Man-made earthquakes in Iceland

Two human-induced spates of earthquakes took place in South Iceland on Sunday/Monday night and morning which have been traced to Reykjavik Energy’s activities in the area.

The first series of quakes lasted from 02.00 until 03.30 and the second, bigger spate from 05.30 to 06.00.

Both series were made up of a large number of individual earthquakes; none of which were felt in towns. The quakes took place in the Hengill area north of Hellisheidi and south of Thingvellir.

According to Icelandic Met Office geologist Sigthrudur Armansdottir, it came to light yesterday that the quakes happened because Reykjavik Energy is pumping cold water into the ground in the Hengill area, where there is a lot of geothermal heat. The cold water caused ground movements ‘similar to earthquakes’. But on closer inspection they turned out to be real earthquakes, even scientifically-speaking.

Visir reports that the water pumping is connected to operations at the nearby Hellisheidarvirkjun power station. As far as the Icelandic Meteorological Office is aware, this is the first case of humans causing earthquakes in this manner in Iceland. Earthquakes have, on the other hand, been caused by explosions; especially during construction projects like the Karahnjukar dam.

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