Earthquake swarm in Askja volcano and Katla volcano

During the night there was a earthquake swarm in Askja volcano and in Katla volcano. The earthquake swarm in Katla volcano might be ongoing, but it is hard to know that for sure at the moment.

The earthquake swarm in Askja volcano are signs that volcano is preparing for a eruption period. But it seems like that magma has been starting to collecting in Askja volcano last year (in March of 2010). This progress also seems to be moving along faster then I did expect last year. But the earthquake swarm that took place during night was because if a possible dike intrusion from Askja volcano that got into the crust inside Askja volcano fissure swarm. So far the pressure of the magma is not high enough to start a eruption and I am unsure how long this progress needs to continue before Askja volcano is ready for a eruption. The largest earthquake that happened during the night was ML3.4 and on around 1 km depth according to the news on Rúv.

The earthquake area in Askja volcano. It is outside the main Askja volcano, but inside Askja volcano fissure swarm, the star marks the location of the ML3.2 earthquake (automatic size). Copyright of this picture belongs to Iceland Met Office.

Earthquake activity continues in Katla volcano as before. Most of the earthquakes are as before just small ones. Currently the earthquakes do not appear to be from dike intrusion as happened last week (5 October, 2011) with the earthquakes that where up to ML3.9 in size (checked data). After this large earthquake swarm activity dropped considerably. But it has been picking up again slowly during the week. But earthquake observation has been difficult due to frequent storms during the past two weeks that have been passing over Iceland. This storms have had wind up to 30m/s and wind gusts up to 56m/s (recorded).

The earthquake swarm in Katla volcano caldera. This area was active this summer when there was a minor eruption in Katla volcano. Copyright of this picture belongs to Iceland Met Office.

For the moment it is hard to know what happens next in Katla volcano or in Askja volcano. But it is clear that Askja volcano is preparing for a eruption (along with Kverkfjöll volcano). It is clear that Katla volcano is continuing to prepare for a eruption. But it is impossible to know when and how big that eruption might be. Until a eruption takes place, more dike intrusions with following earthquake swarms should be expected in Katla volcano.

Note: I am going to write more on El Hierro volcano (Canary Islands, Spain) later today. When I know more on what is going on in that volcano. But information gathering takes a little time when it is in a language that I do not properly understand yet.

News on this from Rú

Jarðskjálfti við Lokatind (Rú, Icelandic)

Blog post updated at 14:23 UTC on 11 October, 2011

95 Replies to “Earthquake swarm in Askja volcano and Katla volcano”

      1. That’s La Restinga not too far away in the background.

        Er…how many km away did they say it was?

  1. They named the “new volcano” as Pancho! Omayra González El volcán “Pancho” deberá de salir en su honor cerquita del Mar de las Calmas.
    há 6 minutos · Traduzir.

      1. Hope that the whole Pancho family has survived the recent happenings. Nice that the volcano got his name.
        Oh, by the way – suppose it is another male volcano then?

      2. I don’t have a problem with the name, “Bob” was a running joke for a few posts a couple of threads back when it was noted that it could become a new Canary Island.

        Other thoughts were for a dauntingly unpronounceable name of Icelandic origin. Preferably with a lot of ð, Þ characters. The Icelandic name idea was so that we could sit back in glee as the TV bobble-heads tried to pronounce it.

        “Bob” since it would break the cadence of any news statements due to it’s brevity. Again, for the pleasure of watching the news.

        No.. Pancho is a fine name. Even more so since it recognizes a local celebrity. (the halibut)

  2. First of all I would like to thank everyone who replied to my question-filled thread yesterday – very interesting answers, comments & links 🙂

    On Jon’s seismo @ Heklubyggö we see some rather big tremors around 14:20 UTC today. Do anyone know what this amounts to?

    And where is Heklubyggö anyways? Tried to Google-Earth it to no avail! 🙂


    1. Hi – Wish I could be more helpful, but for starters the last letter of the word you typed is wrong, it should be the Icelandic letter “ð”, I believe the name of that letter is eth. So your location is really Heklubyggð. I giggled the name, and taken apart it means “Heka-based” so it should be a hill near Hekla, but really I’m just guessing so wait for a better response to be forthcoming. 🙂

      1. Ah..

        the last strange letter is something akin to a Norwegian “d”; giving: “Hekla” “Bygd”

        (bygd is “small community” in Norwegian)

        Anyway, google is giving me Reykjavik for location when searching for “Heklubyggð”.

        So is the “Heklubyggð seismo’s” location actually in Reykjavik?

      2. No it’s by the river Rangá, located close to Svínhagaheiði

        63.96, -20.03
        Plot this into Google-map and look for the cottage in the direction to the river.

      3. I just copy and paste Icelandic names, not having the right keyboard to replicate many of the letters.

      4. You can get pretty much any character if you click start, run, charmap. find the character, select, copy and paste
        But also that gives you the shortcut to if you look carefully
        so for example in arioel font Þ is also possible by holding down ALT then typing 0222 (must be on the number pad) before letting go Þ

      5. In my profession, I need to be able to type a lot of international symbols and diacritic or accent marks. I have a PC at work, and use the methods that Edward has outlined here.

        At home I am 100% Mac, and again, the insert menu provides many, but not all choices, however I prefer to use the keyboard shortcuts. Many common shortcuts are already available on the American keyboard by typing “option” plus the appropriate key, then the letter that goes with the symbol. For example, “option” plus “e” gives the French accent aigu, “option” plus “n” gives the Spanish tilde, “option” + “i” = tréma or umlaut, etc. Note that these shortcuts will vary according to your base keyboard.

        To enter the Icelandic characters eth (ð) and thorn (þ), I had to activate the extended American keyboard, but now I can type eth by holding down “option” and typing “d”, or upper case eth: option-shift-d. Thorn is the same, only “option” plus “t”. Voilà, ð og þ!

        So now no excuses folks, for not spelling those Icelandic words correctly! 🙂

  3. Maybe off topic, but in an earlier blog global warming was linked to more frequent eq’s/eruptions since icecover is getting thinner by the year. Link below shows reduced volume of ice in the arctic. Are the Icelandic glaciers experiencing the same loss of ice? – and if they do, do anyone have a clue how much this can affect eruptions?

      1. Sorry – should have said: Mid Atlantic Ridge between the Greenland Sea and Iceland.

      2. Karen,
        On the earquke site in Icelandic there is masses of archived EQ data. This for instance is for weekly maps for 1995:

        Monthly maps go back to 1980 I think.
        They give a very good idea of where EQs are normally expected.
        Happy hunting! – its an amazing resource.

  4. Magnitude ML 4.3
    Date time 2011-10-14 16:25:56.0 UTC
    Location 68.05 N ; 18.15 W
    Depth 8 km
    Distances 467 km N Reykjavík (pop 113,906 ; local time 16:25:56.4 2011-10-14)
    262 km NW Akureyri (pop 16,563 ; local time 16:25:56.4 2011-10-14)
    201 km NW Raufarhöfn (pop 226 ; local time 16:25:56.4 2011-10-14)

  5. Pancho. Bob or Methany were far superior. I hope Pancho doesn’t hear that name or she may get upset and burp more. And linking to earlier posts Carl is wrong. Icelandic volcanoes do not eat pork, they eat lamb/mutton and historical records back me up on this 😉

  6. Pancho Bob now that is an excellent name 🙂 and on the subject of sheep i’m sure captcha said sheep around the time the pork theory emerged. That is fact! 😉

  7. I’m still not sure about El Hierro.
    The quakes started to the north of the island and moved south. At present quakes are a bit random, appearing in different locations, and maybe starting from deeper again to the north. Or could this be a start of deflation?

    1. I’m thinking that you are seeing the pressure release being distributed throughout the “chamber” mesh of cracks and crevices.

      Whether this expedites or enhances melt formation has yet to be seen. Despite some ideas, I’m in the decompression melting camp as to how this all started. Once the process started and enough of the structure weakened, a slight infusion from depth pushed it along and started the swarming as everything fell into a cadence.

      Layered parallel dike emplacement under the island to the north, and when that filled it went south following the pre-existing laying in the gabro.

      Coincidental or not, the underlying crust formed along the same N/S alignment when the Atlantic opened up so it only makes sense that any new magma would follow those weaknesses.

      1. Well…. they need a route to the present surface activity that does not require much , is any, seismic softening-up of the rising conduit from the deep EQS at 15km to the near-surface. There were very few EQS along that line. So its claimed to be due to ‘thermal memory’. Not sure what that means. ‘Memory’ implies a prior event – so when was the last eruption there- does anyone know? Any data?

      2. No data, but a theory on what “thermal memory” is:

        “… constitutes a zone of major cortical weakness, for the injection of magma associated with previous eruptions, and possibly a permanent “thermal memory”, which could have allowed, finally, the relatively fast rise of magma to the surface, in this case at the flank of the submarine rift.”

        I suggest the magma followed the old lava tubes in the seafloor, of which some on the island appear as “cuevas”. Not many EQ’s needed to open them if they still are hollow (?).
        The magma of course has no memory, it just follows the path of least resistence.

      3. Well, the prior events he is referring to were the ones that formed the ridge over the ages, I gathered from the article.

        But he is also saying ‘recientes’, which translates as recent. From other newspaper articles I infer that at the CISC, where Carracedo works, they think that such events as this one are fairly common in that area, but that no one was there to take not until the proper instruments were developed. But my understanding is that this is a theory. That’s why he said ‘posiblemente (possibly)’ in the article.

    1. What a fun website, thanks for sharing this Alan! I have to agree on the “sort of helpful” characterization, Icelandic seems very complicated, and I know that there is usually not an exact correlation for the pronunciation of sounds among different languages. But is a good starting point! One of these days I will study the IPA for Icelandic!

      I have a love/hate relationship with Google translation (long story), but I do like the feature where you can click on the word and hear it pronounced. That’s how I learned to say “Eyjafjallajökull” — well, sort of… 😕

  8. Best place for imminent eruption:
    10 Downing Street!!
    one minister resigned after scandal taking his (?) male friend on official trips overseas
    another caught on camera -paperazzi – dumping official-ish papers in a rubbish bin in a public park!!
    This can only be Britain!!

    1. Yup agree Alan…. but it has stopped raining today so the NW UK is habitable again.
      These things still do not beat to 1960’s scandals though!

      This is one reason why I spend time on Jon’s Blog.
      It is more interesting using my reasoning powers here than trying to explain politics.
      Somewhat similar though is the fact that the behaviours of both Volcanoes and politicians are easier to explain when finally all the hot gas dissipates and hidden material is exposed.

    1. Know your scaremonger.

      Tom Bustamante‘s Experience

      Managing Director Ludlow Capital, Inc

      Investment Banking industry

      January 2003 – Present (8 years 10 months)

      Headquartered in Manhattan, Ludlow Capital Group, Inc. is a full service investment advisory firm which serves the needs of both private and public companies. Our simple approach is to provide customized financial solutions for virtually any of our clients needs.

      Groups and Associations: Biotech & Pharma Professionals Network, Biotech Investment Group, Clean Economy Network – for cleantech and renewable energy business leaders, Clean Energy Community, Global Cleantech Forum, Green & Sustainability Innovators & Innovation Network, Hedge Fund Capital Introduction, Hedge Fund Marketing & Sales Group Hedge Fund Third Party Marketing Firms, Life Science Professionals, Ludlow Capital Public Shells Market, M&AMG, Mergers & Acquisitions Practitioners, NYC Investors Network, Small & Micro Cap Funding Group: Investment Banking, Merchant Banking, Private Equity, Funds., Solar Energy Consultants, The Reverse Merger Network

      1. In that case, it seems ‘Ludlow Capital’ must be a very small operation, if the ‘Managing Director’ with all his corporate clients has time to author speculative and inaccurate articles about Icelandic volcanoes, but no time to set up a webpage…

    2. What an amazing crystal ball to be able to state with authority that Katla will erupt in the coming week and to know that the eruption will be big enough to disrupt air traffic.

      He is going to look really stupid if all Katla does is produce a small jökulhlaup after a week in six month’s time.

      And he is going to be in court if airline stocks plummet on this story but he makes a fortune on them.

      1. “And he is going to be in court if airline stocks plummet on this story but he makes a fortune on them”

        I hold as much hope for that as I do for Lady K vomiting this week 😉

  9. It seems perfectly fine right up to the point he says ‘Katla was currently showing signs that an eruption could be anytime in the coming week.’ That was stupid. He should have said ‘anytime in the next 5 minutes or 5 years’ For all we know Katla could keep garggeling like this for a long time.

    Selling already shakey airline stocks in the crap economy with eneamic growth? Don’t have to Career investment banker to give that advice.

    1. After Eyafj did her thing last year the airlines have taken quite a few measures to minimize the effect of another eruption.

      The main problem during Eyafj was that the ANSPs (Air Navigation Service Providers, i.e. the company that pays the guys in front of the radar-screens) was responsible for shutting down the airspace (or not). With no previous experience with volcanoes they played it safe and closed the airspace entirely.

      Approximately a week into the eruption there was made a change in they way the situation was handled, making the airliners themselves responsible for deciding if to fly or not (under certain circumstances).

      So basically next time a volcano goes I reckon the airspace will be shut down for a day or two until the London VAAC (Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre) has done some initial measures … Then I reckon most of the air traffic will go at a rate of at least 60-80% during most times, and maybe only be reduced if the winds bring the highest ash-concentrations directly overhead the airport(s) …

      But we’ll have to wait and see 🙂

    1. Giggle:

      Researchers from non-tip (volcanological Institute of the Canary Islands) have confirmed that the stain Public gases caused by underwater eruptions and El Hierro has landed in the top of La Restinga, approximately two hours. The researchers, who are still unaware of the details, go to the place to try to find out more information.

      The submarine eruption is occurring in the area near La Restinga, in the southeast of the island of El Hierro could drive “at most” 0.1 cubic kilometers, ie, equivalent to 40,000 Olympic swimming pools, according to volcanologist Superior Council of Scientific Investigaiones (CSIC), Joan Martí.

      So, Marti explained that “you can not determine” the total volume for the moment, it is unknown how much lava is coming out but, in his view, the maximum volume should not be out “very different” to the historical eruptions the Canary Islands.

      This volume will continue to contribute to the construction of an underwater mountain range that takes thousands, millions of years forming south of El Hierro and therefore “this episode of eruption is one more building in the area, so from this point of view, this should be seen as part of the normal. ”

      On the material you are going abroad, said that molten basalt is mainly touching the water cools and becomes rock and as the turquoise blue of the stain is seen on the water, explained that “probably” will be due to remobilization of sulfur and clay from the ocean floor that gets stirred up and becomes turbulent waters.

      To me it seams like they say the GASes from the eruption have seeped out of the water and onto land …?

      1. I read it as the stain caused by gases had reached the shore at La Restinga two hours ago. It is not clear from Google’s translation whether the gases have blown onshore or not. But there must be a risk that the gases could blow onshore.

        Two scientists are going to take a look. Hope they get back OK.

    2. I read it as saying that gases from the submarine eruption have been blown onto land…

    3. From what I understand, they are just saying that the spots that float on the water have drifted to the coast and a team of researchers from Involcan is on their way to check.
      They are not saying that the eruptions have moved on land.

      1. Yes and the thing about gasses is that they are saying that they cause the turqoise colour of the water. The only thing about the coast is that the spot on the water is now touching the coast since 2.5 hours ago.

        The rest is speculation of how much volume there is, they say max. 0.1km3, which is 40000 olympic swimming pools and how this material will build a ridge on the seafloor. And that this is a just a small contribution to the submarine mountain range of the islands that has been building up for millions of years.

      2. Well I reckoned, in earlier post ,on the crude basis of the surface deformation (from the GPS data) that the total displacement was 16 million cubic metres. That’s only 0.016 cubic km. So they are expecting a lot of magma to erupt- 100million cu m – about the same as Eyjaf. What we have seen so far off Restinga caanot be more than a tiny fraction of that. If it were, we’d be seeing the GPS deformation reversing, and its not.

      3. You are still forgettin that the magma-reservoir was not empty when the inflation started…
        So when you calculated the “topping off”, it entered into a systm that was allready filled with magma. So 0,1 is actually a likely number, especially if you count in that normally fresh lava enters through the feeder tube during the eruption.

    4. Also this from El Mundo (translated by Google):

      “The situation is ugly, no one knows what will happen ‘

      The Ramon Ortiz CSIC researcher evaluated the progress of the volcanic phenomenon that is living in El Hierro : “The magma is rising along the fault line that is several kilometers long. It makes no sense to speak of eruptive mouths. The fundamental problem is know where the mouths, “said scientist working to piece together the rest of the team awake 24 hours the visual phenomenon and instrumentally.

      ” Our mission is whether the eruption stops , if the crack will bring magma near the coast in the middle of the island, or be extended to the south and go into deeper waters, “lists the assumptions of the performance of the phenomenon volcanic. “In a few hours we’ll know, maybe a couple of days,” the researcher resolved the uncertainty. “The important thing is not the spot, the important thing is that the activity continues.”

      Ramon Ortiz confirmed that the situation has changed little from Wednesday: “Today is like yesterday. Do not know yet if the fracture is close to the coast, so we’re watching. The situation is ugly because no one knows what will happen . Every hour we analysis and forecasts and simulations all we can with our computers. ”

      Unknowns and uncertainties

      Apart from the technical, once it seems that there is no direct danger, all you can be visible from the volcano is an attraction for the inhabitants of the island, along the journey to have come from areas which is more easily seen the remains of eruptions: two green spots in the water. Both are within a nautical mile (just under two miles) from La Restinga, the southernmost population of El Hierro.

      The show, however, seems less enjoyable for local fishermen , who were concerned about the potential dangerousness of the substances expelled through the vents on the seafloor. In fact, the fleet remains tied to the expectation of clean water.

      This will happen not in the short term. Although the authorities want to reduce the alarm do recognize that marine life will be affected for a variable period of time but, eventually, the area will benefit from the minerals that are emerging.”

  10. I have to take this back – this was not correct: it was just that the volcanic gasses and ashes colouring the sea water have touched the island, there is no eruption going on on the mainland.

  11. So we learn that a movement of venting towards land cannot be ruled out. This article shows where on Hierro it might occure if history repeats:
    Interstingly the map fig 55 is the same as in the report posted earlier.
    My bet is they will look first around the area of fig 53.
    Last time I was there there was a womdrful aroma of Canary Islans Pine resin – so sulphurous gas leaks should not be difficult to locate.

      1. The Spanish article you linked to is really good, explains exactly the three-part rifting system that built the islands and how this eruption is nothing unusual. I don’t have time to translate it now, sorry, but if anyone can, it’s a really good layman explanation of how Canary islands were built.

        Also interesting is that the figure in the paper is exactly as the one that Lurking produced a few days ago: earthquakes in 3D with the potential path following from the Moho to the south rift near La Restinga.

      2. I hope we hear more from him. He does not mention that the present ‘eruption’ is at the very southern-most tip of the swarm of EQs logged since July.
        Interestinh he has the crust mantle boundary at just 12km deep on that diagram- so about half of them were in the upper mantle. We saw very few at Eyjaf deeper than the boundary.

    1. But potentially a large rift area compared to a small island, which comprises a shield volcano.

  12. Tor hogne, du vet det er høflig å akseptere folk på fb når du har bedt de å legge deg til eller?:P

    1. Dydw i ddim yn defnyddio fb. Yr wyf yn rhy hen i hynny. Ac nid wyf yn deall sut mae’n gweithio.

    2. Christina, du må ha lagt til feil “Tor Hogne”! (Vi er 3 stk i Norge med den navnekombinasjonen!) 😛

      Jeg har ihvertfall ingen nye requests (Tor, Hogne – Paulsen)

  13. For some reason I cannot see the Katla webcam. I am usually lurking but have been offline for a couple of weeks. Does anyone have any idea’s what I can do to fix it? Thanks

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