Magma on the move in El Hierro, Canary Islands

This is happening faster then I expected. But it seems that magma is now on the move upwards in El Hierro volcano in Canary Islands. This is evident by the earthquake patterns that are emerging from the volcano. Given the earthquake locations, most likely place for a eruption to take place is out on the ocean based on that. But sometimes magma can find different pathways up the surface without a lot of warning.

Latest earthquake map from Instituto Geográfico Nacional that shows clearly the earthquake pattern since the dike intrusion did start in El Hierro. Copyright of this picture belongs to Instituto Geográfico Nacional.

At the moment it is impossible to know when and where a eruption might start. It depends on many factors. But it is now clear that magma is on the move upwards. So far the magma seems to be around 10 km up in the earth crust under El Hierro. So it is clear that the magma is on the way up and most likely preparing for a eruption.

159 Replies to “Magma on the move in El Hierro, Canary Islands”

  1. How fast can the magma travel upwards Jon? How long would it take for the magma to reach the surface?

    1. Depends on volcano. Hekla can do several hundred meters per minute, some of the slowest do it never up to the surface.

    2. This depends on two things. The magma and how fluid it actually is. But this also depends on the type of rock it is breaking trough, if it is hard, soft, or even just plain sand and so on.

      The clues are that the magma is really fluid and moving rather fast. But the rock that make up El Hierro seems too be slowing it down a lot.

  2. I do not have a way to add an attachment on this blog, but I have used excel to create a chart of significant (M3+) earthquakes under el Hierro by depth since 1 September, and there is a clear trend upwards since 9/29. Using a polynomial trend line suggests an eruption around 11 October, but of course this is just based on the last few days – things could die down again, or accelerate.

    1. Just make a plot of it, upload somewhere and share the link to the plot.

    2. Your suggestion is based on linear development in a completely homogeneous media, which can’t really be farther off the reality… El Hierro is a volcano, with a chamber and other structures, including conduits, cracks, faults, possibly also dykes and sills, etc. So anything else, including pure guesses would provide equally valid suggestions. The fact that you’re using math to derive it adds zero value to it.

      However, it’s fun to make these “forecasts”! At least you get some bragging rights if your prediction goes somewhat right… 😛

      1. Valid points. But I still enjoy beating myself up trying to comprehend the Mogi model.

        Besides, its good to see someone else digging into the nuts and bolts of the quakes… but I don’t think I would use anything but a linear trend. Poly’s can throw you a curve at the end segments and put you off in left field. If I remember right, a poly’s correlation is only valid inside the data set and outside of it is pretty useless.

      2. it is amazing how much you have to know to know how little you know i agree with jack in Finland but i would add many considerations he failed to mention like alignment of planets and solar particle waves , to ignore the overwhelming abundance of evidence proving alignments of planets are directly related to major earthquakes and volcano eruptions here on earth is to be willfully blind and culpable of stupidity

      3. None of those things have any effect on eruptions on planet Earth. Or earthquakes for that matter.

        Facts do not change to fit your idea of the world. How ever wrong or right it is going to be.

      4. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against plotting things! Lurking, you do a magnificient job in creating these plots, that highlight the true nature of the reality.

        I’m against using math in a way that does not comply with reality, i.e. simulating with a model that does not even reflect reality any better than a pure guess!

        These “suggeestions” are entertaining, but I don’t see any real scientific value in making them. Volcanos do what they want to do (erupt), due to reasons only vaguely known to us (pressure from great depths).

      5. For Josh.

        I’m not discounting your attempt at getting meaning out of the quake trends. It’s just that as Jack has said, about as good a guestimate as anything else.

        I looked for key definitive movements in the quake cluster trends and felt certain that it would broach the surface towards the first part of September. This was based on trends back in July/August.

        By my reckoning, the center of the linear trend bounded by ±2σ. 95% of the quakes would have been in in that boundary.

        Then it started infilling roughly parallel NS lines along the original swarm. To me, that looked like dike emplacement. I even went as far as calculating the volume encompassed by the infilling dike area and came up with a rough ball park of eruptable magma given a few somewhat realistic assumptions.

        Then the whole set started dropping in depth and took off to the South, swinging around the area where I first spotted a “hole” in the original quake set where there were no quakes. (it later filled in)

        Now… this cluster has pulled up short and done a slight diagonal rise, and few really deep quakes go off south of there, and the whole she-bang starts crawling upwards.

        But… go ahead and take your stab at it. I’d like to see it myself. If your wrong, no big deal. I’ll be right there with you in the error que. Half the joy of this is learning from nuanced mistakes and trying to figure out where it went wrong.

        On the statistics front, I’ve run Normal (Gaussian) distributions of repose times enough to know that volcanoes don’t read stats books. It’s nice to be able to run my own figures and to be able to throw the B/S flag when the media starts spitting them out.

        What is all boils down to, is that a volcano will erupt when it’s damn well ready, and not a moment before. Our job (you and I and others involved) is to try and figure out what it’s up to.

        Don’t get overwhelmed by the math. Read it until your eyes glaze and then go do something else. Come back to it later and try to fix the part of your understanding that ran you off to begin with.

        VisualizingStess and VisualizingStrain are a couple of free programs on the Internet that have excellent tutorial info. Find them if you can. They are enlightening.

  3. What kind of eruption is likely to happen from this volcano? Would it be bad if it erupted in the ocean?

    Hopefully it will be minor whatever happens.

    1. Said as simply as possible: effusive hot spot volcanism, somehow like Hawaii. Bit of ash if there’s contact to water or underwater eruprion. Nothing very bad at large scale. Altough not a piece of cake for the locals.

      1. If it makes contact below about 2.25 km don’t expect the water to make it nasty. It won’t boil until the pressure gets below the critical point. Any explosiveness would have to be from catastrophic failure of the seafloor.

      2. Note: Previously I have stated that below 2.75 km the pressure was too high, that’s accurate, but was based on memory. The 2.25 km is a more accurate number since it’s based off of the actual data set.

      3. Do you know what depths the waters are in the seas around the areas of high EQ activity? Is there data available?

      4. It’s very important not to be too precise as a geologist – leaves this “touch of magic”… 🙂
        My mineralogy / petrography profs would beat my a.. up if they knew that I just wrote that… Hihiiii, vengeance for hundreds of phase diagrams they made us read and plot and whatever you can do them… 😉

    2. From what I read, they expect an Strombolian-type eruption.
      If occurs under water, which seems a possibility, the effects depend on the depth. In this spanish text they address the depth question.

      Two videos of past eruptions in La Palma (the island north of El Hierro)

      Teneguia 1971

      San Juan 1949

  4. hey – can anyone explain the danger of being on Gran Canaria 8-15th October in relation to this activity on El Hierro? Thanks, jon

    1. Thanks lurking, great view. Do you have a profile or a blog to credit and link your stuff when we want to use them in other places ?

      1. Just here and over at the Eruptions Blog. Those are the places I lurk.

        (GeoLurking there, Lurking here, and Lurking over there on the old site when they were hosted by BigThink)

        Just remember that the quake data itself is not mine. All I can claim credit for is fusing data and making it pretty.

    2. Looks like delamination to me. A pocket or sill, filled with magma or not so. …

      Is it possible that it is getting large enough that it might contain the full intrusion without the finding a route to the surface?

    3. Follow on comment RE: GPS plots on Eruptions blog …

      Still confused about the alternate GPS data set but it seems as if the slopes of inflation assort depending upon where the GPS sites at El Hierro are located relative to FRON

      1. I agree. You would think that REST would have seen a bump up in elevation as what ever it was went south.

        Most… perplexing.

  5. There are more than 50 quakes over 3.5 ML in that area (El Hierro) recently. This volcano become very active during these two weeks. If the seismic frequency is related to eruption then may be watching on quake will be good signal to stay alert.

    If you like to get update on your iPhone, This App will be interest you. It is called “Europe Alert” check it out at . It is free and i hope it helps. especially to people on Canary Islands.

  6. So the magma did move from it’s original spot to the south and to slightly larger depths since the earthquakes started. SO now the magma is making its way upward? Via the same way or is it making some kind of “L” shape (if you understand what I mean)

    1. I think the magma… the original mass that has been moving around may have weakened the crust enough for the deeper magma to find it’s way up.

      After the deeper quakes occur, there is an upward trend in the moving cluster.

      1. On the rotating plot, note the static profile view looking east when I put it back into flat view.

        Failing that, here is a static image from that set with the most recent quakes represented with a star.

        Those deep ones more than 25 km down are what I’m talking about.

        Here is the rub. As Carl and others have noted, material that is as hot as it is down there very rarely makes quakes. It flows/oozes.

        In order for something that deep to make a quake, is has to be a considerable amount of stress in order to force the material to sheer rather than flow.

      2. Oh… the table. The AVCAN table that is for El Hierro doesn’t show them. I had to switch to the full Canary list and then walk down to the area of El Hierro. They are outside AVCAN’s filter box for the Volcano.

  7. Thanks Lurking. It looks to me from the picture that this plot paints that the magma is being forced under pressure from below and is finding its path of least resistance, which at the moment seems to be a lateral expansion resulting in an expansion of the magma reservoir. The problems will come as it finds least resistance pathways upwards as opposed to sideways, which leaves the question about the deep quakes. So is this magma being forced downwards or fresh intrusions being forced upwards? Any sign of new quakes under teneriffe or the other islands?

  8. Very shallow! 1102064 03/10/2011 16:51:09 35.0192 -4.4151 4 2.2 mbLg NW TARGUIST.MAC

  9. Either someone was adjusting the webcam at Hekla or there has just been an earthquake there.

    1. Nothing visible on the tremor plots or Jon’s webicorder so must have been someone adjusting the camera.

      1. Christina, I can see a very bright star . It keeps disappearing as Clouds pass I think. Other than that it is just very dark!

  10. Good news. Now I just owe the bank $3.544,96, 2.280,61 GBP, 19.720,82 DKK, €2.650,30. But that is 421000 ISK.

    But this leaves me rather in budget defect on the whole account I think. But I got some money on the Danish account. But that won’t last forever.

  11. How much magma is moving around under El Hierro ? It seems like a vast amount at speed.

  12. Rumble and lightning reaches us on the south coast of Tenerife from El Hierro. Is this an eruption or just a tunderstorm near el Hierro

    1. Tino, you have local sources of info…

      Keep your eye on:
      AVCAN facebook for all the latest news and discussion in en español.

      Also, the official emergencia sites:
      Cabildo de El Hierro
      Gobierno de Canarias

      And, of course, your local Tenerife-based newspaper, which has better news than we can ever give you 😉
      Diario de Avisos

  13. El Hierro:

    I was curious about the depth of the ocean floor around El Hierro. It seems that if you use Google Earth and move the pointer around then it will give you the depth at that point, shown at the bottom middle next to the latitude & longitude. It seems that the larger earthquakes are in an area where the sea depth is around 1500 – 2000 metres.

    What that means to me is nothing other than its shallower than the reference to 2.25km further up. Does it mean that an undersea eruption could breach the surface?

    1. That would be an inability of the seafloor to contain whatever pressure builds up underneath it. How big a segment fractures and fails, if it did, would determine whether or not there would be anything on the surface to see.

      That is the only way that I can see it giving any indication on the surface other than discolored water and gas emissions if the water is deeper than about 2.25 km.

      On the surface we see the same effect in events like Puyehue-Cordón Caulle. Catastrophic failure of the rock in the area of the eruption.

      I’m not making a case for it, just ruminating on what it would take to produce an undersea eruption like this one off the coast of Tonga.

      1. Do catastrophic failures of the sea floor cause tsunamis?

        And if yes, any idea how big a failure has to be before anyone needs to be concerned about it?

      2. Well, it’s all a matter of how much water gets displaced and how fast. Generally, no, there isn’t much of a threat of tsunami at all.

        This Tonga submarine volcano didn’t cause a tsunami and it was a pretty ominous event… you can tell just from the remarks of the people shooting the video… from a boat.

        Tsunamis are the result of mass displacement. If you don’t have that, you don’t have a tsunami. Despite what a lot of alarmists state, an island suffering a mass wasting event is effectively a point source displacement at range and will propagate as such.

        The water displaced will occupy a wavefront as the pressure wave moves away from the source. As the radius of that wavefront grows larger, the amount of water displaced has to occupy an ever increasing volume, and therefore the energy density drops off pretty fast. At about 1000 km, the amount of water per 1 meter of wave front is down to less than 0.5% of the original wave.

        Unless you have a planar mass movement, such as the Indian Ocean quake and tsunami, or the Japanese quake and tsunami, the only way that energy can be focused down range is from the topology of the seafloor, reflections off of the coast, or the dynamics of how the initial displacement took place.

        Other than that it’s a guessing game and the realm of fear mongers.

  14. RE: “Raving says: October 3, 2011 at 19:09 Looks like delamination to me. A pocket or sill, filled with magma or not so. … Is it possible that it is getting large enough that it might contain the full intrusion without the finding a route to the surface?”

    But magma itself can’t fracture and create an earthquake, so the location of the quakes are places in the vicinity of hot magma, where solid rock is fracturing in response to the heat (and pressure?) of near-by magma. Which in this case would appear to be sills or a narrow conduit. Is that a correct picture of the dynamics?

    And, following that thought, have magma chambers ever been imaged by taking slices of the earthquake data to look for rings or voids in the data to detect an absence in earthquakes within a volume bounded by earthquakes?

    1. If there is a high enough resolution it’s possible. I did note a few tight semi circles in the first quakes. I tried to isolate that original” hole” in the quakes but was unsussesful.

  15. Hi may I know the possibility of the eruption to affect Spain air travel or Italy and other parts of Europe. Or will it juz be a small scale event?

    1. June:
      As Carl has already said: prevailing winds will blow all ash produced to the opposite direction (Westwards), no matter how large an eruption would be.

      1. Depends on how much ash there is, what it is made of & how high it goes. High silica content (Lady E) is not good for aircraft as it may damage the engines; low silica content (Grimsvotn) is less of a problem.

        The prevailing winds go east to west as other commentors have said so the ash would go that way but then may go north if picked up by the jet stream.

        What impact any of that would have on Europe is impossible to predict, especially as the weather, itself, is very difficult to forecast.

        But as the local scientists are more concerned about local landslips from the earthquakes, Icelands volcanoes are possibly the most likely to affect the rest of Europe.

  16. 3.3 quake in Katla caldera!!!!

    04.10.2011 02:41:23 63.659 -19.138 1.1 km 3.3 90.05 5.9 km ENE of Goðabunga

    1. actually i am a noob here. which is worse, huge dept or huge magnitude of earthquake? what do we lookout for if there’s an earthquake magnitude 3 or more at kalta?

      1. I don’t think it’s a question of “worse”. Depth, magnitude and frequency of quakes all just provide info on what might be occurring in inner earth; and, in particular for volcanoes, whether there are indications that magma may be moving, and how it might be moving, with the hope of providing forewarning of an eruption, should that be indicated.

        Big quakes just indicate fracture of rock in a big way. Under volcanoes, that might indicate heat and pressure from fresh influxes of magma are deforming solid rock and causing the fracturing.

        For Katla, in my opinion, the continued increase in number and intensity of quake are clear indications that the prelude to an eruption is in progress.

        Also, in my opinion, the location of the earthquakes indicates a very large magnitude 5+ eruption has a high probability of occurring, as last occurred in 1755.

        Other people with have other opinions.

      2. In general, the very large earthquakes are caused by the jolting movements in the tectonic plates rather than the movement of magma. But a large quake in the vacinity of a volcano which is close to erupting, in theory may loosen / fracture rock to release magma.

        Magma movement causes smaller quakes with a pattern called harmonic tremors. The depth of the quakes indicate where the magma is moving; the quakes usually follow a trend of deep to shallow as the magma rises. As the pressure increases, rock may fracture and also produce quakes.

        Shallow earthquakes may indicate an imminent eruption because the magma is near the surface and rock may be fracturing near the surface.

        But there is not enough data to say which is worse a large or a deep earthquake. Scientists are also researching the amount of energy released by quakes as a better indicator of damage. And only time will reveal the impact on Katla.

  17. Katla has already awakened. Now we’re just waiting for the eruption. Katla may erupt tomorrow, or next decade. Nobody knows for sure, as there were no instrumentation during the last eruption in 1918, and thus we have no data how Katla behaves just before the eruption starts. The only thing we know is that Katla produces numerous heavy quakes (M3+ to M4+) and a large jökulhaup (glacial water flood) before the eruption. So far we have not had these in the scale expected. But the symptoms we’re currently seeing, indicate that Katla may start erupting most likely within weeks to 1-3 years. So, let’s just keep waiting for the show to start!

    1. Katla erupted recently! In July this year …. Just a little eruption though. This shows that you cannot as yet predict what will happen or when or how big! This eruption was so samll it didn’t break through the ice cap. It just melted the ice an produced a glacial flood.
      I suggest you read this link to John’s Blog archives that tells you all about it and what we could see here back in July. We did speculate then at what was happening.

      1. Sorry! Only one coffee so far this morning….. I need another!
        For samll read small. This post was supposed to be a reply to June .Yes! Katla is awke but now and again just snoozing with one eye open…You could call them Katla Naps. 🙂

      2. LOL! I do not either. I think something stopped the magma flow OR there was a sudden strong force that didn’t quite break up enough rock inside to give an all clear for a rapid exit. I think it may have been like a half- hearted squeeze on a giant tube of toothpaste a bit oozed out but was not enough of a trigger to send the toothpaste squirting all over the place and now the paste in the tube is all squeezed up at the front all ready for a push from…. something. 🙂
        To those who know more a question. Could the Ice cap be a factor in preventing a full eruption or was it more likely not enough magma shoving from below?

  18. Hi guys!
    Interesting links regarding El Hierro.
    So far my impression is that all this lava injection goes to hit somewhere El Julan landslide flank.
    Should we be prepared for another landslide?
    Can we found some geologic profile along SV-NE direction ??


      This is a very detailed paper that describes past landslides. It doesn’t really give much indication of the possibility of future slide. There are various parts of the island that could slide but there seems to be nothing a obvious as the loose flank of Cumbre Vieja.
      There probably will be landslides as all similar Island volcanoes have to a greater or lesser extent.
      This paper indicates the Causes and provides a model for assessing the possibility and size of volcanic landslides. It took some reading and re- reading for me as I got really bogged down with the maths!!!
      It may be of help or interest to others though.

      1. I didn’t get a chance to do a proper reading. But what I was able to read was extremely illuminating.


    1. This time I do NOT think it is steam – not yesterday, and not today. What looks like steam is – according to me – due to low quality picture: low resolution capturing combined with backlight and a more or less dirty lens (fingerprints?). Especially in the shadows the picture quality is poor and everything seems to be moving around (still it is a wonderful view, can watch it for minutes). Where the sun is shining, detalis are much better visible.

      When I look at the river down in the valley, it seems to carry a little more water than earlier. Suppose it has to do with more rain.

      1. Hi Sissel!

        I am still pretty sure it’s steam 🙂 I agree that the sunlight and dirt on the lens in different sun-angels can look blurry like smoke or fog. Even though I saw the steam-pillar after the sun set until it got totally dark.

        Did you toggled to full-screen?

        Cheers and thanks for your respond!
        Christian T.

      2. The extra water in the river is from all the recent rain. This was visible yesterday.

        The steam could be anything from ordinary clouds to water hitting cooling lava. Interesting to see what can be seen tomorrow.

  19. The inflation in the northern/north western GPS stations of El Hierro still seems to be ongoing so it is likely that there is still magma flowing into the main magma chamber somewhere in the mid of where the first earthquakes were (under the western flank of the island). Part of that magma has flown into a sill further and further to the south. Unlike the main magma chamber of the volcano the rock was not already arranged for magma pressure and temperature there so we saw a lot stronger earthquakes from that intrusion.
    Where it will finally find a way to the surface is not clear and it is equally likely that it will be from the main magma chamber or from the sill. It might have found a part way up this morning right off the coast of El Julan but it is still far from the surface.
    At least that is my interpretation of the events.

  20. More local news about El Hierro from Diario da Avisos…

    El túnel de Los Roquillos seguirá cerrado hasta que llegue la calma — latest official assessment, 4/10/2011

    “Si hay erupción, se podrá saber semanas antes y dónde” — Informative interview with geologist David Calvo, 3/10/2011

    And from AVCAN, 4/10/2011, 12.00h…

    NOTE AVCAN 239 – EARTHQUAKE SWARM-VOLCANIC – IRON ISLAND – 04 October 2011-12:00 h peninsular – Seismic activity continues to moderate with some hard time this morning, but more quiet now in the morning where seismic frequency has dropped. The magnitude between 3.6 and 1.2. New earthquakes 56. Depth between 12 and 17km (11km and one and two at 18 and 29km). Before yesterday 136. Yesterday 127. Now go 30. A total of 9327 earthquakes are located by the IGN from 9:00 h on July 19, 2011 (Henry).

    Today October 4, 2011, the recent seismic activity in the sea remains the calm but after yesterday’s move south is now moving towards the east to the south coast of the island and is highly concentrated, more input indicating magmatic material. The two strongest earthquakes above 3.0 D3E have been one of 3.7 in the South where the activity was located yesterday and another of 3.3 and further east near the coast where the activity is located today.

    EARTHQUAKE DAY 30 SEP. – Green (149)
    EARTHQUAKE DAY 01 OCT. – Red (114)
    EARTHQUAKE DAY 02 OCT. – Yellow (136)
    EARTHQUAKE DAY 03 OCT. – Blue (127)
    EARTHQUAKE DAY 04 OCT. – Rosa (30)

  21. Earthquake Swarm Continues On El Hierro, Canary Islands
    Tue Oct 04, 9:51 am

    The Instituto Geografico Nacional (IGN) has reported surface deformations exceeding 35mm on the Spanish island of El Hierro, where residents have been alert for a possible volcanic eruption.

    The number of earthquakes recorded since July 17 on the smallest of The Canary Islands exceeded 9250 on Tuesday morning.

    IGN confirmed on Monday that 1172 earthquakes were recorded last week, the majority of which were located in the sea to the SW of the 280-sqkm island.

    52 of the earthquakes were felt by the local population, estimated to be approximately 10,000. A further 10 earthquakes, exceeding 3.0 magnitude on the Richter Scale, were felt during Monday and early on Tuesday.

    Hierro, a shield volcano, has had a single historic eruption from the Volcan de Lomo Negro vent in 1793. The eruption lasted approximately one month and produced lava flows.

    The recent surge in the number and intensity of earthquakes prompted officials from the IGN and The Canary Islands Government to raise the alert level for the Hierro volcano to ‘Yellow’ late last month.

    1. This was April’s eruption.
      I understand that the alert level was now raised to 4 (in a scale of 5).
      So, we’ll probably hear more abou this dangerous volcano.

    2. how does this differ from iceland one? I think this will not affect much in airlines disruption in asia.

  22. Eija you noticed a small plume of steam but not out of the crater if the glacier
    then download some pictures
    I do not know if it’s normal, so leave the comment

  23. While it’s quiet(ish) in Iceland, I was just idly looking at the harmonic tremor spikes (the ones that include a component in the red line) in Skrokkalda and nearby stations and trying to correlate them.
    Of the spikes in skr, almost none seem to be visible on the grf tremor plot (admittedly it’s noisy, but every now and then a little spike turns up on both, so it is possible to see them). On the other hand, there seems to be a lot more correlation with Vatnsfell; I know this is noisy due to a nearby energy plant, but even so you can pick out quite a few that occur at the same time as skr. Some are larger at skr, a few larger at vat; and some at each don’t appear on the other, even fairly major spikes. Some of the skr spikes also turn up at Snaebyli (and those also at vat). One or two of the biggest also appear at Kalfafjall, but these seem to be just remnants of distant tremors.

    I’m probably overinterpreting (do other random noises cause some of these spikes, for example?), and I’ve not done any sort of real correlation analysis, but I’m having difficulty seeing Hamarinn as the cause. I don’t claim any knowledge of how these things work (beyond what I’ve picked up from you folks), but this looks to me like lots of little harmonic tremors in the dead zone – some closer to skr, some further southwest. I can really see why you want better monitoring around there. Any thoughts? Am I totally barking?

    1. Well one of the problems with the theory is the fact that if there’d be any potential activity in the dead zone, it would correspond with activity near a central volcano. Fissure systems in the so called ‘deadzone’ will not erupt by itself as far as we know. It has been suggested that the magma erupted during fissure eruptions are drained from a central volcano. So if there’s harmonic tremor in a fissure, there has to be corresponding tremor a nearby central volcano.

      1. That’s a point… but couldn’t the occasional harmonics we see around Katla (and Hamarinn?) be causing pressure changes within the fissure zone, which are then accommodated by small magma movements across the area at slightly later times?

      2. Could be, but I’m personally not really fond of the theories which imply that magma movements occur without any seismicity accompanying the process. Especially if we are talking about an area which has been inactive for years.

      3. Very true. Although, of course, there is a reason why the dead zone is “dead” – if it’s still highly ductile, maybe we shouldn’t expect to see much in the way of discrete quakes; the tremor spikes are pretty small, after all, whatever their source. I’m not suggesting that people look out of their car windows for unnoticed globs of lava burbling up out of the ground – and yes, I’m sure there would be hefty quakes long before it got to that stage. But perhaps the earliest stages of preparation would be something like we’re seeing – little bits of movement all over the ductile zone. The distribution of the tremor spikes does seem to suggest there’s more than one source for the readings at skr and vat.

        It’s all speculation, of course, but I like being proved wrong. I might actually learn something in the process… 🙂

      4. Actually (IIHUIC*), if the conduits were still open deep in the rift zone, we’d see tremors in the beginning when magma is moving there more or less freely. We’d see seismicity later, i.e. when magma starts to work its way up.

        * IIHUIC = “If I Have Understood It Correctly”

        Or, have I?

    2. IMHO your “observation” deserves monitoring. If it proves correct, it can only hint towards a new fissure eruption within the dead zone.

      1. Ok, I checked it, and found no real connections/correlations. See for yourself:

        Either use the “Grid” features of your favorite graphics program, or simply put a sheet of any square format paper on your monitor. It is fairly easy to see, that some peaks do match, but most not. The most important factor IMHO is, that the intensities for those few peaks that match do not show any logical relations. So I think the timings of those peak match just by pure chance.

        If there was any real connection, most peaks should match, and there should be some logic in the relative intensities.

        Anyhow, it did not work out this time. But, an interesting thought experiment in any case! Thanks for sharing it!

      2. Morning all (yes, I’m in a weird time zone)… Thanks for following it up, Jack. It was the lack of logic on the amplitudes of the shared peaks that got me interested – it seemed to imply that some were closer to some stations than the others, but of course with only three to go on, it’s hard not to get a pattern, even if they are aligned by chance. I didn’t notice any that were larger in sny and skr than in vat, though, which would have skuppered it. I’ll have a proper look later, but I’m sure you’re right. Phew. 🙂

      3. I think this dead zone is like Hekla, it can look innocent and harmless for long periods of time, until it explodes one day.
        We have had 3 eruptions since March last year, so there is lots of activity going on.
        Hekla is ready to blow, Katla is getting close, Hamarinn also.
        Grimsfjall will soon be ready for a new eruption,
        we have lots of activity in all the areas related to the dead zone.
        Eldgja could erupt if Katla erupts in the same spot as 934, the last Laki eruption came right after a Grimsvotn eruption, and Grimsvotn are very active right now, Bardarbunga and Hamarinn look restless, if something happens there we could get a eruption in Veidivotn.
        Everything seems to be calm right now though.

  24. Interesting: if the current inflation at Grimsfjall persists. (which is about 0,5-0,6mm/day) she’ll be fully armed for another eruption within 450 days!

    1. Like I said a while back, on 2012-2013. The last eruption (2011), however, occurred after a inflation period that far exceeded the inflation level just before the previous eruption (2004).

  25. Tuesday
    04.10.2011 02:41:23 63.659 -19.138 1.1 km 3.3 90.05 5.9 km ENE of Goðabunga

    1. I think ths was the one entioned earlier, then cahanged to 2,4 and then back?

      1. I think it is and interesting depth. Accuracy still at 90.05 so who knows where it will finally end up 🙂

    1. It has been goin on for a while, but seems to get stronger and more frequent, i have thought it was a roadwork or something like that(blowing rock away from road path).

  26. Please note that I did just turn off user registration due too high volume of bots registering on this web site. At least what I believe is are bots, not real people.

      1. It doesn’t seems like it. I am seeing odd user names and email addresses. Among them are email addresses that end in .cc domains names. But that is a common spam bot domain.

    1. I am going to do a clearing house soon (in next few hours). What is going to be deleted are users with no posts and no names in there account. But this just takes up space on the database too keep spam-bots and users that do not say anything with there registered names.

      Anyone already registered should update there account and install a name, or make a comment with it. Otherwise you have too re-register too get rid of CAPTCHA spam prevention system.

    1. There were 3 Grimsvotn eruptions in a row, 1769, 1774 and then the Laki eruption in 1783-1784.

      The Laki fissure belongs to Grimsvotn, according to what i have heard the eruption started in Vatnajokull, in the South West part of the Glacier in May 1783, there were some mild quakes late in May, June 1st the quakes were so strong that they were felt all the way from Myrdal to Oraefi.
      then the Laki fissure started erupting June 8th.

  27. Jon i have deposited 3000 kr to the account you gave me hope i can give more next time :O)

  28. Not a star (if you see it in fading daylight, it is on the glacier & also too bright). Sorru no picture but it is showing clearly at the moment:

    Note: you may have to watch for a while – as it appears then disappears.

    1. Yes, I can see it.
      If you say it is on the icecap, and it doesn’t move, it ain’t a star.
      So, what could that be? Some kind of station? The way it keeps intermittently going on and off, it looks like some kind of lighthouse.

    2. so what are the other three lights showing on that cam, the ones that aren’t intermitant but are the same otherwise?

      1. Think they are something on the webcam lens because they have been visible every evening.

    1. Higher water levels could be caused by both increased rainfall and / or geothermal activity under the glacier. The sulfur smell is indicative of geothermal activity and consisent with the recent quakes we have seen. The smell of sulfur could be a sign of a small subglacial eruption & the recent storms have released some sulfur from the glacier; or, it could be a sign of an impending larger eruption.

      I am sure the authorities will be checking this out.

  29. ok, tremor for godabunga just hit orbit, and a serious swarm is hitting katla caldera now. something big is happening.

  30. It would seem that seismicity is now occuring on the coast…so a possible eruption on land? But the tremors are still many km down.

  31. Brief update from El Mundo. Translation by Google:

    “The authorities have asked little more than five hundred inhabitants of La Restinga on the island of El Hierro, who come to the meeting under Volcanic Risk Plan for the possibility of another eruption occurs closer to the underwater coast.

    This has been reported to the Coordinating Center Efe Emergency and Security in the Canaries.

    Before this appeal, the residents of this seaside town, the southernmost of the island should be moved to the soccer field of the locality to follow the instructions of the authorities.

    La Restinga (547 inhabitants) is the closest to the submarine eruption occurred yesterday in El Hierro, located five kilometers from the coast and about 1,000 meters deep.”

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