Earthquake activity in Bárðarbunga volcano

In 2016 Bárðarbunga volcano kept busy all year with inflating and preparing for the next eruption.

On 31-December-2016 a swarm of earthquake happened in Bárðarbunga volcano, largest earthquake in that swarm had the magnitude of 3,6 and the second largest earthquake had the magnitude of 3,3. On 02-January-2017 few earthquake happened, the largest one having the magnitude of 2,8.

The earthquake activity in Bárðarbunga volcano. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

At the moment, the Bárðarbunga volcano continues to inflate at what seems to be a rather fast rate. When that might lead to an eruption is difficult to know. Other more complex factors are also at work here that I don’t know to well and are impossible to figure out.


Please remember to support my work with donations. Thanks for the support. 🙂

39 Replies to “Earthquake activity in Bárðarbunga volcano”

  1. OT: Apparently the volcano threat level at Campi Flegrei has been raised from green to yellow (so I’ve just read at Nat Georaphic- dated Dec 22 2016)… Of course it could all come to nothing!
    OT end.

  2. Strong earthquake swarm deep south of Iceland (~1200 km). Due to how far this earthquake swarm is from Iceland I’m not going to write about it at the moment.

  3. Where does one get info on that type of activity Jon, as the USGS does not report anything in the north Atlantic at all. Its just about as useless for anything north of Washington state and south of Alaska. I find our Canadian site almost useless as well, it only puts a dot on a map and gives no details. I love the reporting that comes out of Iceland simple but effective with tons of details ie depth ,magnitude, time, as well as great location data.

    1. Wednesday
      04.01.2017 11:56:31 64.098 -21.153 6.1 km 3.8 99.0 3.2 km NE of Hrómundartindi

  4. A 3.8 eq in Hrómundartindur volcano and i felt it clearly here in garðabær. The swarm that is going on right now appears to be volcanic, any thoughts on this Jón?

      1. Solli how would you describe what you felt with that jolt, for instance , I would describe the feeling when Mt St Helen’s went off as a car hitting my garage door for about 3 minutes. Of course we were 300 miles away in Creston BC, but my father in law used the same expression for what he felt in Victoria 300 miles west of us. Other quakes Ive felt were more like someone dropped a large book on the floor, short and a single bump. So what would you describe the sensation like for you.

      2. I was in my office when i felt like I was in a massage chair, it actually felt quite nice, then again I saw my coffe jitter abit with it. It came in two three or five second waves. I knew instantly that it was a earthquake and thought for a moment that the 2008 earthquakes were maybe re-occurring.

  5. Wednesday
    04.01.2017 18:39:02 64.617 -17.493 3.9 km 3.7 99.0 3.0 km SSE of Bárðarbunga

    1. Krakatoa was a big scary eruption. They don’t get any bigger then that anywhere (with few rare exception that you won’t have to worry about).

      1. I’d beg to differ very slightly. Ioto is big scary caldera and a certain other forum got it right IMHO when they fingered it as possible serious trouble. The amount and long-term consistency of inflation there give serious pause for thought.

      2. Ioto is remote and active volcano. It also sits on a subduction zone boundary and appears to be under the ocean. While it might create serious problem (landslides under the sea), it is also remote and no major population centres are nearby. A larger eruption in this location would be a problem for air-traffic and some ash fall might happen on land if the wind direction is correct. But any eruption at this location is going to go unnoticed.

      3. Jon the problem is the possible *scale* of the eruption. A VEI 7 is certainly not out of the question from such a caldera. The problem wouldn’t be the eruption; it would be the pacific-wide tsunami.

      4. @ Porsche 928: Interesting article, and thanks for the link.

        I’m not sure the section you refer to in your link completely bears out your point. It says that “The Myojin-Sho (Japan) submarine eruption in 1952 generated waves less than 1.5 m high at 130 km from the volcano…” But the Myojin-Sho eruption was VEI 2 (according to GVP). Others will be able to do the maths to project what size of waves would be generated, and how far they would be propagated. by a VEI 7 quake – which is what is being envisaged.

        The authors conclude this section of the article by stating that “hazards related to underwater volcanic explosions are quite unpredictable and might be underestimated in some cases…”.

    2. Thanks for drawing my attention to the mistake. I don’t expect it will have misled anyone but if it has, my apologies.

      Regarding Myojin-Sho, isn’t the relevant fact for comparative purposes the VEI rather than how it stands in relation to the historical record? I mean, we have a recorded VEI 2 and its known effects and we are seeking to compare that with a possible VEI 7, aren’t we?

    3. I don’t understand a thing here. Krakatoa, a pussycat compared to what? Sarcasm?

      And why bringing up Ioto, a volcano with only VEI 1 in its historical record?

      1. Yes, I didn’t (still not sure I do) understand the original post, but then Mike Ross put it in the context of Ioto, the potential seriousness of whose eruption has been discussed in detail on another volcano blog. Ioto has shown what can reasonably be described as dramatic inflation over a long period, and projections from the known data suggest it could be capable of a VEI 7 eruption.

      2. Andrew explained Ioto very well. Krakatoa was indeed a ‘pussycat’ compared to what Ioto may be capable of. If you want to get a handle on what I mean Kuwae and Thera are good examples of something close to worst-case submarine eruptions.

        I suspect the incomprehensible original poster was some kind of hit and run doom & gloom catastrophist!

    4. VEI-7 eruptions are extremely rare. Without doing much internet and Jon’s site search, I think that the problem with submarine erupions is that you don’t have the pyroclastic flows an debris to cause sufficient vertical water displacement resulting in Tsunamis.
      It mostly produces floating rocks or pumice rafts.

      Then you have the immense pressure, that is why eruptions become more and more explosive with the rise to the sea surface. It’s mentioned somewhere in this interesting video, well worth watching btw

      1. According to the latest scientific studies Thera (the +-1650 BC one) can indeed be categorized as a VEI 7 eruption.
        But you can hardly describe it as submarine, if at all.

        In this model the new caldera was dry after the main eruption. Then a section of the dam gave way and incoming water formed the NW Strait.

    1. Your going to be very busy in the next year or so. I’ll send a little your way….your going to need reliable equipment.

      I’ve been watching this board since 2008 and occasionally post topics that get me into trouble. I figure if I send you a little every once in a while, I am given special dispensation for minor sins 🙂 I don’t intend malice. I just know things about pigeons…and volcano’s.

      Happy New Year Jon 🙂

  6. Jon,

    When did Bárðarbunga change from collapse to inflation, and how can we tell the difference from the earthquakes? Are they still monitoring the caldera height?


  7. Today: over 3 earthquake at both Barðarbunga (a 3.7) and Katla (3.5). Looks like an earthquake swarm at Katla.

    1. Regarding Katla, the shallow swarm and M3.5 was not very suprising, as there were a few deep earthquakes (particularly one at 8 km depth) before it.

      Although I have no hard science to back up this statement, I think the repeating pattern has been well visible lately. My guess is that these are signs that Katla cannot handle the pressure of fresh magma injections for much longer.

Comments are closed.