Bárðarbunga volcano update Wednesday 19-November-2014

This is going to be a short update.

There have not been any major changes reported in the eruption in Holuhraun. It has however been reported that amount of SO2 appears to be increasing in the eruption. This might mean that the magma is getting even more primitive than before and contains more gas in it then before. I have not heard any new numbers regarding the size of the lava field, it is however now larger then 72 – 74 square kilometres. I am not sure what number is correct at currently. New image of the crater show no change in outflow of lava in it.

Earthquake activity in Bárðarbunga volcano for the past 48 hours. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

Earthquake activity in Bárðarbunga volcano continues as it has been doing for the past three months. No earthquake with magnitude above 5,0 has happened since Sunday, that might change at any time without warning since such earthquakes happens at regular intervals. The rate of earthquakes with magnitude above 5,0 has dropped for the moment, I am not sure if it is going to increase again. That might happen and it might not happen again.

Other things

Minor stop in updates of Bárðarbunga volcano activity is going to happen between 2-December until 15-December (best estimate). The reason for this is that during this time I am going to be moving back to Iceland and I can’t work in that period while I am moving. I am going to clear comments that get stuck in moderation soon as possible in that time.

The dates of no updates are as follows.

3-December. Update might happen this date, but I am not sure yet if I have time to write it.
5-December. No update.
8-December. No update.
10-December. No update.
12-December. No update expected.
15-December. No update expected.
17-December. If I have my computer by this date I will post update.
19-December. ???

I am going to post update schedule for Christmas at later time.

Next week I am going to update my bank information for those who donate directly to me for my work here. The banking information can be found here. I am going to post information about changes to Paypal in late December-2014 or early January-2015.


As many have noted I have removed capchata word test. The reason for that was the plug-in in question did not work any more after a update. This also means spam bots have easier access to the comment section if this website. Please send me an email if you see any spam. I will try to keep an eye out for such commend and remove them soon as possible as they appear.

134 Replies to “Bárðarbunga volcano update Wednesday 19-November-2014”

  1. I wish you every success with your move. I hope you will not miss out on major changes in Bárðarbunga’s activites during the period when you will not be able to write updates.

  2. Wednesday
    19.11.2014 21:01:56 64.659 -17.499 1.3 km 4.4 99.0 2.5 km NNE of Bárðarbunga
    19.11.2014 20:50:45 64.664 -17.461 0.8 km 3.7 99.0 4.1 km NE of Bárðarbunga

  3. Jon,
    What I am about to write, please do not take it the wrong way, but your updates lately have been stating what most of us already know. I fully understand that nothing much changes as the eruption continues at a similar rate and EQ’s remain strong. It must be difficult writing updates every couple of days when little changes and us amateurs are so much more enriched with knowledge for following your website. For example you posted that the increase in SO2 may be due to the magma coming from a more primitive source. Does that mean it is coming from deeper underground? Is older magma a bad/good sign or does it make no difference?
    I have full respect for what you do and it makes my day a little more interesting and your site is the first thing I look at when I get up in the morning whilst the kettle is boiling! I guess what I’m saying is your updates used to be more informative with measured predictions based on your knowledge.
    Good luck with your move to Iceland and it takes a brave man to move to back there when you know that you are going to be in the path of toxic gases at times.
    If you or anyone disagrees with me, I will respectfully accept that and I don’t want anyone to post that perhaps they agree.
    Sometimes a little honest feedback and open speech is a good thing…even if I’m the only one who thinks this. And it’s just my opinion.

    1. @David, I fully agree with you!
      @Jon, thanks for providing this platform and information exceeding IMOs daily report. Good luck on your way to iceland!

    2. Nobody knows what Bárðarbunga volcano is going to do next. There are always some minor changes over the week that I report if I find such reports my self. I also find images of the eruption when the are posted on-line.

      Comments also close after 14 days on each article. In December just hope that I manage to put out a new report before that happens. I have it only open for 14 days since after that the risk of spam comments gets up.

    3. I can sort of understand where you are coming from, but, what I don’t want to see speculation for the sake of filling space.

      I much prefer Jons policy of “If you don’t have anything to say, don’t say anything”. That way I know that when Jon says something, it’s a genuine and meaningful contribution to the debate.

      In the meantime, the updates have only ever been a small part of this blog, even in short time I have been following it. The main part is the good community and the interesting commentary as events unfold.

  4. Good luck with your move Jon.
    It is a pleasure to read your views and those of the other regular contributors.
    I think that your posts will be better after you get home.
    You where too far from the action in Denmark.
    Regards Snc.

  5. Shit!

    19.11.2014 22:23:24 64.005 -19.642 7.3 km 4.5 99.0 2.0 km NE of Hekla

    99%… is that real? There’s something on your drum but it doesn’t seem that strong…

    1. *Of course* two minutes after I post, they change it from a 99% 4.5 to a 99% 0.9

      Just a little difference there boys and girls hmmm? How in hell did it get to 99% at 4.5 in that case?!

    2. Magnitude 4,5 at this range would have left a clear sign on my geophone. I did record this earthquake, but the signal was small so this earthquake was always magnitude 0,9 at 7,5 km depth.

    3. It would have been the strongest quake at Hekla in decades.

      But wait Mike, around Hekla, still within SISZ, we can get quakes up to M6 without triggering Hekla. As quakes are sometimes badly detected there, I wouldn’t go jumping crazy if I would see a M6 star right at Hekla.

      1. “Right at Hekla” as in right on the fissure as this one was, would very likely mean the fissure had started unzipping. So a certain amount of jumping is probably justifiable 🙂

      1. Really strange indeed: On the IMO-map there is still a green star on Hekla, but in the table it is given as 0,9.

        Btw, slightly off-topic:
        Does anybody know how to get that fantastic background picture of the mila bardarbunga-webcams?

      2. What’s that purple confetti on the earthquake map for Southern Island? I haven’t noticed that before.

      3. sprungur = cracks

        It’s the South Icelandic seismic Zone. No volcanos but sometimes heavy earthquakes.

  6. At the end of the day, no news=good news (Old Chinese saying, probably late Han-period).

  7. Rolf,
    In Firefox, goto the page displaying the background image you want and right-click anywhere on the page. Select ‘View Page Info’, click on the ‘Media’ tab. All the graphic images that make up the page (including the background image) are listed and previewed for you. Select the one you want, right-click it, select ‘Copy’. Back in Firefox, open a new tab, paste the URL you just copied into the address bar and there you go!
    Hope that helps 🙂

    1. Sorry guys, didn’t read the blog till the end before posting the background-image.
      So I’m 3rd in the row. 😉

      1. Thank you very much, Gizmo, Jim and Daan!
        I tried this in Safari but didn’t find the clue :-*>

  8. Dear Jon, now that we have a total subsidence of more than 40 meters (does anybody know the exact number), are there any new conclusions about the point-of-no-return theory from you? I am also very interested in the theoretical background of this theory. Yoe were talking about mathematics – could you please share with us how you (roughly) calculated that? What information was put into the equations? Thanks in advance…

    1. How much subsidence is need to cause an eruption depends on the type of magma at shallow depth and how eruptible it is.There possibly has been basalt pillow lava eruptions already and possibly some rhyolite extrusion(small dome)?The basalt if it erupts in larger quantity would cause explosive eruptions due to interaction with the ice,if it’s rhyolite the the ice will have little effect on its initial explosive potential as this is dependent on the state of the rhyolite magma itself(gas,temperature)?

      1. If the eruption at Holuhraun was draining the magma under the roof of the caldera,would there not be a decline in the geothermal gradient in the caldera?This decline is not happening ,so does that not indicate a shallow reservoir of magma exists under the caldera floor and this is getting influenced by the deeper sourced basalt magma feeding the dike?My guess is the shallow magma is primarily highly evolved and this magma may not be highly eruptible at this point in time?

      2. I know that you want it to be that way, but it’s just speculation on your part. Show me past deposits of rhyolite that came from Bárðarbunga. Any.

        Proving that there isn’t an extrusion of highly evolved magma is of course impossible, yet offering evidence of its existence is not impossible, if in fact it exists.

      3. I am just giving an alternate hypothesis that could be considered,not stating that it is a correct hypothesis.

    2. The collapse of the caldera won’t happen while there is enough magma inside Bárðarbunga volcano. It can subside regardless of that. How much subsidence is going to be in the end I do not know.

      1. Ok. But several weeks ago you mentioned some kind of calculations (you called it math) leading to the point of no return subsidence of about 40 m. What changed your mind? And what kind of math was bringing you to that result? As far as I remember, these questions have been already asked by a number of people, but never were answered. Would be interesting to know…

      2. What changed is that the magma is not going up, it is going sideways and while that is going to be the case we won’t get large eruption.

        Collapse of the caldera might still happen. It is a bit unclear how that might happen at the moment.

        Active volcanoes change often current ideas and data. That is the case now, as this has continued the earlier estimates have become invalided.

        Here is some of my math.

        N > C² {D – G} / 0 – N-² [C – G] [O] F – 4 + N² – d // N – C /G³ {F – T} = N² / C / T² / H / F² / P / O³ / C [….].

        It has been converted to ascii text. This formula deals with uncertainty in fluid system and this is just part of it, the whole thing is around 70 or so pages in my head.

      3. Under-pressure is interesting because with rising magma plus sinking caldera balancing the hydraulic suction, everything inside BB remains in equilibrium. Meanwhile, the quakes and Holuhraun could go on for years.

  9. Thursday
    20.11.2014 15:42:55 64.616 -17.388 9.3 km 4.0 99.0 7.2 km ESE of Bárðarbunga

  10. Hello Jon,
    my monthly donation will go out in the next days. Should I stop it until you have a new bank account? Or is it o.k. to change it later (in Dezember)?
    Best wishes for your move back to Iceland.

    Remember to donate sometimes even if there are quiet times…

    1. I will change bank account information on 28-November-2014. Until that time you can still support me by using current bank information.

      I will continue to use PayPal in Denmark until late December-2014 or early January-2015 since that is a slightly different matter to change. After that time I am going to change to PayPal Iceland.

      Thanks for the support. 🙂

  11. Thursday
    20.11.2014 16:47:14 64.672 -17.450 8.2 km 4.3 99.0 5.1 km NE of Bárðarbunga

    20.11.2014 16:39:06 64.674 -17.487 8.7 km 3.4 99.0 4.2 km NNE of Bárðarbunga

      1. If it makes you feel happy and important to post every single, tiny, unimportant eq here, do it. I do not mind. Just go on.

      2. Be nice people. Chill out. To all of you, except luisport: You get used to it (his posts). To luisport, it’s fine.
        Be friendly, people.

      3. I think Tyler is trying to be quite funny. But he has a point. Luisport, it is not really interesting to read about some minor earthquakes. If you have to post that, then at least only > 5.0 magnitude. Those ones are really interesting. But for sure, everybody can post what they want. 😉

  12. There are not many things to report in this moment except the quakes. I don’t report all the quakes, only 4+ and when they came as sequence… this can be important. And not only the 5+ quakes are important. I’m trying to contribute, but it seams this blog is contaminated with harsh and intolerance like other places… it’s sad, because this is new and everyone is learning…

      1. Yes i quote you! I learn a lot with you, Irpsit. John and many others! By the way my thread in GLP about this event it’s not a doom one. It’s more like a collection on everything we can get about this since the begining.

      2. Scots John,the reference to DT,is due to the compiling of incomplete data in a way that makes it look scientific but in reality is far from scientific.Also copying what others have said on the same blog long before him about this event,as well as dissing anyone who objects to his “wild theories”.He is an attention seeker nothing more and that blog has fallen away in comparison to this one partially as a result.

      3. JB

        DT has never ‘dissed’ anyone, and apart from the exchange the other day on VC I know of no time when he has been anything other than helpful and has discussed ideas.

        Lets get this clear, NO ONE knows what is going to happen. With all the data in the world we are still just speculating. The IMO are real heroes, putting their very lives on the line in the field for all our sakes, yet with all this data they still have scenarios of differing degrees. Fortunately they are able to use these models for emergency planning.

        These forums allow us to voice ideas, there are IMO staff view these forums and there are forum members living in Iceland who are under threat from the current gas system and any other events that may follow.

        Eat a little humble pie, bite your tongue, and get along. Jon has been running this forum for years and has seen several spats, but do you ever see him losing his temper and calling someone names?

        I laughed off Luis copying my posts up on GLP. Now can we leave this subject?

      1. Perhaps it was not the right word, i took it up here and English ist not my mother tongue.
        Perhaps you find L. “irritating” (the right word?)
        and I find you “irritating”.
        So what?

  13. Jon
    I have been looking at your webicorders over the last few hours, over the last hour they look they are recording small signals, is this normal or just wind or other disturbances or is there some thing to those small bumps from 19.30 onwards.

    1. There is strong wind in south Iceland and have been for the past hour. It is mostly quiet in Böðvarshólar geophone station. Some human noise between earthquakes.

  14. I can,t understand why this has posted twice can you please remove one of them
    Many thanks

  15. Thursday
    20.11.2014 20:55:04 64.667 -17.439 0.8 km 4.1 99.0 5.2 km NE of Bárðarbunga
    20.11.2014 20:44:56 64.679 -17.452 8.7 km 3.5 99.0 5.6 km NE of Bárðarbunga
    20.11.2014 20:28:36 64.674 -17.398 9.6 km 4.4 99.0 7.2 km ENE of Bárðarbunga

  16. Actually Shauna as Jon says at the header of this article, the SO2 emissions have increased whilst the eruptive material is pretty much constant recently. What can give impressions of changes are reflections of the intense light on clouds and the eruptions own smoke and gas column.

  17. Luisport …keep on posting all the earthquakes you wish. It’s a lot more interesting then reading “others” who simply troll in here and argue with everything anyone says.

    1. Totally agree I personally thank luisport for taking his time to post all the earthquakes . Some of us including myself are at an age where we are not used to computers and finding things on the internet and any information is greatly appreciated.

  18. Ok folks, taking together all available information plus some fluid dynamic math (thanks again Jon) and not forgetting the venturi effect I come to the conclusion that we will see a caldera eruption within the next 48 hours.

      1. Listen to yourself, did I say that?

        I don’t know, the IMO don’t know and you certainly don’t know. I would not dare hazard a guess when, and I certainly would not wish for a major event. That is the territory of doomsdayers.

        Thousands of people in Iceland are suffering the gas effects and I think they have had enough. The quote from Dave Garvie’s blog I cite lower down is very apt.

  19. The caldera won’t catastrophically collapse as the magma as long as it is going sideways, not upwards. This of course may change.
    The subsidence is the plug being melted and slowly dropping down, at what seems to be a constant rate if you look at the graph; The heat will melt the ice, and the walls of the caldera have time to grow as the ice supports the weight of the magma until the collapse happens , which will be either it it gets melted or if the lava/magma changes direction.
    The magma does seem to have more gas in it so we could probably guess its changing its chemistry, but how or why I dont know.
    Dave McGarvie’s blog outlines the process well here http://davemcgarvie.wordpress.com/2014/09/07/so-what-if-there-was-an-eruption-at-the-bardarbunga-caldera/

    1. Interesting,can you explain “the walls of the caldera have time to grow as the ice supports the weight of the magma until the collapse happens”further?Ice supports the weight of the magma?

    2. I think there are two very pertinent quotes to take from Dave’s blog –

      “The problem is that because such an eruption has never been witnessed in the modern era, we really don’t know what will happen”


      “Other scientists may disagree.”

      All the more reason for every one of us to calm down and enjoy an exchange of ideas without snapping at each other or being short with newbie’s, we were all newbie’s once.

      1. Sorry. Not snapping, just defending poor McGarvey from ideas wrongly attributed to him by association. Or saving some reader from taking for granted that McGarvey actually agrees with Richard. Which he does not.

        Richard’s opinions are worthy of being considered on their own merit, as they are.

        I found McGarvey’s articles very instructive and entertaining on many topics. He is an expert on the rhyolitic Torfajökull. Of course, Bardarbunga, to date, is thought to be basaltic, like Askja.

        One of IngeB’s great references to an article on Askja is an eye-opening comparison to the current eruption.

  20. It seems to me that the ice covered caldera is acting like a pressure vessel,taking the extreme energy load from a large deep source of magma and releasing it through the surrounding crust and volcanic activity in nearby systems.The last few months has seen a larger than usual influx of magma at depth and the system is struggling to release this energy,so is alarmingly noisy,but it currently is relieving the pressure well it seems.The question is can the system wind down without something in the process having a catastrophic failure?

    1. JB

      How can you have a pressure vessel that is sinking?

      If the chamber has increased flow in and pressure is building, where is the inflation?

  21. When it is said that the caldera has subsided 40m, is that just part of the caldera or the full caldera?

    If only part of the caldera is subsiding, is it starting to tilt causing adverse pressure at the far edge?

      1. The IMO crustal geophysicist told me that it is fact that the ice was flowing towards the centre. That was on 31st Oct. Hope this helps.

  22. The only part that is subsiding is a small part of a large system,this is a distortion ,like a dent.Other parts have stretched and torn.

  23. At the webcams it looks as sometimes more lava is coming out and splashing over the edge feeding the lavaflow.
    Not only at the zoomed Mila2 (very dramatic 😉 ) but also at Mila1, which is the cam I follow for comparison…

  24. Where is the GPS station that shows what you are referring to? I cannot find one close to BB that shows inflation related movements?

    1. You have to understand that the magma influx is happening primarily at depth greater than 10km,some of that magma is erupting at holuhraun,and the rest is heating the shallower depth of the caldera,this heating is causing block slippage and the appearance of subsidence when the danger is loss of integrity of the pressure envelope causing a sudden loss of magmatic pressure and explosive eruption?This is subsidence in a high pressure crystal enviroment.

  25. Very interesting activity at Holuhraun since yesterday. The gushes and splashes of lava on cam2 make for good viewing this evening.

    1. Yes it’s really impressive and beautifull. The live images sugests that activity is increasing but scientists in the eruption site, says it remains at same rate… well they know better.

  26. What’s happening on the GPS-Plot?
    Probably another glitch of the unit, either we would have a drop by 5 m !!!
    If it was true, it might be the beginning of the end…

    1. well, the signal has bounced back as expected.
      The eruption is strongly pulsating tonight, e real hellfire.

  27. It’s possible more magma is arriving to Bardarbunga and to the dyke or the dyke is getting wider?

    1. I think, the upcoming magma has more gases in it this night. What we see as lava-fontains might be gas-bubbles, that tear up lava in the air.
      So the fontains don’t originate of higher pressere (I think) or a wider dyke.
      What we also might bring together:
      Yesterdays nice harmonic tremor seen on the blue line of DJK-station may have been this gaseous magma now escaping Baugur. Today, the line is flat again. If that theory is right, we see a calmed down eruption next night. 🙂

      1. Yes it’s possible… but eruption seams so strong that i dout it’s just more gases…

      2. Gizmo. Yesterday’s blue line DJK was a new/replacement stream that was not calibrated. Today has 0.1*. Yesterday was big and boomy. No harmonic tremor. There is a lot more lava tonight fact.. not building size bubbles of gas.

        Luis. Please keep doing what you do. This is a community and one that gives and one that shares.

      3. @ Fred:
        Thanks for telling me. Didn’t see the *0.1. So it is callibrated with the factor 1/10 now?!

      4. Hi Gizmo. I guess the 0.1* is a reduction in the scale, so 10%. Hadn’t thought of it before so thanks for that :).

    2. I’ve been seeing lava fountains all night , a few seconds at a time then dropping. I wonder if it’s a reduction in the activity, low-high burst marking a downturn in overall activity or a high-higher level marking an increase, who knows. We shall see.

  28. I’ve read that the recent magma has a higher gas content which could explain the fountaning as the gas gas expands close to the surface ? Not an expert or an amateur for that matter.

    1. There would have to be an increase in viscosity as well ,otherwise the magma would just freely off gas as it left the vent without much energy.Increase in viscosity could be due to a lower temperature or different composition?Maybe the presence of a lava lake could be having an influence?

  29. I saw Luisport post from earlier about the fountains on Mila 2 cam. I agree – every now and then the fountains (bright white light on cam) appear to the left of the black bump on the left of the eruption then followed by fountains on the right hand side and then a mass of white light pouring down the lava river. Very spectacular to see. Interesting area of lava (?) to the side of the lava river in the foreground too.

    Please excuse my non scientific description.

  30. OK . . . JON . . . I clicked at the top to try and reach your

    “New article”

    as you seem to enjoy requiring.

    It landed me back at this same older page and comments.

    I don’t know what else to do.


    1. This works like this.

      < This direction has older articles. This direction has newer articles. >

      They have the titles connected with them. You can also press “Home” and that shows you the newest article that I have written.

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