Minor magma dike intrusion into Upptyppingar tuff mountain

Yesterday (12.01.2012) there was an minor earthquake swarm in Upptyppingar tuff mountain. But they are inside Kverkfjöll volcano fissure swarm that extends several km away from the main volcano. The largest earthquake in this earthquake swarm was around ML2.0 in size, with the depth of 14.4 km. But this was also the deepest earthquake in this earthquake swarm. But most of the earthquakes had the depth of 14.4 km and up to 7.8 km. So I am sure that this was magma, rather then tectonic movements that did create this small earthquake swarm.

The earthquake activity in Upptyppingar tuff mountains. Copyright of this picture belongs to Icelandic Meteorological Office.

This might mean that there is more activity on the way in Upptyppingar tuff mountain. As this suggests that new magma has started to flow into the magma sill that has formed under the Upptyppingar tuff mountains. It is hard to know or if there is going to be an eruption there. But I find it most likely going to be the case. But it might well be good 10 to 20 years into the future until an eruption happens in that spot. But activity started in this area in the year 2007, so there already have been good 5 years since activity started in Upptyppingar tuff mountain. For the moment however, it is all wait and see and earthquakes.

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New earthquake activity in Upptyppingar tuff mountains

During last week and on 5. January 2012 there where few earthquakes in the Upptyppingar tuff mountains. This mountains are not volcano by definition (yet anyway). But since the year 2007 there has been magma intrusion into that area. This magma intrusion however stopped and has been stopped for several years now. But that might be about to change. As on 5 January 2012 there where few small earthquakes with the depth of 12 km. Last eruption that took place in the Upptyppingar tuff mountain area where about 12.000 years ago, around the end of the last ice age. Considerable deformation has taken place in the crust in Upptyppingar tuff mountain since magma started to build up there. Current earthquake activity in Upptyppingar tuff mountain is not high at the moment however. But it has remained rather constant for the past 7 to 10 weeks at least. But due to lack of SIL stations in the area, it is hard to know how many earthquakes have exactly been taking place there at the moment.

Upptyppingar tuff mountains are part of Kverkfjöll volcano system. This new magma into Upptyppingar tuff mountains suggests that Kverkfjöll volcano might be about to enter an new time of activity. But they have been dormant since the year 1968 at least. But Kverkfjöll volcano have also been seeing some earthquake activity on its own.

It is most likely is the case that we are going to see eruption taking place in Upptyppingar tuff mountain one day. But the wait for it might be long however.

A research papers into the activity in Upptyppingar tuff mountain.

Resarch #1 (pdf file)
Research #2 (pdf file)

The magma below Upptyppingar tuff mountains

Upptyppingar are a tuff mountains in the east highlands in Iceland. There formation is contributed to a sub-glacier eruption in this area around 12.000 years ago. A second older sub-glacier eruption feature is also present in this area, it is called Álftadalsdyngja. It is believed that it did form around 700.000 years ago in a basalt eruption in this area. Upptyppingar and Álftadalsdyngja are both inside Kverkfjöll volcano fissure swarm.

Map of the area. Copyright of this picture belongs to how created it. Author unknown. Picture is from here.

In the year 2007 (Week 50) a earthquake swarms started to appear in Upptyppingar area. Earthquake activity in Upptyppingar area have continued since then. With total number of earthquakes in this area since the year 2007 is something over 6000 total. The reason why earthquakes are happening in this location is because magma is pushing up trough the crust in this area. This has been confirmed by GPS measurements since the year 2007.

It is my opinion that increased activity in Askja volcano might trigger a eruption in Upptyppingar area or in nearby area. As the risk of dike intrusion from Askja volcano into the Upptyppingar magma sill might trigger a large fissure type of event in this area. This is just speculation based on observed data. So please take note of that fact. The reason why I fear dike intrusion from Askja volcano is due to the changes that Upptyppingar magma has created in the nearby crust. But if this happens depends on how Askja volcano eruptions are going to behave in the future.

Here are some scientific data on Upptyppingar and the magma that has been collecting at 15 km depth below Upptyppingar mountains since the year 2007.


Location of the earthquakes since the year 2007. Copyright of this picture belongs to Icelandic Met Office. Picture is from here.

Depth of the earthquakes in the year 2007. As can be seen, the magma moved upwards with time. Copyright of this picture belongs to how created it. Author unknown. Picture is from here.

Estimated location of the magma below Upptyppingar mountain. This location is based on earthquakes and other measurements. Copyright of this picture belongs to how created it. Author unknown. Picture is from here.

What happens with Upptyppingar is now just a question of waiting and seeing. But there is also a good chance that this magma is never going to reach the surface in a eruption and is just going to cool down there and form a basalt dike that is going to be exposed in few million years when the weather and ice remove the rocks on top of it.

Earthquake swarm at Upptyppingar

I notice that there is a small, yet growing earthquake swarm taking place close to a small mountain named Upptyppingar. This mountain is within the fissure swarm of Kverkfjöll volcano but the area is in it self not active volcanically.

Few years ago (2007) there was a earthquake swarm in this area that did have something about 2000 earthquakes over a 48 hour period. The reason why there is earthquake activity in this area is due to magma being pushed up into the bedrock below. This process is something of the same that took place before the Eyjafjallajökull volcano eruption. But with the major difference that here is no central volcano doing this.

Earthquake pictures from IMO from that time. No map sadly as I forgot to save them or they are stuck on my main computer that holds all my geological data.

Text updated at 03:28 CET on 18.02.2011. Minor error fixes in the text.