Iceland doesn’t just have volcanoes under its massive ice sheets, it has earthquake swarms as well. Since earthquakes often set off volcanoes, this makes sense. There have been over 400 earthquakes in the vicinity of the Krísuvík volcano recently, and it shows no signs of slowing down. That’s the bad news (for Iceland) and the GOOD news is: WE don’t show any signs of slowing down either!
The 6.3 magnitude earthquake that struck Christchurch, New Zealand on Feb. 22 demonstrates the vulnerability of urban centers with important lessons for the US. And a 30 million ton block of ice sheared off a New Zealand glacier just minutes after the violent earthquake there. Civil engineer Thomas D. O’Rourke says, "Some reasons for the serious damage are the many unreinforced masonry buildings in Christchurch and the occurrence of soil liquefaction throughout the city."
The volcano that erupted in Iceland last year and disrupted the world’s air traffic is about to do it again. Volcanologists say that Eyjafjallajokull threatens to send out a cloud of dust and it could even set off a swarm of earthquakes around the world. The February 8th edition of the Telegraph quotes geophysicist Pall Einarsson as saying we have a "good reason to worry." Earthquake tremors to the northeast of the remote volcano range are the strongest recorded in recent times and Einarsson says there is "no doubt" that the lava was rising.
As US policy makers renew emphasis on the use of nuclear energy in their efforts to reduce the country’s oil dependence, other factors come into play. One concern of paramount importance is the seismic hazard at the site where nuclear reactors are located.