Earthquake in Dalvík 1934.
 

 
 
On Saturday the 2nd of June 1934 at 12:42 am local time or at 13:42 am Greenwich time a quick earthquake shook Eyjafjörður. It is thought to have been at 6,2 to 6,3 on Richter scale. The earthquake was noticed from Búðardalur in the west to Vopnafjörður in the east. It has been called the Earthquake of Dalvík for it was the most powerful in that area. This is the biggest earthquake remembered in this region. The source of the quake is thought to have been about 1 km east of Dalvík. Only the inhabited area nearest to the source was ruined. The first shock was the longest and the strongest and followed by such noise that people thought it was an explosion. But they soon realised that it was an earthquake because houses trembled and things were thrown about. They were damaged or even destroyed. "This shock must have lasted a minute and a half." (Öldin okkar 1931-1950 bls. 47.)
People ran out of the houses when the disturbance began, but sometimes it was impossible because exits and doors were stuck, still no lives were lost. Sigurður Þórarinsson, then a geology student, thought that the quake occurred at an apt time, when people were eating and less exposed to danger. Everything was thrown about, windows broke, walls cracked, split and fell. Great cracks formed and indicated that the source of the earthquake was in Böggvisstaðarfjall in the west of the village. The disturbance was such that potatoes recently planted were tossed up. Following are a few narratives.
 
Bjarki Elíasson, later a superintendent in Reykjavík, was a child when the earthquake began:
When I came home to Víkurhóll the whole house and the hill it stood on was cracked. My grandparents lived upstairs but my grandfather was blind and bedridden. People were helping him out when I arrived. My father was not at home, he was working as a carpenter in Svarfaðardalur. I went to fetch him on my bicycle because I thought he did not know about the earthquake. I did not get further then to the new primary school because of a crack in the road. I did not dare to cross it. There I stood crying when my father came on his bicycle. When we came home my father went quiet, observed the damages and said: "This is a bad sight, the house will not be inhabitable again."
 
In the year 1965 an article on the earthquake appeared in the Christmas edition of Dagur by Hjörtur E. Þórarinsson. "When the earthquake began he was in the sheep-cot at Tjörn. He stood in the doorway when the quake began. He heard a loud din and felt in an instance that the earth was moving under his feet, first slowly but then more violently. It was as  he was standing on a carpet two men were pulling back and forth. A loud noise came from the roofs. He saw two boys who were working in the sheep-cot slipping their feet, then he fell. The disturbance only lasted for a few seconds. He looked up to the mountain and saw the snow was now striped of mud slides. Everything went quiet but he felt that the peace was treacherous and he wished that the wind would increase or at least it would rain.
 
In Öldin okkar 1931-1950 is written:
In a house in Dalvík a woman had just given birth to her child. (See photo of Lambhagi). This house made of stone was greatly damaged. A wall collapsed and splinters from it fell over the woman in her bed but she and the baby were unharmed. Her calmness is thought to have helped a great deal. In the mouth of Eyjafjörður ships were endangered. One captain said there was a sudden blow on his ship and that the crew below ran on deck because they thought the ship had stranded. Gigantic waves rose and seemed from the ship to be as tall as the mountains. The shock was the strongest in Dalvík and the damage according to that. The scene was terrible after the quake. People hardly knew what hit them but soon they started to rescue things out of their houses which were more or less damaged, half collapsed or cracked. Gables had fallen in some houses and open cracks were visible, but even so most roofs were still in place. It was too risky to enter some of the houses because they could collapse anytime. Inside them almost everything breakable was smashed all over the place. Fireplaces were displaced and chimneys were broken. One house was caught on fire because of that. After the incident when people had realised what had happened they went calm and more accurate in the rescue. Generally people were very calm. One could expect more strong shocks and people wanted to save more from the houses before they would totally collapse. During the night the inhabitants tried to get as comfortable as possible. About 200 people were homeless because it was not presumed safe to sleep in the houses if further earthquakes would occur. After the first shock the quakes were constant for the next hours. Therefore people made their homes in sheds and tents. Neighbours from nearby areas came and tried to assist as much as possible. The weather was nice which made everything easier. Crockery and other equipment for the kitchen were damaged so handling food was particularly difficult. On Sunday the government sent MP Bernharð Stefánsson and Stefán Kristinsson from Vellir, Svarfaðardalur to manage temporary assistance and to enlist the damage. Sveinbjörn Jónsson a carpenter assisted them and following is his report. The houses were evaluated right after the first quake in the first week but the damage could have increased due to constant shocks but not enough to make a re-evaluation.
 
House type Amount of houses Little or not damaged Need little repair Need much repair Ruined Uninhabitable Homeless people
Turf houses 17 2 8 1 6 8 55
Stone houses 33 7 4 16 6 22 169
Timber hous- 27 13 10 4 0 3 23
Total 77 22 22 21 12 33 247
 
Tryggvi Þórhallsson then a prime minister organised a committee of three men to deal with financial matters because of damages due to the earthquake. The members of the committee were Vilhjálmur Þór (manager), Stefán Jónsson (farmer) and Pétur Eggerz Stefánsson (farmer). The committee's task was great. They opened an office in the house of Baldvin Jóhannsson, manager and connected a phone to it. The owners of the damaged houses wrote to the committee and following is a letter from Magnús Jónsson, Hrappstaðakot:
I request that the rescue committee of the earthquake area provides me and my brother a loan of 1.500.000 krónur with suitable interests. For the reconstruction of a cowshed on our land Hrappsta›akot. Insurance conditional. Hrappstaðakot 4/5 1935. Magnús Jónsson.
( Bréfið er úr möppu D-19/7. á  Héraðsskjalasafni Svarfdæla.)
 
A week after the first shock, aids came from everywhere due to the government's encouragement.
Kristján Jónsson a baker in Akureyri sent 135 kg of bread, 500 kg of margarine were received from the Margarine factory in Akureyri and kitchen utensils worth 250 krónur from a milk factory in Reykjavík. Food provisions had been destroyed, kitchen utensils as well as other equipment and furniture.
( KB,Saga Dalvíkur, bls.217. )
 
The government had promised to donate up to half of the collection money. Sheds were built and around 100 people lived in them. Chimneys were repaired in many houses which made them inhabitable. These actions improved peoples conditions but it was not enough because houses, barns and animal sheds had to be reconstructed for the winter. The committee sent the government an assessment on the necessity for the government to lend money to make lasting improvement of the buildings. As a consequence many destroyed houses were removed and others built instead. Finally it should be noted that the people of Dalvík received great help from all over the country, some sent money while others assisted on the scene. The King and Queen donated a huge amount of money to the homeless people of Dalvík. The earthquake committee sent the following message in the radio on Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day in 1934:
The people on the earthquake area sends all of those who in some way supported them by donating money or by other means their gratitude with Christmas greetings and wishes them a happy new year. The Earthquake Committee.
( Símskeytið er úr möppu D-19/7 á Héraðsskjalasafni Svarfdæla.)
 
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