Iceland’s Earthquakes

Snaefellsnes meadow
The colour contrast is strongest in the Mid-Tones.

Earthquake Animation

Iceland’s earthquakes are a consequence of being both a new land (18 million years old) and being situated on the North American/ Euro-Aisian continental plate divide. This is a land where brand new planet earth is being generated on a regular basis. The continental plates are drifting apart to accommodate new crust material.
This short video shows Iceland’s earthquakes and volcanoes over the last 15 years. Created by Datamarket.

Although this video misses the Grimsvotn volcanic eruption of 2011, it does capture the beautifully the series of earthquakes leading up to the eruptions under Fimmvörðuhals and Eyjafjallajökull.

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Earthquake of 2008

Iceland suffers a large land shift known as XXXX every 5 or 6 years. I experienced on of these directly. I had just quit smoking in the spring of 2008. One of my main reasons was that I was really struggling to climb Mount Esja. Esja is also known as Reykjavik Mountain. Technically the southern slopes are in Reykjavik although 30 km from the city.

I loved climbing mount Esja. The views over Reykjavik were fantastic in clear weather. As an aging smoker, I started to find the hike very difficult. This is what inspired me to quit the cigarettes. As a challenge to myself, I aimed to climb mount Esja non-stop. The first two attempts failed.

Third Time Lucky

On the third attempt, I paced myself very well and got to the top without a break. As soon as I sat down to meditate, I felt the earth move. If any of you have sat on a British train, it was very similar movement. This went on for 20 seconds. There were other people up there at the time. Interestingly, only those who were sat down felt the movement.

The mountain quickly became covered in low clouds. I heard rocks falling close by. I got down the mountain very quickly. After a phone call to Reykjavik, I learned that there had been a 6.3 earthquake. It’s epicenter was under Ingolfsfjall near Hveragerði – about 50 miles away.

I felt very blessed to have felt a mountain move on May 29th 2008. I never went back to cigarettes.

Quake Museum in Hveragerdi.

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By Tony Prower

Tony Prower spent over 15 years photographing the landscapes of Iceland. Tony Prower is a pioneer of the Magic Cloth Technique and ran thousands of photo tours in Iceland over 10 years.