quake recorded in the swarm was a 5.2 magnitude quake early morning. The earthquake swarm is highly unusual, both in terms of its intensity and length.

    Read more: What's going on in Grímsey? Intense earthquake swarm likely a harbinger of something bigger

    Grímsey quakes 19 feb 18
    Grímsey quakes The location of earthquakes in the past 48 h. Quakes larger than 3 are identified with a green star. Photo/IMO

    The swarm appears to have changed character and now includes far more powerful quakes. The swarm originated in the submarine Tjörnes fracture zone which is created by the movement of the continental plates in opposite directions. It is still too early to say whether the quakes are a harbinger of anything bigger, an volcanic eruption or a massive earthquake.  

    On Sunday it appeared the swarm was slowing down, but it then picked up steam early Sunday evening. Half a dozen 3+ earthquakes were detected on Sunday evening beginning at 18:11 (6:11 pm). A second wave of more powerful quakes hit around midnight. This wave continued uninterrupted and is still ongoing. This latest episode in the swarm has included dozens of large quakes, including 8 powerful 4+ magnitude quakes.

    The largest earthquake was a 5.2 magnitude earthquake at 5:38 am.

    Read more: Grímsey residents refuse to be rattled by constant quakes: Kids' birthday party turned into geology lesson

    The seismic activity has been concentrated in a submarine rift valley northeast of Grímsey island. However, the swarm has been showing signs of spreading, as the activity over the weekend has been spread out over a larger area than last week's quakes.

    We at Iceland Magazine will continue to monitor the developments closely.

  • General

    Making Reykjavík a bit greener: City to power its public transit buses with electricity

    By Staff

    Strætó The Metropolitan public transit system is taking steps to make their fleet greener. Photo/Ernir

    The Metropolitan Transit Authority Strætó will step up the electrification of its fleet with the purchase of additional electric buses. Last year Strætó bought nine new electric buses which are expected to arrive on the streets of Reykjavík in the next few months. Now five additional buses have been ordered.

    Read more: Iceland meets only 0.01% of it's electricity needs with fossil fuels, 99.99% from renewables

    The electrification of the bus fleet has been slowed down by difficulties in finding buses which can handle Icelandic conditions. The nine buses Strætó bought last year have not yet been delivered because the Chinese manufacturer had to make numerous changes to the bus to ensure they could operate flawlessly in Icelandic conditions. 

    The CEO of Strætó told the local newspaper Fréttablaðið that all 14 new buses should be on the road by the end of the year. Four buses are already on their way to Iceland. 

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