Bárðarbunga volcano update Friday 21-November-2014

This is going to be a short update.

There are no major changes in the eruption in Holuhraun. From the looks on the web cameras it appears that wall of the crater has possibly collapsed, I don’t have it confirmed. Other possibility is that the eruption in Holuhraun has increased for the time being. Some lava strokes can be spotted on the north edge of the crater at the moment. The lava flow seems to have changed direction at the moment, the size of the lava field is now close to 72 km².

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

For the past 48 hours there have been 63 earthquakes with magnitude that are larger than 3,0 in Bárðarbunga volcano. In that same time earthquake activity also appears to be increasing along the dyke. There have not been any change in GPS data, suggesting that flow if magma into the dyke is about the same as before. No other changes have been reported at the moment. The eruption is now clearly visible on Míla Bárðarbunga web cameras (Camera 1, Camera 2).

Other things: Based on my latest calculations it is going to take me 1,6 year (best estimate at the moment) to get out the debt issue that I am now in. Both paying down the overdraft with my Icelandic bank, the tax debt with the Danish state (a large pile of money for me) and what I am going to owe mom and dad due the move back to Iceland. Uggghhhh. Sometimes I hate money.

Article updated at 00:55 UTC.

230 Replies to “Bárðarbunga volcano update Friday 21-November-2014”

  1. I think that a new or an older existing vent in front and to the right of the main lave lake crater has started or re-started again.
    It looks closer to Mila 2 cam than the main lava lake. It is hard to see at the moment but you can see lave coming from it sometimes.

    1. I think it’s the outflow of the lava lake, and if the lava came out, she is splashing up sometimes.

      1. This article is about volcanoes in subduction zones. Isn’t there more water in the magma that will go as gas bubbles? I don’t know if this could work at BB…even there is much of gas…

      2. Malf the last gas analysis of Holuhraun I read ,had from memory around 80% H2O,maybe someone more able than me can find the report and post it?The whole this is not a subduction zone argument needs to be rethought as volcanoes are prone to bending and breaking the rules that science tries to constrain them with and this volcano has been treating the rule book with utmost contempt!

      3. @JB, Volcanoes are not well understood. Lack of understanding means that we do not know what is going on. I am going to go into details of that later.

      4. @Andrew ,what is “Geyser Soze”?I am just saying that having expectation that a volcano should behave in a text book way is unwise.

      5. @Jon,it is the unusual nature of this event that has so many interested and following blogs like this one and Volcano Cafe.Surprisingly I have noticed it has led to quite a bit of friction and frustration among the same followers

      6. “Nature never breaks her own laws”.

        However, it can be sometimes very counterintuitive.

      7. @Jon,sorry I thought I was just posting a link on magma pulses,I did not think a link from Yale University was not factual,it may not apply to the Iceland situation,but if nothing else someone may find it interesting?The 80% H2O content at Holuhraun I was sure I read many weeks back and I did say the validity needed to be checked?I am not sure what the facts are in regards to what is happening in Bardarbunga as nobody has given definitive answer to that.

  2. Regarding the eruption of Fogo Volcano in Cabo Verde Islands, i just see in the news this eruption is very strong and already biger than last eruption of 1995.

  3. I can clearly see tall lava fountains on Mila 2 now, during the twilight hour, before the camera adjusts to the dark.

  4. Seems like a stream of smoke is coming from the far right. Could lava be running into water on that side?

  5. There’s now a strange lack of 3+ EQ since the shallow 5.4 this morning. There used to be 3-5 EQs of 3+ per 6 hours, and now there’s been noon for 10 hours according to the IMO (only weak EQs mag 1-2 have continued at the same pace).

    1. No quakes since 9 am this morning (local time) have been verified yet. I would say that at least a few of the earthquakes since then have been significantly stronger than the data shows us. Also, it’s windy in Iceland today which makes the measuring an even tougher task.

    2. There is always a quiet period in Bárðarbunga volcano in earthquakes after a magnitude 5,0+ earthquake. It often lasts for few hours and up to few days at the most.

    1. I don’t speak Icelandic 🙁 but the text translates thus –
      Among geoscientists are various theories on the air about what is happening under Bárðarbunga . Several instruments and new data improve continually our knowledge and has now emerged with new measurements of the dynamic system Bárðarbunga is probably much more complex than previously thought .
      Ari Trausti Guðmundsson earth scientist has his ideas and discuss them and more in the community .

    2. A very rough translation of the highlights of this interview with Ari Trausti Guðmundsson.

      Forgive me if I´m not using the correct terms, I´m only an amateur, I don´t know the lingo. I just found this interview so interesting so I´d like to share it with everybody here. I left out the questions, they are pretty obvious, and some less important details.

      We have seen key eruptions, like Surtsey and Krafla and now this eruption in Holuhraun, they all add to and change our ideas about what´s going on underground, as it´s difficult to see. Measurements and simulations give us understanding about the hot spot and the tectonic rift and the 30 (local) volcanic systems, how they work. (then he explains some of the tech)

      Theories, based on earlier eruptions tell us that under the (Icelandic) volcanic systems, which are oblong in shape, there are oblong magma reservoirs at the depth of 15-20 km. They collect magma which comes from melting of the mantle. This magma reaches the surface, either directly and forms those shield eruptions we know well, where we are getting 1-3 Km3 of magma, or the magma comes up under a main volcano and stays in the more shallow magma chambers belonging to the volcano in question.

      These theories have been around for some time and I feel they fit this situation well, also Skaftáreldar, Veiðivötn around year 1500, where traditional magma chambers are not necessarily a part of the picture, but rather magma coming directly from a deep magma reservoir.

      Some of the data supports the theory that this Holuhraun eruption is coming from a magma chamber under Bárðarbunga. Other data sets indicate that there is no real magma chamber under Bárðarbunga and the magma is coming directly from deep down. We mustn´t forget that this large dike is flanking Bárðarbunga, so you would need some kind of connection, we would have to let the magma turn around a corner, to get it from a shallow magma chamber and into this dyke.

      I´m not the only one, there are much more prominent scientists than me, like Ágúst Guðmundson in London and Professor Þorvaldur Þórðarson, who agree with me on this. This theory is still a work in progress, we may be partly wrong, partly right. Maybe this is even more complex than we think.

      Bárðarbunga is a unique volcano, it´s not really a cone, it´s more like a huge shield volcano, containing a large caldera. It resembles more the large volcanoes on Hawaii, rather than the caldera of Dyngjufjöll, or Hekla or Öræfajökull. And the system of magma veins (underneath BB) is very unusual and we are first properly learning about this now.

      I can point out, the large eruptions of Bárðarbunga (in the past), they must have come from somewhere else, not just from under the caldera. The volume of the caldera doesn´t match the amount of magma that has come to the surface in this large volcano system. This is very complex and therefore is this eruption so exiting.

      About the subsidence of the caldera, it could tell us that there is magma coming to the surface. In a way these two (BB and Holuhraun) are connected. This all starts with tectonic rifting, magma comes up under Bárðarbunga, there was a dyke shooting out towards Kistufell in the beginning. Then this parallel dyke is formed as well. Most probably there is magma streaming upwards in two places, into the Holuhraun dyke and also into Bárðarbunga, maybe a bit slower.

      This means there are ring faults and cone channels (?) forming, the volcano is heating up, also geothermal activity on the surface. The subsidence is caused by slight rifting, along with the land rising. You can see it on the GPS data, the subsidence isn´t constant. Although the measurements on the top of the ice show subsidence, you can´t project them completely onto what´s happening underneath. There are 800 meters of plastic material (ice) in between.

      This could mean that magma is ascending into Bárðarbunga, which can increase the likelihood of an eruption in the main volcano, and this could also mean that the Holuhraun eruption would go on unaffected at the same time.

      Most of the earthquake activity is on the north side of the caldera, and on the outside of the caldera bowl. And it´s difficult to interpret that otherwise than incoming magma. The subsidence is most definitely 10, 20, 30 even 40 meters, it´s difficult to tell. But there also seems to be earthquakes there that show breakings (?) which point to a rise, it´s like the volcano is going up and down in waves, not just subsiding. This is an idea only a few of the local scientist would currently accept. These theories are evolving as people discuss and collect data and finally the picture will be clear. We must wait and watch a few months, let´s say until the end of next year, then these things should be clearer.

      The latest petrology data shows that this is much more complicated than we thought. Also they have placed an accelerometer on top of Bárðarbunga, which makes it possible for scientists to see the difference in the time of arrival of the earthquake waves, which again helps us to see where the magma is located. It seems that magma is much closer to the surface at the bottom of the caldera than was possible to see with previous measurements. This is filling in the gaps of our knowledge.

      The (Holuhraun) eruption could go on for years. Let´s not forget, the Surtsey eruption lasted four years. And this is a similar thin flowing primitive magma. Let´s say, if this goes on for three or four years, then we´ll have a beautiful shield there (in Holuhraun). What is interesting about this magma, it´s very homogenous, and previous magma coming from the Bárðarbunga system is
      amazingly homogenous, although you have two types, one in the south part, one in the north part…

      1. Very interesting…thanks for the translation…I hope Jon will make a new post about this.

      2. Well there you go the caldera has rising magma and is not draining.The volcano is in effect breathing and magma is entering both the fissure and Bardarbunga,so any change in behaviour at the fissure,such as pulsing in my opinion is also happening under the caldera?

      3. I wish there had been some actual information on this latest petrology data he refers to, other than it being very complicated…

      4. Wonderfully informative – if slightly disturbing. Many thanks indeed for going to the – doubtless considerable – trouble of translating the interview.

      5. I had the impression that he was going to talk more about the petrology factor, then never got around it and then time ran out.

      6. Interesting he said there was no shallow magma chamber?But there is shallow magma and no indication of signals that indicate magma rising through fissures?Does this indicate an evolved magma deposit at shallow depth rather than a basalt filled chamber?Again these are points for the purpose of discussion ,not to sensationalize.

      7. Great job, Kolla!

        Yes, I’m also trying to separate hints of factual findings from interpretive material in the talk.

        There are many events going on at the same time, all interwoven, and possibly interactive in nature. Fascinating.

  6. WOW! For first time i just saw a huge lava portion overtop the talest part of volcano and coming down the slope!

    1. I am glad that another person has seen this. I saw it last night, suddenly whoosh, a big wave of lave just suddenly splashed onto the whole crater, even the highest part, and red hot lave slowly running down and cooling off. Very impressive.

      Thanks for sharing this. Holuhraun is definitely more active and some of the crater wall has crumbled away since last night when the mid section was higher.

      1. I agree. I have been watching Mila 2 for a couple of hours and the extreme left hand side of the crater has some new activity on it. I have noticed on videos that there is a small lava run on that side and I am guessing that has expanded or collapsed to some degree as there is a constant glow from that point. I have also been watching lave overflowing that side of the cauldera and running down the sides.. It glows hot for a few minutes before fading.

      2. I saw it today some time ago for first time. New things everyday in our Bardarbunga volcano.

    1. Fantastic Video!
      Baugur is a real “lava-whirlpool” and the lava flow is also spectacular and aesthetic at the same time.

  7. Comment from IMO on the failing vertical gps: “Again, connection problems from 23 November, possibly due to icing.”

  8. According to the OMI charts, the SO2 emitted from Fogo is absolutely dwarfing Bárðarbunga. In fact, it is also dwarfing Nyiragongo.

Comments are closed.