A small ash plume over Eyjafjallajökull volcano today ?

A few of my readers reported today in comments that they did see a small ash plume or something of that nature today over Eyjafjallajökull volcano. While I stress that this is still unconfirmed at this stage it might well have happened.

There are two options that might explain what did happen today. One is that a ash was moving due to wind in the area. But this happens quite a lot during the dry times in the winter and summer. The second option is that a older magma from the eruption earlier this year was on the move and made a small eruption that did go unnoticed on the seismometers around Eyjafjallajökull volcano. I do not know how long this event in Eyjafjallajökull volcano today is supposed to have lasted. But it appears to have been for several hours in the longest.

But other then this it appears that Eyjafjallajökull volcano is mostly quiet. But some deep earthquakes have started again in the past few weeks. But so far they have not been increasing in numbers so a new eruption is not expected at this time by me or the experts.

81 Replies to “A small ash plume over Eyjafjallajökull volcano today ?”

  1. What I’ve seen has been fog, i.e. relatively warm water in the crater releases a lot of steam in subfreezing temperatures. Also, the sun is very low behind the column, so it naturally looks dark.

    One must remember that the crater and the lava flow are not cold yet.

    1. That was also my first thought after reading those comments – light playing with the clouds and some steam from the still warm crater.

    1. Good morning all together

      i’m sorry, but my english is very bad

      With a little trickery you can see the “old” mila-page:
      translate the http://www.norvol.hi.is/ to german and than -> “Eruption in Eyjaflalljökull” -> webcams -> •Vefmyndavél Mílu – Eyjafjallajökull frá Þórólfsfelli
      do this a second time, and you will have the mila-page right

      I wish all a realy great 2011 with very nice eruptions without people being in danger

      1. I called Míla, the camera at Eyjafjallajökull was transferred to Reykjavík for the lunar eclipse (ehh ?) and stationed at Vatnsendi and will be there for the New Years Eve fireworks. It won’t be transferred back unless something happens over there or somewhere else.

        Agree with the two writers in the beginning.

      2. It seems this is the end of eight months of fantastic and free coverage, thank you MILA! Also, with the unrest at Krýsuvík and in the Vatnajökull area, it’s not a bad move to have cams and bandwidth available if and when something happens.

        Gitta, thanks for the hint! Alas, even that way all I get is “404 not found”, same as the Jökulsarlon cam.


    2. Yeah, but there were alot more clouds around. Steam seemed to come up from 2 locations, i followed it closely for an hour or so. It were not clouds or normal fog. Always came up from the very same spots. ( but it was definitely no ash or the development of a plume. Just steam, me thinks. ( Steam is not very hard to create, considering the temperatures in winter)

  2. Note – Jón’s software only recognises half the link, so you’ll have to copy and paste it to your browser.

  3. @ Henrik – Yesterday there was much more steam visible. Also last week but then I read about the ash and dismissed it as being ash movement.

    1. Kind of confirms steam as the explanation, as these events have come after major storms in Iceland.

    1. We did swim in the Blue Lagoon, for the first time in 1997. It was really amazing, being in water of about 40 degrees Celsius and watch steam blown towards you by the wind! Outside temp. about 11 degrees Celsius.
      Henk Weijerstrass, Zwaag, Holland.

  4. @Birgit – thank you so much for that – I have been having all sorts of computer problems and haven’t been able to check lately. A nice ‘goodbye’ present, it makes me very nostalgic.

    1. The downwards trend in depth is peculiar. Is it really water going down, or magma rising? If they meet somewhere…

      1. You know, that’s an interesting point. That lake has been known to unexpectedly loose water. Could a hydrothermal recharge be happening as the tectonic stresses open up the fissures?

      2. I have theory here. Both for the movement downwards and the lakewater falling.
        First of all the opening up down to the MOHO happened at 2008 or before, we know this due to actually having Sigrúns GPS-plot for it. So my take is that the lack of deep quakes is due to them happening at the earlier quake-swarms that preceded the 2008 or earlier start of inflation.
        The downward trend we are seeing now is probably due to that the quakes have moved over to the other side of the lake, I guess it is fracturing and a new opening forming trending downwards to the MOHO. This might be really bad news since it kind if implies that a rift might open under the lake.

        Water level:
        We know that the waterlevel dropped steeply after the 2000 large quake taking place up at the Hengill Sprungur. Only way this could have happened is that a deep crack formed under the lakebed. So the area below saturated up untill 2008 when either the crack closed, or it was fully saturated. We now know that the waterlevel is falling again so probably there is either a new opening/reopening if the cracks, or the bedrock under the lake has new fractures forming due to the quakes.
        Either way it might bode ill, if that water is going deep (say up towards a 1000 or more metres it will probably in the end meet the upwalling magma or an area under the lake that is hot enough to cause an explosion and/or explosive eruption.

        Sadly I think this is happening, but I cannot prove it yet.
        The perhaps increased activity in the hotsprings might be a sign for it. But what would really be needed is actuall sonograms from the ground running up to 150Hz, because then we could “hear” gas-release events as they happened. A gas-release event might be either gasses in the magma releasing due to quakes (one signature, think whooshing) or due to qater hitting magma (think something between popping popcorn and firecrackers).
        I think we can actually see it in the tremor-plot for one area where the spike after quakes have a markedly different signature in its frequncies (simply inverted colors than the other “normal” spikes has).
        I would say that Krisuvik needs far less then most believe since it is so dang watersoaked to erupt. My current guess is either one 4 – 5 M quake or a larger than normal quakeswarm with a few 3+Ms in it. Ie, enough to open a crack fully between water and magma.

    1. I would say no, the amount of quakes between is well withing the normal dispersal range statistically speaking. If you look around Bardarbunga and Grimsfjöll you see almost the same amount of quakes in all direction, and the amount inbetween them should be the double then in other directions due to having to causators present.
      Actually you have 3 causators, you also have the Bardarbunga sub-volcano called Hamarinn there (seen as the field slightly to the left of the middle between B and G).

      The 1996 Gjalp:
      Yes it came after a largish quake at Bardarbunga, but as far as I know there is no good proof that it was lava going from B to G causing the eruption. As far as I know the eruption started at Grimsvötn due to a fissure opening from Grimsvötns allready briming magma-reservoir. That Gjalp Fissure stretched from northern caldera wall of Grimsvötn and opened in a progressive fashion all the way to the southern caldera rim of Bardarbunga. But remember that the large M5,4 quake was at the northern part of the B-caldera.

      Here is the official report on the eruption:

      1. Carl, what happens if you take a compass, place the point at Bardarbunga, Hammarin and Esjufjöll respectively and draw circles? I suspect this could be the raison d’être for Grimsfjall, with magma being pushed from (at least) three different directions towards G. Furthermore, there’s Örafajökull pushing from yet another direction and we cannot ignore the influence of the way the EVZ rift runs through the area. Hmm… the extent of the Eyjafjallajökull uplift was about 12 – 15 radius. The distance from B, H & E to G is about 15 – 20 km. Not impossible.

      2. I could buy Bardarbunga, Kverkfjöll, Grimsfjöll and Hamarinn being a merry pack. But I have a problem with Esjufjöll being in the same bunch since it as fas as I know lies in the Eastern Volcanic Zone.

        But, you might be right about the pressure from the uplift influencing them enough to cause intercausal effects.

    1. I had to fix the vertical (Z) channel on my Hvammstangi sensor today. It did go flat for some reason. The noise at Heklubyggð is due the owner being at his summer house. This is the usual noise, as I have explained before on how it looks like on my tremor plots.

      Not everything that my geophone record is earthquakes. I can and you should expect to see a lot of noise on the geophones. Not just from weather. But also from human and animal activity. This is sensitive hardware that I use.

  5. Hola
    Hace tiempo que voy siguiendo este blog, muy interesante por cierto y felicitaciones
    Todavía se pueden ver las webcam de Eyjafjallajökull con la aplicacion VLC (video lan connect)
    Y poniendo estas direcciones
    se pueden reproducir Hekla y Katla
    Perdonad por este ingles esta traducido por Google

  6. Sorry

    Some time ago I’m following this blog, very interesting indeed and congratulations
    You can still see the webcam application Eyjafjallajökull with VLC (video lan connect)
    And putting these addresses
    rtsp: / / / mila / jokulsarlon.stream
    rtsp: / / / mila / fimmvorduhals.stream
    can be played Hekla and Katla
    mms: / / /
    mms: / / /
    Sorry for the English is translated by Google

  7. Good evening everyone!
    Hard to cope with all the healthy discussion.
    @Henrik: I saw the steaming and even a little more, pretty much the way it looked at Birgit’s photo. I don’t remember exactly the time. But then it was not so clear as in your photo, there could have been clouds involved.
    @ all: A bowl of Müsli to Carl, and maybe some caipirinha. I love when he comes with his theories, and especially because being a “lake expert” he knows what he’s talking about.
    Another way to reach Mila’s cams is go to the “history page” (if you are keeping it) and click on the link over there there. Worked for me.
    @Jón: I think it was steaming what we saw, maybe some ash carried from the winds and shadow from the oblique light. But I couldn’t say for sure, because there were clouds coming from behind, but I wouldn’t jump to conclusions over this. It has happened before… dunno.

    1. Thanks!
      I enjoy doing some idle theorizing, but there is as always the large caveat of me not being a volcanologist.
      Regarding Krisuvik it is just that I have a nagging feeling about it. I wish I had a maritim chart of Lake Kleifarvatn. If it hasn’t erupted during the summer I think I will go and make a map of it with a sweep-sonar to see if I can see the cracks and if it is a caldera as I suspect.
      Well, it will either be a nice little hawaiian eruption or a rather pesky phreatic eruption if it goes.

      1. It sounds very plausible, though if it blows under all that water I don’t think it will look any good…

  8. No, a cubic kilometre of water falling into a magma-reservoir would not be good methinks. Pretty much what happened to Krakatoa.

    But on the other hand it might as well turn into one of Lurkings dancing daffodils. Ie, nothing happens. Time will tell.

    1. Krakatoa was a case of rhyolitic magma under a lot of pressure. It had nothing to do with water falling into the magma chamber. But magma can contain a lot of water. But that water comes up with the magma under high pressure (few Mbars). That water has it’s origin in the mantle, not the surface. But I must also point out that water under pressure has higher boiling point then on the surface.

      See more here, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magma#Composition.2C_melt_structure_and_properties

  9. Yes, it was rhyolitic magma, but when the chamber subsidized and the present day caldera was formed the ocean fell down into the open chamber ending up in the largest steam explosion for the last couple of thousand years. It is posible that the explosion at the end of Santorinis large eruption was larger, but probably not.
    It is actually simple physics, large quantities of water falling into a several hundred degree pit will result in a steam explosion. In Krakatoas case we are talking about a couple of cubic kilometres of water falling down in seconds after the eruption itself had torn apart the “roof” of the chamber. Something that is very unlikely here. Though, rhyolitic or not, heat and water mix badly.
    But, I just compared them, I never meant to say that Krisuvik would be even close to as bad, even at a worst case scenario. It would take a very large subsidisation for that to happen, and more water than is in the lake.

    1. What we have, is a lake in a region with lots of fissures. Fissures that lead pretty deep. On occasion, the lake seems to have lost water to these fissures/cracks/sprungar.

      Water from the surface, if it is to get down there via this route, will have to flow. This means that it will have a hydrostatic pressure depending on how deep it is. Doing a bit of digging for boiling point vs pressure some nice plotting material, but I could not rely on the accuracies of the formulas at the pressures that we are talking about. 2km of water is about 5660 psi… or 398
      kg/cm². Looking further… I ran across some steam tables. A lot of research went into steam over the years… it used to be the driving force of industry. I ran across an asterix. ” * critical temperature “

      Hmm… I’ve seen that before. Best look into it. So I did.

      * A substance can not exist as a fluid above the Critical Temperature
      * The pressure of saturated vapor at critical temperature is the Critical Pressure

      For water, this is 375° – 380° C and 3,200 psi (225 kg/cm²)

      … okay. So maybe a plot is not in order. Rummaging in a spread sheet shows that water, in a very deep crack in the ground, will exceed its critical pressure at about 1.13 km deep.

      Now… if I’m reading this correctly, and feel free to do so, is once the water is below 1.13 km, it doesn’t matter what the temperature is, there would just not be enough pressure to lift the column or for it to even flash to steam.

      If true, then that places some constraints on what the water is gonna do if it down went there.

      People who know this stuff please chime in. It’s been a long time since college.

      Critical temperature info from here:


      1. The temperature is the driving force here, not the pressure. A proof for this is an ocean that’s at least 1,2 km deep. The water stays liquid there due to low temperature.

        Hence, as long as water does not meet magma, it will stay liquid. If it meets magma, water heats up, and likely turns into steam. After heating above critical temperature, all depends on pressure. The ambient pressure either prevents anything happening, or let’s all the hell break loose!

      2. That’s pretty much the way I read it. Above 1.2 km, if water reaches material that is hot enough to flash or boil it, then you get the steam activated event. If not, the magma will have to push its way up. Now, if it carries entrained water above that level, (crit pressure) then things get interesting fast.

      3. We could already have water coming into contact with magma, only the cracks are so small that the pressure of the water above is too great for any surface manifestations, all that would happen is that the water directly in contact would flash into steam and for a sort of steam cushion. When such an encounter occurs, I imagine you’d get shock waves from a series of “steam explosions” that would be very hard to distinguish from earthquakes. Hang on…

      4. Maybe there is something odd with your figures – pressure of a water column increases by 1 bar/10m, ie. it takes more than 2 km to reach critical pressure. In soil it’ll be less, proportionate to soil density – probably fairly close to your ~1 km.

        I do not think the critical pressure is something particularly fancy. All it really means is that above C.P. there is a tempereature range where water changes from high-density liquid-like state into lower-density steam-like state, instead of a boiling temperature and an abrupt change in density.

        Anyhow, I think wet mud under pressure, undergoing volcanic heating has potential of being positively nasty. Enthalpy in steam-like supercritical water is in similar ballpark to high explosives. Steam alone would cool rapidly upon expansion but the solids in mud are also hot and may supply more energy to the steam so it’ll cool at a slower rate and expand more. Doing that, the steam will also propel the mud solids into motion.

        NB. to create a steam explosion, water and heat alone are not sufficient. You need to mix them really well. If you have ocean gushing into a chamber you may not achieve this. However, in slowly simmering wet mud…

      5. I vote for the “odd with your figures”

        I ran across an online calculator that indicates that the depth needed for that supercritical pressure is about 2.2 km. (226.533 kg/cm²)

        Interestingly that’s twice the number I came up with by throwing stuff at a spreadsheet to see what fell out.

        I attribute my error to the time of day. Thank you for pointing it out.


        One thing that we need to be aware of, is that at these depths the water to steam process is just not going to happen… at least not by itself.

        A fracture (quake) down there in wet rock above the critical temp can momentarily drop an area below the supercritical pressure and have a pocket of gas form. Odds are that it would still be contained by the structure and pressures that are present. If it generates a shock front from the momentary pocket, then yeah, it could start a cascading failure of other rock above it.

        Personally, I don’t have the physics horsepower to figure out the details of that scenario, but that does make a bit of sense.

        When I do my next Krýsuvík quake plot, I’ll add a 2.2 km reference line.

      6. Enter supercritical states.
        At high enough temperatures you will get superexaltation of the molecules and then you get “steam” anyhow.
        That is the principle behind the next generation of geohydrothermal powerplants. But it requires that you get very close to the magma-reservoir.
        The DDP at Krafla requires degrees at a depth of about 2km.

        And secondly, you are counting on a standing water-column with “solid water”, like in the ocean. But if you have water intersperced in lets say a tube that is not used up to capacity, then the pressure would be considerably less.
        Let us say that you have drilled in a 160mm pipe and then let 5l/s fall down into then you would reach normal critical steam at normal critical temperatures due to the “normal” pressure. (This is though bogmired with other things happening, so it is not easy math.)

      7. During research for my Master’s thesis in History, I found evidence to suggest that at least one of the three British battle-cruisers to blow up at Jutland (HMS Queen Mary, May 31st, 1916) did so because her boilers blew up. Now, that was steam at no more than about 225C and 25 At as compared with 1000+ figures for both in volcanoes. Also, during the steam engine era of railroads, boiler explosions were not uncommon but it depended on what gave whether the engine disintegrated completely, was spectacularly displaced or “merely” scalded the engineers.

        To carry that analogy on – if you have loose soil, it will “merely scald the engineers”. If there are large cracks through which the steam can vent, there’s displacement. But if you have solid rock which allows the pressure to build until it suddenly yields, the result would be a spectacular disintegration.

        Thankfully, it would seem the constitution of Krýsuvík is more akin to the scalded engineers variety – vide the mud geysers – or at the very worst displacement, viz the dropping lake level.

      8. At Chernobyl, it was a steam explosion that caused the reactor to disintegrate. Nominal steam temperature was 284C and pressure 69 bar. Not much if compared to volcanoes, but enough to spread stuff all over Europe…

  10. Let’s see if I have a correct interpretation this time.
    If so we have an incomming quake-swarm at Krisuvik during the next four or five hours.
    Reason for that being the “odd inverted tremors” are back again coupled with increase in tremor energy at KRIS. Notable Cold Arse (Kaldarsel) also shows a small rise.
    04.02 local time (Icelandic).

      1. The down trend is because the noise is getting lower (less wind, less ocean waves). But I do not know what the spikes are (harmonic tremor pulses ?).

        Kaldasel suffers from a lot of noise that comes from Reykjavík and nearby towns (traffic and stuff like that).

  11. Eyjafjallajökull is making noise with numerous very weak earthquakes. Very interesting!

      1. The gps:es at THEY is probably iced over, IMO has put up warnings about this at other places.

        I would say no…
        If it goes off like the last time it will be a nice little hawaiian volcano with coolish lava-runs. But to my knowledge no hawaiian style eruption has happened under a lake (if that will happen) in historic times. That is why I used the partially faulty comparison with Krakatoa.

        Thing with Krisuvik is that we know very little. It might also have during the timespan since the last eruption have changed it’s chemical composition. The nice hawaiian lava might have become more rhyolitic, it might for all we know start sprouting daffodils. This is why it is such a nice little volcano to keap us occupied with while waiting for one of the others to go off. (and some of those would be much larger).

  12. Correction:

    Seems like I was badly off with my prediction of an impending quake-swarm at Krisuvik.

    I still on a statistical term thing that those inverted spikes are a precursor from a statistical standpoint. But I think I would need better signatures to read for a better prediction. Or, I might just be flat wrong.

  13. Technically off from icelandic volcanos, but it is tectonic at least.
    A 4.8M close to Glogow in Poland in the middle of a quake-swarm there. Forum for the really odd things that happens in our strange planet.

    1. Earthquakes in southwest Poland are actually very common, 4+ and 5+ happen alot there due to tectonic stress. There is also evidence for volcanic activity in these areas. Basaltic intrusions and dyke structures of volcanic orgin have been found. Though these volcanos are long extinct, it’s still an interesting feature. Extinct volcano’s have always interested me, because who knew, an extinct volcano has even been found a few decades ago beneath the Netherlands!

      1. It was for me too, untill I stumbled on this huge amount of earthquakes in Poland at Google Earth, which made me do a little research hehe. 🙂

  14. And since we are on the subject of Krisuvikm, I ran across this analysis if INSAR data with regards to a 2000 quake. (Note, I can’t find the source quake in the consolidated list, either it was re-evaluated to a lower ML or it’s in one of the missing data chunks that I have yet to locate… or I did a bad query)

    “On 17 June 2000 South Iceland was struck by a 6.5
    magnitude earthquake that took place in the South
    Icelandic Seismic Zone (SISZ). The emitted seismic
    waves triggered several earthquakes west of the
    epicentre on faults on the Reykjanes Peninsula…

    … Here we focus on the larger Kleifarvatn earthquake. It is the
    largest of the triggered events and was initially not
    reported and actually later discovered by InSAR”


    1. Okay… did some juggling, mangled a plot, but was able to recover where I was at.

      That paper linked above notes two fault lines in the area of the lake, and specifically runs through the INSAR data to localize them.

      Here, I have taken those two faults, and plotted them with the recent quakes in order to get a relationship of where things are at.

      One thing that came jumping out at me is that a line of those quakes falls directly on the Núpshlíðarháls fault to the west of the lake. It’s a 3.2 km long fault, 8.1 km wide, and 0.5 km deep, with a dip angle of 79 E. (This info is from the paper)

      Another thing that jumps out is that both faults roughly parallel the sprungur to the far west out towards Hekla. (A better view of them is here: http://en.vedur.is/earthquakes-and-volcanism/earthquakes/southerniceland/ )


      And no, I don’t know what any of it means, but it is a very interesting plot.

      Note: I don’t have a good graticule shape file for the lat and lon lines. The smallest I have is 5 deg resolution so it’s better to not clutter up the plot with it.

  15. Well, while everything is a bit quiet, I wll chatter – I wonder if the Icelandic Government has ever considered raising money by running and adopt a volcano scheme. Geology interest groups in other countries would probably pay good money to adopt a volcano, in much the same way as other charity adopt an animal, tree or whatever work.

    And then, if their volcano erupts, you could hold them financially liable for all damage the volcano caused.

    I am begining to like this idea, perhaps I can I run the charity and take everyone’s adoption money and just give volcano adopters a useless paper certificate.

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