Good chance of Grímsfjall eruption following the glacier flood

According to Icelandic news there is a good chance of a eruption in Grímsfjall. Following the glacier flood from Grímsvötn glacier lake. That is at least the opinion of Páll Einarsson, a geologist at University of Iceland. This is not going to be a big eruption in Grímsfjall in Páll opinion. But it is most likely going to be similar in size to the eruption in Grímsfjall in the year 2004. But no damage did happen from that eruption and it did not erupt international flight paths (just domestic ones). In the news Páll also says that the pressure inside Grímsfjall magma chamber appears to be slightly higher then in the year 2004. But otherwise the situation in Grímsfjall is almost identical to the one in the year 2004.

Icelandic News. Please use Google Translate where possible.

Miklar líkur á gosi (Rú
Rúv evening news on 31st of October 2010. Note: This link is going to die after two weeks as Rúv deletes older news streams from there web pages after that time.
Líkur á eldgosi í Grímsvötnum (
Meiri líkur en minni á gosi í Grímsvötnum (

Text updated 2nd November 2010 at 20:11 UTC.

33 Replies to “Good chance of Grímsfjall eruption following the glacier flood”

  1. It will be interesting to see when it starts. I will probably be in bed. 🙁 Anyway, we get to watch and see what happens again and it will be different and intriguing. Iwill be checking back often to see what is happening.

    Thanks, Jon Frimann.

    1. In the year 2004 the eruption started around 20:00 UTC in Grímsfjalli with the earthquakes. Around 22:00 UTC the ash cloud was visible on radar that IMO has.

      So you might get lucky this time around. 🙂

      1. Sadly no. This is in middle of nowhere on a top of a glacier. The only pictures we are going to get are in the news when they fly over the eruption if it happens.

      2. No, there isn’t. And its quite unlikely that someone sets one up. This is in the middle of the glacier (you could also say in the middle of nowhere) with no powersupply (although you could find a workaround here) and no online connectivity. Then there is winter on the glacier, so you need somebody to remove the snow from the cam every few days. Did I already mention, that this is in a quite remote area? 🙂
        Beside these problems are these eruptions usually not very spectacular – a lot of steam and probably ash.

  2. Also from me many thanks @ Jón for this informations.
    I hope and wish that we can now see again a harmless and not destroying eruption.

  3. So… where is the magma coming from?

    I don’t have data before 4/17/10, but since then, the is a cluster of quakes that trek from Hamarinn to the north side of Grímsvötn. Hamarinn is a sibling of Bárðarbunga (sits inside of the same fissure swarm) and may share plumbing. Grímsvötn’s sibling is Þórðarhyrna (again, same fissure swarm).

    According to the Bouguer anomaly paper that was linked via the Eruptions Blog several weeks ago, (Volcanic systems and calderas in the Vatnajökull region, central Iceland: Constraints on crustal structure from gravity data, Gudmundsson et al 2006), the Bárðarbunga and Grímsvötn systems have intermingled dikes and can share magma.

    So… here is an over view. You can see the quake cluster from Hamarinn to Grímsvötn’s northern extent.

    Jón will have better info on this possibility. It’s just a guess on my part.

    1. It was a rhetorical question.

      There haven’t been really any well defined quake stacks under Grímsvötn lately, and the most recent activity has been under Hamarinn. I found it interesting that there was a path of quakes between the two. I’m thinking diking across from one system to the other, but that’s just a hunch.

      Grímsvötn has it’s own moment tensor thing going on so it’s had plenty of time to accumulate material.

  4. At John Seach’s:
    “Grimsvotn Volcano, Iceland
    A possible eruption has begun at Grimsvotn volcano, Iceland. A flood has started in Gigja in south-east Iceland. The disturbance occurred under the Vatnajokull glacier near Grimsvotn Volcano on Sunday afternoon. There was an increase in flow of water by 30 cm but other rivers running from the glacier are dry. The flood may take 4-5 days to reach maximum. On Sunday the volume of water in Gigja was 130 cubic metres per second, and electrolyte levels double that of normal. Grimsvotn is the most active volcano in Iceland.”

    1. There are no indicators that a eruption has started yet. But the possibly of one remains high at the moment. Given past experience with Grímsvötn glacier floods.

  5. Jon, what’s known about the exact mechanism of this kind of glacier flood? Is it a self-sustaining process where the flood erodes more of the dam, and it inevitably results in a pretty complete draining of the lake? Or can it be more of a start/stop process, where it drains a certain amount, achieves a new equilibrium, and stops again pretty soon?

    1. The dam is made out of natural ice barrier at Grímsvötn. But since 1996 eruption at Gjálp (volcano fissure under the glacier) it has been damaged and cannot hold a lot of water as it used to do.

      But when a flood happens like now the water makes a hole in the natural ice dam. At least that is one explanation that I have heard. But I might be wrong in this matter.

  6. The only camera nearby is the one at Lómagnúpur, which may show the flood if it comes out onto the Skeiðarársandur (it’s dark there right now and I can’t remember exactly what the camera shows). There’s a link to the camera on the map I did for Eyjafjallajökull, which can be reached by clicking on my name. If the eruption is significant I might make a new map for Grímsfjall.

  7. Nothing from space yet. A bit of discoloration maybe, but its wintertime up there.

    As for the webcams. Hey, MILA had to have made a fortune from the number of hits on their website for Eyjaf. They could send a guy up there every day for the next 300 years probably and make it worth their while in advertising.

  8. Well if it does show up as more than a discoloration Jon, you’ll be the second to know.

    Right now there is pixel discoloration but nothing indicating heat. That could be drifting snow, or even the water leaving the glacier. If it starts to go it will have to pass 500 degrees for 3 mins or more or an ash cloud carrying that will have to be emitted.

    So whats your opinion… We going to get a show?

      1. As many people, I’m just an amateur follower since the Eyja eruption.
        I noticed that, other than most stations that have clear defined red, green and blue lines, Basar, Godabunga and Grimsfjall exhibit this dominant blue trend with many spikes.

  9. @Jón – Today I saw a tremorchart from the ESK station just south west of Myrdalsjökull. It showed me something I have never seen before – a negative signal.
    Is this due to equipment malfunction or is there any other explanation for this erratic signal? See link for description.

    1. This might have been a noise in the SIL system or just a sudden drop in the background noise. If it is not that, then I have no idea what this might be.

  10. What is this?

    15:44:43 63,917 -22,077 8,2 1,7 90,01 3,3 km N af Krýsuvík
    06:42:30 63,911 -22,056 5,2 1,6 90,02 2,7 km N af Krýsuvík
    06:39:08 63,908 -22,005 2,3 1,1 52,69 3,7 km NA af Krýsuvík
    14:22:59 63,887 -22,044 4 1,1 90,01 1,1 km A af Krýsuvík

    1. I actually don’t know it. But the Krysuvik area is highly geothermally active. And I saw images of pretty new hot springs in the area.

  11. Hello Jón!

    I have a question for you since you are the expert on Icelandic quakes and stuff.
    What is going on at the Hveravellir? One 4.0 and a nicely stacked swarm of 2+ quakes. Is it just melting or..?

    1. @Carl, I am not a expert as I am not educated (a lot) in the field of geology. About the earthquakes north of Hveravellir they have been ongoing since last week. They come in swarms. They are located at a hyrdropower plant dam in this area.

      Why they are happening is unclear. But there are no known faults in this area.

  12. Jón: Are we going to see any alterations of the water flow at Jokülsárlon webcam from Grímsfjal

    1. I mean, from this jöllhlaup caused by melting, since Jokülsárlon is also a scape for Vatna’s waters?

    2. No. The Jökulsárslón web cam is not pointing in that direction of the flood. But if there is a eruption that web cam might be the only way to see the ash plume if the weather is clear and good if we are extremely lucky. But that might be in short supply during the Icelandic winter.

  13. Monday
    01.11.2010 16:56:07 64.422 -17.211 1.1 km 2.6 90.02 3.6 km ENE of Grímsfjall

  14. Am i right in saying, there was recently big earthquakes in Reykjanes peninsula which seemed to have travelled through Iceland The last couple of weeks and now we are seeing reasonably big earthquakes further north now. So it looks like the movement of plates has move from Reykjanes to the north, which is why the volcanos maybe more unstable??

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