Yesterday (12. August 2023) an small earthquake swarm took place in Hofsjökull volcano. Largest earthquake had a magnitude of Mw3,0 and the second largest earthquake had a magnitude of Mw2,5. The area is remote and there are no reports of this earthquakes being felt.
According to Morgunblaðið news there where report of smelling gas after this earthquake activity. There is a risk of gas pockets around Hofsjökull volcano, probably mostly to the north in the area closest to the earthquake area.
I don’t have any other information about Hofsjökull volcano. Because it last erupted more than 12.000 years ago. At most there might have been smaller eruptions that resulted in lava flows sometimes in the last 12.000 years. I don’t expect an eruption now, this earthquake activity might signal a long term change in Hofsjökull volcano. How long that is going to be is anyone guess. It might be in the next 100 to 500 years or maybe never. Hofsjökull volcano is on its own rift zone that is slowly dying off. Along with Kerlingafjöll volcano to the south of Hofsjökull volcano. This are the only two (?) active volcanoes on this old dying rift zone (its around 5 to 10 million years old).
Today (28. June 2023) an earthquake swarm started in Hofsjökull volcano. At the writing of this article it seems to be over, but I am uncertain if that’s the case. This was not a large earthquake swarm, with just around eight earthquakes happening. All where below Mw3,0 magnitude in size.
Largest earthquake in this swarm had a magnitude of Mw2,6. While other earthquakes where smaller in magnitude. I am not sure what is happening in Hofsjökull volcano. There have not been any eruptions in Hofsjökull volcano in the last 8000 to 12000 years. There might not have been any eruption in Hofsjökull volcano for more than 12000 years, how much longer is information I do not have.
Hydrothermal activity has formed a ice cave in Hofsjökull glacier (volcano details here). According to an announcement by Icelandic Met Office this ice cave is dangerous due to sulphur (SO2) pollution and that it goes above 60ppm. That can result in loss of breathing, loss of vision and damage to eyes and lungs. People should only enter this ice cave with gas monitoring hardware on them. One seven year old girl passed out due to sulphur poising some weeks ago in a trip to this newly formed ice cave. There is also a high risk of collapse from the roof of the ice cave as ice appears to be loose above it and can collapse down without warning at any time.
There is also a risk of hydrothermal activity increasing and that is going to result in more sulphur (SO2) gas in the cave and other dangerous gases coming up. This appears to the same location that had increased activity 15 years ago that also formed an ice cave. The reason for this increase in hydrothermal activity is unclear since no earthquake activity has been recorded in Hofsjökull volcano for the past 10 years. This means earthquake activity above background levels, one or three earthquakes are recorded each year in random part of the caldera or parts of Hofsjökull volcano outside of the caldera area. Höfsjökull volcano is on its own rifting zone (information here, related paper here) (marked as SRZ on some documents) along with Kerlingarfjöll volcano (it is now under GVP as Hreppar. I don’t know why that is).
On the 30th of March-2017 there was some minor earthquake activity in Hofsjökull volcano. This was a minor earthquake activity, with the largest earthquake having the magnitude of 1,3 at depth of 4,5 km. The deepest earthquake had magnitude of 1,0 and depth of 10,1 km.
Earthquake activity in Hofsjökull volcano. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.
I’m not expecting anything more to happen in Hofsjökull volcano. This volcano does not have any known eruption during the last 12.000 years that I know of. I don’t know what the latest research into activity in Hofsjökull volcano says, I was also unable to find any information about possible time frame when last eruption took place in Hofsjökull volcano. As it currently stands, I don’t expect anything more to happen besides maybe one or two extra earthquake appearing in Hofsjökull volcano.
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Today (15-October-2016) few earthquakes took place in Hofsjökull volcano. This where just few earthquakes with the largest earthquake having the magnitude of 1,4. Slight to the east a magnitude 2,3 earthquake happened, that however was a intra-plate earthquake and is not connected to any volcano.
Earthquake activity in Hofsjökull volcano. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.
This earthquake activity in Hofsjökull volcano appears to be a response to a stress change in the area, even if sits on its own rift zone (Skagafjörður rift zone, science paper). It is my guess that the source of this stress changes can be found in Bárðarbunga volcano and the movement of the eastern rift zone that is currently happening. I’m not expecting any eruption from Hofsjökull volcano, it’s not known when last eruption took place in Hofsjökull volcano. More earthquakes might happen in the future due to stress changes in the upper crust close to Hofsjökull volcano or in Hofsjökull volcano.
Update on 16-October-2016
The Icelandic Met Office has updated the earthquakes location. Now they are all in Hofsjökull volcano. Six earthquakes happened and the largest one had the magnitude of 2,3. No intra-plate earthquake happened, that was just a wrong manual location.
Updated locations of the earthquakes in Hofsjökull volcano. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.
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Article updated on 16-October-2016 at 16:23 UTC. Updated earthquake map added.
Today (13-June-2014) an earthquake activity took place in Hofsjökull volcano. The largest earthquake in this activity had the magnitude of 2,8 with the depth of 5,1 km.
Earthquake activity in Hofsjökull volcano. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Meteorological Office.
Earthquake activity in Hofsjökull volcano is not common but it does happen once to twice a year. Everything remains quiet at Hofsjökull volcano and I don’t expect that is going to change any time soon.
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Updated at 16:47 UTC. Updated at 17:23 UTC. Updated at 17:39 UTC.
In August-2013 there was an glacier flood from Hofsjökull volcano, this glacier flood was minor and did not cause any damage. The source of this glacier flood has now been found according to Icelandic Meteorological Office. A new glacier cauldron has been found in Hofsjökull glacier, where none was before. The cauldron is around 700 meters long and about 30 – 50 meters deep. The glacier is cracked a lot around the cauldron and it’s dangerous to travel to this area because of that. The hight of this cauldron is around 1700 meters above sea level.
Hofsjökull volcano and glacier. The new glacier cauldron is located at ~64°49,5‘N; 18°52‘W. Click on the image for full resolution. Image from NASA/USGS/Icelandic Meteorological Office/Geological Department of University of Iceland (Jarðvísindastofnun Háskólans).
According to Icelandic Meteorological Office this part of the glacier has not had any glacier cauldrons before that they know of. This cauldron has the volume of 1 million cubic meters (106 m3) according to Icelandic Meteorological Office. This area now has highly active hydro-thermal area and hot-springs. What formed this glacier cauldron is unclear at the moment, it was not an eruption since no such signals have been recorded from Hofsjökull volcano before or after the glacier flood in August-2013. It is also unclear if this glacier cauldron is going to create new glacier flood in the future.
Yesterday (21-August-2013) saw the start of small glacier flood from Hofsjökull volcano, this glacier flood has continued today and west Jökulsá in Skagarfirði continues to smell of sulfur and is dark color. Conductivity remains high in the glacier river following this glacier flood. It is not known currently for sure what areas of Hofsjökull volcano this comes from or what cauldrons are emptying of hydrothermal water build up.
Announcement (seen on Facebook) from Almannavarnir (Iceland Civil Protection) and Icelandic Meteorological Office on the strength of sulfur following this glacier flood is so high that it is dangerous to be close the source of the glacier flood (closest to Hofsjökull volcano). Strength of sulfur in the area is high enough to damage people lungs, travellers in the area advised to stay away from the source of the glacier river Jökulsá until this glacier flood is over, that might take few days at most. No earthquake activity has been observed in Hofsjökull volcano following this glacier flood. The volcano has been completely quiet during this glacier flood and at current time do not expect it to show any activity. Currently there is little known about Hofsjökull volcano and the activity in it, since it has never erupted during modern era (past 12.000 years).
It has been reported today that possible glacier flood has taken place in Hofsjökull volcano. Reports did come to Icelandic Meteorological Office that a glacier river named Jökulsá Vestri in Skagarfirði (Wikipedia). It is not known what is causing this change in the glacier river, it might be anything from a mud slide to change in the glacier itself. Amount of water in the glacier river has not changed according to IMO monitoring of the river.
Smell of sulfur has been reported with this change in the glacier river. That means the water has been in contact with hydrothermal areas that are under Hofsjökull glacier (volcano). No earthquake activity or change of any type has taken place following this change in Jökulsá Vestri in Skagarfirði.
If anything more happens. I am going to update this blog post or post an new one if I need to.
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