The past week has seen a significant level of seismic unrest across the globe.
In Iceland, the volcano Bárðarbunga hit the headlines worldwide but so far only a minor eruption of lava has taken place; however earthquake activity around the site continues.
The seismic activity around the volcano appears to be increasing with 700 earthquakes observed since midnight, including two major quakes measuring 5.0 and 5.3 the past 24 hours.Scientists said on Sunday morning that lava in the Bárðarbunga volcano could have caused the two large earthquakes overnight, one of which is the strongest measured since 1996. Though the risk alert to aircraft has been downgraded from red to orange, the threat of a further eruption is still reasonably high.
"There are no indications that the activity is slowing down, and therefore an eruption cannot be excluded," the Icelandic Met Office said.
It seems as though Bárðarbunga could have been the precursor to other significant seismic activity across globe, as the earth has been rattling and shaking in a number of continents with some major earthquakes recorded in recent days. Much of the activity has been concentrated in the Americas, with quakes occurring in Peru, Chile and California.
Measuring in at 6.0 on the Richter Scale, the Californian earthquake is the largest in the area for 25 years. Damage has been extensive, and Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency for Napa, Solano, and Sonoma counties. Thankfully, there are no reported fatalities, although 120 people were injured, three of them critically. Experts predict that 30 to 70 aftershocks of magnitude 3.0 to 5.0 could occur within the next week.
South America suffered an even more intense series of quakes, with a 6.9 event recorded in Peru on August 24th, and two quakes of 6.4 and 7.0 taking place in Chile on 23rd and 24th August respectively.
It is not clear whether a huge 8 meter deep fissure that appeared in the farmland of northwest Mexico occurred as the result of an earthquake. The crevice stretches for over a kilometre and appeared last week, disconnecting Highway 26 between Hermosillo and the coast. Geological investigators believe the fissure may have been caused by an earthquake, though researchers from the University of Sonora suggest that it may be due to leakage from a levee stream build by farmers in the area to contain rainwater.
Across in Asia, parts of Indonesia were gently shaken by a 5.1 quake on August 23rd.The earthquake occurred at a depth of about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles), 399 kilometers northwest from the Simeulue archipelago, in the province of Aceh, but did not generate a tsunami. The quake was a far cry from the 9.1-magnitude earthquake that struck the eastern coast of Sumatra in 2004, causing a tsunami that hit the coasts of Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia and claiming and estimated 230,000 victims.
Minor earthquakes occur on a daily basis in every area of the planet, but could this wave of major seismic activity across the world be significant? Does it indicate that "a big one" is on the way due to powerful stresses building up underground?
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