Bárðarbunga volcano update Monday 24-November-2014

This is going to be short update on Bárðarbunga volcano activity.

Activity in Holuhraun continued as before during the weekend. Currently it seems that activity is increasing in Holuhraun eruption, I don’t have it confirmed at the moment. What has been detected is a fluctuation lasting from few seconds and up to several hours in output of lava in Holhraun eruption, this possibly that the eruption is about to end. Since the feeding of the eruption becomes unstable and is unable to feed the eruption in the same stable manner as before. There have also been detected changes in gas output (mostly SO2).
This however does not mean that the dyke is closing up, but the erupting vent in Holuhraun might be doing just that. This means there is a high risk of new vents opening up along the dyke if magma is flowing into the dyke with same force as before. There is also chance that the whole dyke is sealing up and the magma is going to find new paths up the surface once that happens. There might still be months until the eruption in Holuhraun ends, even if the changes have started to take place now. The amount of SO2 suggest that the magma is coming from a deep source of more than 9 km.

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

Strongest earthquakes during the weekend and today had the magnitudes of 5,1 and 5,4. Earthquake activity drops after large earthquakes and then slowly builds up in matter of hours to days until a new large earthquake takes place. I don’t know why this happens, it just does. New study into Bárðarbunga suggests that magma system of the volcano is far more complex than believed earlier. This study also suggests that the caldera floor is thinner than originally believed. I don’t know what the implication of that are going to be. There is no major change in GPS data around Bárðarbunga volcano. Other than this there is nothing more to report at the moment far as I know.

New video of the Holuhraun eruption

Nýtt myndskeið af umbrotunum í Holuhrauni (Icelandic, Rúv.is, video)

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114 Replies to “Bárðarbunga volcano update Monday 24-November-2014”

  1. I don’t see where it’s verified, or even logically suggested, that the fluctuation is a lessening of the lava flow. On looking at the Mila webcams, which apparently is the technology used by IMO, the fluctuations have looked significantly like an overall increase in flow.

    Add to this that the lava is from younger magma, and we’re looking at the possibility of more magma entering the area overall. I’m not proposing this, simply suggesting that there is so much we don’t know here.

    The huge quake this morning will have or is a sign of a lot of activity down there. Anyone else suspect it could be over 5.4?

    1. My ill informed guess Chris,is the magma is rising in greater volume under Bardarbunga and this is causing the gas pulsing that is going into the dike?This is speculation to invite another explanation and maybe discussion from the more knowledgeable here.

    2. I agree that my impression that the fluctuations were upward in volume, not downward and that activity would appear to point to greater, not lesser volume overall but maybe there will be clarification in coming days.

      They did note the change (increase) in SO2 and also noted in the daily met office report that magma was much closer to the surface in the caldera than they had previously thought.

      This would appear to be deep magma that is not having a chance to de-gas before erupting implying a fairly rapid progression from a deep source to the surface. So this does not appear to be magma that has sat evolving in a magma chamber for a few centuries.

      1. Crosspatch,my theory if there is evolved magma ,that is the magma at shallow depth and this deeper source basalt is rising in the system causing the evolved magma to heat and migrate to the rim and surface ,this deep source is also leaking out through the dike and erupting at Holuhraun?The concern with this idea would be a sudden large volume rise from depth to intersect with the shallow already primed evolved magma deposit?I have no idea if this theory is even plausible and is only for the discussion of ideas.

    3. Chris, from the webcams I honestly can’t say I know what changes are going on at the eruption. Whether there is more or less should only be measurable from the volume of the flowing lava rivers. Lava fountains tell me that there is plenty of gas in the lava erupting.

    1. Interesting to see that increase in rate of movement at Grims whilst the other GPS stations around Bardar seem to be slowing down in their rate of movement.

  2. It may be caused by snow on the antenna. There was a simmilar situation few weeks ago.

    1. It doesn´t look like an error, it´s a steady rise. The errors usually show as out of context.

      1. Part of that looks like there is room for error but true Grímsvötn is rising stedily. I would not be surprised if meltwater is collecting over there.

    1. Maybe, maybe not.

      It is certain that whatever is under the caldera is, or will soon be heating to a boiling point. But the composition of that upper pancake is still nothing but guesswork based on what’s at Askja (I got Askja info from Dave McGarvey’s pictures and captions). At BB, evidence is needed, not guesses. BB could turn out to be more primitive.

      1. @SteveG,so you think there is a shallow pancake of magma that has not erupted in hundreds of years at least and it will be primitive?

  3. Uhhhhhhhh . . . how are we defining “primitive” in this context?

    What factors, parameters determine “primitive?”

    1. Primitive is from deep down with source straight from the mantle. Evolved means fractionated ( non-primitove) where you get frctionation of the magma in magma chambers with interaction and assimilation of rock walls (magma chamber walls). Tholeiites are primitive, then you evolve through fractionation from Dacite over Andesite to Rhyolite. Hope I didn’t make any mistakes, as I’m off geo/volc subject since 10 years.

      1. JB, now it’s coming back, the calc-alcalic differentiation series basalt-andesite-dacite-rhyolite. Thanks!

    2. You make a good point, Da Xin, there are several ways to think of primitive.

      Table salt or pure quartz is chemically pure, and simple.

      But I think of primitive magmas somewhat like stefan mueller suggests. In terms of evolution from heavy metal rich ancient plutonic magmas to somewhat less ancient light felsic continental cratons. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Craton
      Newer magmas are actually somewhere in between.

      At one time, for a while, planetary geology caught my enthusiasm. I think of the basaltic near side of the Moon as primitive and the felsic far side as evolved.

    1. The spikes are earth quakes. The eqs are down after the big 5.4. Theyll be back when the eqs pick up.

      1. Thanks Andy,
        I didn’t realize that they were sensed at all those locations throughout Iceland.

      2. The sensors(accelerometers) behave similar to microphones detecting vibrations in rock whether for eqs hearable frequencies or low infrasound tremors. eqs often have a low frequency component. Most of the energy is in the lower frequency shear wave, which does the shaking. Also lower frequencies are less scattered and so are detected by distant sensors even in the USA orr Europe.

    2. Since many have commented on lack of earthquakes at times I thought that it would be good to share some information on magnitude and energy release.

      Some might see the 5.4 m earthquake and the few larger (3+) earthquakes these last 24 hours as an indication that things have settled down. Important to note is that 2 mag 5 earthquakes does not equal 5 mag 2 earthquakes in energy release. Energy release is not linear. If we look at Bardar earthquakes as a means of the system to offload built up stress than magnitude and energy release understanding is important. Great USGS article here: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/learn/topics/how_much_bigger.php. See lower half for energy release infor. Example sited is that a mag 8.7 is 23,000 times stronger (energy release) than a mag 5.8. And a great calculator here: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/learn/topics/calculator.php, where you can plug in numbers to see that a magnitude 5.4 releases 708 TIMES the energy of a mag 3.5.

      1. At any level, a 0.2M increase is roughly twice as strong, 1.0M increase is roughly 32 times stronger.

        So a 5.4M is 32×32 times stronger than a 3.4M

      1. To the right of the crater is the outflow of the lava. Most of the lava goes to the left over the lava field, but I think there is also a little flow to the right (not seen on the cam, because of to much steam). So it’s not a “new” exit (and also no new fissure). You have seen the video I posted yesterday? It gives a good overview over the landscape and the crater at some points.

    1. I mentioned this yesterday, I saw lava coming from there, it is this side 0f the main lava lake and to the right, you can see it better today.

  4. IMO hasn’t checked the EQs manually since yesterday morning. Are they thinking over the depth with the new datas?

  5. There has been a change in the events & eruption in Holuhraun, evidence is from last weeks observations by scientists

    “The lava flow and the gas emission in the volcanic plume is more fluctuating than it has been. There is a double pulse cycle, or fluctuation, one takes hours and the other
    takes between 10 and 20 seconds.”

    http://en.vedur.is/media/jar/Factsheet_Bardarbunga_20141124.pdf English
    http://www.vedur.is/media/jar/Visindamannarad_almannavarna_20141124.pdf Icelandic


    1. “We have a new board in vala screen…”

      Sorry, I have no clue what you are talking about but it sounds interesting.

      1. Has been also a quake plot, but only showing 5 min while our known plot upper left show 30 min.
        But that 5 min is now altered also to 30 min and can’t watched anymore.
        BB-stations well placed in the middle. Nice to see by traveltime, in which distance they are located to most hypocenters (mostly Barda).

    1. Because these earthquakes have been ongoing in large numbers for 3 months ,in my opinion one more is not too significant,a changing pattern of where the quakes are occurring and their depth is important.The gas pulsing is important as it is a changing pattern,if the quakes start getting larger and more frequent then that is important.

  6. late reply to following:
    Stephen Thomas says:
    November 18, 2014 at 23:20
    Looking at the percentage of earthquakes >= 5.0 out of the total earthquakes >= 3.0:

    For the first table provided, for 16Aug2014 to 07Oct2014, we had 45 / 469 or 9.595%
    Deducing by subtraction using the 11 week earthquake table provided for 16Aug2014 to 31Oct2014 (the one with 434 earthquakes 3.0 to 3.9), we had for 08Oct2014 to 31Oct2014, 16 (>=5.0) / 254 (>=3.0) or 6.3%
    But is this statistically significantly lower? Using a 9.595% baseline from the initial table, and using a 95% confidence limit (or 2 sigma control limits), a significant shift
    in this percentage would be outside (5.894% and 13.29%). So we have 6.3% is within the 95% expected range of a 9.595% baseline with binomial distribution. When will this earthquake table be updated again? or can someone provide similar summary data, say on a weekly basis?
    Enno says:
    November 19, 2014 at 01:26
    Is this you are looking for? http://hraun.vedur.is/ja/viku/2014/
    … click on one week and then on [Skjálftalisti]
    stephen.thomas.6 says:
    November 25, 2014 at 20:35
    thanks, but I can not copy the data into a spreadsheet. Not sure

    1. You are looking for this list, but you have to sort the list (viku & vika means week & listi = list). You just find a new list by changing the number of the week (week_47 is this week so far).

      Nr =no. Dags. = date Timi = time Breidd = latitude Lengd = longtitude Dypi = depth M = M ML = ML

  7. also meant to post this the other day but seemed to not get into a newer file.
    so reposting to be sure SteveG sees it. thanks.
    stephen.thomas.6 says:
    November 22, 2014 at 19:56
    SteveG For the 6.3% of M5.0+ earthquakes out of M3.0+ using 90% confidence (alpha = 10% vs. 5%), although technically we should select alpha beforehand (a priori), we would look at 9.595% +- 1.645*sigma (using normal approx. to binomial distn), which gives 6.55% to 12.64% so the 6.3% over the 2nd summary period is out of the 90% expected range. Roughly speaking the eyeball method seems to be on the order of 90% confidence as you suggest.

    1. Thank you, stephen.thomas.6!
      As you imply, numerical methods, like probabilities, are of tremendous help in enforcing logical thought and decision making in science.

      In practice, the requirements of pure probabilities are held extremely highly in physics, but more loosely in the other sciences. I think that’s what we see here. But that is exactly what is needed either for early exploratory or ‘pilot’ phases of science. Here, for speculative purposes on the trends of earthquake magnitudes in the short run in a non-scientific setting, a reasonable guess is good enough. I think.

      1. thanks for your comment. I am not trying to criticize, but rather to see if it would be helpful to look at percentages or ratios between categories of earthquakes. In this setting (volcanos) and in other setting. Perhaps it would be useful in understanding or warning in the future. A significant shift (statistically) may be better information than just a guess. I am looking for potential applications as I also have a new (unpublished) way to analyze percentage data, esp. when the size of the denominators varies considerably. [email address removed] – Jón Frímann.

  8. Amazing video, Jon. And the music suits. Maybe best video so far of the eruption.

  9. Just for eq scales and energies mentioned earlier, an M5.0 is 32kt of tnt or a bit bigger than the fat man bomb dropped on Nagasaki. An M4.8 is 16 kt tnt or the equivalent of the little boy bomb dropped on Hiroshima. An M6.0 has a 1 mega ton tnt equivalent. Theres been a lot going on in that small area.

  10. Just stopped by to see how everything is going with the volcanoes & all of the EQs affecting them & to leave a compliment in the process for the new design & format! It is a lot easier to read, navigate & to type this comment! Good job! Be safe all!

    1. Tuesday
      25.11.2014 23:26:20 64.670 -17.400 1.1 km 3.8 50.5 6.9 km ENE of Bárðarbunga

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  12. OT! Hi, does anyone know which song is played in the video above, that Jón is linking to. I believe it’s Björk, but can’t figure out the song title….

    1. It’s meaningful. The out-gassing that brought recent spectacular lava fountains is missing. The extent of fresh lava extrusion would only be seen in the volume of lava river flow, now degassed.

      1. If the eruption fades away and the earthquake activity at the caldera subsides significantly,then maybe this event will be over.If the fissure eruption stops and the caldera activity continues the same then that magma has to go somewhere?

      1. There is some lava showing at the very bottom center of the screen. I have not seen this before. A new outflow from the main river?

  13. Iceland Eruptions @wslangerak · 10 min Há 10 minutos
    Lavafield at #Holuhraun now 74 km2 #Bardarbunga

  14. Wednesday
    26.11.2014 13:14:26 64.662 -17.482 4.1 km 4.8 99.0 3.3 km NE of Bárðarbunga

  15. From Scientific Advisory Board today …
    “No signal is coming from the GPS station in the Bardarbunga caldera, the most likely explanation is icing on the antenna. A flight is scheduled over Bardarbunga today and new measurements of the depression are expected after that. ”
    … hope it will work again 🙂

  16. Wednesday
    26.11.2014 15:12:10 64.675 -17.469 6.9 km 4.0 99.0 4.7 km NE of Bárðarbunga

  17. It,s seams lik a cyclic event now. Thick smoke for five minutes and thin ssmoke for five minutes.

  18. You’re right:
    “According to a field report, the activity is pulsative again. Lava is thrusted from the vent in frequent surges, lasting 2-3 minutes every 5-10 minutes, causing bulges along the upper stretches of the lava channel. These surges seem to be related to bubble bursts at the northern end of the lava lake. Institute of Earth Sciences.”

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  20. I haven’t seen any links posted to updated infrared flight or satellite pics of the lava flow. Has anyone else?


        I wish they’d overlay that on a daytime image of the terrain map with the streams of the river as well as the rises in the topography.

  21. My girlfdriend felt a small quake around 18:45, but I didn’t. Just on threshold of perception.

    Again it shows in Jon webicorder and also on the drumplots.

    Seems to have been a Bardarbunga quake. Surely a M5+ But how could it be felt here in south Iceland… Haven’t felt any of the M5s so far.

    1. Ahhh, there is something 🙂

      This time our quake shows at IMO list, not unlike our event of 18th Nov.

      26.11.2014 18:51:52 63.950 -21.790 9.7 km 4.0 50.5 7.3 km SS

      1. Earthquake confirmed in Bardarbunga and a M3.5. Ok, perhaps we are just crazy and we only catch the ground vibrating exactly at same time when instruments detect stuff but it does not make to IMO tables in a way that justified our experience… Definitively strange, again.

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