Earthquakes in Esjufjöll volcano

There is always surprises in Iceland once in a while when it comes to volcanoes. This evening there was one. This time for a little known volcano named Esjufjöll. But since the year 2002 there have been regular earthquake swarms in Esjufjöll volcano since that year. But this indicates that magma is pushing up the volcano. But it is quite hard to know if that is going to lead to a eruption. It might happen. But so far nothing indicates that it is going to do so at present time.

Here (Week 43 also) are details of the earthquakes in Esjufjöll in the year 2002. But this earthquake activity in 2002 lasted until week 45 (a small earthquake swarm was also in Week 51) before it stopped completely.

So far this are the years that earthquake swarms have happened in Esjufjöll volcano. The year 2002 (swarms, see links above), 2006 (minor swarm, see here), 2008 (small swarm, see here), 2009 (small swarm, see here), 2010 (small swarm ?). Currently the only thing to do now is to wait and see what happens with the 2010 earthquakes in Esjufjöll. But this is unlikely to lead to a eruption. But with volcanoes with rather unknown eruption history it is hard to know for sure.

Last suspected eruption in Esjufjöll took place in 1927 on 5th of September (+- 5 days). But that is unclear eruption as it was not seen and did only create a minor glacier flood. This information is from Global Volcanism Program and can be found in the link at the top.

There is a web camera online that points to Esjufjöll, it can be viewed here.

133 Replies to “Earthquakes in Esjufjöll volcano”

  1. Really interesting to watch the development of the eq swarm at the Esjufjöll volcano

  2. mmmm a bit of a swarm yes, and on a quick & dirty scan of the data it appears to me the average depth is getting shallower and the average magnitude is increasing. Wonder how that compare with previous swarms?

  3. IIRC, the previous eqs ranged from a depth of 1.0 to ~23 km deep with the typical values in the 4.5 to 10.0 km range, so yes, tonight’s shakes are more shallow. So far, I’ve seen no information about Esjufjöll’s previous behaviour, so it’s impossible to say if it is hydrothermal (as Erik points out could be the case) or magmatic in nature, ruling out tectonic of course. If magmatic, will Esjufjöll be more like Hekla – a few shakes hours before an eruption begins, Eyjafjallajökull – some 20 years of intrusions and even then it took several months of intense eq activity to break the surface, or Godabunga – no eruption in spite of half-year long intrusive activity, just a “successful magmatic intrusion”?

  4. Older swarms have often increased in size (as in number of earthquakes) before it starts to get quiet (far as I can tell). But this earthquake swarm now also appears to be growing in size (as in magnitude of earthquakes).

    But the earthquake activity in Esjufjöll is getting really interesting in my opinion. Compared to previous earthquake swarms in Esjufjöll.

    There was a suspected eruption in 1927. But that event appears to have been quite small and did not do anything except creating a small glacier flood. That event also did not last long, less then a week I am estimating given the data on that suspected eruption.

  5. If I can ask a very basic question of someone with local knowledge. On the Jökulsárlón
    webcam which of the peaks in the distance is Esjufjöll ?

  6. 07:43:57 64.238 – 16.481 1.1 km 2.7 90.01 26.6 km NNE of Hvannadalshnjúkur

    I was watching the Jökulsárlón-webcam at that moment and noticed that the cam was shaking. Maybe it was the wind, but do you think the EQ could have been the reason?

  7. Jón: The “crater” at RUV’s Hekla cam is quite visible now. I think it looks different, because they’ve changed the webcam location.

  8. Saturday
    23.10.2010 10:31:33 64.130 -17.282 1.1 km 2.6 38.49 19.2 km NW of Skaftafell
    23.10.2010 10:31:27 64.241 -16.482 0.5 km 2.6 90.02 26.9 km NNE of Hvannadalshnjúkur

  9. Ah, now I see what you mean Renato! 🙂

    As to the questions “is an eruption near?” and “which volcano?”, Jón is the man to tell you what Icelandic scientists believe about the readiness of each one of the Vatnajökull volcanic systems. Here is a summary of what we have learnt over the past year or so:

    Within the next 1000 years, the chances are that each one of the Vatnajökull volcanoes will have had at least one eruptive episode. This is the “near” in geologic sense. In the human sense of the word “soon”, the rate of inflation and stress indicate that Grímsfjall will reach a critical point around April next year. Icelandic vulcanologists have been reported as saying that they monitor the Bardarbunga volcanic system closely because stress levels are rising there too. Thus, of the Vatnajökull volcanoes the answer is “Grímsfjall probably within a year”, the Bardarbunga system “possibly but probably not “soon”, at least in the sense of the next months or few years” and the rest “no present indications”.

    But with volcanoes, there’s always the joker in the pack that will surprise you!

  10. Thank you so much about your answer… and about katla and the other icelandic volcanos? There are anyone near to blow?

  11. Earthquakes seems to get shallower and stronger indeed, any possible explanation? And does anyone have an idea of how deep Esjufjoll’s magma chamber is located?

  12. Here’s a link to more detailed info about Vatnajökull

    ‘about to blow’ – you m,ust alweays think in geologic time. If you look at all the informatioin over on the Eruptions blog at Big Think, you will see lots of discussion about that right now regarding a few not-Icelandic volcanoes. As for Iceland, as Henrik says, think ‘geologic time’, not human time. Maybe next year?

  13. Jón, is this correct?

    From the fact that it is now noon, Icelandic time, which gives a good guide to where the Mila Jökulsárlón is pointed, and a comparison with this map – – it would seem that the gentle peak visible in the center-to-right background is Breidabunga. As seen from the camera location, Esjufjall would be to the northwest and just outside the field of view to the left.

    Cf this view –

    1. But: Since very little is known about this volcano, no-one can actually predict, what’s going to happen and when.

      1. As long as you take it for what it is – amateur interpretations of professional statements and (more or less informed) amateur opinions. 😉

  14. Why is it so difficult to get some of the pages at hraun.vedur to appear? I tried clicking your link Jack@Finland and it won’t open, comes up with an error message. What does it say that makes you think an eruption might be as little as a week away. Thanks.

    1. At Grimsfjäll the average magnitude of earthquakes was M2+ something like 1-2 weeks before the 2004 eruption. Just before the eruption the quakes intensified. But, Esjufjöll is not necessarily like Grimsvötn. My amateur guess is, that it may take a little longer, and the eruption will be bigger than the Grimsvötn 2004 eruption was. I think this way because Esjufjöll has not erupted for a while. But, we’ll see later…

  15. M 5.0 – LAKE RUDOLF REGION, KENYA-SUDAN – 2010-10-23 11:08 UTC This earthquake it’s linked to an active volcano…

  16. The deepest earthquake so far in Esjufjöll volcano was on 27,4 km depth. So this is clearly a magma related earthquake swarm. At current time I do not believe that a eruption is going to happen soon in Esjufjöll volcano.

  17. Think of it this way, Luisport – the activity that eventually led up to the Eyjafjallajökull eruptions this year began (at least) as long ago as 1990.

    1. Ok, that gives me a better time perspective. Thank’s. Do you think a major event could happen in Iceland until 2012?

      1. The year 2012 is going to be a normal year. If we are going to see a eruption that year or not is unknown and speculation of that nature are best delayed until the year 2012.

        The overview in the year 2013 is going to teach us about about the year 2012.

        Now, I request that people forget the year 2012 myths when commenting on this web site. As they pollute the discussion and have no connection to reality what so ever.

      2. Although I don’t know what you mean by a major event, the Fimvörduhals and Eyjafjallajökull eruptions eruptions is what I’d term one. They were so spectacular that I think most of us who watched it live on the webcams yearn for more. That said, it does seem as if an eruption of Grímsfjall is not far off, at least the Icelandic scientists seem to think so. With the usual jökulhlaup that accompanies its eruptions, that’s bound to be spectacular as well even if we probably won’t have such a wonderful live coverage of it as that provided by Mila and Vodaphone earlier this year.

  18. Okay…. this is FOR COMPARISON.

    First of all, the units in the quake energy plot are different than the units used in

    All I have done is to take the ≈322 sq km box and placed it as a boundary over Esjufjöll in order to get a rough comparison of the two systems. The central vents of Grímsvötn were plotted in order to see where their sample box fit with respects to the volcano. I don’t have plot data for the vent(s?) of Esjufjöll so I used the positional data from to get a fairly accurate spot to center the red box.


  19. Reykjanes peninsula is very actine too. Saturday
    23.10.2010 20:20:20 63.364 -24.216 2.5 km 2.8 90.01 24.7 km SW of Eldeyjarboði
    23.10.2010 20:17:38 63.643 -23.235 1.1 km 1.9 63.69 4.7 km SSE of Geirfugladrangur
    23.10.2010 20:17:32 63.408 -23.951 1.1 km 2.7 90.01 11.6 km SW of Eldeyjarboði
    23.10.2010 20:12:54 63.390 -24.081 6.3 km 3.1 90.02 17.6 km SW of Eldeyjarboði
    23.10.2010 19:38:34 63.368 -23.920 1.1 km 2.7 90.01 14.7 km SSW of Eldeyjarboði
    23.10.2010 12:05:40 63.413 -23.763 1.1 km 2.4 55.79 8.8 km SSE of Eldeyjarboði
    23.10.2010 12:04:29 63.593 -23.328 1.1 km 2.1 90.01 9.7 km SSW of Geirfugladrangur

  20. Magnitude mb 4.7
    Date time 2010-10-23 20:38:31.2 UTC
    Location 63.58 N ; 23.11 W
    Depth 2 km
    Distances 85 km SW Reykjavík (pop 113,906 ; local time 20:38 2010-10-23)
    78 km SW Hafnarfjörður (pop 22,289 ; local time 20:38 2010-10-23)
    44 km SW Grindavík (pop 2,539 ; local time 20:38 2010-10-23)

  21. @ Luisport – I see that you have an interest in potential eruptive events. But I need to point you to the recent post by Jón on this blog. this is not a place for mongering wether it may be katla blowing or planet x or whatever nonsense beeing spammed on other less serious blogs (im beeing diplomatic here)…

    Just as a FYI this blog is a very serious one and we all expect the comments or questions to be of professional nature or likewise.

    If anyone wants to read about the end of the world or 2012 or planet x they should not read this blog as it is based on facts and common sense..Not horror stories made up by people seeking attention.

    Sorry for the hars words but everytime i see these posts or the blogs posting about these issues i get angry as they have NO scientific base whatsoever…And still people blindly believe it…I t makes me doubt that the human race can actually see things from a scientific point of view…Not only the fearmongering crap which gets distributed like David Icke does….

    Sorry Jon but i need to say this…

    David Icke is an idiot who has no reality checks and an equally big idiot who has no scientific base to his statements what so ever!!

    1. You don’t need to beat me! I wasn’t talk about nothing that things… i only put a simple question!

      1. Luisport: Please, don’t take it personally, we’ve been through this many times before in Eruptions blog. What can we do about media’s sensationalism? That’s, after all, what it is all about – selling news. No wonder people get confused. We’d better follow Jón’s advice and wait until 2013 to see what 2012 has brought to us. And I’m sure there we’ll be a couple of EQs and eruptions much the same way 2010 brought us Eyjafjallajökull, Peteroa and Kamtchatka volcanoes. 🙂

    2. Daniel,

      I was sitting here reading the informative, congenial posts from all these great gentlement while having dinner. As it was, I was in the middle of a Chicken Pot Pie when came across your post, which subsequently was comletely ruined.

      Your post was above and beyond the call of duty..what ever that is.

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