Earthquake activity in Bárðarbunga volcano

Last night (20-December-2015) a earthquake activity took place in Bárðarbunga volcano. Largest earthquake in this short earthquake swarm had the magnitude of 3,5 and the second largest earthquake had the magnitude of 3,1. This earthquake activity is shallow and above above 10 km depth and it appears to be result of magma activity in north-eastern part of Bárðarbunga volcano caldera. The earthquakes that took place appear to be long period volcano earthquakes (details can be found here, under b-type earthquake).

Earthquake activity in Bárðarbunga volcano. Copyright of this image belongs to Iceland Met Office.

There clearly is something going on in Bárðarbunga volcano, it is already known that inflation is taking place in Bárðarbunga volcano after the eruption in Holuhraun ended in February-2015. Along with increase in dyke intrusions this clearly suggest that magma pressure is increasing inside Bárðarbunga volcano. What worries me is not the risk of large eruption in Bárðarbunga volcano. The risk in my view is at the moment risk of small eruption taking place, if a small eruption takes place under a glacier it is going to mean glacier flood. Size depends on the eruption size, duration and other factors. Currently there are no signs of imminent eruption, but that might change without warning. The north-eastern part of the Bárðarbunga volcano caldera is in my view weakened structure due to all the earthquake activity for the past 15 (about) months.


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24 Replies to “Earthquake activity in Bárðarbunga volcano”

  1. Thanks for trhe update.

    One small thing though, I seriously question the notion of inflation, certainly as a linear phenomenon. That was happening for a small period over a lot of Iceland from early Oct to the end of Nov, but during Dec that all appears to have stopped and is deflating, even at Bardar – see the IMO GPS (where they’re working!). The only inflation I saw on last looking was NE of Katla.

      1. That is what IMO said based on the previous data, however check the data now, inflation is not happening right now from what I can see. In the bigger picture it may be, but the current trend is deflation.

  2. Is there any comparison between this current quake pattern to what happened in months leading up to last years activity around Bárðarbunga? Does this give us a possible timeline at all?

  3. Volcanologist Àrmann Höskuldsson is predicting that Bàrðarbunga will erupt again in 2016 or 2017, possibly to the southwest as a new fissure eruption or as an explosive eruption in the caldera itself.
    Not really sure which would be better since an explosive events sounds horrible, but the possibility of a fissure eruption towards
    the SW really freaked out the Icelandic authotities last time around.

    Link in Icelandic.

    1. As I said resurgent caldera,the piston drainage model was nonsense,this will be a concern for many years and have to be monitored closely I presume.Eruptions could be hard to predict ,but also less easily triggered and more explosive when they occur?

    2. Askja and Báðarbunga volcanoes are not connected. But the problem is that Bárðarbunga dyke might get into Askja volcano and if that happens all bets are off.

      1. Merry Christmas, Jon! Thanks for the frequent updates, although there is only little happening at the moment. I start feeling warm by thinking about what was going on at the same time last year…
        Many cheers to all

    3. The scientist behind this report is Àrmann Höskuldsson. I met him and his team when I was filming at Holuhraun last year; they had taken over the Dreki hut.

      I was impressed. I have a lot of respect for him and his people; these concerns should be taken seriously.

  4. Merry Christmas Jon, I know its a day or two early but things can get crazy at this time of the year. For instance its currently just about 0 and we got that fluffy white rain. At least the Weather network says its raining but,….something white is on the skylight which is either snow or a seagull exploded on my roof!

  5. Merry Christmas Jon, and all the best for 2016. I will make another donation around around the 6th or 7th January. It won’t be an awful lot, but I know you need every penny you can get. I just hope everything stays relatively quiet, so everyone can enjoy a nice Christmas without any strife.

  6. Couple of larger quakes today on Bàrðarbunga in the plus 3 category is this anything to indicate that we are getting ready for “Bardy round II”

    1. Both the quakes were listed as 3.3 but the first was 2.1 k down the last one is showing as 0.1 K in depth that must be very close to the surface of the caldera isn’t it?

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