Magma inflow results in earthquake activity in Bárðarbunga volcano

On Friday 6th of January 2017 it was noted by one of my readers that a deep earthquake activity had happen in Bárðarbunga volcano, the earthquake in question was a magnitude 1,6 at depth of 25 km. At that depth the only earthquakes that happen are due to magma movement, at that depth the pressure is such tectonic (as explained by Icelandic geologists) earthquakes do not commonly happen at this depth. Today, 8th of January 2017 a magnitude 3,3 earthquake happened in Bárðarbunga volcano at the depth of 7,3 km and the earthquake had the magnitude of 3,5.

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

The inflation of Bárðarbunga volcano is now at considerable levels, it is not known if or when an next eruption happens. It appears, based on historical data that eruption cycles in Bárðarbunga volcano last for up to 20 years (depending), during such time there is an eruption every few years. At the moment there is also a rifting taking place in this area, making already a complex situation a lot more complex and harder to figure out. Since besides the main volcano, a volcano named Hamarinn can also erupt during this cycles. It has already erupted and did so in July-2011 when it had a 8 – 12 hour long eruption resulting a massive glacier flood, but it did not break the surface of the glacier (Vatnajökull).

Good example of this cycle and repeated eruption pattern can be found in historical data on Global Volcanism Program website (link above).

The last eruption cycle took place in the late 19th century and ended in early 20th century. The following eruptions happened (documented, there is a good chance that some eruption might have been missed due to how remote Bárðarbunga volcano is),

1862 June 30 – 1864 October 15 (error margin +- 45 days). Area of eruption was Tröllagígar.
1872 – Date not know nor eruption site, Dyngjuhals suspected.
1902 December – 1903 June. Eruption site not known, Dyngjuhals also suspected.
1910 June 18 – 1910 October, Loki-Fögrufjöll (East loki Cauldron). This is also known as Hamarinn volcano.


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