Eruption update for Bárðarbunga volcano at 18:52 UTC

This information is going to get outdated fast.

This is latest information that I got on Bárðarbunga volcano eruption. The status of the eruption and the volcano is always changing so I do not have up to date information on what is going on. The area is also remote and subject to bad weather at times and often for days.

  • There is no change in the eruption it self. There is also no sign that this eruption is about to end. It has now been going on for the past four days.
  • The lava field is just few days away from entering Jökulsá á Fjöllum glacier river. It has already entered smaller streams in the area. When the lava enters the river it is going to create steam explosions and small local ash clouds.
  • More magma is flowing into the dyke at depth than is erupting from it. This means that there is extremely high risk of the magma breaking a new path to the surface south of current eruption. The most likely place for new eruption to start is in the rift valley that has formed.
  • The rift valley that has been created continues to grow. This also shows that magma is just 2 km under the surface at the most. Large parts of this rift valley is under the glacier.
  • Currently there is no explanation on why harmonic tremor increased yesterday (03-September-2014). No eruption under the glacier seems to have taken place. At least no sign of such event has been observed as of yet.
  • People have been trying to enter the area in illegal way. This is extremely dangerous. Since an eruption under the glacier might start without warning, there is also risk of quick sand around this area due to all the changes that are now taking place in the crust at Holuhraun lava field.
  • Bárðarbunga volcano caldera continues to have earthquakes. Largest earthquake since midnight had the magnitude of 4,8 at 03:44 UTC, second largest earthquake had the magnitude of 4,4 at 10:28 UTC. Other earthquakes have been smaller.
  • There has been a slight increase in earthquake activity in Bárðarbunga volcano caldera. Most of this earthquake activity is micro-earthquakes.
  • The glacier inside Bárðarbunga volcano caldera is up to 850 meters thick according to the news report I did hear today.
  • Since the eruption started there has been drop in earthquake activity. Most of the earthquake activity is taking place south of current eruption in an forming rift valley at that same location.
  • Eruption in Bárðarbunga volcano caldera is still a possibility and has not been ruled out. Eruption under the glacier south of current eruption has not been ruled and is expected to take place at some point in the future if the current eruption continues as it has been doing.

News bits in English and Icelandic

“Everything changes when night falls”
(Rú, video)
(Full) frontal breakout of Pāhoehoe lava (Rú, video)
Up to 130 meter high lava fountains (Rú

Hraunið nálg­ast Jök­ulsá (, Icelandic, picture)

Updates 04-September-2014

Evening news on Rúv, 04-September-2013. Has some great video(s) of the eruption. Second news starts at 05:50.

  • Toxic gas has been measured up to 6 km above the eruption craters. Most of the toxic gas that is being released is SO2 (see Wikipedia information here). There is also some CO (Wikipedia information here) along with minor amounts of hydrogen. There is also some water vapour getting released from the lava in this eruption.

Updates 05-September-2014

  • Two new fissures have opened up according to Rúv News. This new fissures are now erupting and are closer to the glacier than the fissure that started erupting almost one week ago.

Article updated at 20:48 UTC on 04-September-2014.
Article updated at 20:50 UTC on 04-September-2014.
Article updated at 21:58 UTC on 04-September-2014.
Article updated at 08:09 UTC on 05-September-2014.

244 Replies to “Eruption update for Bárðarbunga volcano at 18:52 UTC”

  1. Hi Jon,

    Great work! We (team of 4 reporters) are leaving on Monday to visit the area. I’d be grateful for any recommendations on where we could get the best shots at night. Due to the short notice for this trip, it has not been easy to find much information, we are still working on the final arrangements.


    1. Adrian,
      You might want to consider flying to Akureyri. It’s a much shorter drive to the eruption site and it’s a fairly large port town with good food and activities.

  2. On Mila cam 1 right now, there’s a truck parked with what looks like a Doppler radar on the back of it.

  3. Response on comment Shepherd 11:23 hrs.
    Ik think acid rain is H2S turning into H2SO4.
    In the eruption of Laki in 1783 If I remember correctly,
    100.000 tonnes of H2S became 200.000 tonnes of H2SO4,
    which led to many crop failures (hungry people) and is
    believed to have led to the French revolution of 1789.
    Henk Weijerstrass

    1. @Henk Weijerstrass – It’s not like that. Hydrogen sulphide (H2S) is poisonous itself and contacted with water it doesnt turn into sulphuric acid.

      Sulphur dioxide (SO2) mixed with water produces weak sulphorous acid (H2SO3), but under certain conditions may turn into sulphuric acid (H2SO4) – known and used in car batteries. Sulphurous/sulphuric acid rain resulting from a volcano eruption can be an issue, but it’s not deadly. What was deadly about Laki eruption was fluorine. The magma was very rich in poisonous hydrogen fluoride, which dissolved in water is known as hydrofluoric acid.

      It is said that Laki eruption produced 8 million tons of hydrogen fluoride. Let’s hope that won’t happen at Holuhraun.

      1. This week ARTE TV channel, a French-German joint venture, has a focus on natural disasters. Yesterday they showed the Laki eruption and subsequent problems in central/western Europe when the sulphor gas rich clouds threw the affected areas in a “rusty” fog for weeks. In Britain alone around 25.000 people are thought to have died from exposure to the poisonous air they were breathing while working in the fields to bring in the harvests (deaths were already recorded in Britain at that time). Calculations of the other affected parts of Europe go way beyond that. Very intersting programme (either in German or French) and in English
        Hydrofluoric acid was mainly a deadly issue in Iceland according to this wikipedia article.

  4. What’s happening in the middle ground on cam 2? A fleet of cars? Dust devils? Much closer than the fissures. White dots on the ground and columns of dust. I’ll assume cars, but does anyone have better info?

    1. I see the dots and had queried this a couple of mornings ago, describing it as tiny flashes of white light in the foreground. It was suggested that it could be something reflecting the sun’s first rays. There does appear to be some dust kicked up in the vicinity today.

    1. Kīlauea’s current eruption dates back to January 3, 1983, so these two events are probably not related. The big island of Hawaii is basically in a constant state of eruption.

      1. Yeah but what matters is where things were when the event occurred that would have created the hotspots. Another example is the Chicxulub crater that killed most of the dinosaurs vs the Deccan Traps (massive flood basalts) that finished the job. The Traps are in India which is pretty far from the antipode of Yucatan, but India used to be a lot further south 65 million years ago, and Yucatan has moved too — so I’ve seen a spirited defense of the very reasonable idea those two events are related, and that India’s ramming of Eurasia was caused by its continental keel melting away during the event.

        However, relating Hawaii and Iceland that way is perhaps a bit too much of a stretch. The antipode really does have to be on the exact other side of the Earth as it’s about the Earth ringing like a bell and the shock waves coalescing — unless there’s some other pattern than can form in such a situation. Since many more than one asteroid has hit Earth, its more likely to my mind the two hotspots were formed by separate events, and/or no meteors were involved. Why can’t the Iceland hotspot be just a more dramatic part of the general splitting of the continents? (However much that splitting itself may be an old lingering echo of the impact of the big kahuna, Theia, that created the Moon).

  5. Hi Jon, I have registerd but still no password have even tried change password says invalid key, but am loving this have been on here for nearly two weeks, getting up in the night to cheak, my husband thinks im nuts but find this fascinating, keep up the good work love it .

    1. I’ve found your user. It is using a hotmail address. I don’t know why you are getting invalid key. You should try to change password again and see if it works. If not, then I can change the password manually and send it to you on the email address provided in the user account.

  6. I really enjoy visiting this site, updates are very prompt and accurate and a big Thank You, Jon for being patient and understanding with those of us who don’t have a formal background in this field.

    Has the lava been sampled again, if yes were can I find the results. Curious to see if there are any changes.

      1. Looks like a very small wispy vetrically rising emmission from an opening nearer the camera mid way across the screen between the two eruptions on cam 2!

  7. Been following you Jon since E a few years ago. Fantastic work.

    Is there anything new on the Rift Valley that formed? Tyvm

  8. I believe there is a new small eruption closer to the camera on Mila-2, not in line with the other two. I keep seeing a point of light with a small plume and then it subsides again, but it’s definitely there.

    1. I saw that too…. could also be small plumes from cooling lava from the flow hitting some water…

  9. Scientists from the Icelandic Met Office and the Institute of Earth Sciences and representatives of the Civil Protection in Iceland attend the meetings of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Icelandic Civil Protection.

    Conclusions of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Icelandic Civil Protection:

    At about 7:00 UTC this morning RÚV reported that new eruptive fissures had opened to the south of the on-going eruption.
    At 8:30, a surveillance flight with scientists from the IMO and University of Iceland observed the following
    o Two new eruptive fissures formed south of the previous eruption site in Holuhraun, in a graben, that had formed above the intrusion, about 2km away from Dyngjujökull.

    o The eruptive fire fountains from the new fissures are substantially smaller than in the older fissure. Steam and gas rises in a south eastern direction from the fissure.

    o The cauldron in Dyngjujökull seems to have grown deeper since the last observation.

    o No changes are visible in Bárðarbunga.

    Substantial amounts of SO2 are still being released to the atmosphere in association with the eruption.
    Conductivity measurements show a slight increase in conductivity in Jökulsá á Fjöllum.
    Some tremor was detected on seismometers shortly after 3:00 UTC last night. It decreased at about 6:00 UTC this morning.
    Considerable activity is in the northern fissure (fissure 1) and the height of the steam cloud is about 15,000 feet.
    There are no indications of the eruption in Holuhraun being in decline. The lava from fissure 1 continues to flow to the east north east and has grown in area since yesterday.

    Seismicity in the area is similar to yesterday’s activity. About 170 earthquakes were detected since midnight. Two earthquakes of magnitudes 4,4 and 5,3 were detected in the Bárðarbunga caldera region at around midnight UTC.
    GPS displacements have continues to decrease and are now within uncertainty limits.
    Four scenarios are still likely:
    o The migration of magma could stop, resulting in a gradual reduction in seismic activity and no further eruptions.

    o The dike could reach the Earth’s surface at different locations outside the glacier. Lava flow and/or explosive activity cannot be excluded.

    o The intrusion reaches the surface and another eruption occurs where either the fissure is partly or entirely beneath Dyngjujökull. This would most likely produce a flood in Jökulsá á Fjöllum and perhaps explosive, ash-producing activity.

    o An eruption in Bárðarbunga. The eruption could cause an outburst flood and possibly an explosive, ash-producing activity. In the event of a subglacial eruption, it is most likely that flooding would affect Jökulsá á Fjöllum. However it is not possible to exclude the following flood paths: Skjálfandafljót, Kaldakvísl, Skaftá and Grímsvötn.

    Other scenarios cannot be excluded.

  10. In camera 2 I notice occasional white specks from the edge of the lave flow nearest camera, think that’s when the lava hits water and it’s forming steam and occasionally a column of steam looking like a dust devil.

    1. There are two positions at which the “dust devils/eruptions/lava & water interactions” occur. They sem to die down, but re-appear later.

  11. RE: “The cauldron in Dyngjujökull seems to have grown deeper since the last observation.” Is there any potential risk that an escape of melt water pass near or over any of the fissure eruptions ?

  12. They are dust devils very much today.
    They moving very,very slow due less wind.
    Only good too see when playing a recording fast.

  13. Thus sure seems like a repeat of Laki 1783 but with more potential for large explosive eruptions form B and A. Im buying CORN and WEAT and EPV. Anyone else looking for growth in likely assets?

    1. umm, this isnt even in the same league as laki. not by a long shot. Laki had lava fountains witnessed around a kilometer high. seen from great distances away. Laki erupted ~ 14 cubic kilometers of lava iirc. so far we have what, around 70 million cubic meters of lava erupted so far? if this keeps on for exactly 100 times this long, it would erupt exactly half of what laki erupted. Granted laki erupted all that over a period of 6-8 months, that’s still a lot shorter then the 200 weeks needed for this eruption to equal that. 4 years vs 6-8 months is a HUGE difference. you would need 6-8 of these eruptions to equal laki.

      Most (if not all) of laki’s long reaching damage was caused by the gasses escaping from the lava. with a slower eruption, they would have time to dissapate, react to form new chemicals, etc. They would never even get close to laki’s concentrations and damaging potential with a slower eruption, even if it DID keep going for 4 years. Assuming this eruption escalates it could still be damaging, but likely nothing on the scale of laki. you need HUGE amounts erupted FAST to provide that much gas. And you also need the wind blowing in the right directions for most of that time, to deliver it to the places it can do the most harm.

  14. So far this is nothing like Laki. Even if it would become that big remember that in 1783 not much was needed to upset a very fragile agricultural economy. If the same would happen now I doubt that it would impact our food supply that much, if at all…
    I would worry more about the situation in Syria, Ukraine, Israel and Libya to upset our cosy way of life.
    But by all means, buy stocks! somebody has got to keep wall street happy.

    1. I have a friend in India who tells me even a normal El Nino could send many millions of poor farmers there over the edge. If Laki killed 6 million in India back then, imagine how it might be now.

    1. There’s a good book about that based on a BBC series a few years back, that I found life-altering to read. “Catastrophe” by David Keys. Interesting to see it from another angle.

      1. Ah, I see Keys mentioned in that article, which is from 2000. Given the historical importance, I’m surprised there hasn’t been more written since. Maybe people who write about history are afraid to admit a lot of what drives it is far beyond the human scale.

  15. New update soon. I had to go to Flensburg to buy new shoes (I had holes in my old ones) and two blu-ray films (so I can watch something in breaks).

    1. so you go to germany for shopping? Is it more expensive in Denmark?

      I always thought that germany is an expensive country 😀

      1. Germany is many times cheaper than Denmark. I think it is in most things, expect maybe internet since Germany now has download caps (download caps are just price increase and nothing else).

  16. This will never be like Laki, and even if this current eruption was to develop and worsen, it still would never be on Parr with Laki fact!. If this current spell did get worse it would be just a hindrance not a game changer,so let’s just stick to the current facts.Jon does a great job at keeping us informed. So I have to thank him for that.

    1. Scenario…
      We know the dyke is actually being feed from beneath the dyke itself, and not from Bardarbunga….so, yes, it was Bardarbunga that caused the dyke, and the pressure of the dyke caused the eruption through this weak part of the crust. We also know Bardarbunga, obviously, has it’s own magma chamber. Askja, has it’s own magma chamber. Say the dyke continues to press north into Askja . Could Askja go yes. Bardarbunga still is a threat to erupt also. Could both erupt at the same time, while the fissure eruption is still erupting. Possible, highly unlikely, but possible. How would that compare with Laki? With 3 separate magma sources involved?
      FWIW…I know the chances of this happening are slim to none, but still an intriguing possibility….

      1. the only comparison in my eyes is that it would be quite a spectacle,and cause a lot of ashfall.What made Laki so impressive and damaging and dangerous was the fluoride gasses it produced.And the shear size of the eruption, as of yet this eruption is small compared to it. But we should never say never,it can still become very dangerous and could become much larger as it is now.

    2. “it still would never be on Parr with Laki fact”

      I would not say that, anything could happen, none of us have a clue, so saying never is as crazy as saying it will do a Laki!

      The reality is we just don’t know.

      1. I am remembering about the Floride gasses now! I know they sampled the lava at the fissure and I don’t recall there being any in the samples. Do we know what the chemical makeup of the magma in Askja or Bardarbunga is? Maybe from previous eruptions?
        I know this whole entire event is new territory for the scientists, and hats off to them, and John for trying to help us understand what is or may be going on.

    1. there are examples of this kind of eruption in the Oslo formation,in Oslo,wich in fact is an old volcinc field. there is also old volcinc features along the entire Norwegian coast.There is an large undersea volcano at the vørginplatau,and the islands of lofoten and vesterålen is also old volcanic mountains.there is a old volcano outside Møre and Romsdal,located just outside kristansund, one outside Bergen.The mountains of Sunnmøre(sunnmørs alps) has a lot of volcanic intrusions in it and in Vanylven, we have a large volcano that they now dig out for Olivine. Luckilly for us no of the volcanoes are belived to be active or “dormant” ,even thoug the area where I live has the highest concentrations of earthquakes in the entire country, its belived that these quakes comes from all the faultlines that are spread out in the entire length from Bergen north to Trondheim,.

  17. I see two vents now, one in front of big one and then one to far left, looks like it’s really moving now. Jon, what do you think is going on now??? THANKS AGAIN FOR ALL YOU DO.

  18. Slight delay in the update. I need a nap in order to focus properly when I am writing. I don’t expect any major change in next few hours.

    I have however been known to be wrong on such things. Lets hope the eruption stays about the same for the next few hours.

  19. This current episode is just small change compared to Laki,and if even Askja and Bards was to blow I don’t think it would still compair to Laki. Don’t get me wrong a Laki event will happen again especially when Iceland sits right on top of the plates.But I don’t see that happening for a long time. All I’m interested in is the now, with the fissure and what’s going on at Bardabunga.

    1. What happens soner or later is just by chance. We have only written testimonies and no webcams. Things like this could have happened without notice and the cabooom. But i agree it is now and this eruption that matters now.

  20. I would like to point out that despite NOT being laki, so far this is still a pretty interesting and potentially dangerous eruption. It’s highly unlikely to kill millions of people with famine and potentially hundreds to thousands with fluorine poisoning, but the fact that its such a fascinating eruption, that people are standing around photographing it at fairly close range, while standing on a flood plain, downstream from a glacier that might or might not have a massive flood start with potentially little to no warning. It’s a recipe for danger. But the danger is to the people who are braving the danger to get us all these wonderful photographs and video. At best, all the SO2 emmissions are likely to do is help with global warming a bit. (probably a too small to measure bit but possibly more, depending on duration and how high the thermal plume can push it)

    1. Even if it would happen like Laki it would not kill more than a tiny part of that, maybe some old and sick people that have very bad lungs. You can not compare medical care late 1700 with today. And we go to shops to by food that can come from anyware in the world.

      1. Very true, although hydrogen fluoride is still *very* hard to treat today, and would kill more then the old and sick. One of the nastiest poisons you can be exposed to. (Google hydrofluoric acid poisoning) But almost all the deaths from laki were starvation. That wouldn’t happen from this. Period. Soooooo much better agriculture methods now. And this eruption doesn’t seem to be hydrogen fluoride rich like laki was. Mostly I would point to better agriculture today. Not better medical care as the main reason another “laki” couldn’t happen again in the same way.

    1. That vehicle is a truck with a radar dome. Those “persons” are trhe hydraulically operated stabiliser feet.

    2. Oh yes – that looks weird. I don’t think it is people next to it – since they haven’t moved for about half an hour then…. also the device would be HUGE if it’s really people standing next to it??

    1. I was wondering that too! They have showed up during the last 15 minutes or so….

  21. Yes Jonas I do agree with you to a certain extent, we do have better medicine and better food supplies, but don’t forget the population has exploded since the 1700s. So we would have to take that into account. At the moment this episode is contained, but that could change in a heartbeat, all we can do is watch, wait and admire the spectacle. This could go on for days weeks or even months, everything is very fluid at the moment.

  22. Does anybody know if pressure is still building in the dyke, and if more magma is still going in than coming out.

  23. An excerpt from the book “A New and Complete System of Geology” by Christopher Kelly 1822.
    ” The most tremendous eruption, however, which was ever known in this island, happened in the summer of 1783. Its first signs were observed on the first of June, by a gentle tremor of the earth in the province of Shapterfiall. It increased gradually to the 11th, and became at length so alarming, that the inhabitants quitted there houses, and lay, at night, in tents on the ground. A continual smoke was perceived to issue from the earth in the uninhabited parts of the country, and three fire-spouts broke out at different places; – one in Ulfardal, and the other two a little westward of the Ilwersisfliot. These fire-spouts, or streams of lava, after rising to a considerable height, united into one body, and at length, arrived at such an amazing altitude, as to be seen at the distance of two hundred miles.”

    Yeah, we are nowhere near this, but the uniting into one body could be what is coming, along with an increase in fountain activity.

    “The whole extent of the ground covered by this astonishing inundation, is said to have been ninety miles long, and forty-two broad; and the depth of the lava was from sixteen to twenty fathoms. Twelve rivers, also, were dried up, twenty villages were utterly destroyed, and two hundred and twenty persons lost their lives. This, however, was only the extent on the south-east and west side of the island; for that toward the north being chiefly uninhabited land, could not be ascertained.”

    BTW, activity at Laki did ebb and flow in intensity. And it sure changed the landscape.

    1. Another thing that was going on during the Laki eruption was undersea volcanism. 2 islands emerged after Laki. 1 to the SW and 1, that was bigger, to the NW of Iceland.
      “After this eruption two new islands were thrown up from the bottom of the sea. One, about a mile in height, and three miles in circumference, made its appearance about a hundred miles south-west of Iceland, where there were formerly a hundred fathoms of water; and the other, which was still larger, lay to the north-west, between Iceland and Greenland. These islands continued to burn for some time with great violence, but one or both of them have been since swallowed up.”

      So, as we can see, during the time of Laki, there was great volcanic activity going on in the N Atlantic.

  24. I saw a british documentary obout Laki eruption.

    “What the pastor was witnessing was not an ordernary explosive eruption. It was a potensially far more dagerous sort. A fissure eruption”. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

  25. Yes Laki was a game changer in Iceland history. Back to the now if more magma is going in than coming out, then something sooner or later is going to have to give.

    1. Laki took 11 days according to above. It is open. What can stop it. Maybe jus a vaiation in the underground.

  26. Hi Jon it still coming up invalid key, so if you can do it manually that would be great thanks

  27. The suspense is killing me. Who needs drama on TV when you have all live and raw in Iceland.

    1. No i agree. But it shows that a fissure eruption does not have to be a little preevent. It can grow gradualy to somthing bigger. Maybe not a 1 in 1000 year event like Laki, but somthing spectaculary and wonderful to watch. Like now. Yes enjoy NOW.

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