Bárðarbunga volcano update 1-December-2014

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

Observation of the eruption in Holuhraun has been difficult to impossible in the past days due to bad weather in Iceland. The lava field is now larger than 75 km². I don’t know the volume at the moment. The amount of SO2 is I think about the same as before, as for cycles of pulses I don’t know if that is currently ongoing or has stopped. The output of lava is around the same, around 50 – 130 m³/sec far as I know.

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

Largest earthquake today (01-December-2014) had the magnitude of 5,2 according to Icelandic Met Office. Fewer earthquakes where detected on Sunday due to the bad weather in Iceland. It looks like there has not been any change in earthquake activity for the past 48 hours, it just looks like it on the Icelandic Met Office maps due to the bad weather.

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Comments: Please remember that everyone has a right there own view. I however ask people with some of there less proven ideas to keep them out of this website. If you see flaming or bad behaviour in the comments. Please let me know with a email and I will deal with it. I also remind people to be nice to each other here.

Moving to Iceland: Tomorrow I am going to turn off my earthquake computer and other computers that I now have running. This means that I’m going to switch the backup settings. The geophone computers are going to upload the images to the internet while my main earthquake computer is off-line. I don’t know for how long that is going to be, at least until August when I plan on start back in school. Since I am going to be moving there won’t be any update on Wednesday 3-December-2014 or on 5-December-2014. I am going to try and post short update on 6-December or 7-December-2014 (using the laptop that is falling apart). I will try to approve any comment soon as possible if your comment ends up in the comment moderation for some reason.

300 Replies to “Bárðarbunga volcano update 1-December-2014”

  1. I should be up and running (in part at least) next week. Since I am going to get my belongings next week. If there are no problems with transfer to Iceland. So far only one problem came up and that was regarding preparations of part of my belongings for ship transfer to Iceland, my shipping company did properly pack what was the issue and notified me by email that they had fixed it. I also hope that everything makes the transfer to Iceland without being damaged in transfer.

  2. Just some trivia for everyone. Iceland may eventually be pulled apart since it sits on a spreading centre, but for the fact that it is part of two continental plates, the North American and the Eurasian plates, and so we can actually see all this amazing rifting and volcanic activity on land. If memory serves the basin and range geological area of the U.S. is underlain by a putative spreading centre as well and the result there is sporadic volcanism and extensional faulting forming horsts and grabens.

    Good old BB seems to be in the middle of a graben and also over a hot spot or possible mantle plume. This explains the extraordinary activity of this area at least as far as we can tell by Holocene deposits. Also in the way of trivia there is a high olivine magma that forms a rock called dunite. Dunite may have a specific gravity of up to 4 and so it is only found in eroded ultramafic plutons since it doesn’t get to the surface, or is not thought to make it to the surface via extrusive events.

    Also of interest, may be the ancient higher olivine ultramafic extrusives known as komatiites. Wikipedia has a nice write up here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Komatiite

    1. Very interesting, E J.
      Those komatiites, could they really be nearly 3.8 billion years old, roughly the same age as the oldest earth rocks? If so, they go back to the time of the major bombardment of the Moon by asteroids. Some of those asteroids allegedly formed all the lunar seas on the Earth facing side of the Moon.
      It is a short stretch from there to imagine that Earth, being bigger and more massive, got a much worse beating at the same time. This would have resulted in local anomalies in current petrological finds. This could be tested by isotopic analysis, because asteroids have fingerprint-like isotopic individuality.

  3. Off topic I know. Wonderful news Jón. You have been so lucky with your transport company. It took six weeks for our things to be shipped from England to Iceland and we only knew for sure the expected delivery date after we had been here for nearly five weeks. Great that the company helped with packing something, our company would just have charged us exorbitantly for packing, or charged us for the destruction of the item!

    1. There was an extra line in the text above (something that got not filtered out when I was thinking about it, this line “If there are no problems with transfer to Iceland.”).

      I am going to get my belongings next week. I hope that no damaged has happened in the transfer to Iceland from Denmark. I am expected to be charged something extra (I hope not too much) for the fixed they had to do, since that is work they had to do extra on my behalf since I messed up when I was loading my belongings to the car that carried them to Eimskip transfer centre in Denmark. They took no responsibility for any damage that might have happened due to poor packaging of the belongings that where the issue. This where no the most expensive (with the exception of the washing machine) that I own. My television was also there, but it was in a box, but not properly secured.

      1. The picture is real ,albeit with false colouration.Daily Mail?,well their track record on mainstream stories is not any worse than other media outlets ,they may run stories that others will not , but it is up to the reader to decide the validity of these “fringe”stories.Their photojournalism on breaking news events is in my opinion second to none.

    1. As I said, Daily Fail … 😉
      Good photos are not very informative, if the text that goes with them is inadequate … Re. reports about Iceland eg. there was sometimes some “errors” re. the area … hm …

      1. I am guessing that large volumes of CO2 are being released under the glacier from the caldera?

  4. Jon, It will be nice to see your posts again! 🙂 I hope the shipment of your belongings and unpacking goes as planned. Moving is very stressful, so set aside time to take a few deep breaths in the next few weeks.

  5. @Jón do you know how much donations you would need to get one first image of the sunken Bárðarbunga caldera from RADARSAT-2 (with RADARSAT-1 they found lake Vostok 4,000 m (13,100 ft) under the ice)?

    If you or somebody of us post follower could find out, we could start a donation project to see under the ice of Bárðarbunga…

    How to order RADARSAT-2 data


    1. I searched every way I could figure out at the link you provided and could arrive at no hint of pricing. So I contacted them by email and asked for the price to task their organization with an updated radar image under the ice of Bardabunga Volcano in Iceland. Will see how they respond.

    2. This is not my field of coverage. So I won’t start such project. What you can do is ask Icelandic Met Office if they have any such image from recent days or weeks.

      1. OK, Jon, THX, THX.

        Will let y’all know what responses I get.

        Now to track down my Met Office link. Usually have a window open on it but not for several days. LOL.

  6. OK. Done. Will see how they respond.

    Are you saying, Jon, that you’d not want such an effort to collect funds for such an image to be part of your effort and site or merely that you wouldn’t initiate it or manage it?

      1. My assumption is that they can construct more or less a photographic type image from the radar scan.

  7. Wow! Very impressive Webcam views right now with the bright moon and pulsing lava flows. Very nice.

  8. Hi again everyone. Still watching assiduously, and thanks for hosting this site Jon, hope your move goes as smoothly as you’d hope!
    Just wondering if some of the eq’s are starting to shift slightly to the south and south-east since the large 5.1? Would have thought south west more likely wrt BB’s ‘plumbing’?

    1. OK..just to clarify. Most of the eq’s are in the northern rim, but it appears there might be a slight increase in scatter, particularly with regards to the south, s-e and east s-e?

    1. Thanks for that Luis. This is important information.

      Seems that after a hiatus of several weeks, SO2 rich magma is back to the show again. And I was thinking eruption was going to beapproaching its last stages. I was wrong. (by the way high SO2 was also shortly recorded in 1st December, but that also helped by strong wind too)

      Seems that just like the Krafla rifting, we could expect Holuhraun to last years and go through breaks, ups and downs, and back to where it started after a while.

      1. My friend thank you for your kind words! Do you think this eruption will stay in present location or will progress to other places? Thank’s!

      2. I keep my original prediction.

        I think this is a shield volcano type of eruption. Its going to stay for a long time in the same spot and vent, and building up the shield mountain over time. It might last for years.

        But I think we could see other eruptions some years down the road in nearby spots, like Askja, Tungnafellsjokull, Kverfjoll or Bardarbunga caldera.

      3. I was hasking because i remember you telling that in similar past rifting events it’s usual to see eruptions in several central volcanos or/and the dyke eruption travel some times more than 40Km. So you hink this time the situation will stay like this? Thank you very much!

      4. “Seems that after a hiatus of several weeks, SO2 rich magma is back to the show again.”

        It is more likely that wind direction is now blowing the gases toward populated areas now and for several weeks had been blowing them in a different direction.

        Winds in a place like Iceland can persist from a dominant direction for weeks at a time. The arrival of a new storm in the area has likely shifted the winds.

  9. that is ratio or percentage of 4.0 to 4.9 out of total EQs 3.0+
    For example, on 03Dec there were (since last report)
    10 3.0 to 3.9 and 10 4.0 to 4.9 (and 2 5.0+)

  10. A century history destroyed in Chã das Caldeiras in 15 days by lava on Fogo Island. The lava is unstoppable on Fogo Island, Cape Verde. The situation worsened and new locations will be evacuated in the coming hours, warned this afternoon Cape Verdean Prime Minister. In just 15 days the lava has already consumed two-thirds of Cha das Caldeiras and two of the main towns. (video) http://sicnoticias.sapo.pt/mundo/2014-12-08-Um-seculo-de-historia-de-Cha-de-Caldeira-destruido-em-15-dias-pela-lava-na-Ilha-do-Fogo

  11. The ratio (20 / 31) = 64.5% is statistically significantly higher than the baseline percentage of 31.5% [over the time period 16Aug2014 to 31Oct2014].

    1. Interesting. At a guess, energy released, depth, and location are the significant factors…

    2. Change in the state of the shallow magma body?Pressure,temperature,gas content?Something that affects the flow of energy in the magma?

  12. Regarding storm in Iceland, in the southwest of Iceland, worst of wind forecasted for 11pm and worst of snow/rain around 1am. Storm conditions widespread after 9pm.

  13. Monday
    08.12.2014 20:57:47 64.618 -17.462 12.9 km 4.6 99.0 4.0 km SE of Bárðarbunga

  14. I finished all the paperwork regarding moving back to Iceland today (I hope). I should get my belongings on 10 – 12-December-2014 if everything goes according to plan. It might not and I don’t know yet how much problem the weather is going to be in next few days. I also hope that nothing got damaged in the transfer to Iceland. There is a good chance that no damage happened, but I never know about those things.

    1. Have been concerned about your belongings and the high seas due to recent weather. I hope the ship(s) made it into port prior to the roughest seas.

      1. You can track it here.


        Pick Iceland and Reykjanes Peninsula and find ship named “Dettifoss”, it is marked by a green arrow. I do hope everything is in order with my belongings in this bad weather and the ocean waves that follow it. The ship might get delayed if they have to hold out over the worst of the storm that is now passing south of Iceland at the moment.

  15. Monday
    08.12.2014 21:59:47 64.682 -17.445 7.2 km 4.2 99.0 6.1 km NE of Bárðarbunga

  16. @Jon,

    THANKS. Fascinating.

    Looks like it’s slow going. Unless I don’t understand the scale in miles well.

    I left to get a pizza more than an hour ago and the ship doesn’t appear to have made much progress in terms of distance since I left. Don’t know if that’s a normal speed or if heavy seas are the problem.

    At least port is not THAT far away.

    1. It depends on where you are exactly. Eg. at the foot of some mountains near Faxaflói Bay, it can be worst. We have had wind velocities of over 60 m/sec. at the foot of Hafnarfjall in some big storms. It depends on the wind direction, there can be sort of Katabatic winds within the area of the bay ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katabatic_wind ), not also Hafnarfjall, but also Esja (Kjalarnes) has a bad reputation re. these weather phenomena. The Ring Road no. 1 passes by both of these locations. And they influence also parts of the big fjord, called Faxaflói. But the harbour of Reykjavík is well protected, esp. within the container shipment harbour you can have a lull at the same time when there is a heavy storm under Esja.

      1. Good point about those katabats. That Icelandic Low must be permanent because katabatic winds coming off the Canadian and Greenland shields keep it in place. That would be so, especially in the fall when there is stronger downhill pressure gradient because of warmer Atlantic temps.

    1. Looks just like a hurricane connected to that permanent Icelandic Low off Greenland. Compare that to the puny Noreaster moving up along the coast of North Carolina.

      1. BTW, looking at nullschool (Irpsit posted link a bit above), Iceland seems to have the strongest winds in the world at the moment!
        UK supposed to get a weather bomb by the end of the week.

      2. The graph that IngeB links to above shows the wind building from gusts at 4 m/s to 86 m/s in less than an hour. I’ve got to view this spike with some suspicion. Maybe someone with more meteorological knowledge can comment. I wouldn’t question it if it went from 40 m/s to 86, but it doesn’t look right to my eyes the way it is to go from near calm to strong category 5 strength. It’s not a tropical system after all so no eyewall.

      3. Here are also very intensive wind gusts from the West Fjords: http://www.vegagerdin.is/ferdaupplysingar/faerd-og-vedur/vestfirdir/linurit/st102.html

        My source as before is the Icelandic Road Administration (Vegagerðin).

        In the West Fjords, you have also these kind of Katabatic Winds, because the landscape is consisting of high plateaus and very steep walled fjords, see eg. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Skutulsfj%C3%B6r%C3%B0ur_1.JPG?uselang=de . This could be a reason for these wind formations.

  17. Population centres in Iceland are a long way from receiving any damage from the lava flows.

    Not so much luck for the villages in the path of the lava flowing from the ongoing eruption on Fogo in the Cape Verde Isles. Recent video footage: –


    Historically, have any villages or even builings been destroyed by lava flows in Iceland?

    1. There was destruction of populated areas following the eruptions in Öræfajökull, both first eruption and second eruption. There have been some minor destruction and damage due to eruptions in Katla volcano.

      The largest one was in Vestmannaeyjar in 1973. Other than this damage does not happen due to the distance between volcanoes and populated areas.

      1. Vestmannaeyjar, I remember that now, that was the village that managed to save most of it’s building by pumping large quantities of sea water onto the lava. They are also lucky as they now have a better harbour than before that eruption.

        Real Atlantic storm blowing, we have weather warnings here in Scotland, we probably will get some polution from eruption as well.
        Hope your belongings are not delayed in transit by this storm. Good luck with the move.

  18. Tuesday
    09.12.2014 10:03:58 64.657 -17.406 2.0 km 4.3 99.0 6.1 km ENE of Bárðarbunga

    1. Please tell me why they disappeared, because I don’t watch your gallery anymore.
      As a photographer of volcanic events, please make yourself familiar with using the correct terms.

    2. Lukas I think the fountains seem smaller because the fissure now has 60 to 80 meter high walls and a small lake of lava. Also the eruption seems be more episodic with waxing and waning intensity. Nevertheless the Mila cams show some fountaining at night when I’ve looked at them and these “smaller” fountains show above the walls of Baugur, so they are not tiny. In addition any fountaining has to push through a layer of heavy molten basalt which is very heavy, so the resulting fountain won’t be huge unless something changes – more magma, more gas, etc.

    1. I think the reason could be that esp. the gas output has changed again, ie. quantity of gas and / or gas composition.

      1. Also, I guess one must take into account the build-up of great walls, keeping the magma in a “pool”, more or less?

        Sort of like a sprinkler under water.

    2. Dissoloved gases?Originally the magma was like a “foam” full of dissolved gases which exsolved on reaching the surface like champagne bottle popping it’s cork?,now the gases are exsolving at depth and pushing the more “syrup” like magma out in pulses?If this is the case,is it because of the effect of the established lava lake,or a change in the magma at depth,to a higher percentage of CO2 and lower percentage of H2O,thus increasing the magma viscosity as well as giving the free bubbles in the conduit?

  19. Your ship is safely home, Jon. Hope everything is in good and proper order. 🙂 Iceland is welcoming you back.

  20. There was an interesting article in visir.is last week. http://www.visir.is/bardarbunga-hefur-skolfid-i-5.727-skipti-fra-byrjun-goss/article/2014712029963

    The English version of Vísir is here: http://www.visir.is/5727-quakes-in-bardarbunga/article/2014141209790 But as this “giggles” a lot, eg. “the underground lava passage” …. , I translated it myself.

    5.727 quakes in Bárðarbunga from the beginning of the eruption
    Vísir.is 2.12.14

    „Regarding the situation up to now, we can say that this eruption is characterized by an astounding continuity though the measurements over a longer time span indicate diminishing activity. We have not seen such a stable eruption since measurements with modern instruments began, “ says IMO specialist Benedikt G. Ófeigsson.
    “This is an event which resembles more the eruptions in former times, eg. the Skaftáreldar (Laki eruption) or the events in this area at the end of the 18th century. And there is a rather slow development re. the subsidence around the caldera, which is slowing down more and more. This fits well the measurements of subsidence within Bárðarbungu which show a parallel development since beginning of the eruption, “ says Benedikt adding that movements on the surface of the volcano north of Vatnajökull almost stopped when the eruption began.
    These surface movements were of enormous proportions during the time span from 16. August to the end of the month and within a really big area. The movements on the surface near the glacier measured then 40 cm and still more at the intrusion. This is more than 20 times the yearly average rifting movement of Iceland. These are the biggest movements within the Northern Volcanic Zone since the Krafla Fires acc. to the earth scientists.

    The rifting or the growing of Iceland, has been measured at the station of Kiðagil, ca. 40 km to the north of the volcano. Also at Dynjuháls and at Háumýri, where the distance is almost 60 km in WSW direction from the volcano, but the intrusion stopped when it had covered a distance of about 11 km to the north from the foot of Dynjujökull (outlet glacier) after half a month of “travelling”.

    BTW: The last sentence of Vísir’s English version does not correspond to the Icelandic text at all. (In Icelandic: “Einnig á Dyngjuhálsi og á Háumýrum, þar sem fjarlægðin nálgast 60 kílómetra fyrir vestsuðvestan eldstöðina, en gangurinn stöðvaðist þegar hann teygði sig rúmlega ellefu kílómetra norður úr sporði Dyngjujökuls eftir hálfs mánaðar „ferðalag“.”)

    1. Acc. to these data, the whole distance, over which rifting was measured has been at least 100 km.

      1. Yes, one of those regional rifting events. I never thought I could see one while living in Iceland so soon.

        Last one was Askja 1875, before was the minor event in 1862-1864. Before was Laki in 1783. Rifting occured in Myvatn in 1724-1729. And before that in Veidivotn in 1477. Records get scarse then.

        But some rifting event go “dry”, tectonic rifting but not erupting. In Hengill in 1789. In Theistareykjarbunga possibly in 1618.

    1. Probably the M4.9 at only 600 meters deep. Very close to the surface so it would look huge to the recorders.

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