Article in Nature Geoscience


The article Changes in groundwater chemistry before two consecutive earthquakes in Iceland was published in Nature Geoscience on September 21, 2014. I am so lucky to be one of its coauthors.

The article describes the changes seen in the water chemistry in a low-temperature geothermal borehole before two earthquakes. The borehole is located in the north east part of Iceland near the Tjörnes Fracture Zone (TFZ). The borehole is a flowing artesian well, 100 m deep and the water temperature is 76°C. Samples have been collected on a weekly basis since 2008 so an extensive data collection does exist. Changes were seen in the water chemistry four to six months before the two earthquakes.

The Nature Geoscience Issue also featured a special „News and views“  section were two top scientist, Michael Manga and Steven Ingebritsen wrote about the article.

The article received a lot of discussion in the press. Here are links to some of it:

News about the article reached the front page of Reddit which I think is amazing.

The Icelandic press also featured stories about the articles and one of Iceland’s biggest newspaper called me up to get my comments.

My masters project is a part of this big international project. In my thesis I am designing a network of observatories to monitor changes in groundwater in real-time around the TFZ. We will use available low-temperature geothermal boreholes and monitor water-level, temperature and conductivity to begin with.

Sampling in Húsvík

Today I needed to go to Húsavík to take water samples. The person who does this usually is on a summer vacation which is quite all right but because of the earthquakes in Bárðarbunga volcano we decided it was important to have a sample for this week.

Image of earthquakes > 5 at Bárðarbunga volcano before August 26, 2014 and possible affected area according to the Wang & Manga formula for sustained changes in groundwater.
Image of earthquakes > 5 at Bárðarbunga volcano before August 26, 2014 and possible affected area according to the Wang & Manga formula for sustained changes in groundwater.

There is a formula that describes how far from an earthquake of a given magnitude we could expect to see sustained changes in groundwater (Wang & Manga, 2010). When the earthquake sequence began in Bárðarbunga I calculated how big they needed to be to affect our research area. The picture here shows my calculations for earthquakes over M 5 and from it we can see that a M 5.3 earthquake could affect our station at Hafralækjarskóli HA-01 and a M 5.7 earthquake has an affected area north to Grímsey and to southwest to the geothermal area at Hellisheiði.

It is therefore extremely important for us now that our water sampling is in good shape and hopefully we can learn something new from these volcanic type earthquakes in Bárðarbunaga.


Enjoying Stockholm

For the past two weeks I have been living in Stockholm while taking a course in Scientific Writing in English. I am in the the process of writing my thesis and this course is intended to help me with that. I have realized that my writing takes a lot more time and energy then I thought it would take. My head is filled with all this information and when it comes out it does not come in an orderly way but at least now I have some tools to help me with that.

I have this bad habit of talking to myself while I write on my computer. This makes it hard for me to use public libraries or coffee houses as places to write at. Instead I have found a great spot in the kitchen of the apartment I am renting here. It has windows to the south and the light in the morning is just right. It is also conveniently near the tea kettle.

I like being in Stockholm but at the same time I miss my family back home in in Iceland, especially my two year old son. But there are only 10 more days left until I go back to Iceland.

Going to Stockholm

In March I will go to Stockholm, Sweden, to take one course at the Geology Department at Stockholm University. The course name is “Scientific writing in English” and it will help me with writing of my M.Sc. thesis which will be in English.

Therefore I have decided to start writing in English here at my little blog site.

It has taken a lot of time and effort to find accommodation in Stockholm for this study period. But I was prepared for that as things did not go so well the last time I was in Stockholm. Then I finally got a small furnished apartment in SoFo after the University intervened and helped me out. And it did cost a lot more than I had expected.  Now I have spent about 50 hours looking online, buying service from a rental agency (Bostad Direkt), probably sent about 100 emails and looked at every possibility. I will only be staying for 24 days and most people don’t want to rent for such a short period. I basically am in the tourist category. I finally got an acceptable offer from C/O Stockholm which is a personal short-term rental specialist. So now I have booked my flight and the accommodation and I am looking forward to returning to Sweden.