Glacier flood has started in Skaftá river

The latests news is that a glacier flood has started in Skaftá river. At the moment this glacier flood does not appear to be big, as there was also a glacier flood in this river last year. Because of this short time, there has not been a lot of water collected in the western cauldron that is emptying now. It was clear today that it was the western cauldron that had emptied when scientists did fly over the area earlier today.

This glacier flood is often early event and has been since the year 1955. Following this glacier flood there is often spike in harmonic tremor because magma goes on the move due to sudden pressure release in this area. So far it has not been able to trigger a eruption in Hamarinn volcano. It remains to be seen if that has changed or not.

Icelandic News about this

Hlaup hafið í Skaftá (Rú, Pictures, Icelandic)
Rennsli eykst í Skaftá (Ví
Hlaupið komið í Skaftá (

54 Replies to “Glacier flood has started in Skaftá river”

  1. Uhh, thanks for the news, so lets wait for some nice data on the graphs.
    Please could somebody post a video (if available), loved the last one.
    Thank you very much.
    Photoshop disasters – sinkhole
    Sorry i couldn’t resist, with the text, it made my whole day.

    Good Time.

    1. I don’t know what you are talking about? There has only been one earthquake today, which was M1.6
      You are probably confused with some earthquakes currently occuring in the northwest of spain.

      1. hehe well it’s easy to make this mistake, they should add a map with earthquakes..

      2. I must admit I am surprised how much the Iberian peninsular shakes.
        I never realised the area was quite as active until I looked at the site Ian posted. Thanks Ian.
        See what you mean about the map Pieter.

      3. You have to find the places yourself by plotting the coordinates in google maps/earth. They had 17 earthquakes in Galicia near Lugo today. Before that there was one (3.6) a little more to the east, near Vegadeo in Asturias (on the Figueras fault line – yet geologically connected to the Sarria basin).
        And thursday there was one near the ‘Avilés Canyon’ just off the coast of Asturias. That is on te Ventaniella faultline, which is a very old one, dating back to the Hercinian.
        Those occurring near Sarria are not uncommon, it’s a place where in
        “21/25 may 1997.- Several earthquakes (the biggest, of 5.1 degrees Richter), had its epicenter between the villages in the province of Lugo: de Sarria (one fatality through a heart attack), Triascastela and Becerreá; these affected above all Galicia, Asturias, León y Zamora y tuvieron réplicas en Madrid and Andalucía.” ( Swarms like this happen a lot in the area.
        Abot the area: “on one side the rocks that were metamorfphized and deformed during lthe Hercínian Orogenesis is joined with granitoid rock from the late hercínian that form the basis, and on the other side are materials from the cenozoic age, in discord with the aforementioned “. There is all sorts of interesting stuff going on from a geologic point of view. In this article (; Spanish PDF-alert) there are some images that give you an idea of the geologic make up and fault lines down there.

        EL Hierro seems to calm down while a small swarm occurs in Galicia, and people in Greece start to get frightened by all the quakes they experience. I just wonder how all this subterranean activity connects? It seems pretty sloshy down there…

  2. Friday
    29.07.2011 19:40:53 64.607 -17.183 2.2 km 1.3 73.14 16.8 km ESE of Bárðarbunga
    29.07.2011 19:40:00 64.617 -17.180 1.1 km 1.5 40.82 16.8 km E of Bárðarbunga

    1. Jon
      would this be related to the tremor spikes you mention earlier?

      Hope you cold is better 🙂

      1. No. This is too far east from where the area that the glacier flood did come from.

        I am almost done with the cold. I just have little bit left of it, the worst is over.

  3. Please note that Heklubyggð geophone is currently off-line. I do not know why. But I am going to try and get it on-line tomorrow if the fault is not too serious.

  4. Its almost eerie. Activity has almost seized completely within the Katla caldera.

    1. I think Katla will go very quiet before erupting. No scientific explanation just my feeling about the whole episode, especially after such a long build up, to go quiet sounds right. Katla is a dangerous volcano, I think she is likely to shock straight into erupting. Mag 5 earthquake and explosive eruption all suddenly.
      Then like most volcanoes gradual easement of eruption over a few weeks.
      Her reputation will put her in the news all over the world that is for certain.

  5. Is this Normal for Iceland this time of year? There seems to be a lot of Caldrons appearing left right & center!
    I know this is the season for Tremors, Harmonic Tremours, Graboids, etc! But does this usually go on?
    Or does this appear due to an excess amount of activety?

    1. There are well known cauldrons in Vatnajökull glacier. Then there are the new ones like that did create the glacier flood from Hamarinn volcano few weeks back. They are new and not connected to known hydrothermal area.

    1. Fagurholsmýri is a weather station, located close to the shore, often affected by weather but 6M/sec wind like you see at the traffic control web cam is really not very much. It is unlikely that anything is happening at Öræfajökull, more likely that something would be brewing at Esjufjöll, quite a few quakes there recently but now everyone’s attention is on Hamarinn, which is close to Skaftárkatlar where the recent glaciar flood is coming from.

      The flood is not very high now but IMO says it’s got more to do with a daily trend than the flood to have reached a momentum, that has not happened yet.

  6. Jon,
    Regarding the interesting earthquakes a few km east of Alftagrof. Have checked the data from alert page and the events started on July 8th, just a few registered, none on July 9th but from 10th until today they have continued with 3.5-5 hours regularity. Some missing but I still think that they have occurred but just too small to be detected by the alert system. You mentioned that it might be magma movement, how about glacial movement (calving), the position seems close to the limit of the glacier and mountain slope pretty steep there?

    1. This did s tart after the glacier flood event in Mýrdalsjökull glacier. From that day the activity did increase in Katla volcano as a whole. Why the activity did start there is a mystery.

      1. If one was able to download the waveform data from ALF-station and preferrably also from nearby ESK, RJU and HVO-stations for one of these events, I think one might be able to determine the focal mechanism and constrain the depth and hopefully solv the mystery. To whom should I ask the request of data?

      2. Iceland’s waveform data (with the exception of one station near Reykjavik) is not available from the Iris BUD interface.

        After you get it, I don’t even know how to extract the focal mechanism… you could take a look at first motions to see if that station was in a compressive or extensive quadrant and get a rough idea of the mechanism. But you need several stations to get a good solution… and you need the equations to calculate the solution if you were to do it properly.

  7. The weather is pretty terrible today in South Iceland. Huge amounts of pouring rain, wind, and some cold temperature. So don’t complain with increasing tremors. I arrived home soaked after a while outside. I thought I was swimming in the ocean. It has been raining a lot for 7 straight days!

  8. Saturday
    30.07.2011 19:35:18 64.520 -17.716 2.9 km 1.8 42.01 5.8 km NE of Hamarinn

  9. There is a weather warning now in place for southern and SE Iceland. Severe gales are forecast.
    This will probably mean there will be some effect on tremor Charts.
    Looking at the map showing wind strength and direction there are purple patches over the highest Glaciers as well as off coast. (Link below )

    1. It is a bad storm if it shows up that much. Gusty as well! Unless something else is happening as well.

    2. Hi Diana Barnes,
      First of all, many thanks everybody for your interesting comments.

      In your post you said “This will probably mean there will be some effect on tremor Charts” about gales.
      I don’t understand the link between gales and tremor.
      I am geologist but not volcanologist and something escape to me !!
      I image that strong wind can perturbe the sensor device ? and generate a fictitious tremor ? is it right ?
      Other solution if I consider low atmospheric pressure and geothermal fluid ?

      I have to go in Iceland the 5th august to 20th, to your mind, is there a risk for an volcanic eruption, what is your feeling ?
      Many thanks,

      and many thanks all people for this forum !

      1. The detectors pick up the wind as tremor Laurent. There is always a small risk of eruption – about 1 in 100 on any day, but nothing to specally indicate an eruption is imminent.

      2. Hi Laurent
        The wind may affect the sensors if it is very strong. I am not a geologist or a vulcanologist, just interested with a little knowledge.
        I am sure Jon will answer your question more accurately.
        You can see Jon’s printouts here along with some record of wind speed etc.
        My feeling about an eruption? I cannot see any indications for today but that can change very quickly. This is what this Blog is about, watching how the volcanoes behave and trying to learn enough to try and predict.

        Again there are more knowledgeable people than myself who may help you. Jon may be able to tell you if there are any alerts locally.
        I don’t think anyone can at present predict exactly but maybe one day they will be able to forecast more accurately.

  10. Yesterday I went biking to Burfell, an extinct volcano in Southwest Iceland, between Hengill and Hekla. I got severely soaked, because it was raining heavy/pouring water, so heavily. It has been raining for 8 days straight.

    But back to volcanoes, from Burfell you can have an amazing view. The volcano is extinct, has a typical shape from a volcano eroded by the ice age (flat on top), and has even a lake (probably a old crater) on top.

    From the view of the top, you can see many other volcanoes from South Iceland. It is amazing to see their shape, all running in fissures parallel to each other, because that«s how the rifting is happening. I could see Bláfjoll, Hengill to the west, Thingsvellir rift valley to the north, and to the east the extinct volcanoes Hestfjall and Vordufell, but sources of strong earthquakes in recent years. There is also Grimsnes, to the south, which is a fissure volcano, with several crater rows, and according to scientists, still dormant (last eruption several thousands of years ago). There is some geothermal heat there too. Lying further to the east, is Hekla, which is the first volcano from the much active eastern volcanic zone in Iceland. Lying much to north is Geysir, Langjokull and Kerlingarfjoll, which are active volcanic regions.

    But what is really amazing to see in Iceland is that they all of them run in parallel fissures southwest to northeast. Many other old mountains (volcanoes) lie from both sides of these western and eastern rifts (such as the ones I mentioned above). I wonder when something in the western rift zone is going to have an eruption. It has been centuries since last eruption there.

      1. Irpsit, please send some rain here to my garden in North west England. Today I had to water the vegetable plants as they were suffering from heat and lack of water!
        I too have wondered why the volcanoes to the west of the rift area are dormant.
        It is very noticeable the lines of earthquakes that follow the rift from Rekjanes peninsula to the Tjornes Fracture Zone. Also I would have expected active Volcanoes more there too.
        I am sure someone can explain why.
        What a lovely description of that area. I do hope one day I can see for myself.

  11. Looks like there was a spike at the SKR station just now. Or is this just weather-related?

      1. Tyler, probably the second one is a ghost quake, but this could explain the spike:
        02:07:52 64.627 -17.436 0.6 km 2.2 90.03 4.6 km ESE of Bárðarbunga
        01.08.2011 02:07:51 64.554 -17.508 8.4 km 2.3 42.59 9.6 km S of Bárðarbunga

  12. About the western volcanoes:
    I don’t think they are as peaceful as you’ve described them.Look at the number of quakes at Reykjanes ridge and Krýsuvik. Wonder how come we never see any eruptions there.

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