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After 17K Earthquakes, Iceland Expects Eruption

'It makes you feel very small and powerless against nature,' Reykjavik resident says
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 4, 2021 4:02 AM CST

(Newser) – Small earthquakes are nothing new or surprising for Icelanders—but 17,000 of them in a week is enough to rattle them. Scientists say the swarm of quakes suggests Mount Keiler, 20 miles away from Reykjavik, could be about to erupt for the first time since the 12th century, the Guardian reports. "This looks like the type of activity we expect in the run-up to an eruption," Kristín Jónsdóttir of the Icelandic meteorological office said Wednesday. Experts believe the apparently imminent eruption is likely to be a fissure eruption, with lava oozing out of the ground, unlike the explosive eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano that massively disrupted international air travel for more than a week in 2010.

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Keiler could still snarl air travel for Icelanders, however. It is on the Reykjanes peninsula, just 12 miles from the country's main international airport. Kevlafik Airport itself is not believed to be in danger from lava flows, but the road to Reykjavik could be affected. The Reykjavik area is home to around two-thirds of Iceland's population, and residents say the recent onslaught of quakes, the strongest of which measured 5.6 on the Richter scale, is unprecedented. "I have experienced earthquakes before but never so many in a row," Reykjavik resident Auour Alfa Olafsdóttir tells CNN. "It is very unusual to feel the Earth shake 24 hours a day for a whole week. It makes you feel very small and powerless against nature." (Read more Iceland stories.)

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