Explosions are still taking place in Grímsvötn crater

While the activity has almost stopped in Grímsfjall volcano, but there are still explosions taking place in Grímsvötn lake where the eruption took place due to magma going up, explosions take place all over the fissure at random times. That makes travelling to this area really dangerous thing to do. Ash fall is still taking place in Grímsfjall volcano when explosions take place. But the ash fall is limited to the local area in Grímsfjall volcano. Because of this, the official word is that the eruption is not yet over. Even if it just an small eruption at the moment. So far there is no data that suggests that new magma is currently flowing into Grímsfjall volcano. This is according to news in Icelandic media.

An new caldera (correct word?) has formed in the glacier close to the eruption site. But that suggests that a lot of heat is below in the glacier and is creating strong melt where this taking place. This is according to news on Rúv. But they don’t say where this glacier melt is taking place. But it can be assumed that this formation is somewhere close to the current eruption site. But when I know more about this location. I am going to update this post when I can.

Harmonic tremors pulses are still being detected from Grímsfjall volcano up to 200 km away from the volcano. Why they are still taking place while there is no eruption taking place is unknown to me. It is important to notice that currently the harmonic tremor is slowly dropping for now. But it might increase again without any warning. For now there is no way to know what this tremor means for Grímsfjall volcano.

Automatic GPS data from Icelandic Met Office tells an interesting story. According to this data (it might not be 100% accurate due to nature of GPS) Grímsfjall volcano has moved close to 320mm to the west, close to 350mm to the north, it has also lowered down about 250mm. This is major movement in Grímfjall volcano. To compare it with something, Eyjafjallajökull volcano only inflated about 60mm before it did erupt. This is many times more deflation that took place in Grímsfjall volcano then in Eyjafjallajökull volcano for example.

Earthquakes are still taking place SE and SSE of Grímsfjall volcano. There is no volcano at this location. So I am assuming that this are tectonic earthquakes taking place due to stress changes in the crust around Grímsfjall volcano. All earthquakes so far have been small but with the depth from 15 and up to 5 km.

Extra: According to new news (while I was writing this blog post). The Civil Emergency Authority in Iceland has lowered the alert level from danger level to alert level. News about that can be read here (Icelandic, mbl.is)

Icelandic News about this. Google Translate in an maze. It might work or maybe not.

Enn sprengivirkni í Grímsvötnum (Rúv.is, Icelandic)
Jarðeðlisfræðingur: Orðum ofaukið að gosinu sé lokið (Vísir.is, Icelandic)

94 Replies to “Explosions are still taking place in Grímsvötn crater”

  1. Well, maybe then what I saw were ashes from one of those explosions. How far is Grim cam from the caldera, could it be possible?

    1. I do not know where the camera is located. So I cannot answer this question. But this explosions can shoot things up rather high I hear.

      1. I asked a friend of mine, which works for Míla. He told me that the Grimsvötn camera is located on Skeidarasandur, south of the ringroad on a telecommunication post, which also serves mobile telephone. The camera has been directed to the Grímsvötn, so that the eruption should have been in sight (despite ash, rain and fog). There where plans to set up a camera on Lomagnupur, but the eruption was over too fast.

  2. Tremors are rising in almost all stations over Iceland, especially in those within Reykjanes peninsula (Krýsuvik, et al)

    1. It is the wind. Grímsfjall volcano has shown you clear signal how volcano eruption looks on the SIL network. Please take a note on that. 😉

    1. That happens all the time, I do not know what it means and why it happens, but I know it has nothing to do with any geological process, so no worries.

  3. I think what you meant instead of caldera is a cauldron? Thanks for the update. 😉

    1. The new data points are only one-sigma within the previuous ones, so it is within the measurement error. This means, they are practically the same. You can not state anything like that based on this data (only two points).

  4. @Jon:

    I think you mean “Ice Cauldron” or in other words, a Depression in the Glacier. Am i right?

    this would surely be interesting, because it means, that there might have been a second vent, that didn’t break through to the surface of the glacier, but still created a cauldron.

    for now i want to thank you for all your work and the continuous reporting about the current status of the eruption. keep up with all that good spirited work, i really enjoy reading all your thoughts and facts reports!


  5. Well said Stefan, i have been dipping in & out of your blog for some months now (after finding it by accident). I may not know what 1/2 thegraphs & whatnot mean but i find it very interesting. Good luck with your move & keep up the good work.

  6. What is going on at Reykjanes? The earthquakes I mean. Does anyone know what is at that site?

    1. Do you mean the tremor graphs? Just weather and seawaves as Jón already mentioned, if you mean the earthquakes happening in southwest Iceland; this is the South Iceland Seismic Zone, it’s full of large and small active faults, so these are purely tectonic.

      1. I mean the group of quakes at the entrance to the estury south of Selfoss. What is causing that?

      2. Normal faulting, I believe these are the faults at which the 2000 earthquakes happened.

    1. Nice. 🙂 Textbook example of a surtseyan eruption..Although smaller than the original. 😉

      1. Yes, now i see only fog too, but some time ago a lot of steam and ash too. sorry…

  7. John, you say in other forum that volcano Thordarhyrna can wake up due this eruption in Grims… this one has any sign of waking up? Why you say it? Thank you, i’m allways learning with you…

    1. It is just given the history of this area. But so far it is all quiet. But this is something worth watching for.

      Far as I know (but might be wrong). Thordarhyrna is an smaller volcano then Grímsfjall volcano.

      1. And still Thordarhyrna has erupted 1,5 km3 of magma during one eruption in 3550 BC.

  8. Sorry for the german link but google translate is your friend i’m sure you know how to use it.
    About the stupid news from italy i found this about eq prediction

    The link to the paper

    The graphic about the model how to predict (or notice) a coming quake

    (source watch top, and noaa.gov)

    🙂 still no flattr 🙂

    1. Earthquakes cannot be predicted properly. That is not going to change any time soon. Because of that fact. I ask you nicely to stop posting links to something that is nothing but nonsense.

      The arxiv.org science article has not been peer reviewed yet. Until that happens, this is just an nice idea supported by some data that might be or not connected to the Japan Mw9.0 earthquake.

      I did look into flattr few weeks ago. I have no interest in using it.

      If you don’t stop posting links that can be regarded as nonsense. I will delete those comments without warning. This blog is and always has been about reality and what we might learn from it. But ideas have there limit to something practical and is real. This is no place for nonsense and fantasy.

      Speculation is fine and all good. When it is in connection with reality.

      1. Oh it’s a bonafide research article.

        The link to the paper
        http://arxiv.org/abs/1105.2841 points to the Cornell University Library.

        But from what I understand, arxiv.org postings have yet to suffer through the peer review process. That means that they have to be taken with a grain of salt.

        While somewhat out there, this isn’t the run of the mill moon-bat theory. Close… but it does look at real data.

      1. Interesting approach, and one that should not be dismissed out of hand, as is wont when one discipline encroaches upon another’s area of expertise.
        I hope the referees ask to see a false colour map for the preceeding OLR spike on 23 Feb…..which was not accompanied by an EQ.

  9. @Lurking: Have you noticed the Isakot GPS station Z-component data, it seems to have a very weak periodic component (period rougly two weeks, amplitude a few mm)? The station is situated by a river, so I believe we are seeing here a weak tidal effect.

    This is not at all impossible. While working at the ESRF, I saw by my own eyes, that the staff could calculate the orbit of Moon from the floor movements due to tidal effects!

  10. Let’s have a go at explaining the ongoing tremor and I’ll offer two explanations:

    A) Some 750,000,000 tons (sevenhundred-and-fifty million tons) of magma, more than 1100 degrees C hot, has passed through one of Iceland’s most active hydrothermal areas, giving off tremendous amounts of heat. Now said hydrothermal system is severely overheated, which results in the extremely high tremor signal. Proof: The tremor is in the blue 2 – 4 Hz part of the spectrum, the one primarily associated with hydrothermal activity.

    B) The very large pulse of basaltic magma caused enough pressure to inject a substantial amount of fresh, hot, basaltic magma into one of the region’s slowly cooling and fractioning magma chambers which underwent rapid heating, remelting and remobilisation of a much more silicic magma, which is what the sensors pick up. Proof: pure speculation but based on facts and possible facts.

    Which explanation is more likely? Of course there are and could be other explanations for the observed phenomena, but my money is squarely on option A.


    1. Maybe, But I just have a feeling that tremor is about to rise again.

      1. Yes, a short rise in the 0.5 to 1 Hz line, then the tremor fluctuation suddenly decreased giving a thinner line and all has started to drop. Perhaps the explosions have stopped.

  11. Hi Jon,
    is this mist or still ash we see at the volcano today? Also thankyou for keeping us all up todate with what all has been going on so far

  12. It’s a good thing Surtsey erupted in 1963. I mean, what would they have called the magmatophreatic explosions now calld Sursteyan? Eyafjatlajökutlian?

    1. That would be good. I enjoyed watching BBC newsreaders trying to say it. Then they gave up and just said “the volcano in Iceland”.

      1. Let’s start a campaign! Strictly speaking, an eruption can only be termed Surtseyan if magma interacts with seawater at the vent. Subglacial eruptions should therefore and henceforth be referred to as “Eyafjatlajökutlian” – vide; the 2011 Eyjafjatlajökutlian eruption of Grímsfjall.

  13. Speculation is fine and all good. When it is in connection with reality.

    maybe you could start open your mind and accept that in maybe 1 million years we will know how it works!

    man man man, your a good guy, but its sad how you react when something is coming up, wait and see nonsense is your small world that we humans will never have a clue and will suffer all life long!

    unbelievble reaction without looking over the data.

    I would pack you in the same spot as our political leaders

    Thanks Lurking.

    PS think a 2nd time about flattr, they lowered their shares and its becoming bigger and bigger, the idea of the program is well stated and in the Europe opinion a good one.

    But Hey it sounds like you have enough money, good to know.

    “Never look a gift horse in the mouth.”

    1. What’s your point?

      I’m a Ph.D. in natural sciences (not in the geological field, though) but I can only say that it is perfectly normal to make a hypothesis (which some people may call speculation) and then prove or disregard the hypothesis. There are of course phenomenons which are so complex that we cannot understand them. But in my opinion, this is a challenge. To make up different theories to explain things (or not) is the spirit of science.

      Speaking for myself, I find it very interesting to read the thoughts of interested people here… whether they are experts or not. Even if most of them are highly speculative. There’ s still a rationale behind it.

      Just my 2 cents.

    2. Facts are the logical outcome of an investigation into the matter. Everything else is either false or based on wrong assumption. This is what matters in science. Without it there would be no progress.

      Ideas are good. But they have to withstand an test before they can be accepted as facts.

      In regards flattr. I did look into it. I do not like how it works, that is why I am not going to use it. I do not have enough money, in fact I am always broke and this end of the month is going to be rather broke-ish. But I do not complain. I try go get an negotiate an extra credit with the bank what I do business with in Iceland.

      1. I always come back to the ideas of Thomas Khun in his brilliant book, “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” to understand the nature of science. In a scientific revolution, new ideas, no matter how speculative, bring about new methods and instruments and new forms of data. These ideas are refined in the fire of rigorous scrutiny and testing. Eventually, they lead to a revolution in thinking as they become more widely accepted and tested.

        Jon, perhaps you can consider having an amazon link to this book which was one of the most influential books on the nature of science ever written. A very good read indeed.


      2. Flattr has recently changed their policy. You can now have an account and receive donations without spending.

  14. Jón, do you have any info about the amount of sulphur dioxide this eruption had sent into the atmosphere?

    1. Yes I would like to know too, because I was thinking of going camping and don’t want to ruin my tent. Tents are very sensitive to being rotted by acidic rain.

      1. Wasn’t S02 one of the most destructive aspects of the 1783 Laki event?

      2. I was referring to the crop damage and volcanic winter. Wiki article states that as many as 6 million people died, most of these from famine and a small percentage from gases.

  15. Jon what are the tremor activities like now or has everything gone quiet?

  16. Will we get a colder summer in the north this year from the amount of atmospheric SO2 emitted from this eruption

    1. Yes – by <0.05 C, no more. Can you feel the difference?
      (Brrr, time to get out the woolies!)


  17. SO2 levels emitted from Grimsvotn, i wouldn’t mind knowing that also.

  18. I understand that tremor in the 2-4hz range is more indicative of hydrothermal activity, and that tremor at the 0.5 – 1hs range is indicative of magma movement; what then is strong tremor in the 1-2hz range usually indicative of? It seems to be a consistent feature in Iceland at the moment.

    Side note: in my hunt to learn more about the dynamics of the heat equilibrium of the earth I found this interesting article from someone at CalTech


    It seems that we still only have hypothesis and theory to work on and a very great deal is still unknown, but this is an interesting look at some of the models that are shaping current thinking. It seems to me that there are still plenty of unknowns and weaknesses in these models – so plenty of scope for theorising about possible mechanisms that may form part of the overall picture. A good read on this site generally for those learning IMHO

  19. Any update? Have been following this, thanks so much for the info Jon!

  20. Hi Jon … I think your interpretation of the scientific process is rather flawed … it might be in the translation?


    1. No, it is not. It is according to the book and has always been like that. Without it I would not be here today with my knowledge of volcanoes and earthquakes and other things.

      While I do not pretend to know everything about volcanoes and earthquakes I will do my best to study them and read real studies into this subject. That is how I learn and that is how process is being made on an larger scale.

      Scientific method can be read about there, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method

    2. Dirk, Jon and Ron have understood it correctly, science is about hypothesizing, testing, and verifying the working ideas or abandoning the non-working ideas.

    3. The scientific method is pretty sound.
      From my point of view, the paper on predicting quakes simply states an observation and a hypothesis. It would have been more appropriate to submit this as a grant proposal, then do studies to see how predictive the data is. They’re really jumping the gun here.

    1. It appears to be over. But there are still explosions and harmonic tremor pulses taking place in Grímsfjall volcano. I know why the explosions are taking place. But I am not so sure why harmonic tremor pulses are taking place at current time.

      But they are dropping and on most SIL station the nose is back to background levels.

    1. It is so fascinating to see how each volcano have their own personality. I know you get this alot Jón, but thanks for your website. Earth science with geology and volcanology is for some reason not very visible on the internet, at least not for non-academical readers(I’ve only had 6 months of natural geography at the University of Bergen).

      I’m still learning about the geology of Iceland, but allready I know that I will have to take a longer ‘nerd vacation’ there to check it out in person. Once again, thanks from your neighbor in Norway 🙂

    2. Jón, does the fact that it is inflating again mean there may be another full scale eruption or is it just gearing up for the next one in a few years time?

      1. It might actually take many years or decades for Grísmfjall volcano to get into earlier inflation before the big eruption. It is hard knowing for sure.

        But given this data I am not expecting an eruption from Grímsfjall volcano any time soon. Unless it inflates faster or starts erupting in it’s current state. But it hard to know how much inflation is actually needed before an eruption takes place.

    3. With three points of data I am now willing to agree on this, although I would not yet declare it “the truth” yet.

  21. @Jon, thanks & al. It’s not the first, second or even thirtieth time we’ve had the pleasure or otherwise of discussing Solar Flares, HAARP, Planetary Alignments etc, etc as causes of a wide variety of Earthly natural phenomenae and disasters. I cannot speak for Jón, but myself find it rather tedious that these theories keep reappearing, time and time again, in spite of there being enough evidence, quantitatively and qualitatively, to rule them out once and for all. Is it incumbent on the person who puts forward a hypothesis to do thorough research first, or can anyone put forward a hypothesis without going through the very tedious and laborious stage known as research and leave that to those who do not instantly believe in the merits of the “hypothesis” presented? Frankly, I find that a bit rude and when such a person gets upset when he or she receives the brief answer – no – that his or her “hypothesis” merits it’s preposterous.

  22. @Peter & other Eruptions readers:

    My absence is down to the fact that the Big Think gremlins have eaten my password, the reset password option delivers it’s product only after its validity has expired and emails to info@… have elicited no response. At present, I thus find myself without an account to log onto and “gladden or sadden”, as the case may be. Since the 2011 Eyjafjatlajökutlian eruption of Grímsfjall is an Icelandic affair, I feel that no injustice has been done by thus sponsoring Jón Friman’s excellent site.

    Peter & Bruce, you refer to a “steam magma cannon”. I must confess I know much too little about the properties and behaviour of steam and other gases in solution (magma) at pressures and temperatures in excess of 1,000 AT and C respectively to express an opinion. All I know is that steam at 25 AT and 250 C could very well have been all it took to disintegrate a British 26,000 ton battle-cruiser at Jutland, that steam catapults (a variety of a steam cannon) regularly launch US warplanes weighing up to tens of tons off US aircraft carriers as well as Space Shuttles into orbit and that the generation of sufficient amounts of steam at the required AT & C is far too slow, bulky and inefficient a method to have any military application where weapons are concerned. This (volcanic temperatures and pressures) is a problem many, many magnitudes greater and one beyond my ken.

  23. Thanks Jón, but this site works fine! It’s the Eruptions at Big Think.

  24. For those how want up to date geological map of Iceland. I recommended this map here.


    It only costs €12,10, $17,24, pund 10,49. But I do not know how much the shipping cost is or if there is any VAT cost of this from shipping this to an different country in the world. So total price might be slightly higher then this. This map is on Icelandic, English, German, France.

  25. Saturday
    28.05.2011 10:38:19 64.474 -17.378 0.1 km 2.9 99.0 9.2 km NNW of Grímsfjall

  26. Yeah, that’s a solid movement right at ground zero at Vatnajøkull. 0 to 6000NM/S in a second on the 2-4 hz plot. But I do believe it’s going down again just as rapidly.

    Can’t see anything on on the webcam http://live.mila.is/grimsvotn2/

  27. I would really like to get an exact fix on where the Mila webcam for Grimsvotn is located. Chris in an earlier post suggested it was “located on Skeidarasandur, south of the ringroad on a telecommunication post”. If this is referring to the main highway just past Lomagnupur where the road takes you past a big tongue of the Vatnajokull Glacier, I can’t see it. I travelled along this road in 2006 (June) and in any direction you look north, you see Vatnajokull, Europes largest glacier. I can’t see the Glacier in the webcam, this looks to me that it is much higher up, on the glacier itself and much nearer Grimsvotn where the eruption has either melted the ice or covered it in ash. Vatnajokull is too big too disappear. The weather is clear right now and you get a good clean view (of what I am not sure), could be Grimsvotn, if so nothing is happening).
    Maybe the nice people at Mila will publish a map with Webcam location like they did with Eyja or mark on the webcam view where Grimsvotn is.

    1. I was thinking Lomagnupur in the south as well. But it just doesn’t match with the topography(and that tele post must be 300 meters high!), and I’ve spent a lot of time flying around Vatnajøkull in Google Earth trying to pin the location(I’m usually quite good at that stuff).

      I’ve conceded defeat by now. And only way of knowing it is if Mila enlightens us.

      1. Singu:
        I cannot give you the location precisely, but if it may help, I had the chance, in the last two days, to see the gentle steam plume rising right behind the main feature in the center of the Mila cam. And this morning, the sun was rising right behind it, a little to the right.
        There was no ice to be seen, only two rivers at the left corner.

Comments are closed.