Rare earthquake in Snæfellsjökull volcano


A single earthquake took place in Snæfellsjökull volcano today (16. May 2023) at 14:46 UTC. This was a single Mw2,0 earthquake with depth of 0,1 km. This earthquake was 5,4 km east of Hellisandur town. If this earthquake was felt is not known to me (nothing reported in the news).

Red dot just north of the glacier of Snæfellsjökull volcano. This is on Snæfellsnes peninsula.
Earthquake in Snæfellsjökull volcano. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

It is rare to see earthquakes like this on Snæfellsjökull volcano and this is the first earthquake I write about from Icelandic Met Office data. Research has shown that small earthquake activity does regularly happen in Snæfellsjökull volcano.


Icelandic Met Office adds new seismometers on Snæfellsnes peninsula


On Friday (2-October-2020) Icelandic Met Office announced on their Facebook page that they had added three new seismometers. This means that on the Icelandic Met Office Iceland map there are now going to start appearing earthquakes on Snæfellsnes peninsula and earthquakes when they happen in Westfjörd and other nearby areas out in the ocean and on land. Areas that have until now not had great detection of small earthquakes. This are just three seismometers so locations might be slightly inaccurate for the smallest earthquakes. But this is the first time that Snæfellsnes peninsula is being monitored all day directly. I don’t know where the new seismometers are located since they are not yet on the tremor plot website that Icelandic Met Office has.

The new seismometers on Snæfellsnes peninsula are going to show earthquakes if any from this volcanoes that are on Snæfellsnes peninsula.

Snæfellsjökull volcano
Ljósufjöll volcano
Helgrindur volcano


Earthquakes recorded in Snæfellsjökull volcano


Snæfellsjökull volcano is not often in the news in Iceland. But today there was a short news about it due a study that was done last summer on earthquake activity in Snæfellsjökull volcano. The study was to see if there where any earthquake activity in Snæfellsjökull volcano. The results are really interesting, the main result was there is a lot of earthquake activity in Snæfellsjökull volcano. But also that most of the earthquakes take place on the depth from 9 to 13 km depth. This study was done by Matteo Lupi and Florian Fuchs at Bonn University in Iceland.

The reasons for earthquake activity in Snæfellsjökull volcano is magma. There are not a lot of tectonic movement in Snæfellsjökull volcano area. As it is a volcano zone, but not a rift zone as is the case in most areas of Iceland. But so far it seems that there is no risk of volcano eruption for now. At least that is the opinion for the moment.

Image removed at the request of its author.

Currently there is no permanent SIL network (IMO wants to install SIL stations, but they lack funding to do so) or other type of Seismometer network on Snæfellsnes peninsula. This is bad, because this area has three active volcanoes that erupted around 1000 years ago. Along with populated areas close to this volcanoes. I plan on trying to setup few geophones in that area if I can. But currently I do not have any money or way to install and run geophones on Snæfellsnes peninsula. My closest geophone to Snæfellsnes peninsula is at Hvammstangi village. Closest the distance is around 84 km or so to the Ljósufjöll volcano. But that means I can record earthquakes down to ML1.0 in the best weather. But since I just have one geophone in this area at the moment. I cannot locate any earthquakes. I just know that they take place.

This is based on blog post from Haraldur Sigurðsson, geologist.

Blog post and news about this in Icelandic

Jarðskjálftar undir Snæfellsjökli kalla á skjálftamælanet (blog.is, Icleandic)
Þörf á skjálftamælum við Snæfellsjökul (mbl.is, Icelandic)

Blog post updated at 20:10 UTC on 17.04.2012
Blog post updated at 20:13 UTC on 17.04.2012
Blog post updated at 15:23 UTC on 20.04.2012


The dormant volcanoes in Iceland


While all the active volcanoes in Iceland get all the press and coverage. There are volcanoes in Iceland that are not so active and have remain dormant for thousands of years now and currently do not show any signs of activity. Some have some hot spring activity. But that is about it for them. The following volcanoes in Iceland have not erupted in historical times. Some have not even erupted in past 12.000 years best to my knowledge. But as history has proved in other parts of the world. An dormant volcano can start to erupt when it feels like it and without any warning at all in some cases.

This is based on Global Volcanism Program data. So it might be subject to errors and updates.


Hrómundartindur – Last eruption is unknown. This volcano is an stratovolcano.

Grensdalur – Last eruption was in Pleistocene and its current status is Pleistocene-Fumarolic. This volcano is an stratovolcano.

Grímsnes – Last eruption is believed to have taken place around 3500 BC. But this volcano is marked as tephrochronology. This volcano makes crater rows when it erupts.
Geysir – This volcano last erupted in Pleistocene and is marked as Pleistocene-Geysers. This is an stratovolcano.

Hveravellir – This volcano last erupted around the year 950 AD. It is currently marked as radiocarbon. This is an subglacial volcano.

Hofsjökull – This volcano has erupted sometimes in the last 12.000 years. It has the marking holocene. This is an subglacial volcano. The second volcano in this system is not marked in GVP database. But that volcano is named Kerlingarfjöll. I do not know when it last erupted. There is also an embeeded second volcano in Hofsjökull volcano that is Independent from the main Hofsjökull volcano (yes, this is the case it seems). I do not have any idea when that did last erupt.

Esjufjöll – This is an sub-glacier volcano in Vatnajökull glacier. Its last eruption is uncertain. But is believed to taken place in the year 1927. From the year 2000 this volcano has been showing signs of increased activity. This volcano is an stratovolcano.

Fremrinamur – This volcano is last believed to have erupted in the year 1200 BC. This volcano is an stratovolcano.

Þeystareykjabunga – This volcano last erupted around the year 900 BC. This volcano is an shield volcano.

Snæfellsjökull – This volcano last erupted around 200 AD. It is currently marked as radiocarbon. This is an stratovolcano.

Helgrindur (also known as Lysuhóll) – This volcano has no record of eruption. But it is thought that it erupted sometimes in the past 12.000 years. But exact time is not known. This volcano makes pyroclastic cones. This volcano is the smallest volcano system in Iceland.

Tindafjallajökull – It is unknown if this volcano has erupted during holocene. But the GVP information say that dozen of small eruptions took place in early holocene. This is an stratovolcano.

Snæfell – This volcano is located east of Vatnajökull glacier and south of Kverkfjöll volcano. It was once believed that this volcano was extinct. But new research into it has changed that opinion. This is most likely an stratovolcano. But I do not have it confirmed. This volcano has at least not erupted for several thousands years or more. Currently there are no information about this volcano in the Global Volcanism Program database.

Skrokkalda – This volcano is dormant. But I do not know if it has erupted in historical times or not, but I do no think that is the case. I am also not sure what type of volcano it is.

There are few more volcanoes missing due the fact that they are not in the Global Volcanism Program database. But I have them on a map that I own. So they are going to be added later when I update this blog post.


Little information about Snæfellsjökull volcano on the Snæfellsnes peninsula

It is a quiet time in Iceland with just 132 earthquakes recorded last week. While that is happening. I am going to write about volcanoes in Iceland that are less known, but remain dormant for the moment.

This time around I am going to write about volcano named Snæfellsjökull volcano. Snæfellsjökull volcano is a stratovolcano like Eyjafjallajökull volcano, Öræfajökull volcano and many other of Iceland volcanoes (that is most of them). But unlike many of Icelandic volcanoes the cone shape of Snæfellsjökull volcano is clearly visible to people as it is with Eyjafjallajökull volcano and Öræfajökull volcano. But less so with other icelandic volcanoes that are in this same group of volcanoes. The reason for this is the fact that Snæfellsjökull volcano only has glacier on top of it. But not covered by a glacier on most sides like is the case with Bárðarbunga volcano as a example.

Volcanism in Snæfellsnes peninsula has happened in two time periods. The earlier time period was about 15 to 7 million years ago when this area was a active rift zone of earlier Iceland. The second period of volcanism in Snæfellsnes peninsula started again about 2 million years ago (far as I know, might be wrong however as I did not find any information to confirm this) when volcanism started again after a break that had lasted for about 5 million years. It is not clear why volcanism did restart in Snæfellsnes, as this area is not a active rift zone. But most of Iceland volcanism takes place on a active or forming rift zone. Current volcanism in this this area little. But last known eruption in Snæfellsjökull volcano was in the year 200 A.D +- 150 years. The age of the Snæfellsnes volcano is about 700,000 years old according to recent research into the age of the volcanism in this area.

It is hard to know for sure what type of volcanism Snæfellsjökull volcano makes. But given the data it can be assumed that a volcanism that is not far from what witnessed when Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted.

Pictures of this area.

Lava field in Snæfellsnes. This lava field is from Snæfellsnes volcano. Crater rows at distance. Author: Jón Frímann Jónsson. Licence: Creative Commons.

Inside of the one of the craters that are on the Snæfellsnes volcano. Author: Jón Frímann Jónsson. Licence: Creative Commons.

Volcanic cinder cone on the Snæfellsnes. This cinder cone is from Snæfellsnes volcano. Author: Jón Frímann Jónsson. Licence: Creative Commons.

A view over to the Reykjanes Peninsula from a cinder cone. A crack in the lava field can be see below. Author: Jón Frímann Jónsson. Licence: Creative Commons.

A view from a cinder cone over to the next cinder one in the row. This is on the Snæfellsnes and is part of the Snæfellsnes volcano. Author: Matilde Grácio Licence: All rights reserved. Used with a permission.

A view from a cinder cone over the lava field. At distance there is the ocean. Author: Matilde Grácio Licence: All rights reserved. Used with a permission.

Row of cinder cones at distance. Author: Matilde Grácio Licence: All rights reserved. Used with a permission.

A cut side into a cinder cone. This material was mined by the local population few decades back and used for road construction. This area is now part of Iceland national park. Author: Matilde Grácio Licence: All rights reserved. Used with a permission.

Click on the pictures to get full resolution. But the pictures are large and it might take some time to download them on a slow internet connection.

More information.

Páll Einarsson. „Hvað eru miklar líkur á því að Snæfellsjökull gjósi?“. Vísindavefurinn 30.4.2002. http://visindavefur.is/?id=2347. (Skoðað 23.3.2011). (Icelandic)
JGÞ. „Hvar eru eldfjöllin á Íslandi?“. Vísindavefurinn 29.9.2006. http://visindavefur.is/?id=6219. (Skoðað 23.3.2011). (Icelandic)
Jarðsaga Íslands (Icelandic, Wiki)
Introduction to the geology of Iceland

Quiet time in Iceland once again

While everyone is watching the eruption in Hawaii. Iceland earthquake activity both in volcanoes and on the fracture zones is taking a break.

So while Iceland is taking a break I am going to write about volcanoes that are never in the news. Not in Iceland and not in the international press. They are not in the news because they are quiet and have been for some time now.

I am going to start tomorrow (hopefully) with a volcano called Snæfellsjökull (wiki here) (if you did think Eyjafjallajökull volcano was hard to say, just try this one).