The earthquake swarm in Hengill volcano

For the past two days swarm of earthquakes have been taking place in Hengill volcano. Looking at the earthquake swarm it might look like something was about to happen in this volcano. The fact is however that nothing is happening in the volcano, this earthquake swarm is entirely human made. Largest earthquakes so far have had the magnitude of 3,0 (x2), 3,2 (x1), 3,6 (x1). Over 300 earthquakes in total have happened so far, most less than magnitude 1,0 few dozen above magnitude 2,0.

The earthquake swarm as it was at 19:20 UTC. Copyright of this image belongs to Iceland Met Office.

Source of this activity is water pumping into the ground. The hydro-thermal electric plant (it also serves hot water to Reykjavík area and other towns nearby) does that with unwanted waste water, since that water is full of toxic chemicals. The hot water used in hot taps and showers in Reykjavík now is warmed up cold water (they use thermal exchangers to do this, some houses have this unit installed inside the house).

This earthquake swarm is currently on-going and if anything major happens I will update this article.

Weather warning for Thursday 22-September-2016

It appears that a strong low pressure system is on its way to Iceland and is going to at the south coast on 22-September-2016. I don’t have a exact time at the moment. This might the first real storm in Iceland this fall. More weather details are going to appear tomorrow as the forecast gets better.

28 Replies to “The earthquake swarm in Hengill volcano”

    1. for those of us who being ignorant north americans only read english is there an english version of the article

      1. Pumping water in the vicinity of Hellisheiðarvirkjun can accelerate earthquakes in the area but do not increase the probability that earthquakes will be larger than expected. RE say that three earthquakes last night came as a surprise where the injection was as planned for a while.
        The earthquake that began in Hellisheiði on Friday night at the injection area of ​​Reykjavik Energy Húsmúlar. Experts RE and Met Office are now going over the possible causes of earthquakes three last night. They came as a surprise and to be possible to review the procedures.

        Tremors were felt across
        The largest earthquakes that occurred last night. They were three, the largest of 3.6 magnitude occurred at half eleven just over two miles north-northwest of the power plant. Tremors were felt in Hveragerdi, Mosfellsbær Kópavogur and Hella. A statement from the energy of nature says that since 2006, has processing water from the plant have been pumped into the geothermal reservoir. Now is injected in two places; the Gráuhnúka we Húsmúlar. The amount injected amounts to 700-800 liters per second. In 2011 were so-called trigger earthquakes Húsmúlar where the water was pumped down acted as lubrication and it loosened the tension that was in geological strata. Subsequently it was decided to avoid sudden changes in perfusion.

        Review possible procedure
        Martha Rose Karlsdóttir resources director with the Energy nature segr earthquakes last night came as a surprise. “We have been continuous injection into the long term so that these are not movements that we know. We have remained with this procedure because we know that if we make major changes we have seen increased seismic activity as a result, but not that big earthquakes. Now we have not made any changes so this brings us surprises, “says Marta Ros. She says the earthquake last night warrant to review the procedure.” That is what we are looking at right now with this analysis today of the seismic activity of weekend. If we need to change something in our practice and then of course we do it. ”

        Statement of Energy of nature as a whole:

        Because seismic swarm of Húsmúlar
        Energy experts nature and Reykjavik Energy is studying the seismic weekend with Húsmúlar the Hengill with colleagues at the Met and in the scientific community. The goal is to find out whether the tremors associated with injection of water extraction from the. It is known that changes in the procedure of pumping, that has to Húsmúlar since 2011, can cause so-called trigger earthquakes. Since no changes to the re-injection have been made of late calls hryvnia to the detailed analysis of all data. That analysis above.
        The injection of water extraction from Hellisheiði
        Ever since Hellisheiði was opened in 2006, has processing water from the plant have been pumped into the geothermal reservoir. Now is injected in two places; the Gráuhnúka we Húsmúlar. The amount injected amounts to 700-800 liters per second. In 2011 were so-called trigger earthquakes Húsmúlar where the water was pumped down acted as lubrication and it loosened the tension that was in geological strata. Following the procedures adopted by two main factors:
        • Avoid sudden changes in the arrangement of pumping.
        • To provide the public and the authorities know in advance when making needed changes to the re-injection.
        This procedure has been followed since.
        Twofold purpose of pumping
        A new geothermal power plants generally requires that the processing of the water is returned into the geothermal reservoir. Pumping water extraction from geothermal power stations have dual purpose. On the one hand, it reduces the environmental impact on the surface by processing the water is not discharged there. However, pumping promotes sustainable utilization of geothermal resources by processing water is pumped back into the ground where it is heated again. This counter a reduction in water pressure in the geothermal reservoir.
        Can act as lubrication
        The drilling of geothermal areas – whether it is due to supply steam or recharge – seeks to find leaks formations such as cracks and faults. If the voltage in the cracks injected into the water can act as lubrication so that the tension is released by earthquakes in the immediate surroundings of the pumping. Such events are called triggers earthquakes and they are generally relatively small, very small noncontact measuring and they remain the major changes in the re-injection. In 2011 found such events, however, built and subsequently was developed procedures of injection that has been followed since.
        Notifications to the public
        Part of the work of the song is to send information to the public of a change in re-injection and scientists believe temporarily increased likelihood of earthquakes occurring in built. Our Nature, which owns and operates geothermal power plants in the Hengill area has several times in the recent past sent such reports to the public and emergency organizations.

    1. Just to avoid confusion… they are not pumping contaminated waste water from the city into the ground.

      If you pump clean water into an active volcanic rock, it’ll not only be heated but also dissolve a lot of hazardous minerals from the rock on the way back to the surface where it’ll be used to drive turbines to produce energy.

      And that contaminated water is sent back to earth to repeat the process. So more or less, the water just contains the “toxic compounds” which already have been in the first place. Maybe they also use “contaminated” water from other surface sources for that purpose – but they are not spoiling the earth with water containing man-made pollution (at least I hope so).

  1. Thanks for all the work guys, you cleared up most of my questions and fears. And also for the translation Tony. So no toxins that are not already there are being added. Just curious do they attempt to recover any chemicals from the water that might be useful?

  2. Perhaps, the reason for the unexpected high earthquake activity is higher temperature at the base of the injection well, so usual volumes of water create much higher pressures in the formation.

    1. Just like fracking?
      the process of injecting liquid at high pressure into subterranean rocks, boreholes, etc., so as to force open existing fissures and extract oil or gas: Also called hydraulic fracturing.

      Powered by Oxford Dictionaries · © Oxford University Press · Translation by Bing Translator
      Translations, word origin, and more definitions

  3. Great point Gary if you look at the huge increase in earthquake activity in the central part of the USA. They hardly started the fracking process when they got hit by a swarm of earthquakes. That continues in the area around those operations to this day. In fact by using the USGS data and the Google maps you can exactly relate many of the earthquakes in what they call the mid west to the fracking sites. So it makes sense that the injection of water in that process would be very much like the process in Iceland.

  4. For some reason I cannot add a comment to your story in the appropriate place. I think this could develop into something exciting with more chapters if you wanted to do that. Well done!

      1. The robot tests are the only way to keep the spammers out and even if I have those tests a spam comments gets trough every once in a while. Then they are normally caught by the spam filter or the moderation step.

        I’m unable to allow registration on this website due to spam bot signing up (or people registering for spam bots). Its a big problem.

  5. Tine when your ready to post refresh the test and you should be fine it is timed so by the time you write your post it probably expired you should be fine , unless you really are a robot inwhich case…..

  6. Magnitude M 4.5
    Date time 2016-09-24 04:42:44.3 UTC
    Location 57.20 N ; 33.40 W
    Depth 33 km
    Distances 993 km SW of Reykjavík, Iceland / pop: 114,000 / local time: 04:42:44.3 2016-09-24
    824 km SE of Qaqortoq, Greenland / pop: 3,300 / local time: 02:42:44.3 2016-09-24

    Magnitude mb 4.9
    Date time 2016-09-24 04:26:17.1 UTC
    Location 57.32 N ; 33.49 W
    Depth 10 km
    Distances 985 km SW of Reykjavík, Iceland / pop: 114,000 / local time: 04:26:17.1 2016-09-24
    812 km E of Qaqortoq, Greenland / pop: 3,300 / local time: 02:26:17.1 2016-09-24

  7. Please note that my geophone at Heklubyggð is not updating due to loss of internet connection. At the moment nothing can be done about that problem at the moment. I hope this issue is resolved soon.

  8. A 3.9 quake in Katla:
    26.09.2016 13:31:45 63.621 -19.109 0.0 km 3.9 99.0 4.6 km N of Hábunga

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