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There have been 17,000 earthquakes in Iceland. What’s next? A volcanic eruption?

Iceland has seen about 17,000 earthquakes as of late. Here’s why

This photo taken Monday Oct. 28, 2019 shows the geothermal energy company HS Orka in Reykjanes, Iceland. Iceland has seen about 17,000 earthquakes as of late. Here’s why
The geothermal energy company HS Orka in Reykjanes, Iceland, is pictured on Monday, Oct. 28, 2019. Iceland has seen about 17,000 earthquakes as of late. Here’s why.
Egill Bjarnason, Associated Press

Iceland has seen close to 17,000 earthquakes within the last week, according to data from the Icelandic Meteorological Office.

  • Specifically, the majority of the earthquakes have hit the southwestern region of Reykjanes.
  • The largest quake registered with a magnitude of 5.6, according to The Independent.
  • “It was the loudest in a swarm that continues to rattle residents in the nearby capital city of Reykjavík and the municipalities around it, where two-thirds of the Icelandic population lives,” according to CNN.

Why now?

Experts told CNN that earthquakes aren’t rare in Iceland. But there might be a volcanic eruption on the way since there are multiple in that southwestern region of the country.

  • “We are battling with the ‘why’ at the moment. Why is this happening? It is very likely that we have an intrusion of magma into the (Earth’s) crust there. It has definitely moved closer to the surface, but we are trying to figure out if it’s moving even closer to it,” Þorvaldur Þórðarson, a professor of volcanology at the University of Iceland, told CNN.

Per The Independent, officials said the Grimsvotn volcano — which is Iceland’s most active volcano — is at risk of erupting because of the recent activity.