Minor glacier flood from western Skaftárkatlar cauldron

Few days ago a glacier flood started from western Skaftárkatlar cauldron. Due to how short time it is since last time glacier flood took place from the western cauldron a major glacier flood is not expected. No damage is also not expected from this glacier flood due to how small it is.

Harmonic tremor disturbance due to the glacier flood from western Skaftárkatlar cauldron. Copyright of this image belongs to Iceland Met Office.

When the water pressure is released from the hydrothermal area that powers this cauldron, a spike in harmonic tremor is normally seen on nearby SIL station. The reason for this is unclear, with leading ideas that magma moves in the hydrothermal system when the pressure drops. The image above shows such harmonic tremor spike taking place at Jökulheimar SIL station. Eruption is not expected to happen due to this glacier flood, what happens is impossible to know for sure. Normally nothing more than just harmonic tremor spike happens.

Overview of week 44 activity in Iceland

This is a short overview of activity in week 44 in Iceland.

Tjörnes Fracture Zone (TFZ)

Earthquake swarm took place in TFZ in week 44. Largest earthquake had the magnitude of 3,5 and other earthquakes had the magnitude of 3,1. Other earthquakes where smaller in magnitude.

Earthquake swarm on the TFZ. Largest earthquake swarm took place where the green stars are. Copyright of this image belongs to Iceland Met Office.

A second smaller earthquake swarm took place south of Grímsey. It is not connected to the stronger earthquake swarm east of Grímsey island.

Bárðarbunga volcano

A magnitude 3,0 earthquake took place in Bárðarbunga volcano. This suggests increased pressure inside Bárðarbunga volcano. I forgot to save image of last week activity in Bárðarbunga volcano.

Tungnafellsjökull volcano

Earthquake activity continues in Tungnafellsjökull volcano. As before all of the earthquakes taking place are small in magnitude. At the moment the earthquake swarm activity appears to be centered around the top of the volcano, one of the main craters. Earthquake activity is steady in Tungafellsjökull volcano at the moment. It sometimes drop down, as is to be expected when magma moves inside volcano.

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

Skaftárkatlar cauldrons in Vatnajökull glacier

Recent survey of Skaftárkatlar cauldrons in Vatnajökull glacier has shown that the eastern cauldron has grown considerable in size. This is now thought to be the main reason why the glacier flood from eastern skaftárkatlar cauldron was the largest in recorded history. The cauldron is now 2,5 sq/km in size and 150 meters deep. Video of the overflight can be found here (Facebook). Measurements and other details can be found here at University of Iceland Earth science website (Icelandic). This are early results from recent survey.

Other things

Please remember to support my work with donations or by using Amazon. Due to problems with the Danish tax authorities I did not get my social welfare paid out this month in Iceland. Reason being that I have not got my copy of the tax statement for the year 2014, that I have . I hope this is resolved in November as has been promised to me. This however means that I have to use the salary for last months work to survive this month, money that I was saving in order to pay for moving cost when I move back to Denmark. If this is not resolved by December, I have to go on emergency income from my municipality. I won’t move to Denmark until this issue with the Danish tax is resolved. The temporary work that I was in is over so I’m going to be updating now when things happen in Iceland or close to it.

Once I’m back in Denmark I can start uploading detailed images of earthquakes and keep a real time watch about what is going on in Iceland. Its difficult for me to do that at the moment.

Glacier flood from Skaftárkatlar cauldrons and other updates

This is going to be a short article since I don’t have a time to write a long one.

The glacier flood from Skaftárkatlar cauldrons is mostly over. There continues to be a lot of water in rivers that were flooded, with the flood peak being at 2200 m³/s (uncorrected). Some damage has taken place on roads and few bridges, with one major bridge almost collapsing from the river eating into the river banks. A graph showing this glacier flood in realation to older glacier flood from the eastern skaftárkatlar cauldron can be found here (Icelandic news). The glacier water that did flood into a lava field (that erupted from Laki) is still on its way and is going to reappear in few days as clean water, a lot of clean water that might create problem in nearby rivers and nearby roads if any exist. I don’t know the layout of roads and such in this part of Iceland so I don’t release what type of damage might happen. Image of the largest damaged bridge can be found here (Icelandic news), there is a video in this news.

Bárðarbunga volcano

There has been a slight increase in earthquake activity in Bárðarbunga volcano this week. A magnitude 3,1 earthquake took place along with little increase in smaller earthquakes. There have also been clusters of small earthquakes been appearing in east and in south (both east and west) part of the volcano. This activity suggest that new magma is flowing into the magma chamber at depth and the pressure has increased. Maybe not to eruption levels at the moment, but that moment is getting closer as the time passes.

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

North Langjökull volcano (Hveravellir)

Earlier this week an earthquake swarm took place close to Hveravellir (volcano). This earthquake swarm was not large and the largest earthquake only had the magnitude of 2,5 (or around that number. I was working when this happened and I did not have chance to check or save the data). Earthquake activity in this area has been increasing slowly for the past 10 years. It is unclear why that is happening.

The earthquake activity in Hveravellir volcano. Copyright of this image belongs to Iceland Met Office.

Western Fracture Zone

There has been for the past few days earthquake activity in WFZ. This earthquake activity appears to be taking place in a extinct volcano in this area. I don’t think that this volcano is named and I don’t know the name of the mountains at the location were the earthquake activity is taking place.

The earthquake activity in WFZ today (04-October-2015). Copyright of this image belongs to Iceland Met Office.

I do expect the earthquake activity to continue in this area for next few days. Due to how rare earthquakes are in this area there is a risk of sharp and strong activity. It might also last for a long period of time, up to weeks or months at the longest.


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Glacier flood from Skaftárkatlar cauldrons in Vatnajökull glacier

Yesterday (16-June-2015) a small glacier flood started in Skaftárkatlar cauldrons in Vatnajökull glacier. The glacier flood can go up to 900m³/sec at its largest. The main risk from this glacier flood are the gases released into the air once the glacier water gets into the river, it is the advised that people stay away from the glacier rivers called Skaftá, it is also advised that people stay away from the edges of the glaciers named Skaftárjökull glacier, Tungárjökuls and Síðujökuls. It is unclear how big this glacier flood is going to be and from what cauldron is emptying, there is a good chance the cauldron that is emptying is the western one, since the eastern one empted last year and does not hold a lot of water at the moment.

Following this type of glacier flood a peak of harmonic tremor is detected from the cauldron that is emptying, it is thought that this is due to the hydrothermal vents (hot springs) that power those cauldrons start to boil when the pressure is released. There is a small chance eruption taking place in this area due to glacier flood when the pressure of the water is released, this is a chance, but it remains a small one.

Icelandic news

Skaftárhlaup líklega hafið (Rúv.is, Icelandic, Map)
Lítið Skaft­ár­hlaup lík­lega hafið (Mbl.is, Icelandic)
Skaftárhlaup mjög líklega hafið (Vísir.is, Icelandic, image)


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Article updated at 21:52 UTC.

Bárðarbunga volcano continues to deflate

The eruption in Holuhraun is over and nothing has been happening the crater for the past three weeks. This does not mean the deflation is over in Bárðarbunga volcano. Currently Bárðarbunga volcano continues to deflate at the rate of 2cm/day, total deflation since 31-August-2014 is around 60 meters. All this deflation has started to move the glacier inside the caldera, creating what appears to be inflation, that change in the glacier, that inflation is 1,5cm/day. That inflation should be 3-4cm/day according to Icelandic Met Office, so the difference is the deflation taking place. Currently the GPS sensor inside Bárðarbunga volcano caldera is not working so the only way to monitor this deflation is to continue to fly over the glacier and measure it that way. Next scheduled flight for Bárðarbunga volcano is going to take place after Easter.

News in Icelandic

Bárðarbunga hefur sigið um 60 metra (Rúv.is)

Bárðarbunga volcano update for 9-January-2015

This is a short update about the eruption in Bárðarbunga volcano.

Not much has changed since the update on Wednesday 7-Januar-2015. If there was an drop in the eruption, it was temporary and the eruption in Holuhraun has not resumed at earlier levels. At least no change has been observed from Míla web cameras today.

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

Largest earthquake in past 24 hours had the magnitude of 5,1. That earthquake took place in North-east part of the caldera in Bárðarbunga volcano. Smaller earthquakes have been taking place in that same area and have been doing so for the past four months. Small swarm of earthquakes have been taking place in the dyke close to the edge of the glacier. I don’t know for sure what that means at the moment, but I do not think it is a good sign. Since there is a high risk of eruption along the dyke, even if there is eruption taking place at just one location at the moment. The dyke is ~46 km long and most of it is under Vatnajökull glacier.

This time of the year glaciers in Iceland area adding weight to them due to snowfall. The chances are this is having effects on Bárðarbunga volcano. Since snowfall on Vatnajökull glacier is around 10 to 20 meters during the winter (this depends on the year). Pressure from the glacier is currently increasing on Bárðarbunga volcano, I don’t know for sure what effects that is having, but it is my best guess that it is slowing down what is happening in Bárðarbunga volcano. Glaciers start to get lighter in June to September each year when the summer melt starts again.

Article updated at 22:25 UTC.

Bárðarbunga volcano update Monday 3-November-2014

The eruption in Holuhraun continued last weekend as it has been doing for the past two months. No change happened. Due to bad weather this weekend it was difficult to monitor what was happening in Holuhraun. The eruption continues at full force from what I can see on Míla web cameras, when I was viewing it earlier today I noted that lava strokes where going up 20 – 50 meters high up. The main crater has build up around 90 meter high wall around the main eruption, blocking all view to it. I don’t know how stable this wall it, so collapses might happen in it at times without warning.

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

Largest earthquake during the weekend had the magnitude of 5,4. Other earthquakes where smaller, but there was a lot of earthquakes that had magnitude larger than 3,0. This high volume of strong earthquakes continues in Bárðarbunga volcano, so far more than 61 earthquake have been larger then magnitude 5,0, more then 228 earthquakes with magnitude 4 – 5 have happened since this started and more than 434 earthquakes have happened in Bárðarbunga volcano since August. The amount of magma that has erupted in Holuhrauni lava field is now 1,0 km³ (or more). The new lava now covers 70 square kilometre area according to last measurements that I know of. The eruption in Holuhraun is still fourteen times smaller than Laki eruption that happened 1783 – 1784. Far as I know there is currently nothing more to report.

Icelandic News

Stærsta gos síðan í Skaftáreldum (Rúv.is, Icelandic)

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Article updated at 00:37 UTC on 04-November-2014.

Bárðarbunga volcano update for Wednesday 29-October-2014

Today (29-October-2014) marks the two months since the second eruption in Holuhraun started. Currently the eruption is ongoing with no signs of stopping, it is erupting about the same power since Monday, the eruption power is less than it was when it started two months ago and that is normal. The lava field has now covers area of 64,6 square kilometres in size. This is now largest lava in Iceland since Laki eruption of 1783 – 1784.

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

Earthquake activity remains strong in Bárðarbunga volcano. There is one to two magnitude five or stronger earthquake every 20 – 35 hours at present time. The caldera continues to drop around 40cm/day, most of the drop happens without any earthquake activity at all. So far no major eruption has happened under the glacier, only minor eruptions have happened that have only lasted for few hours.

I also want to point out there is only basalt lava in this eruption. This magma is up to 1600C warm when it comes up from its deep source at +20km depth. If there was any other type of magma in this eruption it would have been detected by now in the current eruption in Holuhraun. Most of Iceland eruptions are basalt only eruption, since Iceland is both on hotspot and the mid-Atlantic ridge. There are other melts and types of eruptions, but such eruptions don’t happen as frequently as normal basalt eruptions. The reason for ash cloud eruptions in volcano like Grímsfjall is due the fact that there is a glacier on top of the volcano. Same rule applies to Katla volcano, it is all basalt most of the time, but since there is a lot of glacier on top of the volcano the eruptions that happen are explosive due to that fact.

I don’t think there is anything else new about the eruption and activity in Bárðarbunga volcano since Monday.

Bárðarbunga volcano daily update for 22-October-2014

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Bárðarbunga volcano eruption in Holuhraun has not changed much from yesterday. Latest news however say that the eruption in Holuhraun is slowly coming to an end. When that might happen is not known, there is less lava flow today then two weeks ago. Activity in Bárðarbunga volcano is far from over and I am expecting new eruption starting at any time with no warning at all. There is also no major change in the GPS data as can be seen here.

Earthquake activity today in Bárðarbunga volcano. Green stars show earthquakes with magnitude above 3,0. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

There is no longer any point for me to mention the largest earthquakes today. Since there happen magnitude 3,0 – 4,9 earthquake every one to three hours at the moment and earthquakes with magnitude above 5,0 every 20 – 30 hours. People wanting to check magnitude details can do so on Icelandic Met Office website here. Any large earthquake also appear clearly on my geophones, the website for those can be viewed here. Other then this I don’t have any new news about what is happening in Bárðarbunga volcano. The day to day changes are not great as I have mentioned earlier.

Update 1: Rúv News has published a news about new estimate from Icelandic Met Office if an eruption happens in Dyngjujökull or in the river area of Jökulsá á Fjöllum. New estimates are that 25,000 cubic meters per second of water are going to flood down Jökulsá á Fjöllum in such eruption and are going to reach Holuhraun eruption and lava field in about 30 minutes. The news can be viewed here with graphics, both language and text is in Icelandic.

Icelandic News about Bárðarbunga volcano

„Þetta hætt­ir einn góðan veður­dag“ (mbl.is)

Due the fact that the eruption in Holuhraun and activity in Bárðarbunga volcano is almost the same now between days I am going to write fewer articles about the activity in Bárðarbunga volcano. The reason is that I want to get a little rest before the next chapter in Bárðarbunga volcano activity starts and I find it is difficult to report always the same thing almost every day. I am going to keep the daily update format until Friday and from Monday I am doing to update every other day, this means there is going to be update on Monday, then on Wednesday and on Friday. Unless something major happens then I am going to update soon as I can do so.

Article updated at 21:48 UTC.
Article updated at 22:57 UTC.

Bárðarbunga daily update for 6-October-2014

This information is going to get outdated quickly.

Bad weather

Bad weather is expected in Iceland for the next few days. Storm can be expected to take place. I am not sure on the details. Check Icelandic Met Office weather information for more details.

Status of Bárðarbunga volcano on 6-October-2014

  • The eruption in Holuhraun has picked up again from a minor slowdown on Saturday.
  • Strong earthquake activity continues in Bárðarbunga volcano. Strongest earthquake on 6-October-2014 was a magnitude 5,1 earthquake. Other earthquakes have been smaller in magnitude.
  • Bad weather is preventing good observation of Bárðarbunga volcano, both in Holuhraun and over Vatnajökull glacier. Visibility can be extremely limited at times.
  • SO2 pollution was detected in Reykjavík during the evening of 6-October-2014. It did go over 700 μg/m³ for a short moment in Reykjavík and nearby area. More pollution from the eruption is expected tomorrow.
  • The lava field in Holuhraun eruption is now larger than 50 square kilometres in size. I don’t have the exact size for today.
  • Bárðarbunga volcano caldera continues to drop and has dropped more than 30 meters by now.
  • The activity in Holuhraun appears to be slowly getting smaller with time. This is normal, this also increases the risk of new eruption starting soon.
  • No further information for today that I am aware of at this moment.

The earthquake activity in the past 48 hours in Bárðarbunga volcano. Green stars are earthquakes with magnitude above 3,0. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

Short overview of the earthquake activity over the weekend

  • Earthquake activity picked up on Saturday compared to Friday and Sunday.
  • Eruption activity did drop in Holuhraun craters on Saturday, it did pick up again on Sunday far as I know.
  • Far as I know there is nothing else to report.

Other things related to Bárðarbunga volcano

I’ve seen a lot of strange discussions about Bárðarbunga volcano. I get even stranger emails at times (no, I don’t answer those). Far as I know there isn’t any Felsic magma (or Andesite) in Bárðarbunga volcano caldera. Reason for that is it appears to have been really long time since the caldera erupted. I am not sure on exact time scale, but it is from 400 to 700 years at the shortest. The forces at work in Bárðarbunga volcano are extremely complex and they are not properly understood today, the eruption in Bárðarbunga volcano is going to add that knowledge with time. Since it is going to take many decades of study to analyse and figure out what the data collected today means. I dismiss all strange and odd ideas about what is going on in Bárðarbunga volcano, since they don’t fit the data that I am seeing (along with everyone else that is viewing that same data, interpretation of that data might differ)

It is also worth to mention that only north part of the Bárðarbunga volcano system has shown rifting in only one fault. There are many more in this area that have not yet moved. I expect them to move in next few months to years. Then there is the matter of all the activity that is going to take place in Bárðarbunga volcano south of it. That area has not moved so far, it is going to rift in the same manner as the area in the north of Bárðarbunga volcano. When is impossible to know, but I expect it to happen in next few months to years. This is far from over, in fact, this activity in Bárðarbunga volcano has barely started, even if it has been erupting now for almost one month and a half. There are going to be quiet period with no eruption activity in Bárðarbunga volcano during this process. Those quiet periods are going to be different in length, they are going to happen, it is just a matter of time. That is how rifting works in rifting zones (and rift valley) around the world.

Next update is tomorrow if nothing major happens in Bárðarbunga volcano.

Article updated at 01:09 UTC on 07-October-2014.