Activity remains low in Iceland. Eruption continues in El Hierro volcano

At the present time the earthquake activity remains low in Iceland. This goes for both Katla volcano and other areas of Iceland. This is the regular quiet time in Iceland, as it happens sometimes. For the next days, there is a risk of frost-quakes as the ground freezes over in a cold snap.

El Hierro volcano, Canary Islands

The eruption in El Hierro volcano continues as before. New eruption vents have been opening up at random in the south part of El Hierro volcano. Earthquake activity to the north has dropped. While at the same time, the earthquake activity seems to have increased slightly to the west part of El Hierro volcano. I am not sure why that is yet.

In the tremor data. I have been seeing several explosions taking place. But they create a spikes in the tremor plot, that is different then what happens when a earthquake takes place.

The current harmonic tremor from El Hierro volcano. Explosions are the spike activity (30 November, 2011). Some of this however might be sudden increase in eruption activity. Copyright of this picture belongs to IGN (Instituto Geográfico Nacional).

Other then that. The eruption in El Hierro volcano seems to be about the same for the moment as it has been for the past almost two months now. So far it is impossible to know when this eruptions ends. But eruption in La Palma volcano lasted about one month on average. Eruptions in Lanzarote volcano have lasted about three months (last eruption was in the year 1824). Based on this. This might be a eruption that lasts for about 3 to 5 months at the longest in my opinion. But what actually happens is just something that is a wait and see matter.

52 Replies to “Activity remains low in Iceland. Eruption continues in El Hierro volcano”

  1. Jon, how can we tell which is likely to be a frost quake and which is not? Is it to do with the depth or magnitude at all?

      1. One word.


        Many thanks. And… a question.

        Why does there seem to be a lower layer of quakes trending deeper north of Santorini… and a similar lower layer of quakes trending south of Santorini?

        Is this like a bend point in the crust?

  2. Another swarm at Hengill. Why is it that almost everytime Jon says it is quiet then things happen? 😀

  3. El Hierro has been very quiet today, except for the intermittent explosions, which haven’t registered as earthquakes. Interestingly an article about Tungaruha suggested it has erupted almost silently. Why would a volcano be so quiet? Is El Hierro quiet because the ejecta is passing through softer material now? Stuff is on its way out through different points under the sea, though the carbon dioxide levels are higher, suggesting these gases are also giving readings on-shore, though not saying whether they are being emitted from on-shore sources.

    UK is feeling a change in the wind direction now, down from the north and east. I hope it doesn’t get as cold as Iceland this winter though 🙂

    1. Gas release is the first indication of problems if the levels rise on the Co2, CO, So2. If you are able to monitor them for higher levels then by all means share.

      Might not see anything at all until game day if its open somewhere. That takes it down to the small quake monitoring. It wont happen in a vacuum as I have said. It will though just kind of show up. Monitoring the temps and gases in the cave system and around the beaches for me is a must.

  4. I have about -15ºC at the moment, and that is because I live in a place exposed to the strong north wind. Thingsvellir, for example, is sheltered, and at the moment records an astonishing -22ºC! I wonder how colder further it will get tonight

    1. Hey Irpsit, thanks for that information on the temps. I was watching webcam of Reykjavik and then Thingvellir and wondered how cold it was. I expect Reykjavik is much warmer, (maybbe around -4 or -5C?) as it is on the west coast.

    2. During the winter, it is most of the time colder at Þingvellir, because it is part of the highlands, further from the coast also.

  5. In Lanzarote, in the period 1730-1735 there had been 5 years of nonstop eruptions, that enlarged the total area of the island by a lot.
    1. «Volcanic Eruptions», s.f.,


    2. «Erupciones históricas en Canarias – GEOGRAFÍA FÍSICA – (GEVIC) Gran Enciclopedia Virtual Islas Canarias», s.f.,

    1. And an interesting range of depths… isn’t 10-11 km somewhere around Hengill’s magma reservoir..?

      And… were they really pumping at 2 am, or is this a natural swarm..?

      1. No, I think they haven’t pumped recently. And I haven’t seen any steam coming from their drillhole since a few weeks.
        Maybe Hengill is now on the move, and disregarding if the drilling was stalled.

      2. Well, at least there doesn’t seem to be any harmonic component there – it’s just noisy from all the little quakes. I think…

  6. Memo to Lurk. No hand entry to the database on this one bunkie……

    Jesus…thats a helluva lotta quakes.

    1. Actually… it looks to be more of a job for PHP.

      Properly written it can pull the data, parse it and stick it in the database.

      But that’s if I want to go to that trouble. In all likelihood, I’ll refine the method and only do quakes of interest.

      I still need to compensate for the bending of the direct path to get a closer fit to the real speed.

    2. I did a PERL script a few years ago that took all the six hour positions from the hurdat flat file (the one going back to the 1800’s) and had it parse the whole shee-bang into a MySql database.

      By the time I had it working I had forgotten what I was doing it for.

  7. Does anyone know of good computer store in Denmark. Because when I move there I need to renew the hardware in my server computer. But the hardware in that computer is from the year 2003. It has started to fail for some part, at least the hard drive anyway. It seems to work fine other then that. But I am having issue with the cpu fan due to dust and I cannot get a replacement for it (at least not in Iceland).

    I am just going to maintain the server computer it until I move back to Denmark.

    Thanks for the help. 🙂

    1. Ebay has reams of computer fans for ony a couple of euro delivered.
      Measure the width (probably 80mm) and buy a replacement, easy to fix. If inside power supply follow usual arrangements for decay of stored charge or (better) get a replacement PSU then repair old one. Only screwdriver required.

      I regularly buy stuff from HK and China. A bit slow to arrive but (apart from memory chips and ipods) always as described. Often very good value.

    1. I never saw a toad in Iceland. I think there is no reptiles and amphibians in Iceland (except if imported by humans). Only plenty of birds, plenty of insects, whales and fox (only native mammals), and cows, horses, sheep, dog, cats, rabbits (imported).

  8. The earthquake activity in El Hierro volcano has dropped. I think that a new volcano vent has opened up somewhere north of El Hierro volcano. But it might be at great depth and nobody is seeing it on the surface of the ocean.

    But this drop in earthquake activity is interesting.

  9. Don’t read this one, Jon. hehe

    It looks like Hengill is pulsing quake energy out toward Hekla, in accordance with Carl Strange’s strange third harmonic theory … but it missed target and is being pulled toward Katla. That must be the rare seventh order harmonic pattern.

    (note to the bewildered, it is kidding about a theory proposed a few months ago)

    (not even going to mention the Hengill-Hekla pimple-popping hypothesis)

    1. We have frost since last thursday, sometimes down to -12 here in Reykjavik. No wonder that the ice is strong enough to carry people.

      1. But this is not the same lake though it is also near Reykjavík – at the Highway No. 1, direction Selfoss.

    1. Nope, this is just fear mongering. Katla will not cause any floods, which will affect europe. It will cause a glacier run and transport a lot of loose material into the sea (and the changing the coastline) but no more.

  10. As someone who is a rank amateur in these things, but with a strong interest in all things volcanic, the BBC video commentary (by Ford Cochran, National Geographic)said that in recent times the 3 eruptions at Eyjafjallajokull have been precursors to Katla blowing. Is this really true? Also, Cochran says that there have been 500 tremors in and around the caldera during the last month – if true, would this be considered unusual and what could be their source?

    1. For two of this three times its actually unclear, which volcano erupted first. Only for the 1821-3 eruption its known for sure, that Eyjafjallajökull erupted first. I would call this a quite meager basis for making predictions.
      BTW: Katla erupted around 20x since the year 1000, so this might be pure conincidence. And its now almost two years, since the first part of the eruption started in Eyjafjallajökull but in Katla happened nothing.
      Its true that we have elevated seismicity since the summer, but no one knows, what this means.

  11. The BBC feels the need to talk up the probability of an imminent Katla eruption. Jane O’Brien chose to talk with Ford Cochran, the National Geographic’s expert on Iceland.

    According to MrCochran, the Laki eruption in 1783 (direct quote) “it actually changed the Earth’s climate”. Now, my understanding is that climate is average weather in a place over many years. Certainly, Laki affected weather for two years, but climate of a period of years? Even Tambora in 1815, only affected the weather over the following 2-3 years. It’s just the BBC pushing their CAGW bias again.

    According to Jane, the Icelandic icecaps have begun to thin and retreat dramatically over the last few decades, contributing to the rise in sea levels, far more than any eruption of Katla, however big its potential to cause catastrophic flooding as it melts the frozen surface of its caldera and sends billions of gallons of water surging through Iceland’s east coast and into the Atlantic Ocean.

    What sea level rise?

    1. Also, as has been mentioned above, Laki is not part of Katla’s volcanic system. It is part of the volcanic system of Grímsvötn (the one which erupted this spring).

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