Iceland government to increase monitoring and research into Iceland volcanoes

Iceland government did approve today to increase funding for research into Iceland volcanoes. But this is also part of a plan for a risk assessment for volcanoes in Iceland. But it is expected that this research is going to take 15 to 20 years. Funding has already been increased to Icelandic Met Office by grands from ICAO (among other I think, but I do not have it confirmed). But this is a direct response to the fact that Eyjafjallajökull volcano and Grímsfjall volcano have erupted in short time span (11 months apart).

But the Icelandic government is expecting a eruption in Grímsfjall volcano every two to seven years. But it is also expecting eruptions in Bárðarbunga volcano following this increased activity in Grímsfjall volcano. But eruption period often follow in Bárðarbunga volcano when activity increases in Grímsfjall volcano.

First step of this research is going to take three years to finish. But the news does not say what they are going to cover in this research. This risk assessment is done by the standards of U.N and WMO.

Icelandic News about this.

Hefja vinnu við hættumat fyrir eldgos – tekur 15 til 20 ár í heildina (Ví, Icelandic)

256 Replies to “Iceland government to increase monitoring and research into Iceland volcanoes”

  1. Nice!
    I hope that whatever new monitoring they put in place also will be public.
    And if anyone reads this that is in a government position, let me say that Iceland should be the measuring stick that all others should be compared with in regard to openness around its natural hazards. Or in another word. Cudos!

    I hope that they will increase monitoring in the dead zone, ie. Eldgja/Laki/Veidivötn area, and Hengill/Krisuvik. The first is pretty much un-monitored and is the site of Icelands largest eruptions. The second due to the relative proximity to centers of population.

    After that Bardarbunga, Askja and Öraefajökull since these volcanos has such huge capacity to cause explosive eruptions.

    My few cents!

  2. If plan to also send data from their seismometer network to the IRIS consortium so that interested people could take a look directly at the raw seismic data… that would be great!

    1. I *strongly* agree with this idea.

      The one thing I have had major issue with is that the only station I can get to via Iris BUD is the one station in Reykjavik. That’s of little use for stuff going on down at the noisy volcanoes.

  3. Hope they put up more SIL stations and Strain meters. Also put each station up as a single entity: Giving ALL data ON SINGLE page, having same refresh rate (say 10 minutes maximum), so much easier checking if it is affected by weather, say for example god, one has to guess if it has wind. But this funding I fear will go more into risk assesment (good) but not that productive in long run. That should have been done long ago (for all areas, not only those already KNOWN at risk). Untill last year, no such existed for Bárðarbunga, then it was suggested by a specialist.

    1. Actually I still say that Bardarbunga is miss in the concept of risk-management. Hengill for instance would be much worse even at a small eruption due to vicinity to population and economic centras. A small eruption there would have catastrophic repercussions I fear, same goes for Krisuvik at a lesser degree.
      Risk management is there for calculating what is actually dangerous for people and economy, not for calculating whish volcano is most dangerous if you stand ontop of it.

      1. Major part of Iceland’s powerlines cross the Hengill area, an eruption there would probably render the area around Reykjavik powerless (no electricity) not to mention the loss of hot water … that’s a scary thought

  4. There are a few things that have not been properly thought trough that create a security problem. For example the new Landeyjahöfn harbor, built for the Westman islands ferry.
    it is more or less full of sand and out of use much of the year.
    I read some years ago about fishermen from Reykjanes who had been fishing somewhere close to land East of Garðskagi just before the Katla eruption 1918.
    When they came back to the same spot after the eruption, it was 5 km in land.
    The material that comes with the floods in Katla eruptions is enormous, and we should take into account that the eruption 1918 was relatively small.

    I think that the ferry harbor will be useless when Katla erupts, its also likely that there will be problems with transport by air, so there should be a exit plan for the Westman islanders that does not rely on those two options, in case of emergency.

    Our new Coastguard ship Thor comes to Iceland next month from Chile where its being built,

    Thor was hit by a Tsunami in Feb 2010 without suffering much damage, so its already used to great natural disasters 🙂

    This will be a great addition to security in this area.

  5. Hengill is big risk for Hveragerði village, can wipe it out in matter of hours with a fast moving lava stream, but much less for Reykjavík city. This is cause of topography east of Reykjavík. Lava streams can reach the city eastern suburbs, but will only affect one large valley (that already has a lake and dam) and the river(s) that already flows that valley. It probably will have to be very large eruption and have several km3 of lava to make life real hard – electricity is already fed by multile lines (ways) from different directions, and our water supply is already underground all the way, besides Reykjavik is built on series of hilly ridges, that normal lava can not reach but one valley. But it can disrupt inter city transport while it is hot and running, but it cools off quickly (and can be cooled too, as was done in Vestmann Islands). Road connection will be established in matter of days (after it stops running). North of this valley is another, but much larger lake and less built up areas. The third valley (in Mosfellsbær) can be affected in same way, but also few houses are at risk, if it can reach so far. So Hengill is not that serious to the population, only small amount of roads, structures etc. might be destroyed, but all easily replaced.

    Thats my ten cents.

    1. You forgot to mention powerplants and soforth that will be destroyed.
      But the problem with Hengill is that it is very ill defined. For instance, you only talked about effects at Hengill erupting south of Thingvalla. Problem is just that the fissure extends through the lake. I guess I do not need to say what would happen if..?
      I still do not buy the Icelandic version of shrugging off Hengill. Yes it will probably erupt in a hawaiian style, but it is not a volcano with a really well known pattern. I have tried to find articles about it, but it is ruefully unstudied, except one article about the root-filling.
      And I would most decidedly not be sure of being able to put a stop to a lavaflow from Hengill with rapid moving lava. Eldfell had a much slower and more sluggish lava then Hengill most likely will have. Also the volumes would be much larger. I would like to remind that Eldfell is the only succesfull time of slowing a lavastrean (The Wanderer) in history of humankind, all other attempts have failed.
      The reasons behind the success was the limited scale, lack of speed, not too high temperature of lava, closeness to the seawater, the abillity to use seaborn pumps on ships, and so on and soforth. None of these provisions will be true for Hengill. So more or less I would say forget to stop Hengill with water unless Iceland have stashed away the worlds largest depot of pumps.

      1. No, I did not. Them powerplants are structures, been there, done that (tiny bit of the work on them). Easily replaced, besides that can solve some unemployment. BTW electricity is connected all over Iceland, as a network. Reykjavík can even get some from Kárahnúkar or the northern ones, Krafla etc. I ment cooling off the lava to build roads on, after it has stopped moving. All other you mentioned is speculation, such large eruption I do not belive that much in. Last eruption from Hengill (area) was in year 1000 (four fissures), and it was just like Heimaey, mostly thick and probably slow too – but most of it ran off to the south and east – not in direction of Reykjavík. I can tell you one fact, most lavas running the past 10,000 years on the Reykjanes Peninsula (Hengill included) have been less spread than the one before. You are actually talking about MY back garden here – but you can sail on lake Thingvellir if you like (bring your boat along)!

      2. Sorry, backyard or not, that was not Hengill. The 1000 eruption at Thingvalla was Brennisteinsfjöll volcano. And no, the eruptions have not really become smaller, Brennisteinsfjölls eruption at 1341 was actually larger then the one at 1000.
        Hengill is actually normally erupting about the same size, on average ten times larger lava volume then Eldfell. It just looks like it is erupting less nowadays since it had such a large one 10 000 years ago. Problem with Hengill is that the last eruptions where explosive with Phreatic tendencies due to Thingvalla-lake eruptions occuring.
        If you haul my 50 fot double-masted Ketch over Hengill to the lake I would proudly sail across it… 🙂

      3. Aha, You are not really speaking my language what is relavant regarding Hengill and its large area fissures and last eruption. You may worry about Hengill doing explosive eruptions, I simply do not.
        Brennisteinsfjöll Volcano I was not referring to as the site of Year 1000 AD eruption, besides I probably know better about exact topography of this area and what part of this belongs to what volcano. Hengill simply does not extend west of Bláföll (actually it is about as large as Hengill). But there is little going on in Hengill at the mment. Glad to tell you that.

      4. @Islander:
        No, the 1000 eruptions was not Hengill. It was Brennisteinsfjöll.
        The 1000 eruption of Hengill is totally debunked. Read about it here.

        Then we go to Hengills explosive eruptions. Out of 12 eruptions only 3 have been explosive. BUT, 3 out the last 4 was explosive, and the last 2 was explosive.

        Nothing going on at Hengill? Okay… You are quite possibly the only one saying that.
        1995 Hengill together with Hromundartindur had a 4 year long uplift associated with magmatic uplift due to infusion at root-level. There are signs of a renewed uplift period going on now. We have had episodes of harmonic tremoring, Although the earthquakes are numerous here they fall into 3 catghories, man-made due to power-plant activities (common), tectonic (the most frequent) and burpy magmatic quakes at the site of the root-filling (not to common).

        Your comments about what would happen if Hengill erupted is very odd to say the least.
        The amount of money represented in the power-plants, power-lines, and the nearby town is such that if they got destroyed it would not give more jobs, it would bancrupt Iceland. Seriously, my hometown has the same economic base as the entirety of Iceland, and we would bancrupt if something on this scale happened, difference is that the City would just go and get the money from our Government, or from EU. You guys cannot do that.

        There is a saying, you go home-blind easily. I think you have done so Sir.

  6. In a world that currently seems to be full of “austerity measures” and cuts, how refreshing to see that funding is being increased instead of cut.

  7. From the Earthquakes in Öræfajökull volcano thread posted on August 25, 2011

    Stoobie says:
    August 28, 2011 at 07:22

    “In the U.K we call them Crane Flies, although most will call them “Daddy Long Legs” (which annoys me as they are spiders not flies).”

    In the Deep South (of the US) this is what we call a “Daddy Long Legs” (this one was trying to get in the drive through window at a restaurant today.) They don’t bite, but they will scare the carp out of you if you are under the house trying to retrieve a dog.

      1. Ha! That looks hideous, Carl!

        I missed out on the original conversation, but from my humble point of view, in the UK, Crane flies/Daddy long legs have six legs and look like Carl’s picture. They don’t bite, though. And they only exist for a couple of weeks per year.

        Harvestmen look like Stoobie’s picture, but you don’t often see them in the city, only really out in the countryside. Here are some more picture of Harvestmen, with a warning attached for those who may be better off not knowing!

      2. Jón –

        While we are OT, something I’ve always wondered about — do you have snakes in Iceland?

      3. No Denise-Marie, no snakes loose in the nature 😉 we do have wasps though

      4. At least you can SEE these creepy crawlies. Try getting chiggers as I did in my childhood spent in Tennessee, diggin’ around in the brush to cut bamboo containing delicious treats for the fish hook!!

      5. That’s a Cranefly Carl. The larvae are known as leather jackets (I thought you’d like that) and they live in your lawn.
        AKA Daddy Long legs. They are lovely, harmless, gentle creatures…a bit fragile.
        On my first visit to Norrbotten, I was warned about the “Flying Tigers” but I haven’t seen any yet.

      6. I didn’t know that they where called leather-jackets as babies.
        The flying tigers does not really exist, but on the other hand it may refer to the Tiger Mosquito (one of the malaria mosquitos) that we have in abundance (without malaria though).

      7. The Netherlands have now “imported” a tiger mosquito with some sort of bamboo (or similar green import) of Chinese origin that can carry dengue

    1. We call those “harvestmen” as they come out mostly in our autumn (fall). Lovely creatures.

  8. There is another aspect that this sort of investment can do for Iceland.


    Being able to reliably pick off a pending eruption will attract volcano tourists and allow for better preparation and hazard mitigation.

    … plus it will give the media something to fret over. Sort of like our HYPEicane.

    1. I think it might be counter-intoutive, then Iceland would only have tourists during eruptions. Nowadays people go all the time and hope for an eruption…

      1. Its so quit tonight. I think even the nature (laws of nature) are on Jóns side tonigt, allowing him to quetly study his electonic´ books and maybe get good nights rest too. ZZZZzzzzzz

  9. A small remark to a post made in the previous thread.

    There was some discussion about the large EQ swarm in West Bohemia.

    There actually is magma moving and may be the cause of the tremoring. It is believed to be at an approx 30km depth exerting a very high pressure and apparently scientists from Germany and Czech rep are working on identifying the volcano which they believe to be lurking underground.
    The reason they believe this is a very high concentration of compressed CO2 which would explain the very mineral rich water in the area. The idea beeing that the compressed CO2 is pushing the mineral rich water from greater depth.

    The volcano itself is accoridng to scientists located on the western Czech border near a village called Novy Kostel in the Cheb region.

    And the location the scientist are looking for the volcano acually matches the earthquakes. Pretty much exactly the same spot!

    Note that the risk of an eruption within the next few 1000 years is probably pretty slim. But it is quite interesting anyway.

      1. Yes. The thought is that it will be a good opportunity to do research on an embryotic volcano. Alledgedly the last activity was over 300.000 years ago and the activity now could be considered as a “volcano beeing born”.

        So check back in a few thousand years maybe there will be some surface expression. 😉

      2. So yes, according to these papers, there is volcanism awakening in this area, GPS readings going upwards. And a active dormant volcano just 15km away.

    1. Well, that should come as no surprise, as there are several dormant volcanoes in Germany.

  10. Good Morning everyone.
    Jon! Congratulations to the Icelandic government who put it’s people first! No matter what your political stance, funding for research to improve safety is to be appauded. Many other governments should follow suit.
    I look forward to hopefully interesting developments .

    Swedish spiders! The insect of doom is a much maligned crane fly. They live for a couple of days to mate then Die. Sad! Their Larvae are called ” leather jackets” and a pain for potato growers however Starlings (Little black birds with beautiful irridescent plumage, that flock to roosts at night causing dirt and nuisance in cities) have sharp beaks that are designed beautifully to locate and munch these fat white grubs.
    Harvestman spiders do not fly. They are a gardener’s friend attacking and eating “bad” insects .They hunt with the voracity of a lone wolf but totally harmelss to humans……….AND NOW Ladies and gentlemen (Roll of Drums)…I present….

    The Volcano Spider!!! 🙂

    1. PS Iceland seems not to have Volcano Spiders to view their Volcanos as they Have Irpsit who will happily trek up to the top of Volcanoes like Hekla in the name of Science and healthy exercise!:)

      1. Eheheh 🙂 I am now sick (just a cold) because of that trek. I catch too much cold during night, and also was pretty freezing at Hekla’s top. But I guess this is a minimal and bearable consequence for hiking up Hekla. Eheheh

    2. Yepp it is of the order tipulidea, an under-group of the common mosquito (nematocera), it is just a very large, non-blood sucking mosquito. The larvae is water-living as for all other common swedish mosquitos, they do not eat potatos… 🙂 In Sweden there are about 350 different species of Harkrankar (craneflies).
      But it is a grand way of scaring tourists;)
      Sorry, for linking to the swedish one, the english sucked lard, but since most of you seem to read swedish 🙂

      1. Speaking of scaring tourists: In Finland the blood-sucking mosquitoes carry a nick-name “Finnish Air Force 2”.

  11. And yes, I would happily install earthquake, GPS, strain, etc monitoring up there and elsewhere 🙂


      There has been more volcanic activity on Sicily’s Mount Etna, eight days after a large eruption.

      Whats the fourms view on this?

      Cause if the”experts” are apart of the government, then they will blame Etna on increasing the debt level, for doing reseach into this increase. 😀

      1. Think BBC failed here.. It is not more active Etna just had another paroxysm the 12th of this year nothing more. The only thing what has happened that this paroxysm was more violent then others.. In the video they said it is cooling down again.. jep after 40 minutes already..


    2. Now I am getting pissed off… When we wanted to buy a mountain to start a mine I was told to “go to hell” (exact quote). 200M$ investment down the drain. The company I sat in the board for (the largest european electric producer) wished to buy electricity in Iceland and build power-lines to Scottland. Investment of about 30 billion USD and a yearly electrical sales of a minimum of 10 billion USD and all we got was “never gonna happen, get lost”.
      Wonder why the economy is bad?
      Sorry for this particular OT.

      1. EdF is the largest (650-700 TWh/a), E.ON is second (200-250 TWh/a), RWE is third (175-200 TWh/a) and Vattenfall has 165-180 TWh/a.

        If you managed to get to EdF’s board, well, congratulations!

  12. First I’m not a scientist, just another lurker with a question.

    The area where all the activity took place on Sunday, to the West of Katla looks to be about the steepest/closest face to the center of the mountain. Rather than going through the whole 1.5 kilometers of mountain it would presumably be easier for pressure to go out through the nearest side, which is where that activity was. I was wondering if the eruption at Mount St Helans had any swarms in the period leading up to eruption that looked like this, and how long before the eruption they were seen?

    Or are my presumtions to simplistic?

    1. Dunno about the quake swarm, the publicly available data is horrible in it’s resolution. But here is a depth v time v mag plot of it as it led to its eruption.

      The biggest clue that there was going to be a problem was when this big arsed bulge appeared on the mountain. That’s when the geologists went nuts with the warnings. Normally placid, when geologists starts flailing their arms it’s best to listen.

      1. Looks like the size of the Bananabulge of Tambora that they discovered august 29. Difference is though that the Bananabulge is on the bottom of the crater ans is most likely some sort of craterdome plug… or something.

      1. Two magma “storages” (batteries) one-a-top each other !?
        More like Banana then … Notice one image in article : the year 2000 crack appears slightly “S” in shape. Wonder if this gives clue to opening sequence (direction) or just how high it was.

      2. Islander, many volcanos have more than one “magma-reservoir”. Nothing new there. Before you start ridiculing people you should, perhaps, just a suggestion, read up first.

  13. As in the movie “Dante’s peak” with Pierce Brosnan and Linda Hamilton.
    They use a “volcano spider” in that movie to explore the crater of the suspected volcano.
    A bit unbelievable in that movie was that they drove on molten lava with a 4WD and were – while driving there – even successful in picking up their dog who got lost. Nice!
    Henk Weijerstrass

    1. Krisuvik max inflation 6cm in 4 years (1.5 cm per year)
      Katla AUST max inflation 4cm in 1 year
      Hamarinn max inflation 12cm in 8 years (about 4cm in past year)

      So, quite relevant inflation in all of these volcanoes, but especially more in Hamarinn and Katla. This is well more inflation than in Hekla and even than in Grimsvotn, prior to this year’s eruption.

      1. Ah, but what level of inflation is significant? Eyjafjallajökull erupted at a max inflation of 7½ cm whereas the Bradyseism at Pozzuoli (Campi Flegrei, Italy) results in variations of up to 15 meters with no signs of impending eruption.

        What I’m saying is that each volcanic system is unique. 12 cm at Hammarín may be far less significant than 6 cm at Krisuvík, yet both could be far short of the point at which an eruption is odds on while somwhere else, 3 cm might be all it takes.

      2. I totally agree, and I would guess that the closer to a zone of ductile rock, the more it needs to inflate (on Iceland).
        I would though be amazed if for instance Godabunga lifted 15 metres up into the air in short order.

  14. The long range forecast for this winter for Ireland, says Iceland volcanco has affected the blocking pattern and increased the amount of snow days in Ireland allot, I find this hard to understand, August has been very cold however and the Irish sea too.

    I hope the extra research will also look at the affect of Iceland volcano’s affecting winter. Does it need it?

  15. A bit OT.

    Saw it on eruptions blog. Dont know what it means exactly but Tambora has been raised to yellow (level 2) alert.

    If it were to erupt I would guess it would be smaller than the previous VEI7 eruption which caused the year without summer worldwide since it had been dormant for over 5.700 years.

    But still. One of the more famous ones which has had a severe impact on human history.

    1. Not good, when I read (well, hm, as well as I could) the report it did n’t look good.
      On average 200 volcanic earthquakes (gempa vulkanik dalam) per month since april, and they separate them from tectonic quakes (gempa tektonik). Large harmonic tremoring. And on the 29th they observed a dome/plugg/banana being pushed up 20 metres in the caldera.

      God damn, that language gives me a headache.

      1. @Carl
        I clicked on the little english flag on top of the page and got the text in English.

        Henk Weijerstrass

      2. @Carl
        I clicked on the little English flag on top of the page and got the text in English.

        Kind regards,


  16. Oh Dear! Not at all eco friendly if they chop down the trees! I suspect they collect the sap from Birch trees for this . 🙂 I have made birch sap wine using the sap only. You don’t meed to chop down trees!I also make wine from young Oak leaves in May. It’s very good 🙂

      1. Err…?
        (Resorts to Gaggle translate:)

        “Jag känner normalt helt övertygad om att jag är starkare efter påfrestande vin”

        Like my old English professor used to say; “Once again, please. And in English.” 😉

      2. @Henrik:
        I was a word-pun following your word pun that wine saps your strength ontop of Dianas sap-wine.
        In this case I meant tree-sap and the act of sapping (denoting drinking sap) sap-wine.

        Gaggletygigglity will probably never understand a word-pun like that.

        But to rephrase you swedish sentence above since everybody knows swedish 😉
        “Jag känner mig normalt sett helt övertygad om att jag blir start av savande vin”.

        sap = som i utsugande av energi, eller, sav från träd.

      3. To confuse you more, the English have soldiers called Sappers! They are engineers! Please do not ask me to explain….I don’t know why they are called this either!

      4. No… Trench wine, wine that is either produced or drunk in a trench. Think of WWI and the trenches that the soldiers sat in for four years while the granades fell ontop of them. Take that thought and then think about what qualities a trench-wine would have… 🙂

    1. The icelandic beverage is really made with pieces of wood (small branches only), follow the link and take a look at the picture.
      Wine of oak leaves sounds very interesting!

      1. No. I have not. In fact, the only way to change the sensitivity of my hardware is to do so directly. As the sensitivity is controlled by jumpers on the amplifier board.

        It just is quiet in Iceland at the moment.

      2. Thanks Jón for the explanation. Then I definitly know that it is this quiet. First I thought it was because some problem with the connections at MET, but since your helicorder also was quiet I started to wonder.

      3. It has worked for me the entire day up untill now.
        Well, since I am having a slightly less then perfect day (due to an attempt of life improvement by quiting smoking) I just thought it was just me that was hated…

        Now I am going to ritually burn a CD with relaxation music since it makes me pissed off…

      4. Carl le Strange says:
        August 30, 2011 at 15:52

        “Sorry, do not get that reference…”

        Odd… that’s the first line of the song which you categorized as:

        Carl le Strange says:
        August 30, 2011 at 14:00

        “Sick sick thing of a song 🙂 “

      5. I am quiting smoking, my brain has just stopped working… for real this time. I hope my memory comes back sooner or later, because right now I am a gold-fish… 🙂

  17. @ Carl
    You need a big jar of akvavit! I always found Bommerlunder tasty! German tho’, but right now I’ve a glass of good Scottish wine – single malt!!
    Pity the UK can’t see sence and invest properly in clean renewable energy, we’re supposed to be advanced, huh norse countries leave us standing!!

    1. I’ve allready dunked a rather large serving of the Scottish water of life from Ardbeg.
      It is not only UK who refrains from investing in clean energy. It is though a bit of a problem to decide what is “clean” energy. It is though pretty easy to decide what is un-clean energy 🙂

      There are though some good energy companies in the UK, SSE Energy for instance is doing a lot to change into cleaner production. Actually they have about the same mW/kgCO2 ratio as Vattnefall (450-490), but that is still high compared to Norwegian Statkraft (28), but then Statkraft is pretty much a hydroelectric company only.

      1. Ardbeg mmmm Veerry yummy!!! Have you tried Highland Park (Orkney) or Glenturret (near Crieff)?
        BGS and dept of Energy back in the 80’s had a research programme into the geothermal potential of british Isles – 2 aspects, hot dry rock and low enthalpy (cool wet rock to us involved!).What’s been done, just about all! We’d rather leave the planet contaminated with nuclear crap for thousands of years rather than be adventurous. There’s a nuclear power plant on the Suffolk coast being demolished, generator house and ancillary buildings a few years to flatten, reactor plant, hundreds of years!! That was on the local East Anglia tv a few weeks ago. Short term gain as usual AAARRRGH! How many nuclear ‘happenings’ have there been, globally 1 every 10 years ish, UK 2 at least – Dounreay explosion and Sellafield fire plus the odd escape!!
        Sorry Jon; ultra OT but I’ve a bee in me bonnet at times

      2. Seems like we share both the bee in ye ol’ bonnet and the taste for the Scottish wine. No, I have missed the Glenturret, I guess I have to go to Scottland to get that one.

      3. Me Too! I tried to get a face book group going but nobody seems to care 🙁

      4. Nuclear power isn’t dangerous but human stupidity certainly is, especially if mixed. In a region with a historical record of mega-tsunamis and mega-earthquakes once every 2-300 years, who in their right mind builds rooms for back-up generators that are swamped by a mere 6½ meter wave? Having committed this folly, who in their right mind then ignores the clear warning of the 2004 Boxing Day quake and tsunami?

        The answer is human greed a.k.a. stupidity. It would have been far too expensive to take adequate precautionary measures. And before we all rise up in arms against the Japanese, what would the consequences be if a 20 – 50 m asteroidlet slammed into the North Sea? Chances are one won’t do it within the next 100,000 years or so, but if one did, we too would look darn stupid.

        (OT, sorry)

      5. Yes, nuclear power is fairly harmless untill something happens. Sadly something happens about every ten years that is really nasty.

        We can talk all we will about the “sloppy and stupid” japanese. Sorry, the Tepco plant at Fukushima was one of the best run on the planet, with a top percentile security record.
        Compared to for instance the swedish nuclear plants it was really good.

        I will use the space shuttles as a metaphor here. According to NASA there was a 1 to 10000 risk of a fatal accident. When the Challenger accident happened Feynman discovered that NASA had mad a “rookie mistake” with the statistics and “forgotten” to do a sum over the combined risks. The actuall risk was 1 in 50.
        The same thing goes for nuclear power-plants. They are simply just to complicated for it ever being possible to build away the risks sufficiently since the hazards are so great if something happens.
        Back to the powerplants and safety, let’s stay with the swedish ones since we in Sweden do believe they are safe (for the rest, they are no worse then the rest of the world).
        They where built in the late sixities and early seventies, since then they have been trimmed untill they now run at 50 – 80 percent above design limits. They are 40 years or older.
        On average they have 2 emergency shut-downs annualy per reactor-core. 1 of these 2 emergency shut-downs are due to critical failure on the boarder of what is called “a runner” (guess what a runner is…). On average a swedish nuclear power-plant files 50 critical malfunction & deviation reports per reactor and year. Average down-time per reactor is 6 months per year due to critical repairs.

        Ontop of just technical failure (which happens on a daily basis) we have the idiot-factor.
        For instance, in France there was a guy who decided that bringing home some pins that had been changed in the reactor was a good idea. He then proceded and used the highly radio-active boron pins as swizzle-sticks at his wedding… In Germany a man got thirsty at work and thought the water in the pool looked refreshing and took a swig… And the list just goes on.
        We can never make nuclear power safe. Ever. Because things go asunder, and there is a moroon born every minute.

      6. Henrik says:
        August 30, 2011 at 21:03

        “…who in their right mind builds rooms for back-up generators that are swamped by a mere 6½ meter wave?”

        You might also question the logic of manually bypassing the emergency shutdown equipment that was in the process of scramming the reactors due to the quake. By the time the wave arrived the wave arrived the emergency circuits were already bypassed.

        Heard from NHK news and acknowledged by a TEPCO spokesman.

      7. I’ll offer a different opinion…

        The history of nuclear power is full of morons indeed, that’s true. For every major incident and all accidents happened so far, the technology has never failed. All of them up to now have ocurred due to human stupidity, people not really knowing what they are doing. Should driving with a well-kept Volvo be prohibited, because some drunken jerk drove off the road with a Lada that did not even have any brakes?!

        The same applies for every single branch of science. There have even been some geologists that do not believe on plate tectonics. Why don’t you bash on them? Or atheists, as the whole idea of atheism is just a religion, based on a wish, not any physical facts? Flying is another similar example. Both bad and good airline companies do exist. Yet, nobody has proposed declaring flying prohibited!

        I believe you don’t like nuclear power just because you don’t either undertand it or you are afraid of it. People living in Russia, Japan and Sweden do have a real reason now to be afraid, but that’s not the case everywhere.

        For good reliability and high usage factors, all the world knows the Finnish Olkiluoto NPP is the best. Swedes also know it but they are just too shy to admit it! ;o) On average these old Asea (a Swedish company) units have run with annual 90-95% usability factors (since then end of 1980’s, from outage to outage without any scrams). And typically they have 1 or 2 spurious scrams per unit per decade, and file 1 special report per year for the whole plant (two operating units). This plant is a good example of proper management. They are using Swedish-built units and technology, while at the same time those Swedish power companies can not properly operate their own technology!

        Some people even think the new unit under construction is bad because it is delayed. I’ll tell you, it would have been bad, if it was not delayed, as those French have lost their ability to build good units.

        The same applies to nuclear power, to science, to volcanism, etc. You have to know what you’re doing, otherwise you’ll lose your credibility.

      8. @Jack:
        So I am worried about nuclear power plants out of not having enough understanding about them?
        Ahem Jack, you got confused here? 😉

        I am afraid because I know to much about them.
        And it is not true that no reactor had a technical failure before breaking down.
        Tchernobyl, Three Mile Island and Dounreay all had technical failures, but human idiocy quickly made it into compound failures that escalated out of stupid decissions heapod on top of each other.
        Also Tepco was in a way a series of technical and human failures intermingling so heavily that there will be a baby born out of it.

        Let us just say that it takes technology that does something expected and a moroon for pretty much any fatal accident to happen.

        Difference between airplanes and reactors are that a reactor can kill a heck of a lot of more people than the airplane.

        If everyone ran their power-plants as diligent as you Finns do it would greatly reduce the risk. That is true, I would guess we would go from 1 disaster every ten years into 1 every 30.

        My big problem with nuclear power is the amount of it. As more and more plants are brought online in new countries the risk of accidents will increase. For instance one of our asian countries whose name starts with something resembling southern cow has whisely decided to install a reactor with single shielding…

      9. All those nuclear disasters mentioned preceeded with design flaws made by humans, and developed with human failures to comply with safety (either intentionally or unintentionally). For each of those, technology worked as designed. If the design was flawed, so was the end result, too.

        As I said, you’d better know what you’re doing, or leave it to the pros.

      10. Jack, yes, if you wish to have that attitude to technological failures then you should also accept that Jóns capacitor hasn’t failed, it is just a result of human error…
        Sorry this time you are just debating hens and eggs.

        Who is the pro then? Hm, well even someone who is highly educated can make mistakes that are moroonic in nature and has really bad effects on the best of days. I call these things “brain farts” when it happens to me.
        Then the same person who is highly educated and trying to do his best might get stressed and or sick and make a horrible decission, we can call it a life-time fuck up.
        This intelligent professional highly educated person is actually you and me Jack. And I have certainly caused accidents, fuck ups, and brain farts with the best of them. And I do think I can safely say that most likely you have to if you think about it.
        Regardless of technology, my point is that humans will never be trustworthy, and per your definition, neither will technology since it is built and designed by flawed humans.
        To be honest, I would not want me to run a nuclear power-plant, and after having supervised quite a few of them and met the people who actually run them, I can safely say I have not met anyone who should actually run one.

        So the reason I am against nuclear power is that I know how flawed I am, and how flawed they are, and we are still the pros you want to leave it too…

      11. Carl, It is not that bad…

        The guys designing, building and running an NPP have to know, how and why it was designed the way it is done, for what scenarios, for what environmental conditions, for what anticipated abnormal events, etc. See, we have to know what we’re doing and why. Otherwise the end result will sooner or later be similar to those disasters.

        TMI gave us a hard lesson about knowing the real status of the reactor (partly due to inadequate monitoring). Tschernobyl gave us a hard lesson about safety culture (intentionally breaking several safety rules). Fukushima gave us a lesson about knowing the environment (do we know what is possible and what is probable). In Sweden the problems are mainly due to the bad desicion done in 1980, after which the Swedish nuclear industry shifted to “continuing the tradition”, instead of keeping up with the field.

        It’s the same with all technology, the only major difference between ordinary technologies (e.g. electronics, etc.) and NPPs being cost. For PCs, it has to be low cost to be feasible. While lowering the cost, you’ll have to accept lower quality. With PCs it is even easy to lower quality quite much as the typical life time of a PC is only 3 years. So vast majority of customers will in any case never see a faulty cap.

        I know I’ve made and I’ll make mistakes. Part of my job is to minimize both the number of them and the effects due to them. I try to do my best. If I ever deny the possibility of me making mistakes, that’s the biggest mistake I can ever professionally commit.

        It is not the question, however. The question is, how big is the residual or estimated risk (for a nuclear disaster, or for an eruption), you’re ready to live with? The real risk can not be calculated reliably, it will only be verified by operational experiences (eruptive history).

        I agree with your experiences on Swedish NPPs. Based on the distinct differences in operating history and experiences for basically the same plant designs (old Asea units in Olkiluoto and in Sweden), the only conclusion I can make, the Swedes do not always seem to know what they are doing.

      12. Jack, not to pull on your chain but…
        I would not jump on that high a horse, the difference in the number of deviation reports filed with IAEA from Finland is actually just marginally lower. The amount of critical failures are just marginally lower than the Swedish, German and French NPPs.

        I have a rather different view on what my former finnish collegues are doing. It is true that the finnish NPPs are not closed down due to repairs as often as the swedish, dutch, german or french NPPs, but in my view it is actually worrysome.
        Let us say that valve A-19703/B break down in KEC Borssele it resulted in the plant being closed down, the valve replaced, the entire system inspected and then restart. For those who wonder what the A-19703/B is, it is the valve that automatically will inject emergency coolant into the system if a critical failure happens.
        When the Olkiluoto N1 had the same type of detected error in the equivalent (Borssele is a Siemens plant, Olkiluoto is ASEA) valve the finns just keapt on running the reactor.
        I would say that there is a tradition of just running the plants in Finland to keap up the high production figures. I think this has to do with Finland having a lower over-production of electricity in Sweden which gives an incentive to not close down unless blatantly neccessery.
        This of course increases the danger of critical failure.

        Second I would heavilly want to correct one thing. It is only 1 plant that is ASEA built, the other Loviisa was built by the former Soviet union and comprises of two VVER-PWR reactors. And those have inherent problems to beginn with.

        Back to technology, there is a simple rule regarding complex systems. The more complex a system is the more likely it is to fail due to unforeseen things happening.
        People designing NPPs are not idiots, they do the best they can with the money they get, but at the end of the day they are just humans, and we are fallible and incapable of understanding complexities of this order, so all NPPs will contain design flaws, wherever they are, and whatever they have cost.

      13. I’m fully aware of the Loviisa NPP and it’s “roots”, including some design flaws. Most of the incident reports from Finland come actually from the Loviisa NPP (typically 5-10 per year).

        Regarding the pump example, I’m sorry to say, you do not seem to know all the details deep enough to back up your statement on Finnish vs. other plants.

        In an NPP, safety systems are typically required to be of (n+2) type, i.e. two functional divisions are always required for safe operational use. In addition to these 2, 1 or 2 spare divisions are built to ensure, that 2 working divisions are always available despite of faults and failures.

        The Borssele NPP is of old, 3-division design (3*75% or something like that). If one division fails, they have to shut down for repair because they do not any working spares left. The Finnish plants are of 4-division types (4*50%), i.e. they do not typically have to shut down for repairs (due to safety requirements) as they do have still one working spare left! In most cases they can be repaired on-the-fly!

        However, we’ve seen repair shutdowns this suumer at Olkiluoto, as they had some problems with some containment valves. Those can not be repaired while the containment is closed i.e. the unit is operating at full power.

        As I said earlier, you have to know what you’re doing and why.

      14. You are forgetting once again that I am quite familiar with the type of ASEA né Westinghouse type of reacotrs you have at Olkiluoto…

        Actually this is quite common practice in the nuclear industry. Fortum, which I guess is your employer, no? Well, they hold courses the same way as E.On, Nuon, SSE, Vattenfall, EdF, Pacific E&G do in public relations.
        1. Our plants is always safer then (take an example from another country) X.
        2. Always state repeatedly that the safety culture is the highest at your company.
        3. Whatever your oponent discussing is saying, find an obscure detail that the person didn’t say and “correct them in a friendly manner”.
        4. Always remember that a critical failure is the best sign of safety… 😉

        I’ve held those courses in PR for Power-plants you know…

        Since you work (I guess) at a powerplant, I understand your position that you have to defend your own plants. I know the feeling, I did it for years myself, then went to the toilett and hurled afterwards. I was good at what I did, I fooled people in 3 different countries in the same way that NPPs are safe and nice…

        In the end, Any reactor is too complicated to ever be reliable over time, the same goes for the employees. So any reactor is just a statistical waiting-game before having a nasty accident.
        And your argument that we do not know what happens when a critical failure happens due to (too few eruptions) not enough instances is also a bit odd, we do have instances, neither of them was any good. And most likely the next wont be good, and the next, and the next. And also, what the hell is a good nuclear accident?

      15. Familiar with the Swedish version of it, or the Finnish version of it? They are not the same, have not been after 1980…

        I did not know Swedes are that interested on PR politics. Finns are more like Germans, interested on facts.

        If you want to continue this discussion on nuclear power I suggest to continue it in private.

  18. For those who wondered what the H**l is wrong with our world, here is exactly why.

    Holland is well known for its stunning and splendid lack of mountains. This topographical oversight is as large as the national interest in cycling in. And as you might know the sport of cycling is often done up the sides of mountains, but since Holland is topographically challenged dutch cyclists never fare well in the big races.
    So, how to solve this unfairness?
    You simply invest 200 billion Euros (Yes, 200 000 000 000€) on constructing a 2000 meter high fake mountain.
    The man behind this project, Thijs Zonneveld, is of course a former professional cyclist for the dutch team Rabobank (with zero wins in the mountains).


    1. 2012 Olympic mountain biking events in Essex highest point 147mAOD! Who says Holland can’t win gold!! Know of any mountain trolls to build a few mountains!!!HOHO
      Hurry up and erupt or quake somewhere!!

      1. Why not try a glass of Björk or maybe Birkir? But don’t swallow the woodpieces.

  19. [rant mode on]

    I hate it when this happens. I was changing about cpu fan on my main earthquake monitoring computer (the one that makes the webicorders graphics and holds my earthquake database). When I was changing about cpu fan I found a swallowed capacitor. But that means the computer mainboard only has about ~1 to 2 years left or less until it breaks down completely.

    At the moment I cannot afford new mainboard, cpu and memory for my earthquake computer. I am trying to save my money, but that is not going so well. Demit! 🙁

    The new cpu fan is a lot quieter then the old one. But that was a nosy cpu fan that I had.

    [/rant mode off]

    1. You could always read the specs off of the cap and get a new one. You may need someone pretty decent at Micro-Mini board work to replace it. (the hazard is if it’s a multilayer board or not)

      I have a Dual P3 board that I need to do, I just haven’t gotten around to it. The key thing is to replace them before they catastrophically fail and take out other parts of the board circuitry due to the voltage transients.

      Personally, I’ve had ’em explode 10 inches from my face (inside a housing) … sounded like a firecracker and scared the @#$ out of me. Then the tell tale smoke came wafting out of the housing.

      The really raw part of it… is that capacitor probably cost the equivalent of 15 to 50 cents (US) if bought in bulk.

      1. There isn’t even the need to buy in Bulk. You can buy one or two, in some rare cases you need to buy 10 pieces. would be the site to buy electronic components, it’s very cheap and they have an awesome lot of products they can provide.

  20. as i told you before, I can donate some hardware. Right now I have an older HP compaq 7100 SFF lying around, doing nothing. Its a pentium 4 machine. Its yours if you want it, just tell me where to send it. I am in iceland. Note, it has no memory or HDD. Or do you need a more powerful machine?

    1. I only use new hardware on my main computers . But I use used computers on the remote stations.

      I also just use AMD cpu and hardware that supports it.

      1. your high standard for computer equipment vs. your minimal standard of living amazes me 🙂 but this means I can do nothing for you in this matter. all equipment I have is intel based and couple of years old.

  21. @All:

    Just to perk everyone up on this slow day in Iceland…

    The words “to move a mountain” has always been my favourite. Here is a movie that shows what small ants can do with time, ultra-sized equipment and 2 kiloton mining blasts…

    I simply cannot understand why Iceland didn’t want us to do this to their mountains..? 🙂

    1. Thanks for the Link

      I’ve immediately read it and would recommend everybody to read it, esspecialy americans, regardless of political affilitation.

  22. Good morning Iceland and everywhere else 🙂
    OT (a bit!) Concerning Nuclear Power these are my thoughts for what it is worth. We had a now suspected Tsunami in the Bristol Channel in 1607!

    @Jon. How much would a new Main board cost? Is this the same as a Mother board? I am not very clever when it comes to the workings of a PC. Could you buy it cheaper on Line ?

  23. Yeah, the Main Board is the Mother Board. I guess some felt that the term… which is older than I am, was too sexist. Guess what the little boards are that plug into the different slots are? Yup, daughter boards.

    1. The network where I worked had slaves and masters!?!?!? Where do people come up with this stuff.

      1. Descriptive terminology helps understanding functionality.

        On a network, a master gives “instructions” (e.g. addresses) that slaves obey (use). Or, would NMU or NSU help understanding it better?

  24. I am being sexist here but I guess in the beginning the terminology was created by a male dominated technology research. Let’s face it, most males revere their mothers, who provided their well being , security and were the source of the yogurt pots, washing up bottles, string, paper, pens and other hardware that nurtured their interest in all things mechanical, electrical and that collection of “useful bits of wood and rusting metal” tucked away in sheds and garages!
    Yes! I prefer a descriptive name rather than a string of complicated capital letters!
    But then I am just a Mother but certainly not bored!

  25. Heimaey rumbling a bit, but i think it is surprising just how seldom these quakes are there

    31.08.2011 06:34:04 63.455 -20.345 13.8 km 1.5 90.03 4.2 km W of Heimaklettur

  26. For once I am going to write about a Katla quake.
    I guess I have defamed Katla so much the last few weeks for its puny quakes that it seems that all missed tonights quake.
    A 2,4M at 4,8km is interesting since it has a depth about the area of the suspected active part of the magma-chamber. The area is close to the area where the recent inflation have been (Austmannsbunga), and it had some power to it.

    Still much to little, but a step in the right direction I think.

    Jón, you are sure that your Heklubyggd helicorder is working properly? It kind of looks muffled…

    1. Last time that muffled eq signature was explained being magma on the move…

      1. That would requite magma being on the move around the Helicorder this time since everything seems to be muffled… Perhaps a blanket ontop of it or something. There is not even the slightest wind-noise and no beer-keggs being thrown. Even Dianas champagne corks from cork have gone silent… 🙂

      2. Irene is supposed to hit Iceland late Wed or Thu, so everything is waiting for it.

      3. And Katia which is now working its way over the atlantic. Perhaps we will see a Hurriquake this time around? 😉

      4. Do you have a link to check that? I though Irene was the storm currently (today Wednesday) affecting Portugal

    1. At 5.5 km it would mean it is purely magmatic. Even though it was downgraded to a 1.7 it is still bigger than average. And a quake like this could easily open up for more quakes or even a swarm in the days to come.

      As usual it is a waiting game and I believe Katla is in no hurry. 😉

      1. So could one say that this EQ in the magmachamber is equivalent to somewhere between 8-10kg of TNT beeing set of
        in Katlas stomach?

        Mb1.5 ~ 2,7kg of TNT
        Mb2.0 ~ 15kg of TNT

        Imagine then if a Mb3.5 were to hit which is equivalent to approx. 2,7 metric tonnes of TNT. Big boom!

      2. I think that is the reaon why Iceland didn’t let us start a mine there… As soon as any swede goes mining we go crazy sizewise…
        It’s genetic… concerning mines we are Texans (It’s BIIIIIIIG!!! BOOOOOM!!!!)

      3. Icelandic people do not want you to dig another arse hole for the Earth… One (in northern Sweden) is enough! ;o)

      4. I think you just came up with an explanation why there are no volcanic eruptions in Sweden.
        Gas release from the arsehole.
        Since Iceland does not have an arsehole it instead has eruptions due to inability to pass gas in an orderly fashion. 🙂

  27. Yes, well going to Iceland and start blowing up the countryside might be considered a bad idea and somewhat offensive to the Icelandic populace or mistaken as an invasion ;).

    1. The odd thing though is that they flat out refused us to even aply for a mining permit, but after telling us to go stuff ourselves somewhere hot and sulphurous they kindly asked where our mine would have been located, and when we flat out refused to give out the info, we almost got the thunkur nifur experience.
      Oh, they also refused us to even proscpect in Iceland, but we did it anyhoo.
      Let’s just say that Iceland could have had the world market in magnesium by now, and one of the larger finds of dear ol’ cu…

      1. A large find of copper would certainly be a welcome addition in these financial times.

        Prospecting “covertly” is probably not a problem but hiding that you are changing the topography with large explosives might be a bit more challenging.


      2. Well… you know… they don’t have an army per see…
        Wonder if NATO would really get involved if you occupied a part? Hm… *evil grin*

        Well, it is Icelands prerogative to refuse the opening of a mine or two.

      3. Maybe Iceland is not willing to blow away it’s nature only to be another world market leader? 🙂

      4. There where some company trying to look for gold. They got research permit and everything. But when this was there was a different government (the one that actually made Iceland go bankrupt). That was few years ago.

        But this people where also correctly politically connected in Iceland. But Iceland is all about that and always has been.

        They did try again last year. But did withdraw there application in September 2010.

      5. I have noticed that you need to own a couple of politicians to get anything done.
        Rare Earth Minerals ltd never got a permit due to us not being an Icelandic company, and not being represented or working on the behalf of a Icelandic citizen or corporation.

        I guess we could just have bought a permit, it probably wouldn’t have been that expensive to buy a few politicians, but since I seem to have developed a conscience I wouldn’t do that.

        In the end it is a question for Iceland if they would like 200 new direct jobs, and a couple of hundred mill in investments. Sofar the people of Iceland have made it clear that it is not interesting, if it changes we will try again to purchase the land in question and obtain a permit.

      6. The amount of good metal in Iceland is low. Something of 2 grams for 50 tons for rock.

        Everything worthy in Iceland is the fact that there is a lot of quartz in it. But it is my idea that quartz is a good clean energy source if used properly with quantum mechanics.

        Feldspar is also a good clean energy if it where to be used.

        See more,

      7. Actually we found aluminium ore at 36%, magnesium at 34% and copper at 2,5 – 4%.
        That is really good. Thing is that you do not have the know-how in how to find it, and how to mine it.
        Gold is actually a shit-metall from a mining perspective and is normally only worth mining if found in copper-ore.
        Always go with base-metalls, they are always in demand…

      8. All that magma does bring up the good stuff from deep within the Earth.

        But where it is a different question. The fact however is that Icelanders do not want foreign companies to mine in Iceland.

        If there are Icelanders on the other hand, there are almost no rules. Sad fact, but true. Thankfully, Icelanders do not know anything about mining at all.

      9. Carl should move to Iceland, establish a mining company, which operates together with an outsider but maintaining majority vote in Iceland.

      10. I do not think I could ever become a Icelander whatever I did.
        What I could though do I supose is find some Icelanders and have them on the board, put the company on the Icelandic stock-market, and retain the majority shares in a european holding company outside of Iceland.

    2. Even myself that I am a foreigner living in Iceland, I see that as offensive. I don’t wish for foreigners to come to Iceland and damage Iceland’s nature and other things, even if it brings money (which usually goes to private interests, instead of Icelanders). I have this oppinion for Iceland, and also for my home country. In fact I have this oppinion for every other country. Foreigners shouldn’t mess with their country, much less with other countries, just because of money making and job creation. I completely congratulate Icelanders for having the balls to tell foreigners not to mess with Iceland.

      1. Since we are idling away time waiting for volcanic activity to pick up, I will take some time to answer this in a good way.

        In a large-scale industrial operation the government is responsible for regulating the operation in such a manner that environmental and other considerations are safeguarded or risk is minimized. But it shouold also take into consideration the benefits that will come from investments made. The currently strictest and best regulatory system for environmental safeguarding is the one emplaced by EU, a system that is by far harder to adhere to than the Icelandic. I am used to this system of environmental impact planning and legal checks in advance, and it is good for the environment, and also protect the locals point of view and rights. And is very fair and equal for the companies to adhere to. Big point here!

        Second of all, in almost every european country there is corporate taxes in one form or another. In Sweden the company pay almost 30 percent tax on profit that is being paid out to its owners (profit that is re-invested in the company is tax free). Then you as a owner pay 28 percent again in profit tax, so in the end more than 60 percent of the profit ends up in the governments pocket. So adamantly yes, the Icelandic state would get its cut.
        Or, the Icelandic state would be most welcome to be a partner in the project, I have nothing against governmental co-ownership since governments in my opinion are better as long term owners than private venture capitalists. Surprised?

        The problem for Iceland to be frank is that Iceland constantly have been spending more money than it earns, making the foreign debt grow indefinitly. Yes, Iceland got away with a reconstruction (technical bankcruptsy), but will probably never again be bailed out due to not paying the mortgage and interest on the bailout loans given. Remember, we are talking about the actual state loans here, not the bailouts of english banking customers (I do not give a piddly about those, and I support Icelandic citizens not paying them).
        So, Iceland will need foreign investments to actually manage to stay independent. The question is not if Iceland should allow us (and those like us), it is under what conditions we should be allowed in. As you perhaps notice I like regulations, because they make the playing field even and possible to predict.

        What actually interests me about Iceland is that it is so easy to do things “green” due to the clean energy and strong tradition of environmental protection.

        Remember, we are not talking about building Mordor here. Yes we have the Arsehole of Earth in Sweden (Hm, thanks Jack), but we also have enormous areas of national parks, un-touced environment, rivers and soforth. With the mass of forest we have I guess we are closer to Lothlorien… So yes, you can do it with minimal intrusion in the environment, and still create work and profit for Iceland.

        My few cents…

  28. Wednesday
    31.08.2011 10:13:28 66.253 -17.535 11.7 km 2.0 90.03 16.8 km NE of Flatey
    31.08.2011 10:08:36 66.262 -16.683 3.6 km 1.7 90.01 11.2 km WSW of Kópasker
    31.08.2011 10:07:24 66.255 -18.478 7.8 km 1.4 71.43 13.2 km NW of Gjögurtá

    Now these three quakes are well orchestrated to keep Carl busy and take his mind off passing gas . Or rather to prove that Icelandic quakes can be orderly!

  29. @Diana:
    Well, I think Tjörnes needs to do something more spectacular than that for me to stop passing gas…
    Looking over at the pot where my bean-stew happily cooks… Perhaps I should change my diet?

    1. Carl, Sir (still lurking behind a bush etc. on answer to Hengill debate, cos not having much time on “that” debate). Did some actually find workable mg and cu sites (200 job is large prospect), or was this just an project (possibility but not investigated fully)… cos just recently I saw a large chunk (20 cm x 20 cm x 20cm) that I thought was copper but did not belive it was found in this country…

      1. We did a surface survey, then we did a deeper survey on promising areas, after that we actually drilled a bit in secret. And due to the unique features of Iceland we feel secure enough that we wanted to go forward with renewed drilling to ascertain where in the fields it would be most profitable to mine.

        Short answer, yes there is copper, and there is a lot of other metallic ores in Iceland. The volcanos are good at brining up the good stuff. It is just a question of finding a good layer.

      2. nah, Jón, none of them ever listen … but thanks Carl, will check behind some of my bushes … just now Austmannsbunga is interesting (if it continiues this way tonight)

      3. Yes but Jón, they are missing a point here. Yes a mine is not that estetically pleasing, but in the end we are talking about a few square km for the mining and refining facilities. Direct investments in Iceland 200M€, 200 direct employes and another 1000 in support companies. Ontop of that profit-taxes and so on.
        And remember that we are talking about a minimum of 30 years of operation, so in total we are talking about a minimum of 1 640 000 000 in investments, salaries, taxes and soforth in Iceland, and it is in Euros…

        So, would the Icelandic people be angry? I do not know actually. In the end it should probably be put to a vote at least.

  30. Hi folks,
    Just wondering if anyone has noticed the Vestari Saudahnjukur tremor plot seems to be changing over the past few weeks. The lines used to have fairly small variation at each wavelength, but they’ve been steadily getting broader and spikier, even though the amplitude isn’t going up.
    I think I’ve pinned it down to that SIL station just northeast of Vatnajokull (the easternmost on the map), where to my knowledge there’s little of volcanological interest, and it’s off the spreading axis. I’m assuming since no-one’s mentioned it that it’s some change in the local population’s activities (Carl, are you digging holes again..?), but I’m still curious as to what sort of activities could cause this type of change… Any thoughts?

    1. Link to the tremor plot? I’m a bit lazy hehe 🙂

      The closest potentially active volcano in this area is Snaefell (yes, Snaefell in the central highlands, not Snaefell on the peninsula). This volcano has to following coordinates:
      – 64°47’55.92″N, 15°33’42.80″W

      According to what Jón told me some time ago, a recent study revealed that this volcano is potentially active due to seismic signals indicating a magma resevoir. The volcano itself lies in the Oraefajokull belt, which also includes Esjufjoll and possibly Þrándarjökull, which if still active, would be even closer:
      – 54°41’52”, 14°54’40”

      1. Really obscure one would be Þingmuli slightly north of Þrándarjökull. Since I have been joking about that volcano absolutly not erupting for days it would be epic if it started to be active again.
        For those who don’t know. Þingmuli is probably the most obscure Icelandic volcano. I has had several pretty large eruption, but I have never even seen a dating on it, and the only information that is available is a geology report from the 60s… But it is probably in the Öraefajökull-belt.

      2. If I am not wrong, the volcanoes in East Iceland are all extinct, and resulting from the rifting (as the rift opens, the volcanoes in both sides stay apart and become slowly extinct). So, the West and East of Iceland is composed by old volcanoes which are not active anymore. For example, Þrándarjökull, Þingmuli and Snaefell are all old extinct volcanoes (apparently!).

        As the hotspot is moving eastwards, we could expect some of the areas further east to become active. But this should be a really slow process, I think. But we have seen a quite clear shift eastwards in activity since the settlement, so I wouldn’t be surprise to see activity east of Kverfjoll.

      3. Yes, this is how I have understood it too, but the thing that irk me is that there has not even been done any research on those volcanos.
        Take Þingmuli for instance, there has been no research, no tests, nothing done on when the last eruption was.
        The geologist (not even close to a volcanologist at all) noted that Þingmuli had parts that looked quite “fresh”, whatever he meant with that. I would guess that in his case anything younger than a million years is quite fresh though.
        But still, having un-researched and “un-known” volcano fashinates me 🙂

      4. There are odd zones that are volcano active. This zone is Öræfajökull – Snæfell volcano zone. It is outside the rift zone.

        Same goes for Snæfellsnes volcano zone (Snæfellsnes peninsula). But that it outside the rift zone and is volcano active.

        Þrándarjökull glacier is not a volcano. At least it is not marked as one on my geology map over Iceland.

      5. Even here in southwest Iceland, there are some volcanoes extinct and other still active. They are all very close. For example, Ingolfsfjall is a mountain ridge east of Hveragerdi but without lava rocks and with a typical table mountain shape, so it is very much considered extinct. Burfell (don’t confuse with the other Burfell near Hekla) is a big volcano, apparently extinct, just east of Hengill, and without the table mountain shape and with lava rocks on its top and even a crater lake. I guess eruptions there were not so far into the past. There is no information in post-glacial eruptions but there is also some hot springs on its foot.

        Close by, only a couple kms, its Grimsnes which had fissure eruptions (and even explosive behavior) a couple of thousands of years ago, so quite recently. Lava fields are around. So, the Grimsnes central volcano is considered active. But being so small I wonder if it is not only a lateral fissure from Burfell. There is also a lot of geothermal activity around the whole area.

        Hestfjall still shows lots of lava rocks around it and shows a shape of a heavily eroded shield volcano (or another theory states it could have been a surtsey-style eruption). Now I don’t know whether this last eruption was in early Holocene or in last interglacial. Common knowledge states this volcano is extinct too. But it is the epicenter of powerful earthquakes such as the 2008.

        So, even here, in populated south Iceland, there are active volcanoes but they are quite poorly understood. They don’t even have any GPS station.

        I found it quite a lack that for Þingmuli no one really knows how “fresh” those eruptions were. Since it could be considered belonging to an active volcanic belt.

      6. Thank you Irpsit for the nice “walk-about your creek”.
        You forgot to mention Hromundartindi who is very much active and seems to be connected to Hengill in some odd way, or not, since it inflated at the same time as Hengill.

    1. OT but interesting in terms of overall understanding of the earths deeper geology perhaps, although this is too far away (I think) to have any influence over iceland .. but I wonder if regular ETS events are also recorded there?

      Over the last decade an ETS event (deep tremor) has been observed under the North Cascadia subduction zone – NB it has never been associated with triggering earthquakes or other seismic or volcanic events; however they do appear (as far as I can understand) to be sensitive to lunar tides. This year the ETS event has arrived 3 months early, so the question geologists are asking is, why?
      Interactive tremor map:

      1. Sorry – should have said that the ETS event occurs roughly every 14 months or so normally.

    2. I keap to Scottish or in a case of emergency, irish, whisky.
      There was/is a feldspar mine, and I think an experimental iron-ore mine in the Raudholar.

      1. Irene was heading for southern UK and saw the cold miserable weather we are having and went down to the sunny west coast of Spain and Portugal where she became a disorganised system. 🙂
        Nobody should go on holiday in Britain in August. It is usually wet and miserable.
        However iceland is due to get a very organised deepening low pressure that will hang about at the week end. Britain often gets cold fallout weather from these Icelandic systems.

      2. I’ve noticed…
        Today it is at least not raining, but it was nice runninng since it is cloudy here today. (For those getting confused, I have an apartment in London where I stay about once a month when I have an errand here).

      3. Carl: Do you have a profile somewhere? You are a pretty interesting fellow in spite of the fact that you have a brain. hehe

      4. Well, Brenda I do have a profile… Somewhere.
        I am a pretty secretive person for reasons you can probably understand.
        If you post your email I will do reply to you.

      1. Yes, something have started to move in the Austmannsbunga area of Katla. Hard uplift and sideral motion with clear shifts in direction on the GPS, increase in quake energy, and now and then what looks like harmonic tremor-spikes.

        I think it is all small signs that the clock has started to tick again towards an eruption. But as before I do not think it is immanent. An absolut earliest would be april I think, but more likely still years away. And I still say we would first see 100s of quakes per day for weeks or months before an eruption starts.

  31. I am unsure whether there is going to be really lots of quakes. I mean, there should be, but again before the eruptions in the Westman Islands, the amounts of earthquakes was small. Also before the big eruption of Grimsvotn this year (which was close to VEI5), there was no quakes. Hekla has been showing earthquakes only shortly before eruptions. And for both these volcanoes the magma comes from deeply. But in these volcanoes eruptions have been happening often, and so it is easy for magma to find a way up.

    Katla chamber is much closer to surface. And magma is already apparently near the surface. Inflation and last July event confirm this. There should not be the need for so much earthquake activity. Magma is there, but the trigger didn’t happen (whatever is that trigger). Maybe magma is very thick and so it is difficult to erupt, and gains a lot of pressure, until it cannot hold anymore. No one knows how Katla behaves before its eruptions. I guess it is pretty much what we are seeing now (earthquakes swarms and some tremor/flood events once in a while). It might be that the next big eruption comes suddently with earthquakes only a few hours or days before.

    Why do you say there should be hundreds of 2.0 and some 3.0/4.0? We cannot simply estimate Katla behavior based on Eyjafjallajokull.

    1. The interesting thing about Katla is how it inflates during summer, and deflates during winter. Most historical eruptions have happened in summer/autumn months. It could be that the ice has a big effect on it.

      I have noticed that Katla erupted strongly in 1918 when it was after a very cold winter in Europe (could have been unusual snowy in Iceland, or unusually warm). Could be that Icelandic volcanoes eruptions respond differently to the thickness of the glacier above it, and it could be that Katla has had a long sleeping period because we were in a very warm period during the 20th century. But this is my heavy dose of speculation. I don’t know if there is any link between climate and Icelandic eruptions frequency or intensity.

    2. I think we actually can do that. The last eruption from Katla was actually pretty much like Eyjas eruption.
      If we do a comparison. Eyja inflated more then ten years before erupting, it had continuing and increasing seismic activity for ten years. So, the last year and a half Katla has behaved pretty much exactly as Eyja did during the first few years.
      I am not shure as you know, but I do think there is good reason to suspect that she will behave the same.

      I do not think Grimsfjöll is a good comparison since it is pretty much fully dilated all the time and ready to give bearth of an eruption at the drop of a hat.
      And Hekla is not even close to being the same type of volcano.

      Eyja and Katla are both central volcanos with similar geometry and eruptive historic patterns, with similar magma and eruption styles, so I do not think it is a long stretch to imagine they will behave the same way before an eruption. And so far I have been quite correct in my assumption… 🙂
      But time will telll 🙂

      1. seems part seasonal at AUST, or is pattern copying Eyjo ?
        I wonder. BTW looked behind from bush and saw some tourist CEO buying lots of volcanic land in NE part… chinese to build hotel for watching Northern Lights (no way that makes sense)
        I do not belive that.

      2. Did that deal go through?
        I thought he had only just asked if he could buy it?

        Because if they sold it I would be rather stumped, the offered prise was way lower than what we offered if I am correct.

      3. I’m sorry but you could you give me some sources of all the assumptions about Katla’s behaviour before an eruption?

        Also; Katla has had many inflation periods in the last decades, it’s one big mess with all the seasonal trends which sometimes mask the trend, though the general trend has been inflation over the last decade.

        Eyja has not been constantly building up for the last 10 years. It had a seismic peak around 2002 and then slowly went back to seismic levels that were also present at the beginning of 1995, the lowest seismicity after this 2002 peak was in 2008 with about 147 observed seismic events, compared to the 1450 observed in 2002. In fact, the build up after the 2008-low was pretty short and extreme, 2009 had 370 events, and in 2010 the lid already went off the jar. So there was no steady increase in seismicity but it had it’s up’s and down’s. I think it’s too easy to state that both volcanoes behave the same in many ways for the following reasons:
        -No existing data on pre-eruption build-up for Katla
        -Only a single eruptive event of Eyja can be used for comparison, which is far too little to be able to charactarize a volcano
        -A volcano is hard to characterize because volcanoes always change, after every eruption, every seismic event, a volcanic system can be changed with all kinds of possible results. As Heraclitus once said; Πάντα ῥεῖ.

      4. If Katla has been having inflation for several decades, including a trend over last decade, that’s pretty much like Eyjafjallajokull, and being both inflating in last 10 years, why couldn’t Katla also erupt in 2011 or 2012 too?

        I still don’t get your reasoning that Katla’s eruption is still probably 10 years away. But I would like to think so.

        Maybe Katla only erupts in ten years to follow its remarkable pattern of erupting around the 20th year of each century!

      5. Doh, of course I cannot give a source to data that is non-existant. Dude, there was no equipment collecting data back 1918…
        What is said is that the eruptive style was the same, but you allready know this.

        I was probably unclear here.
        Eyja had an inflation 98 to 02, and after that the cumulative seismic moment started to go up.
        The cumulative seismic moment for Katla during the period from 96 onwards is pretty much naught, check the link that Diana Barnes gave us so handily a few days ago. Godabunga and Eyja is having a large increase in cumulative seismic moment during that period. Katla started to go up in Seismic moment as Austmannsbunga started to inflate. It is still a far cry from Eyja, but it is still probably in the beginning.

        Pieter, I have stated what makes me believe that it will go in the same style (with a lot of possible variations on the theme of course). Sofar you have stated absolutly bupkiss that suports your speculation.

        So, feel free to believe that Katla will behave like Grimsvötn if you wish.

        About Grimsvötn, I am tired of people saying it did erupt without seismic activity before. That is just ignorant. One quarter of all the seismic activity between the eruptions happened during the last few days before eruption.

        So if you wish we could still compare it to Grimsvön, Cumulative Seismic Moment is pretty much God, and we will see a hell of a lot more of cumulative seismic moment before Katla erupts. And as happened with Eyja, and as happened with the 2 last eruptions at Grimsvötn we will see a steep increase in quaking. Not so surprising if I am correct, it is the norm for volcanos to have quake increases before eruption, although there are exceptions like Hekla. But then Hekla is a totally different cookie.

        Time will tell who of us is correct. Your quakeless eruption, or mine with normal seismic behaviour.
        As I have stated, I will eat my hat of you are right, what will you do when you are wrong?

      6. Well at least I trust you Carl when I go hiking near Katla. I think “oh that crazy sweedish guy said Katla is still a few earthquakes away, so I can hike safely” Eheheheh

        I also think that Katla is still some quakes away, but my point is that it could have a much rapid steeper increase in earthquakes in next months and erupt then in 2012.

        I think most people are expecting a large eruption from Katla, and so expect a large amount of earthquakes before. What if Katla has a few lots of 4.0 tomorrow and after tomorrow and then erupts with a normal and apparently harmless VEI3? It could even start small and get bigger with time.

      7. Woooo halt for a second. Quakeless eruption? Behaving like Grimsvötn? I’ve never stated and will never state that. I’m not really able to make a good statement on this case because of the lack of data. Which was also the only statement of my post; the statement that in my opinion no real statement can be made! 😀
        I’m sorry if my post was offensive in some way, I didn’t mean to!

      8. Sorry Pieter, it was not you who had said the Grimsvötn thing… Sorry.
        I am confused today, and testy. Quitting smoking has strange effects on the brain…
        Mea Culpa, mea maxima culpa!

  32. Onto Katla and Austmannsbunga.
    Slysaalda is interesting. 6 days ago something happened that increased the activity a lot with more than a doubling of tremor spikes, and a couple episodes that might be harmonic tremoring.
    The interesting thing is that this, even though it is not that powerfull, happened during the perhaps calmest period ever in Iceland. So it is not a false read.
    And the last day or so the earthquakes has grown in power.
    Quite interesting, but still far away from an eruption, even though the uplift has been quite steep and hard for more than two months now.

    1. Could you give the link for the inflation?

      This could be either Katla or Torfajokull, no? Probably Katla.

      Now, you left me thinking. The biggest inflation in Katla is AUST, to its north, and Slysaalda is even further north. This leaves me seeing that its the whole of north Myrdalsjokull inflating (close to where Eldgjá happened), but not the south or the west (Godabunga). Earthquakes happen more to the south and west, rarely to the north. Why this pattern? Magma is probably pushing below Katla caldera but accumulating to its north?

      It could lead to another fissure north of Myrdalsjokull.

      1. One thing is for sure, whether you stating Katla should still be some several years away or the common theory that states Katla should follow Eyjafjallajokull within 1-2 years, one of these is going to be wrong. Still, when Eyja rumbles, apparently Katla likes to follow (even if only earthquakes and small floods).

      2. I love it when a theory is wrong. Science almost always progresses more out of failing theories than theories not failing. It might not be so nice for the scientist to have a theory failing, but still…


        AUST, ENTA and RFEL are inflating.
        Godabunga is doing the Godabunga shuffle totally independent of Katla and Eyja in my eyes (but might be wrong).
        I think it is as easy that the magma is coming up in the northern part of the Caldera. Any magma coming up in the Eldgja spot would never be noticed due to lack of equipment (at least that I know of). I still think it is absurd that there is no equipment in the dead zone…

      4. Yes I totally agree on that.

        That’s why its called a dead zone, in all its 3 meanings:
        – dead zone, because there no measurements there
        – dead zone, because there are also no earthquakes there
        – dead zone, because it has an history of deadly eruptions.

      5. Now I was thinking. Could it be that the lack of earthquakes is because there is no pressure effect from any glacier above it. I mean, its quite a coincidence that in whole south-southeast Iceland, the only active earthquake and volcano areas are all covered with glaciers, but not the dead zone, not Torfajokull (which is also rare in quakes and eruptions), and not north of Vatnajokull (also rare in quakes)

        Just thinking

  33. Slysaalda is situated near a long glacial valley and accompanying water run off from Torfajokull,
    I have been interested in this SIL station reading for some time and I am wondering whether we should be looking at Torfajokull as well as Katla.
    There have been a few grumblings from inside it’s crater recently.
    What do you think Jon and Irpsit?
    What history do we have for Torfajokull?

    1. Not much history. Except that is a large caldera (even larger than Katla) much very old and eroded. A huge lot of geothermal activity in there. And in 1477, when Bardarbunga decide to have a massive eruption, with a southwest fissure that extended almost to Torfajokull (Veidivotn lakes). Then, Torfajokull had a medium size eruption there too (with lava and explosive behavior) than you can well observe in Landmannalaugar.

      The thing is: there is only very little glacier there left, so any eruption is mostly lava. Unlike Katla or Grimsvotn. It’s also a volcano that erupts quite seldomly.

      1. I forgot to tell. Apparently in 1477, the magma from Bardarbunga erupted and pushed southwest and triggered the eruption at Torfajokull which was close by, almost inside the southerly end of Bardarbunga fissure zone.

      2. I’m not convinced that the lava emitted during1477 eruption in Torfajokull really originated from Torfajokull. My guess is that it’s just an extension of the Veidivötn fissure. This is because 90% of the recent Torfajokull eruptions happened in the western part of the caldera which is much more rugged with lava fields and obsidian flows.

      3. I was thinking along those lines to. But that should be easy to test. If the lava is isotopically matching then it was not Torfa that erupted.
        But if it is the same there is a very odd possibility that probably will have everyone screaming to high heaven. But again testable.
        If the Veidivötn and the Torfajökull lava is the same it could actually be Torfajökull that Veidivötned. I do not really think it is so, but all one would need is testing Bardarbunga and Torfa lava. Here I am 100 percent fishing… 🙂
        But I guess the Torfa lava and the Veidivötn lava is allready tested. But on the other hand, as we have noticed there are big black holes in the icelandic volcano research.

      4. They are though not running the same lavas.
        Veidivötn is basaltic and and the 1477 Laugahraun lava is silisic, there was also silicic tephra produced.

        “The viscous Laugahraun lava flow was emplaced in 1477 just inside the northern rim of Torfajökull caldera. Minor amounts of silicic tephra and lava were erupted from Torfajökull at the southern end of the Veidivotn fissure, which produced a major basaltic explosive eruption in March 1477. Three silicic lava flows–north and south Namshraun and Laugahraun–were emplaced near the northern margin of the Torfajökull caldera. ”

        Also the eruption before produced different lavas.

    2. Torfa is of course yet another of those large volcanos without equipment…
      It is probably slowly starting to get up to something, but I would guess it will take a few decades before we know for sure.
      Last eruption 1477, normally has fissure eruptions to north and west

      Oddly enough it fissurizes away from the dead zone, and quite often towards Hekla.
      But, this time I think Torfa is innocent, at least regarding Slysaalda.

  34. What is the spike that appears late today, in most graphs in south Iceland stations. This is exactly at the same time when the supposed tremor event happened in Sly. Hmmmm

  35. There seems to be a harmonic tremor spike going on in Katla at the moment. I am going to write about it a short time. But I have to get to a store before it closes down for the night.

    1. Good idea (store) and looking forward for it (new post)!

      Diana, since England is a civilized country I have a suggestion, pubs with delivery of beers… And my local watering hole (Nags Head) doesn’t allow cell-phones or computers (good thing).

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