Usage of an early warning and information system Web-site for real-time seismicity in Iceland

Deanne Bird*, Matthew J. Roberts, Dale Dominey-Howes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Iceland has been subjected to destructive earthquakes and volcanic eruptions throughout history. Such events are often preceded by changes in earthquake activity over varying timescales. Although most seismicity is confined to micro-earthquakes, large earthquakes have occurred within populated regions. Following the most recent hazardous earthquakes in 2000, the Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO) developed an early warning and information system (EWIS) Web-site for viewing near-real-time seismicity in Iceland. Here we assess Web-site usage data in relation to earthquake activity, as recorded by the South Iceland Lowland (SIL) seismic network. Between March 2005 and May 2006 the SIL seismic network recorded 12,583 earthquakes. During this period, the EWIS Web-site logged a daily median of 91 visits. The largest onshore event (ML 4.2) struck 20 km from Reykjavik on 06 March 2006 and was followed by an immediate, upsurge in usage resulting in a total of 1,173 unique visits to the Web-site. The greatest cluster of large (≥ML 3) events occurred 300 km offshore from Reykjavík in May 2005. Within this swarm, 9 earthquakes ≥ML 3 were detected on 11 May 2005, resulting in the release of a media bulletin by IMO. During the swarm, and following the media bulletin, the EWIS Web-site logged 1,234 unique visits gradually throughout the day. In summary, the data reveal a spatial and temporal relationship between Web-site usage and earthquake activity. The EWIS Web-site is accessed immediately after the occurrence of a local earthquake, whereas distant, unfelt earthquakes generate gradual interest prompted by media bulletins and, possibly, other contributing factors. We conclude that the Internet is a useful tool for displaying seismic information in near-real-time, which has the capacity to help increase public awareness of natural hazards.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-94
Number of pages20
JournalNatural Hazards
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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