Earthquake swarm hits Iceland, closes Blue Lagoon

Location of earthquakes that struck Iceland over two days Thursday and Friday. Photo courtesy of Icelandic Met Office

Nov. 10 (UPI) -- Iceland experienced hundreds of shallow earthquakes over two days caused by a swarm of seismic activity near Sundhnjúkagígar on the southwest Reykjanes Peninsula, officials said.

The Icelandic Met Office reported about 1,400 earthquakes over 24 hours from midday Thursday into Friday. Seven of Thursday's were of a magnitude of 4.0 or higher from the peninsula, near the Keflavik International Airport, and Sýlingarfell, a mountain just to the east of the Blue Lagoon.

The strongest earthquake registered at 4.8 magnitude west of the Porbjorn mountain and a mile south of the Blue Lagoon on Thursday. Officials closed the world-famous geothermal lagoon for a week because of the seismic activities.

"Magma accumulation continues near Porbjorn at the same depth and at a similar rate as before," The Icelandic Met Office said in a statement. "It is accompanied by swarm-like seismic activity, as was noticed yesterday and this morning.

"While magma accumulation continues, ongoing seismic activity can be expected due to stress release in the area. Earthquakes up to magnitude M5.5 can be expected in such swarms, and the seismic activity may shift between areas. At this stage, there are no indications that magma is forcing its way to the surface."

Iceland resides in one of the world's most active volcanic regions. The Reykjanes Peninsula is made up of a rift valley, with lava fields and cones.