New hydrothermal area found in Vatnajökull glacier

After the glacier flood that took place last night and today the source of this flood has finally been found. According to the news the source of this flood is a new hydrothermal area inside the Bárðarbunga fissure swarm. But this new hydrothermal area is located in Hamarinn volcano (also known lokahryggur or Loki-fögrufjöll), sadly the news does not say exactly where it is located. Just that it located in western Vatnajökull glacier. This flood did go down the river Sveðju and into the Hágöngulón lake (human made lake) that did swallow it whole according to the news. The overflow after the dam lake was full did go into an even larger natural lake, that did not feel any effects of this glacier flood.

In terms of size this glacier flood was larger then the glacier flood in Mýrdalsjökull glacier last week. But that was only about 2000 m3/sec, but this was somewhere around 2200 m3/sec. But this are the numbers that I have seen in the news. But this are not confirmed numbers and might be subject to change on later date.

Other then this activity. It has been rather quiet in Iceland in terms of earthquake and volcano activity.

Icelandic news about this.

Áður óþekkt jarðhitasvæði fundið (Rú, Icelandic)
Virkjunarlónin gleyptu gríðarstóra flóðbylgjuna (Ví, Icelandic)

Órói við Lokahrygg í Vatnajökli (Icelandic Met Office, Icelandic, Pictures)

49 Replies to “New hydrothermal area found in Vatnajökull glacier”

  1. Thank you Jón.
    That’s draws us back to the long-term perspective.
    No eruption at sight, albeit Katla maybe reminding us that she is alive and ready to go when the time comes.
    I hope that these habdabs caused by such sudden hlaups will no longer indulge us in erroneous fear mongering. 🙂

  2. GVP includes Katla “eruption” in its list of New Activity/Unrest::
    “The Iceland Met Office and news sources reported that on 9 July a jökulhlaup from Myrdalsjökull, the ice sheet that covers Katla, originated from three ice cauldrons in the SE part of the caldera. During previous weeks microseismicity had been registered near several of the ice cauldrons. Around the time of peak harmonic tremor, in the early evening on 8 July, the Myrdalsjökull flood monitoring system indicated increased conduction. The water level reached the bridge around midnight and damaged the sensors. According to news articles, one new cauldron that had formed, along with cracks in the glacier around the cauldrons, may have been caused by a small eruption at Katla although no evidence of an eruption was observed. The jökulhlaup had destroyed a 128-m-long bridge and caused damage, resulting in the closing of part of the Ring Road. About 200 people were evacuated from the area but allowed to return home later that day. On 10 July the water had subsided and returned to normal levels.”

    1. If the chart scale was larger, it would have been possible to estimate the distance from Jon’s helicorder, but to me it looks like a tectonic earthquake occurred not very far from it. It still hasn’t been located (as of now) by the icelandic met office.

  3. Fimmtudagur
    14.07.2011 00:03:34 63,992 -19,119 1,0 km 2,1 90,06 2,8 km V af Landmannalaugum

    1. Quite a strong quake in Torfajokull. This apparently occurred in Brennisteinsalda, which is an active volcano cone in Landmannalaugar and site of eruption in 1477.

      1. Easy, Irpsit. Not that strong. 🙂
        We’ve seen so many quakes of such magnitudes in Iceland for so long. I wonder if we aren’t needing some rest from all the big activity we’ve been having.
        A 2.0 quake. No big deal. (takes a deep breath).
        Now let us make the tour of the stations… 😉

  4. Hi everyone-
    A layperson question- is this ‘normal’ for Iceland to have so many small earthquakes and small eruptions/geothermal activities happening at different volcano locations all at the same time? Does this kind of activity occur more during certain seasons or cycles, or does this happen all the time? Thanks.

    1. I have read in several places (probably news articles quoting scientists) recently that Iceland was expected to enter a very active decade as there had been a decade or so of low activity.

  5. The whole pacific rim has been experiencing increased and repeated earthquakes and volcano activity in the last 12 months- Japan, New Zealand, Chile. Wondering whether it is possible this increased activity in next decade is likely to be a global issue rather than just localised to Iceland…

    1. Yes, but with a catch.

      Global, yes. Abnormally increased activity? No.

      If you take a look at the rate of quake detection, you can see an interesting effect. Marked slope changes in the detection rates. These indicate a wholesale increase in the amount of equipment (seismos etc.), an increase in the average sensitivity of that gear, or increase or refinement in processing capability.

      I first got the idea to do this to the USGS quake list after seeing a research paper that used a similar method to help refine the Mw to Mo formula for a geological area in Europe (Spain I think).

      The reason I attribute these slope changes to the gear… is that a natural process typically will not take on a linear shift like that… at least not over a long scale.

      I refer to it at technological creep. It can mess with cursory examination of past events as compared to current ones, and can lead to improper conclusions.

      Another thing to consider, is the Internet’s augmentation to mass media.

      In 1811, several huge earthquakes rocked the central US. Other than feeling it along the east coast, no one knew what sort of devastation occurred there until some one made it out of the area with the story. It was then typeset and put in the papers. This was likely a period of several weeks. The same thing occurred with the San Fransisco Earthquake.

      Today, we have live news feeds, public access to seismic and satellite data, and a rather curious volcano/earth sciences fan base that on occasion, detects an event before the experts are even aware of it. (Jon and the other lurkers here are a good example of this).

      Plain and simple, the info comes out quite fast. It doesn’t mean there are more events, just that the public in general is more aware of them.

      Now… I just finished about a half hours worth of amusing myself with an arcane statistical correlation routine. I wanted to prove a point. That point is that when “statistics” are bandied about as proof of something, you have to be very careful about how much trust you put in the statement.


      In the United States, the correlation of people who eat fruit and are diagnosed with gonorrhea is 2.3 times greater than people who eat vegetables.

      I have the numbers to prove it.

      Sound thinking? Not at all. Just like using a poisson or normal (gaussian) distribution to predict an eruption is wrong, so is what you can derive from that correlation.

      Humans have a vexing problem. It’s a problem that has assisted in our survival, but if not kept in check can lead to miscalculations. The problem? Pattern recognition.

      We see patterns in everything. Our minds continually mull over what we see, trying to come up with something that may be of use in either dealing with it, or understanding it. We even have quick reaction circuitry wired into our brains… we see this in stereotype phenomena. Rather than pondering what that growl and rustling of bushes is, we take flight. If we get away, then we think about what it was… maybe even come up with a story about it to scare the kids and help impart that experience (and programing) into them.

      Sorry for the long somewhat disjointed response… it’s been a long day.

      1. I absolutely agree. Being older, I truely value the speed of communications now, but I also understand how much more information we are being bombarded with. Not always a good or healthy thing.
        I am glad I am older, as now I do not have to check every tiny ache or pain on the DIY diagnosis sites, I just accept my body is not perfect!
        Likewise I have the patience to watch and if possible look for a cause before thinking “OMG ! Is this the start of a super eruption?” So far nothing I have seen has caused me to panic!

        (I wonder if my last thoughts will be…” I KNEW something didn’t look right on those helicorder printouts!”) 🙂

      2. It’s frustrating. I’d love to find so much more time for exchanging with You guys. Even right now I shouldn’t write as I’m at work (and at home it’s the kids… :-)). I limit myself to a very brief comment: on other problems humans theese days seem to have ist that we think the world will always be what it was between 1950 and 1980. If it’s a little hotter or colder all scream out that there’s global warming or cooling because of this or that. Some earthquakes and we see the end of times. Our whole environment has always undergone incredible evolutions – I mean, the continents once all were stick together… This process doesn’t stop because we started building cars, planes and computers. It’s absolutely “normal” for our planet to change, and this process includes smallet but also big and even enormous phenomena and events. We once might end FUBAR, but the planet will survive the “parasite” that we finally are (nothing negative in the choosen terms…).

      3. I shall give up fruit and eat vegetables. Did you kow the in the 1950 the increase in cancer diagnosis matched the sale of refrigerators.I dont think it was as inrease in cancer, just in diagnosis.

      4. 🙂
        I agree that better diagnosis methods tend to increase the number of counted cases… But talking of the 50ies and cancer, I might think that except for refrigerators (:-)), we could have an effect of the differents tests by several nations trying to improve their nukes…
        … probably without showing animations of the radioactive cloud spread around the globe by the winds in the evening news…

      5. Along those same lines, while talking about odd statistical evidence, a friend of mine brought up the oddity of the introduction of steel helmets in warfare.

        Following the introduction of steel helmets in WW-I, the number of brain injuries cases went through the roof. An obvious conclusion would be that steel helmets are bad.

        Or could it be, that more people survived what would have usually been a fatal wound?

      6. You are absolutely right, Lurking.

        We have access to so many sources of information “at our fingertips” that news are rapidly spread all over the globe. The glacier flood occuring at Katla last Friday is a good example. Only a few hours after the event it was already posted in quite a few forums, Facebook and other things.

        Honestly, I believe that there are quite a few people who are not only curious to see what happens at Katla, they WANT an eruption of Katla. Needless to say that these people are waiting for any sign of unrest or activity.

        But why is this? As a pharmacologist, I can provide a very easy and logical scientific explanation:

        Looking at the eruption list in Iceland, it can be clearly seen that there were often periods of inactivity which lasted for several years. With the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull and Grimsvötn two interesting events took place in a very short timeframe.
        This is of course very exciting (and I can’t exclude myself from being excited, too). It is in the nature of us human beings that we are looking forward to the next thing. 🙂
        That’s because excitement causes a release of dopamine (a substance which acts like a switch by turning certain neurons on or off) from a special region in the brain. The activation of certain neuronal pathways causes a feeling of happiness and satisfaction. However, the effect doesn’t last very long and has to be provoked again in regular intervals.

        Now, each earthquake in the Katla caldera (independent of the actual cause), each spike in the tremor charts, each hint for a possible movement of magma causes a small release of dopamine, which in term causes excitement and the desire to share this emotion.

        TV documentations and inaccurately placed words in the media like “Hekla is ready to burst”, “Hekla is fully charged”, “Katla is overdue for many years” etc. also contribute to this effect.

        So basically, many of us are actually victims of these biochemical processes. Only a few, very rational thinking people or people who are not really interested in volcanic eruptions are resistant. Most of us are pretty well balanced, i.e they have a rational thinking of these events, but are sometimes overwhelmed by the dopamine release, and a few are so excited that they interpret each single anomaly as a hint for the next eruption and their brain has to be constantly flooded with dopamine to satisfy their expectations.

        But this is all normal… that’s the way humans are working. It’s the same with football matches, thunderstorms or tornado events… each area of interest has it’s own community and they are all manipulated by one simple substance called dopamine.

        (side note: the addiction to cigarettes or hard drugs is caused by the same process, but in a much stronger and almost uncontrollable way)

        All the best,

      7. You are right in your analysis. Following volcanoes is addictive and wanting an eruption because of that dopamine release (or adrenaline if you live in Iceland like me). For me, it is even important to follow that, not only because of the hormonal boost or scientific curiosity, but also because I often hike in Iceland, and so it is important to know when not to go travel to a specific spot.

        But thankfully today is a calm day, no quakes or tremors, and we can all go back to our daily routines with jobs, food, coffee, sports, relationships and hobbies. Enough dopamine in there too.

      8. Hey Lurking, I think you should write that statistical correlation up into a paper and try to submit it for the Ig Nobel awards 🙂

      9. That’s very true, re: seeking patterns Lurking- what a great response. That’s why I was asking- from here it can look like a sudden serious thing with a certain outcome…
        Thank you!

  6. I am quite happy to have discovered this Iceland site. Been watching the high winds blowing past the Hekla cam and finding it very calming. Such striking beauty..

  7. Sounded nice, so I tuned into the Hekla cam as well to see the eeerily hazy mist like out of some old horror movie…then, out of nowhere, I could have sworn I saw a naked man run by and wave….must be the beer

    1. OOOH! In which direction was he running? Humph! INever get anything as exciting as that! All I ever get are 4 x 4 maintenance trucks or if I am lucky a lone bug seeking shelter.

      1. Dear Diana,
        You often tell us how “not young” You are – well, first, You don’t “sound” that old (take it as a compliment”, and second, if You really want to see naked men to enlighten Your everyday life, the modern ways of communication You seem to value offer a whole bunch of possibilities – sure some mates can give You adequate links…
        Not to be taken seriously, please… 🙂
        Besides, I adore the icelandic way to “pimp their rides”. So personnally I prefer a good old 4×4 than a naked man…

      2. @ GeoLoco Well Thank you kindly 🙂
        Yes! My husband is well into the Icelandic 4 x 4s also. As to being pointed towards suitable websites….. Having read the above post re Dopamine I think I should stay watching the Icelandic cams and tremor recordings. Like the dance of the seven veils it is the suggestiveness, anticipation and the following of each complex move that is exciting! How sad can I be?

      3. Sending You all of my compassion and understanding. Shared feelings… 🙂

  8. Everything seems nice and quiet this morning in Iceland. No harmonic tremors, no earthquakes in interesting locations.

    I think today Jon will be able to take a break and rest for a while. 🙂

    1. Recently, everytime someone says things are quiet, thats exactly when they change to exciting, so under the current context of activity, don’t hold your breath.

  9. Even if it’s quiet in Iceland, we had an EQ in England – 3.9 off the south coast.

      1. Yes but this one was felt in the SOUTH of england!! Hence why it makes it onto the news… LOL!!

        Got woken up by the 5.2 in Feb 2007 in Lincolnshire – clattering wardrobe doors.

      2. We got the Newton Abbot (Bovey tracy really but logged as Newton Abbot) one earlier this month and one off the coast of Dartmouth a week before on 2nd June. In Torbay we felt both.

  10. Thursday
    14.07.2011 09:26:47 63.638 -19.413 11.5 km 0.9 99.0 5.5 km SE of Básar
    14.07.2011 08:06:06 63.613 -19.041 14.6 km 0.8 99.0 4.7 km NE of Hábunga

  11. Maybe the eruptive plume that his pushing towards Katla is so large, some of it is popping out in this interconnected system?

  12. @Dirk Sch:
    Great reasoning.
    I have always said at EB that these blogs (both Jón’s and EB) are “addictive” and you have just provided an accurate explanation for that.
    Since I must write at the computer and often get too bored from the hard work, every now and then, I sneak in to lurk, and sure enough, I get goose bumps from any anomalies I see.
    It is a mix of the awe inspired by volcanoes, the excitement of an imminent occurrence and a bit of a weird sadistic/voyeur portion of my bad self, which comes balanced with the empathy for those who are endangered.
    It has been a while that I come to these blogs, and ever since there was always some action taking place.
    During Merapi’s eruption, I fell so bad from all the deaths that I almost gave up.
    But the media knows the ways to keep our dopamine levels at high levels.
    Thanks for the explanation.

  13. Thank you for your efforts Jón.

    Last night at 23:11:32 there was a 1,1 at 17,1 km depth underneath the Katla kaldera.
    Today at 08.06.06 there was a 0,8 at 14,6 km depth at similar place.
    And at 09.26.47 another 0,9 at 11,5 km depth which seemes to be in the Eyjafjalaljokull system.

    According to this the magma underneath Katla seemes to have moved upwards during the night at about the speed of 280 meters per hour. If that movement continues at that speed we might have an eruption around noon next saturday – and Eyjafjallajokull has a history of starting again and even erupting at the same time as Katla.
    Then again we might not have anything happening for the next five years as the one thing might have little to do with the other 🙂

  14. “But this new hydrothermal area is located in Hamarinn volcano (also known lokahryggur or Loki-fögrufjöll), sadly the news does not say exactly where it is located.”

    Bet you it’s near that wad of Hamarinn quakes that we were pondering a few months ago.

    Note: This is an old plot, dug up and annotated. It does not contain any events after December 2010. Since this plot was made, Grímsvötn has since erupted in the vicinity of that quake cluster plotted in it’s caldera.

  15. Jon,

    Where did all that ash in the vicinity of Hamarinn come from? It was all very clean when I was there in the summer of 1970.

    Is it from the recent Grimsvotn activity?

    1. It is from Grímsvötn eruption this spring. But there was also a ash fall in this are last year from Eyjafjallajökull volcano eruption. But I think that most of that volcano ash is already covered by snow from last winter.

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