Grímsvötn/Grímsfjall volcano eruption update at 08:52 UTC

This is a short update on Grímsfjall volcano/ Grímsvötn eruption. This is short update because a lot of details in this eruption are still unclear at this moment.

Process of the eruption: The eruption in Grímsvötn is still growing strong. Icelandic Met Office SIL sensors show a uneven process in the eruption. But they also show that the eruption has dropped a little bit in power since it originally started in yesterday. That is normal for a eruption in Grímsfjall volcano. It starts strong and then slowly drops in power over time. But what is unusual for this eruption is the uneven process that is taking place (seen with SIL data) in the eruption. What that means is unclear. It is more unclear what it means to the eruption. While it is unclear at the moment. It appears that the eruption is taking place a little south of the eruption in the year 2004. But that is unconfirmed, as ash cloud to the ground blocks the view the eruption site.

Ash cloud: The ash plume is reported to have reached 20 km high yesterday. From as I can gather that has not changed. This ash plume appears be made from two to three ash cloud columns. With the strongest one getting the highest. A lot of lightning is taking place in the ash cloud. Due to the ash cloud, all flight from and to Iceland has been cancelled until further notice (don’t ask question about that here, ask your airliner for information about this closure). The ash did start to fall in populated areas few hours after the eruption did start in Grímsvötn. The ash is described as fine, but more crude (bigger particles) then the ash from Eyjafjallajökull volcano eruption in the year 2010. The ash cloud is moving west in higher layers of the atmosphere over Iceland. While it moving south in the lower layers of the atmosphere as the wind is from north in Iceland at the moment.

Earthquakes: After the magma has found it’s way to the surface. All earthquake activity did stop in Grímsfjall volcano. This is normal. But what is unusual is that there have been few earthquake swarm after that in Grímsfjall volcano. I do not know what it means or why this is happening. But this is interesting development.

Other: The earliest estimation on the size of the Grímsfjall volcano eruption 2011 is that this looks like it is a bigger eruption then in Eyjafjallajökull volcano eruption in the year 2010. But that is closer to speculation based on visual observation of the eruption. But it is clear that this eruption is bigger then the year 2004 eruption in Grímsfjall volcano.

A new video has been relased of the eruption. It is from yesterday when the eruption was starting.

Update 1: They now say that this is the largest eruption in Grímsvötn / Grímsfjall volcano in the last 100 years. Rúv news about this, Stærsta gos í Grímsvötnum í 100 ár (Icelandic).

Please note that information here might get outdated really fast and with no warning at all!

Update at 09:24 UTC.

60 Replies to “Grímsvötn/Grímsfjall volcano eruption update at 08:52 UTC”

      1. IIrc, this looks similar to what we saw a year ago, only the time scale seems much compressed. Loosely, the most impressive part last year began some four days after the initial eruption and a similar decline in intensity (peak activity occurring April 17th to ~22). After a longer period of slow decline from this peak there was a slight renewal about a week into May.

        Will this eruption follow a similar pattern or is it a different beast altogether?

  1. This morning has seen another burst of M2+ EQs in a swarm N and NW of the current eruption. Will the caldera lake fill before breach, or are there outlet channels for glacial meltwater?

    1. Since we’ve seen a build-up over some 12 months, are these post-eruption earthquakes a sign of increasing or decreasing overall tension in the crust? They could be a sign of pressure relief I suppose?

      1. Hi Henrik
        Good to meet again. This time we have broadband!
        Would be interesting to know if EQ depth there has trended upwards in that year or so.

      2. Hello and well met!

        The person to ask that question is undoubtedly Brother Lurking, who has plotted almost every quake in Iceland over the past year or so. What I’d like to ask you is – provided the IMet eq map is correct – your reaction to the pattern outside the central area bearing Professor Foulger’s paper in mind?

      3. I had not thought of that. But in the light of her concept I guess we’d predict pulses of EQ activity over the past year or so, as well as upward trend in depth?

  2. I have a question, has Grimsvötn a history of being a trigger on other volcanoes? Like Eyja possibly could have on Katla?

    1. That is a big unknown. But fissure eruptions are known from Grímsvötn when large eruptions take place in the main volcano.

      So just wait and see what happens. Since it is impossible to know what happens with this eruption in the long run.

      1. Then we just have to wait and see. Exiting. Thank you for the response.

  3. Wow!! I love that picture!
    Would be nice to have that on my desktop….

    1. 1) Click to open picture in a new window

      2) Use “Ctrl” & “+” to zoom in as much as you want

      3) Press “Print Screen”

      4) Open MS Paint

      5) Menu option “Edit”, then “Paste”

      6) Fiddle about with it it til you’re satisfied, then save – remember to set it to “jpeg” before you save as a “bmp” requires about ten times as much disc space.

      Job done!

      1. Thank you Henrik!

        I’v a Mac, so MS Paint didn’t help me, but I’ve got a small picture on my desktop. Now I have to figure out how to make it bigger, without losing focus and make everything blurry.
        I’ll get there… somehow *s*

  4. Rúv News is reporting that they estimate that this eruption is about 10x larger then eruption that did happen in the year 2004 in Grímsvötn.

  5. The Lómagnúpur cam is dark and the Eldhraun cam is nearly dark, so the ash seems to be moving SSW at the moment.

  6. I can’t help but wonder about the way people all over the world react. “20 km eruption column over Iceland” has volcanophiles all over the world gathering in exuberant interest while in the UK, the main focus is that “scientists expect this to be a small eruption” and “with the prevailing jet stream, scientists a certain there will be no disruption of air traffic”.

    Now imagine the reaction if the location was changed: “Taal sends eruption column over 20 km into the stratosphere”. This would probably be the subtitle to “Millions flee for their lives as Philipino volcano erupts violently”. Or if it had happened in California…?

    1. I agree we are getting virtualy no info which is a disgrace as iceland is closer

  7. From other forum, but it’s interesting: However we just had an extra news bulletin 10 minutes ago. A veteran pilot who has flown over 23 volcanic eruptions here has just said he has never seen such a big eruption. His grandparents lived through Katla and he imagines that this might be similar.


  8. Jon
    I learned from Eyjaf that tremor reflects magma motion. So I’m puzzled why most of the tremor plots (here: ) became active at the time of the eruption, and show similar pattern to Grimsfjall, even up to 100km away. Surely magma motion would only affect local detectors?

  9. They did say on Rúv News that this eruption was about 10x larger the Eyjafjallajökull volcano eruption in the year 2010. But I do not know how accurate this news is at this moment.

  10. Re Foulger – as I sat yesterday watching it develop from the first few eqs, I could not help but notice the “pulses” starting at Grimsfjall and spreading out over an area some 50 – 80 km in radius. Big shock (number of eqs) in the middle followed by those outliers.

      1. Something like that, yes. Probably wrong but I couldn’t help the association – proof of Piagét’s “constructivism”, eh!

      2. I am puzzled that tremor is so widespread. IIRC it was quite local at time of Eyjaf erupting, and resticted to one Hz band? Do you have any recollection?

      3. So am I, but as friend Jón points out, this is a far larger eruption. As I recall, you could easily pick out the Eyjafjall eruption at stations some 30-50 km distant, but this is (almost) Iceland-wide tremor.

  11. When do people think that Keflavik airport will reopen? I have an inbound flight to Iceland on Wed, and am wondering if the airport will reopen by then.

    1. You can see wind direction forecast here:
      Then I guess it depends what eruption does – who knows?
      And how much ash gets dumped on Keflavik, and how long to clear it away.
      Dont know about airport at Akueryri, it has long runway so might be OK for diversion?

  12. eurocontrol EUROCONTROL
    #grimsvotn #ashcloud update: situation unchanged, ash plume at 15-17km height winds N 2 NW, Keflavik still closed
    7 minutes ago UK Met Office: ash cloud from Iceland could hit Scotland by Tuesday and rest of UK by Friday, if eruption continues at same level

  13. Local updates! We went this morning at 5am to Kirkjabaerklustur, after only 3 hours of sleep. The last explosion at 2am was pretty amazing as observed from Selfoss. Also the lightnings. In morning, the ash column was hidden in a vast cloud visible in all eastern horizon. As we got there it was very scary, it was pitch black in Kirkjabaerklustur, and locals told me they never experienced this in any Grimsvotn eruption. The ash fall is very heavy. Already 5cm or more of ash there. We only stayed 30min it was impossible to stay longer, as conditions were getting worse. We left and ash fog is already about 2hours from Reykjavik, and moving southwestwards. Now, I am back home, there is a huge cloud over the east horizon covering about 20% of the sky (this is 150-200km away), and inside the ash column is visible, moving southwards. News reports spoke of 23km high column or more. I will report more later, now I am going to have a rest!!

  14. Something else. Local news reported also that possibly large amounts of lava are being released and they were a little bit afraid of a fissure eruption. But everything is still unclear.

    So far, there is no indication of anything else outside the large activity around the central caldera of Grimsvotn!

    Two key facts remain: this is at least the tallest ash column since 1947 Hekla, biggest Grimsvotn in 100 years, and seems visually bigger than the Eyjafjallajokull eruption last year. Lets see what happens.

  15. Thank you Irpsit! Keep safe!

    As some commented upon yesterday, the EQ pattern and possibly up to three, widely spaced eruptions (albeit two of them were rather, erm…, miniscule) *could* be an indication of an eruption over a greater area.

  16. Does anybody know somenthing about flash floods, or is it too soon yet? I think this eruption size should trigger really big floods.

    1. Maybe most of the ice was melted in the 2004 eruption? – so they dont seem to expect big jokulhaups this time

  17. “large amounts of lava”? Where on earth did they get that from? I mean, no-one can get near the bloody thing!


    1. I think they mean “large amounts of ash” but they don’t know the difference…

  18. A “free interpretation” of the hot spot on the satellite imagery referred to by M Randolph Krüger over at Eruptions perhaps?

  19. Irpsit, very big thank you for your own personal update. I hope for you all, that it will not be as bad as we imagine ourselves at the moment. I wish you all the best and bites in safety

  20. Thank you Takk, all of you.
    I am going to get a well-needed shower, to remove the ash, eheh!

    Ash cloud still the same, over here. Half sky a hazy grey, half sky clear blue sky.

    Because the cloud hides most of the ash columns, I cannot see them well today, but from the sheer large size of the ash cloud, one clearly concludes it is a large area that is erupting.

    I would really like to know if activity remains absence, outside of Grimsvotn caldera, along its fissures, and to the north in Bardarbunga

  21. Best case – over inside a week, minor hlaup. Odds 2:1
    Worst case – Laki-style fissure, several cu km of lava, severe melting of Vatnajökull. Odds 1:100,000

    When will we begin to read articles about impending Doomsday because of this eruption?

Comments are closed.