More earthquakes at Esjufjöll volcano

It seems that Esjufjöll volcano is not done with the earthquakes. But over the past few weeks since the original earthquakes swarm that started in early October in Esjufjöll volcano.

Like before it appears that the earthquakes have there origin, not tectonic as often is the case is in Iceland. But this means that each time a earthquake happens in Esjufjöll volcano a magma is on the move there. What is interesting about this is the fact the magma that is moving inside Esjufjöll volcano does appears to be moving at fast rate. For instance the earthquakes that are now taking place in Esjufjöll volcano indicate that the magma is moving faster then was the case with Eyjafjallajökull volcano before it erupted earlier this year. According to Week 42 data from Icelandic Met Office there where over 70 earthquake recorded. But in 2002 the earthquakes recorded then was over 90 earthquakes, with the biggest one ML3,5 in size.

The current earthquakes in Esjufjöll volcano are interesting and do signal a more active period ahead in that volcano. When that active period is going to peak with a eruption (?) is unknown at this time. But we at least might end up seeing (?) something like happened in the year 1927 when a small eruption did create a glacier flood from Esjufjöll volcano that did go down Breiðamerkujökull glacier.

156 Replies to “More earthquakes at Esjufjöll volcano”

  1. Nice post, I thought you would just post a short one to get rid of the “bug” in the former post.
    I am looking forward to hearing CNN and Fox newscasters trying to pronounc Breiðamerkujökull.

    A quick question, on the quake-map on week 42 there is a wopping large swarm to the south-west of Reykjanes Peninsula. That quake swarm is larger than all quakes on Iceland together. And remember that this was a rather quakish week. Let me refrase that, what the hell was that, it is flipping huge.
    I guess that explains all of the action we have seen then and later on at Krísúvik.
    Would that mega-swarm of quakes be a volcanic under-water eruption or?

    1. le Strange: “I am looking forward to hearing CNN and Fox newscasters trying to pronounc Breiðamerkujökull.”

      Ha! Yes, since most of them do not have IQ’s higher than that of a rhesus monkey and cannot even speak their own language properly- it should be high entertainment!

    1. “According to Week 42 data from Icelandic Met Office there where over 70 earthquake recorded.”

      Thanks, I just put the week 42 link text into google translate- very interesting.
      Is a “smáskjálfta” an aftershock or is it a tremor? That word doesn’t translate to English in google. Sorry to bother and thanks in advance.

    2. Hi Lurking,

      nice graphs. I was wondering though, would it be possible to colour the dots according to the time when the earthquakes occured (instead of the depth, which is given by the y axis already)? I imagine that that way you could see how magma progresses (or not) towards the surface.

      Just a suggestion…

      1. Noted, but remember that this is two separate views of the same 3D plot. Personally I like th the perspective view but that doesn’t translate well in a static image. I usually post that one if there is something in interesting to see. The end on profiles seem to be the most requested since you can get an idea of the path/shape that stress/magma is sitting at. Plus, all I have to do is spin the plot to make the other image.

        But, your request is valid since we should take a look at how these are playing out over time.

        View North

      2. Hmmm, the quakes are in a quite narrow area that can be a magma conduit but I don’t see a clear movement or progress.

      3. @Günthers 2002-link:
        It was about the same as now, 33 quakes in that week under Esjufjöll with a max mag of 2,1. 7 quakes under Öraefajökull with max mag of 1,9.
        Difference though being that There has been none under Öraefajökull this time.

        Notice the massive quake swarm that was under Katla at that time! Huge.

      4. Made it clearer.
        Nice conduits and more activity higher up as the chart progresses. Clear magma intrusion. I guess that Esjufjöll might become the next Crapotkin to hit the fan.
        But when it will go off is a good question.

        Krapotkin was an old russian anarchist and notable bombtosser.
        If memory serves Lenin had his skull filled with molten lead while Krapotkin was still alive, due to him having bombed the bolsjevik office in Moscow. After that he threw a lawish funeral for Krapotkin… 🙂

      5. I don’t believe that fresh magma is flowing upwards that fast. I think that it must be old but still liquid magma in the system that is pushed up against the solid upper part of Esjufjöll. Most quakes are between 3 and 8 km depth, so somewhere in that range should be the border between solid stuff and magma. In the last 3 weeks there is no real progress, still quakes below 5 km.

      6. I would like to disagree here Gunther.
        The last eruption was in 1927 and with normal heat disipation that would have become a quite solid rhyolitic mush by now.
        I think the reason for the quakes “holding pattern” at five K is due to the need of building up the pressure to break through. Sofar it just had to reheat and break through rhyolitic mush, but now it is up against full solids.
        So my guess here is that we will see the quakes staying there for a while and then we will have increase in tremor, ground lifting and then a large quake pattern eating it’s way up to the “surface” rapidly.
        Or everything might just fizzle out.

        But one thing with Esjufjöll that kind of makes my knees wobble a bit is that it is pretty close to Grimsvötn. And an eruption at Esjufjöll might make that one go off to since Grimsvötn is pretty much on the brink to go off. Esjufjöll could be the beer that sets mighty G off to. And whoever knows what happens when two large icelandic volcanos bopp at the same time. Wait a minute… Lakí/Grimsvötn…

      7. At the GVP-Site they write that in 2002 there was EQ-swarm activity which might be magma movement. In geological timescale this would be just some minutes ago. And even the 1927 event is not that long ago when you look at an area 5 km below the surface where cooling is quite slow business.

        Anyway, let’s wait and see what happens next.

      8. Yes, but the 2002 potential magma movement probably also ebbed out at 5K, so it would not have made any difference for the last stretch to the surface.

        I beg to differ, the cooling effect over 83 years this high up on the planet is pretty large actually. I will not even try to calculate it for Esjufjöll since there are to many un-knowns.
        But remember that magma does not have to cool that much to turn into a solid mass. Let’s just make an educated guess and say that half of the heat 5K and upwards is just plain gone by now, and that it is rock-solid by now.
        And if there was an eruption in 1927 it was a very weak one.

        My guess right now is that the pressure in 2002 was to low because the tubinged magma reservoir was not complex enough to build up the necessery gas pressure needed to break through 5K of solid rock. And looking at Lurkings graphs the system looks quite simple still.

        What the heck am I talking about?
        Well, gas releases at the boundary between a fluid (magma in this case, but you can just think of beer for simplicities sake) and a boundary-surface such as a magma conduit (beer bottle). So when a quake hits (dropping the beer bottle) the gas is released along the boundary-surface. A simple conduit has less surface area than a complex one so less gas is released per time frame. Imagine now that you have a beer bottle that is constructed of multitude of pipes, nooks and crannies all over, when that beer-bottle is dropped it would ejaculate the gas much faster than a regular one due to a much larger surface area for the gas to react with.
        Point is, it might still just be another fizzle.

      9. If the one circled in read is Grimsvötn then Esjufjöll looks by far closer to erupting at first glans, but on the other hand Grimsvötn probably allready has all the magma it need so we wont see lava coming up on the chart.
        But the conduit is really promising.

      10. “e”, you forgot the “e”.

        Yes, that is the outline of the three main craters of Grímsvötn. Esjufjöll has a much more defined “quake stack” that drops all the way down to the Moho… sort of like Eyjafjallajökull did. But Grímsvötn can get it’s magma from leakage off of Bárðarbunga. (intermingled dikes)

        Someone noted the narrowness of Esjufjöll’s stack. I think this reflects the over all trend of the fissure swarm for it in this area. A vertical plane of dikes oriented in a northeast – southwest line.

        Caveat: Just a guy making plots.

      11. Ande youe makee theme goode 🙂

        Annoying thing with swedish is that “glans” is glanse in english… *pooty*
        Actually, Esjufjöll sofar seems to have an oddity.
        It’s “Borised tubinged magma reservoir” looks really straightforward sofar and I kind of couldn’t find any “dead spot” that might be a magma chamber. But that would probably need a heck of a lot more quakes so we can have a higher resolution.
        From what we have sofar I would venture out and say that we would be having a low explosive eruption with the possibility for lava just pouring out of the volcano. And since it seems to be well grounded deep it could be spewing beer/lava for a long time. But, that my current thought might change fast if we get a lot of more quakes so we can see the actual tubing of Esjufjöll.
        I would really like to spread fifty explosive charges ontop of Esjufjöll so I could get a sonic lense image of it. But, it is to much ice in the way and sonic lense imagery needs bare rock for the detonation to not loose focus and so I could place out the vibrophones. And something tells me that the Icelanders wouldn’t much like me blowing things up on their volcanos, even if it would give them a nice and clear image.

        Grimsvötn is allready sitting ontop of so much magma that I don’t think we will see any re-filling quakes untill it starts bopping.

        Just a poor physicist without a clue of how volcanos work 🙂

      12. Actually… “glance”

        I should have mentioned that “c” thing too. There is an unrelated anatomical term that fits the Swedish version. Much like the Chevy “Nova” pretty much means “won’t go” in many variants of Spanish.

      13. I just couldn’t get that quite right could I… I was looking at it and it just quite didn’t look right.
        I guess you are talking about the glans p….?

        Hehe, that is the same in swedish to 🙂

        And that the swedish group Roxette means Anthrax in philippine. And that every swede just dies from the turkish producer of farming tractors Kük and the Danish dung-spreader Bögballe…
        Some words just get really crazy in other languages.

        Honda Fitta… Explanation a bit down in the article.

      14. “Hehe, that is the same in swedish to”

        Wait a minute… “to gaze upon” to “look at” is the same word for the anatomical phrase?

        Sort of makes you wonder what everyone is looking at.

        ‘HEY!!! Check it out!!’


        Reminds me of the axiom about what what phrase is uttered prior to most redneck deaths.

        ‘HEY!!! Watch This!’

        ( I can state this with a clear conscious… I am one)


      15. And here I must insert the most dreaded word in all languages… The last word that will be uttered before civilization ends… Spoken quietly, very quietly…



      1. As a retired personal secretary, my whole body itches with the desire to do some heavy editing when I read this blog. Keep up the good work, all y’all. I don’t think enough people are paying attention to the geological activity in Iceland.

      2. Hello Fay!

        Just keap in mind that the majority in here is not native english speakers and you might not find it that surprising that people write things in a bit of an odd way now and then.
        And quite a few of the “natives” are from englishes other than american english.

        Welcome to the board!

      3. Fay, you are not the only one. But we must accept what we get. We may know the language better then the author, but this is not our blog.


  2. Jón: In the Wikipedia article from the link you posted, it is said that Jökulsárlon has been formed by glacier retreat. Could this magma intrusion be blamed for this melting or just regular climate oscillations?

    1. Nope, it is due to the generally higher temperature in our high altitudes. The global warming you know. 0,8 degrees Celsius in global warming over the last 50 years is kind of unevenly spread. There is pretty much no warming below 30 degrees north and south, but the closer you come to the poles the more dramatic the warming gets. Here in my northern parts of Sweden we have about 3 degrees of warming and I guess the same is true for Iceland. Over the larger landmasses like Russia and Canada the changes are a bit less.
      So, nope it has absolutly nothing to do with magma intrusion.


      I occasionally have to ruminate about \new\ discoveries.

      \Alaska – August 12, 2001 – MSNBC
      The North Pacific’s Ring of Fire can claim a new member – a previously unknown underwater volcano in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands…

      The volcano rises 1,903 feet above the sea floor and tops out less than 377 feet from the water’s surface\

      8.04.2008 | 11:08
      Giant Underwater Volcano Discovered in Iceland

      Volcanologist Ármann Höskuldsson from the University of Iceland and a team of scientists recently discovered a giant volcano off Reykjanes peninsula, southwest Iceland, almost as large as the peninsula itself\

      \Research cruise 2009

      1-11 August CGB researchers are climbing aboard aboard the Norwegian RV, G.O.Sars and are heading to sea again to re-visit Loki’s Castle, the world’s northernmost identified Black Smoker, and Håkon Mosby Mud Volcano, one of the world’s largest underwater mud volcanoes.\

      We may not see them on a day to day basis, and they may not make the news, but they are all over the place, and even the rather subdued black smokers percolate up 464°C water.

      10 Largest:

      If fact, if you think about it, water has a much greater capacity to transport heat than air. The terrain along the mid ocean ridges is rife with cracks and fissures where water and magma can get together (that’s where all of the various serpentine group of minerals come from),

      How much of an impact does submarine volcanism play in the grand scheme of things?

      1. Quite a lot. The amount of output from the Atlantic Ridge and other systems like it is so large that it probably ads more than a couple of degrees to our planets total heating.

        But one thing got me, how come news-media never get it right. The active underwater volcanos of the Azores is much larger than any the noted here with the possible exception of Columbo. And that is small compared to the giant caldera that is now exinct that covers 100 by 100 kilometres in the Azores. But that has been dormant for close to 5 million years.

      2. Can you tell me some more about this caldera in the Azores? I’m going there in May and I’ve been trying to find out more information about the geology and about this huge submarine caldera.

      3. Hello Pieter!

        I will try, but not much is known about it.
        It lies between Sao Miguel, Santa Maria and the Formigas.
        The age is believed to be 4 million years based on the basalt flows that has constructed the Dollabarat reef and Formigas Islands.
        Not much else is known about it since it is an underwater caldera.

        A good tip is to look at the sea-floor image on Google Earth. You can clearly see the caldera there.
        You can also see the massive spoke-wheel cracks emaneting out from Sao Miguel Island, probably a remnant from an old eruptive phase.
        You can also clearly see a huge amount of sub-surface stratovolcanos.
        In total Azores is almost as interesting as Iceland since the plate tectonics here is pretty much as warped with it’s triple junction, clear evidence of hotspot and mantle-plume (if such exists).
        Which of the Islands are you visiting?
        I can recommend Sao Miguel, I fondly remembering occupying the island with some likewhise drunken nord-men who like wikings performed sailing raid “härnad” on the poor island.

      4. Thanks a lot Carl! I indeed recognise it on Google Earth, it’s massive! It’s nearly the size of Yellowstone! Is there anything known about any eruptions of this caldera? And how active are Sao Miguel’s volcano’s these days. According to Smithsonian’s the last eruptions took place a few ages ago. But there is still fumarolic activity today I believe, were there any swarms indicating magma movements lately?

        I am indeed going to Sao Miguel, first few days at Sete Citades and 4 days in Furnas. 🙂 I’m really looking forward to it, it’s my 3rd volcanic adventure. (Iceland and Santorini are already on my done-list!)

      5. Very little is known about it, it erupted as I said about 4 million years ago the eruption that created the formigas happened and probably Santa Maria as well. But since then it would probably have been dormant.
        I know of no magma movement under Sáo Miguel.
        General opinion among the volcanologists monitorin the Azores seems to be that the more active systems are underwater. The most active is Dom Joáo de Castro Reef. It is known for Surtseying before Surtsey, but since it was before the age of TV it never caught on. It later sunk bellow the surface but is still fairly active.
        If you want to visit the last active and most likely land Volcano you have to visit Faial if you can.
        The volcano of Capeliñhos rocked on 1957-58, well worth a visit for a Volcano-afficionado.

    1. The pictures of this photographer are worth more exploring – he has a lot of other stunning images on his site. Also a lot of pictures of Eyjafjallajökull.

  3. What I forgot to write in this blog post is the fact that the earthquakes started at the depth of 28 km and they have been migrating upwards since then. Slowly for sure. But they have been doing so anyway.

    1. ok, I’m coming down too.

      If the 2002 event was the only one between 1927 and now we should see a more slowly rising of the EQs with time than now because there was cooler stuff to push away or melt through. Now we see magma coming through the remains of 2002 which should still be quite hot so it is easier to come up which would explain the low quake count in the lower part of the conduit.

      1. I totally agree with you on that one.
        As I wrote above in a lengthy answer (did you see it?) I think 2002 softened up the conduits considerably, but the propensity for gas release back then was to low. I think what is happening now is that it is fracturing occuring down at the 5K level and that might produce a more complex magma reservoir so that the gas pressure can get big enough to break through.

      2. I just looked through the EQ list of 2002 and without having counted the real numbers it looks like there were quite much EQs in a depth range between 8 km and 12 km in both weeks.

    1. Yepp, I am monitoring it closely.
      The pattern is completely different than before.
      All the changes are in the frequencies above 1Hz. Not even a twitch below that. And the pattern is also making fast dips and peaks. It swings up and down with more then 100 percent in energy levels, within the hour.
      I hope that Jón is monitoring closely and can give an answer.
      If the 2-4 goes up to six in one of the swings it might indicate an eruption.
      My guess is actually gas release in the that large ass magma reservoir.

      Fagurholmsmyri is also slowly rising.

      1. The last 48hrs may be biased, since we had some really severe storms going over south iceland – if I remember correctly, the gusts went up to 30m/sec, the wind was at least around something between 20 und 25m/sec.

      2. Yepp, but this started as the wind started to fall 12 hours ago…
        If you compare with the other stations you can see when the storm started to dwindle, the GRF action started at the same time as the dwindling 🙂

      3. The changes are in fact due to weather. Like in Eyjafjallajökull we won’t see much change in the tremor plots until a eruption is started. Earthquakes will make a spikes in the tremor plot. But besides that it should remain quiet.

        Unless we see a tremor pulse. But that is going to look different then the weather noise and is going to be rather easy to spot if the conditions are good.

        I did notice the other that the earthquakes have started to show at 1 – 2Hz band. But that indicates that the magma has started to pressure where it is moving upwards. But I don’t think it is big enough change to start a eruption at this point.

      4. But didn’t this fluctuation start when the weather calmed down? If I compare with the other stations they fell when the weather calmed down, but at GRF this weird pulsing up and down started instead.
        And when I over-laid the windspeeds the tremor is going up as the wind-speed falls.
        This time I have to argue that it is not weather related.

        It fell to 1/3 and went back up withing one hour and fell once again to 1/3 and hour later, stayed down for an hour and has since then been steadily and rapidly climbing upwards for close to six hours at an adverse tangent to actual windspeed over Vatnajökull.
        And also we should note that on the other stations 0,5-1Hz band was also affected by the storm, but here it didn’t follow this new movement, instead it stayed down when the storm subsided.

        Odd… in my book at least.

      5. The ocean wave is strong in this area. It also has an effect on the SIL stations closest to the ocean. Even if there is little or no wind. I even see the effect of the ocean on my geophone, it is that strong.

      6. Shouldn’t the wave factor be larger at FAG since it is almost in the ocean. Fagurholmseyri is after all a couple of kilometres from the water while GRF is about 100 kilometres (at least) inland from the ocean?

      7. When I compare with FAG (meta-referense to Lurkings and my discussion above on languages) I see that FAG rises in the calming weather in the 0,5-1 and the 1-2Hz bands and doesn’t even twitch in the 2-4Hz band.
        I just also noticed a slight increase in the 0,5-1Hz at GRF when the graph moved for the new date.

  4. Sunday
    14.11.2010 01:08:43 64.250 -16.556 4.6 km 1.7 90.01 26.8 km NNE of Hvannadalshnjúkur
    14.11.2010 01:06:48 64.254 -16.670 8.6 km 1.5 72.61 26.5 km N of Hvannadalshnjúkur
    14.11.2010 01:04:46 64.549 -16.300 5.1 km 1.6 79.29 18.1 km ESE of Kverkfjöll
    14.11.2010 01:04:39 64.474 -16.784 1.1 km 1.3 41.94 19.7 km SSW of Kverkfjöll
    14.11.2010 01:04:37 64.255 -16.568 2.8 km 2.1 90.01 27.2 km NNE of Hvannadalshnjúkur

  5. Preliminary we have a 90% accuracy 3.0 EQ at 1km depth at 14.11.2010 10:35:50. It can also be seen in the tremor plots from the stations near Esjufjöll.

      1. Seems like they have been reviewed, since the 3.0 is now a 3.1 at 99%. The other ones that was removed was probably just wave diffraction “ghosts” from the 3.1.
        One should always be suspicious if you see a plethora of smaller quakes that happen at a same time as a big one since they probably just are reflections from various underground surfaces acting as wave pulse “mirrors.
        I hope this was understandable, I am trying to explain in laymans terms my field of specialisation. (Ie, I am not a geologist, but I am a specialist in imaging through wave-pulses, be it in rock, water or air.

        Actually it says a lot that they have someone in on a Sunday to do the reviewing. Normally it takes quite a few hours for that, but now it seems like they have 24/7 watch on everything that happens at Vatnajökull.

      2. Thanks so much @ le Strange for the explanation in layman’s terms or some of us would not be able to follow. I do so appreciate your posts, especially the volcanic humor.

      3. Thank you 🙂

        I guess the sense of humor is a residue from my love of drastic forn-nordic literature.
        I sometimes think that if I could have one person re-animated it would be Snorrí Sturlason so we could get even more Eddas.

      4. OT but funny…
        I here have to quote a swedish law from 1100.
        “Gange swein beite skraeppe á…
        The law states that the innkeaper is without blame if someone drunk goes into the backyard of an inn and gets his “privates” bitten off by the inn-pig…
        Nordic law humour!

      5. As a half Norse American, I have to say that I love the eddas, especially when the male gods transform (temporarily) into women. Most people don’t know about this, they only know the stone faced macho Nordic Skygod stereotype which is a shame because they’re missing out on the splendor of the multifaceted ancient Norse culture.
        Anyway, thanks again- you’re a gem le Strange.

      6. Norse-american and having noticed that Gem of nordic mythology.
        Now I seriously wonder if your name is not a slight anagramation 😉
        Are you living in a City of glass?

      7. Ah ha! I thought Manhattan was known as the “city that never sleeps” but I see to be surrounded by a lot of glass too.

      8. Leviathan? Haha! hardly. Don’t think it’s safe to post more details about myself online, you never know. Not meaning you or anyone else here, just internet monsters (like the Kraken) may be reading this.

      9. I quite understand, and I do so myself for the same reason.
        Nice to have made your acquintance though.

        May Muninns eyes keap a watchfull eye on us against Kraken the Norse fish-fabric that doubled as Jobs Leviathan during vacation time 😉

      10. Many thanks & very pleased to have made your acquaintance as well. If you are of legal age, drop me a line if you’re ever in the vicinity of The Museum of Natural History and old Sigrun will meet up with you there. Jón has my email addy from the donation so I guess you can get it from him. Til then, Ragnarök on!

      11. Oh my!

        I think the “best before date” of my legal age has passed a long time ago 😉
        So I will give a holla the next time I am in NY area.
        Jón has my private mail to so he can pretty much hook us up.

        So when the three roosters have crowed (Gullinkambe, Fjálar and Hel) and the action is finally over after Surt has put the world on fire and sunk under the surface of the world we will have…

        Då kommer dunklets
        drake flygande,
        en blank orm, nedifrån,
        från Nidafjällen.
        I fjädrarne bär,
        och flyger över slätten,
        Nidhögg lik.
        Nu skall hon sjunka.

        Hope somebody could read that one. I was always pleased with that translation 🙂

      12. Translation:

        From below the dragon
        dark comes forth,
        Nithhogg flying
        from Nithafjoll;
        The bodies of men
        on his wings he bears,
        The serpent bright:
        but now must I sink.

      13. Amazing how different the meaning of the translations become.
        But on the other hand, that was why I retranslated it since I found the old swedish translation lacking.

      14. My version in english:

        Then come flying,
        the dragon of gloom,
        a snake glistening,
        from below Nidafjällen.
        In the feathers carrying,
        and flying over the plain,
        Nidhögg the dead.
        Now sink she will.

      15. Well, no surprise that your English version blows the doors off of the British scholar’s version in wikipedia, lol! Anyway, I think I’ll also post a one time email address for those who wish to keep in contact. The best tourist attraction here is the Rose Space Center, btw.

  6. First time post, longtime reader of the Blog, which is the most informative I’ve found. Credit to Jon!

    Esjufjöll is looking more and more interesting, even more so this morning!

  7. They’ve dropped it down and at a deeper depth….

    10:35:50 64.255 -16.556 8.5 km 2.9 99.0 27.3 km NNE of Hvannadalshnjúku

  8. Looks to me that there are changes in the glacier showing in Jokülsárlón webcam. After I witnessed the change of direction in tide flow, a stream of water seems to be visible to the left side of the flat ice cap closer to the background. Was it there before?

  9. I’m still curious about this Kolgrima river, it peaked at 120m3/s last night and thus increased the flow by an astonishing 600% in 2-3 days. Is this a nomal range for this river?

    1. I looked again at the satellite pictures on Google-maps. The eastern part of Breiðamerkurjökull flows around Esjufjöll. According to the size of that glacier it must have carved out a quite deep valley which is collecting every drop of water that is flowing east from Esjufjöll. There is no chance for water from Esjufjöll to reach Skálafellsjökull because there is a clearly visible ridge between the two outlet-glaciers (look at the crevasses).

      I don’t know where exactly they measure the water in Kolgrima but if I remember correct from this summers trip to Iceland, there is a small hydropower station in that area. At least I saw a small dam near road F985. Maybe this is the cause of differing waterflow.

      1. thanks. If it is a regulated river for hydropower production there will also be sudden changes of the flow at times.

  10. Where have you seen that data for the flow in Kolgrima river?

    This river runs from Vatnajokull ice cap southeast side, no?

    Seems not so close from Esjufjoll. I think a run off from this volcano would go right at Jokullsarlon. We presently see nothing special there

    1. I don’t know the topography beneath the glacier and the possible source of the water. As I understand there are several lakes beneath the glacier and the sudden releases from a sub glacial lake can cause varying flood in the river.

  11. Sunday
    14.11.2010 10:35:50 64.255 -16.556 8.5 km 3.1 99.0 27.3 km NNE of Hvannadalshnjúkur

    Um…. 99.0 quality.

  12. Sunday
    14.11.2010 19:42:12 64.449 -17.254 1.1 km 1.5 44.88 5.0 km N of Grímsfjall

  13. Jon, what was going on with your Hekla geophone earlier today? Several earthquakes of which none was visible on

  14. i had a little time and went through the data from here:

    this image shows the overall quake activity in iceland from week 28 2009 until this week

    this one shows only the quake activity from the year 2009

    and the last one shows the activity in the year 2010 as it is today

    i think that everyone should see clearly how the thectonics in iceland work and where the hot zones of the icelandic rift are. i think that there is also clearly visible how many quakes actually are happening inside the large volcanic system in iceland

      1. thanks for the link Jón.

        I’ve got another question for you: do there also exist annual graphics of the quake activity? if not, i could create them with photoshop in the same way i created the other three graphics. (each week as a layer with layermode “darken”)

  15. I would still like to say that the rapid swinging up and down in the action of GRF is a bit funny… It has now gone on for more then 24 hours.
    Right now it is in a low, but I would guess that it would be up in a couple of hours.
    I do not like when things are pulsing like this, even though the energy levels are still comparativly low.

  16. the thing that makes me buzz the most about the graphs above is the missing quake activity between vatnajökull and myrdalsjökull, almost over the entire country you can see the active rifting with the quakes. but between myrdalsjökull and vatnajökull it’s almost a non-quake zone.
    the same could be seen between askja and the myvatn lake (krafla).

    1. Good catch!
      And it is a bit scary since we are talking about the most dangerous spot on Iceland (Myrdalsjökull to Vatnajökull).
      Both the Elgja eruption (worlds largest lava-canyon), and the Laki eruption happened there.
      And there are few quakes between Vatnajökull and Askja to, and there you had the ultra-massive Bardarbunga eruption that might have had rifts into that area.
      My guess is that is why the eruptions between Myrdalsjökull and Vatnajökull is because of this. The energy just keaps building up untill you have these massive releases in the form of Laki and Elgja.

      But now I am really looking forward to Jóns take on this.

      1. Fissure eruptions do take place in that location. But it is part of the eastern rift zone. Last time Katla erupted in that location with a fissure it took a break for 200 years (about) they say.

      2. Last time this happened was in or around the 934. It created the Eldgjá fissure. But lava from that erupted filled up a even older fissure formation on that same area.

        So this happens on a regular basic from both Katla and Grímsfjall. But the time between that type of eruption can be a long one. Even far longer then 1000 years.

      3. Ok, stupid question. It was the Elgja eruption on 932, and the next one was during the 12th century.

      4. When did the last fissure eruption between Katla and Grimsvötn take place, I mean before the Elgja eruption in 934?

      5. Well, the Holmsá fires was 5550 BC (Katla).
        1530. 1510, 1490, 1470, 1450, 1430 and continuing back to 1230 (small).
        50BC VEI 2
        1950BC VEI 2
        3550BC VEI?
        8230BC (Laki-sized).

        On the VEI numbers. These are a bit of a problem on the Icelandic large-scale eruptions. For instance is Laki classified as a 4+ by the GVP. So amazingly enough the deadliest eruption in the history of mankind in numbers killed is the same VEI as Eyjafjallajökull. VEI as a measurement on eruptive dangerousness is hilarious. And also remember that we are here talking about guesstimates on the researchers part.
        My guess is that Eldgja would have been a VEI 6 if it happened today and that Lákagígar and Bardarbunga lavaflow would have been VEI 6+ or 7s with better known eruptive force. Now it is just calculated after known efecta-volumes without eruptive force being calculated in. In the case of Lákagígar I guess that they today also would have counted in gas-emission factors.
        But, this is just me guessing as a non-volcanologist.

        Another problem with VEI, the effect of Pinatubo climatewise was smaller than the Laki-eruption, even though Laki was so far up north that the climate-effect net-index is far lower than Pinatubo who is pretty much on the equator compared to Laki. Just another shot at VEI as a measurment-scale. (I know, it is the only one we have…)

    2. Eh… cuz it was mentioned.

      Mýrdalsjökull to Vatnajökull: 4/17/10 to present. Plan View.

      The Hamarinn and Grímsvötn clusters are in the North East of the Eldgjá and Laki cone lines, the post Eyjafjallajökull dike/sill quakes on the western flank of Katla are to the South East.

      1. Your graphs as usual kind of proved the point again!

        My guess is that the bedrock under “the silent spot” is more tensile than in other places of the tectonic zone. Part of this should be that it is covered in large horizontal layers of lava. What I mean with tensile is that it can stretch more than normal without breaking. It is like a rubberband effect, when it finally snaps it does so with much more force than you normally see on Iceland and over a much longer distance. You can compare it with the Sprungur in southern Iceland that happened in 2002, there it was 5,1 quake and also (I guess) missing some factors for an eruption, but you still have this nice fractures happening violently.
        If we now hyperbole a bit and lament on there having been no large release of force in the area since Gígalákar eruption we have pretty much 250 years of uninterupted power-buildup that has not been released.
        I would give a lot to have 4 GPS-station on each side. Two to the west of Elgja and 2 to the east of Gígarlákar. Then we could after a couple of years start making educated guesses of how much tensile-strain there is in the area.

        For the newer ones in this forum. Earthquakes are a normal way of releasing stress when 2 tectonic plates are moving, here that stress doesn’t seem to be released in the normal fashion.

      2. Well, you sort of do have that GPS info… but you have to sneak up on it and whack it with a hammer in order to infer a coherent mental picture.

        HVOL is to the southeast of Katla and is currently moving at about 5 to 10 mm/yr south and east relative to Reykjavík. ISAK is north of Torfajökull ( I think ) and is moving at around 5 mm/yr north and east. Again, relative to Reykjavík. (this is all approximate) That gives you a north-south component of about 10 to 15 mm/yr.

        Remembering that this is an assumption, and fully capable of being dead wrong, over 250 years, that works out to about 25 to 37.5 meters of extension that needs to be accounted for… either in some other spot (which would impart a torsional stress to the area), or that has yet to be realized.

        I asked this question a few months ago over on Eruptions and got a sort of non-answer. The reply was that it was probably felt over wide area with smaller offsets. I’m not doubting that as a possibility, but it kind of leaves the built up stress idea still sitting out there… waiting to be realized.

        Since then I have been doing some reading and have found that rifting/extension can be facilitated by dike intrusion. For some reason, this makes the process run much smoother and required less stress to “get the job done.” It’s also probably what Eldga and Laki were… dike intrusions that made it to the surface.

        If this is the case, it still begs the question of where are the quakes associated with more modern intrusions that are assisting in relieving the stress in that area. I imagine that there have been some… but not recently.

        Caveat: I just plot stuff. My specialties do not include Geophysics or Seismology… though I can fry a mean turkey.

      3. @Lurking: As usual, you show up to clarify things at the right moment. I’ve also read a lot about the processes involving rifting/dike intrusion and I was just thinking about such events over EB, only that I was referring to recent Aden EQ swarm. I don’t think you are making any unjustified assumptions here and your arguing seems to me very reasonable, yet me neither have no expertise in the matter. Thanks once more.

      4. Looking at the quake graphs 2009 vs. 2010, there are much more quakes in 2010 than in 2009. Yet, there are also prominent gaps, e.g. east of Katla. If there is significant movement (fissure spreading or sides sliding), and the whole area is covered with fresh, still somewhat soft layer of new rock… I mean, who can state what’s happening “under the hood”?! Very likely we’ll get very few quakes as a precursor to any kind of eruption there.

      5. Alright… I’m a glutton for punishment.

        A few months ago I became EXTREMELY frustrated trying to dig up information on fissure events in the vicinity of the well known Laki and Eldgjá events. ( …at least well known to those of us who are into such things)

        Again, I have run into the always noxious “pay to read” sort of thing. I guess I’m the sort of person that they are guarding against, since I have no problem (morally) with screen capping an image, scaling it and throwing a quake plot on top of it just to see where it all fits. Eh.. enough “venting.” (pun intended)

        So… on this expedition into the bowels of the geophysical topics of the Internet, I was moderately finding info. Sure, you people of Icelandic persuasion ma roll your eyes and yawn, seeing as it’s all “in your back yard.” But to me, it’s a data quest.

        Feel free to fill in the blanks and correct as you see fit.

        Veidivötn fissure swarm, Southern Iceland.

        “Three large eruptions took place in this area in 1480 A.D., 900 A.D. and 150 A.D.”

        “Each eruption produced approx. 1 km3 (DRE) of basaltic, and minor amounts of silicic lava and tephra on fissures up to 42 km long. No evidence is found of smaller eruptions during this period. The estimated eruption frequency, one eruption every 600–800 years, implies that this part of the Veidivötn fissure swarm is inactive for long periods between relatively large volcanic events.”

        From the abstract of “Recent volcanic history of the Veidivötn fissure swarm, southern Iceland — an approach to volcanic risk assessment ”

        “In the East Volcanic Zone, they include the AD 871 Vatnaoldur and AD 1480 Veidivotn rows, both of which exceed 65 km in length (Larsen 1984, Larsen & Gudmundsson 1998), and the AD 1783 Laki (Figure 6) and AD 934–940 Eldgja rows with lengths of 27 km and >57 km, respectively (Thordarson & Self 1993, Thordarson et al 1999). ”

        From a section of “Annual Reviews”

        Digging a bit further on Vatnaoldur I did find a map of the lava flow from what I believe is an earlier flood basalt event

        Now, here is where I went off the rails. I don’t know if Veidivötn is referring to the same structure as the Vatnaoldur craters (see the image above).

        “Fourteen Holocene flood lava eruptions are known from the Veidivötn, Grímsvötn, and Katla volcanic systems of the Eastern Volcanic Zone in South Iceland, which include the three largest of its kind in Iceland; the 1783–1784 Laki, 934–40 Eldgjá, and c. 8600 years BP Thjórsá events.”

        And.. about Veidivötn.

        “The Thjórsá lava originated in a great eruption in the Veidivötn volcanic area Central Iceland in the early Holocene time. In spite of the enormous volume of the Thjórsá lava it has not built up any volcano and its craters do not seem to have been very big. In the Heljargjá graben are old tephra craters named Saxi, Fontur and Máni surrounded and partly buried in younger lavas. They have been pointed out as possible candidates for the craters of the Thjorsa lava.”

        “These two separate age measurements fit fairly well and when calculated into calendar years both render an age close to 8600 BP.”

        So… there are more events there, in and around Laki and Eldgjá events. In that last document it seems that Veidivötn may (“according to some authors”) extend north of Vatnajökull glacier/ice cap.

        Coffee time.

      6. Handing over a whop-ass big sack of swedish coffee after that tour the force.

        I can get those articles for you. I would give you my mail, but I am hellishly shy with personal details. Jón, could you give my mail to Lurking so I can get him the articles he needs, so we all get the grade ‘A’ Volcanophilia we have become addicted to?
        We need our Lurking-fixes! *drools, shivers and shakes*

      7. @Carl le Strange, Because of my own rules and the law I don’t give up other users emails.

        To get that information. You need to show me a court order that is valid in Iceland and where the web site is hosted (UK).

      8. I meant giveing up my e-mail to Lurking, not the other way around.
        I do not think you need a court order in Iceland for giveing out my own e-mail on my own request? Or is Icelandic laws that strict?

      9. I do believe that I can do that. But the best is if you just request it your self. The emails placed in the comments here are spam protected. You just might start with a temporary email address or something like that.

      10. Ah, I was just requesting that.
        But now I think I will create a one-time adress instead and just post it in here and those who wish to contact me can do that and I will answer with one of my real ones.

        Remove ye dottes and transformeth ye @ in the usual way… And if you do not get what my country-code by now you have not read a lot of what I have written 😉

        That should fool any trawling pesky bot..

      11. @Carl le Strange, This blog has protection get email collecting bots. The only one how escape that are registered users and those go trough the capcica process.

      12. Well, if I got the country right you should have a test message in your inbox. If not, then there is going to be a very puzzled person the destination country.

        The account I used to send it should be recognizable. It’s the one I use for non-business, non-personal, the “if it gets massively spammed then dump the account off the server and make a new one” sort of account.

        In three years it hasn’t gotten a single spam. (not complaining)

        Now if I could just read this @#$#@ capcha.

        (no, I did not receive the registration message… still waiting)

      13. @Chris [21:50]

        Ohhh… nice. Thank You.

        Note: I am reticent about asking people for papers. I’ve never been comfortable with it.

      14. @Lurking, Can you please drop me a email to jonfr at jonfr dot com so I can send you a new password for you to use. Since the registration email did fail.

      15. @Lurking: I know from my own job as a scientist in life sciences that its sometimes a pain in the ass to get the papers you need for your research. And I have a much better access to this than the general public and still we are not able to get everything.
        So I am more than willing to coorperate with others who have this problems. So just ask, I can try it, although I might not get everything.

      16. Been there, too. As a university scientist I had access basically to “everything”, and I used it a lot. Now I work for commercial company, and I have to ask for help if I needed something. It a pain, as I too do not feel very good about it (like to be self-sufficient).

      17. Luck was not into it…
        I was a sneaky bastard 😉

        Helps though if you live close enough to a research library to go and pester them untill you get your will through… And in Sweden research libraries are open to all, and they have a system for remoting in place 🙂

      18. I’m normally only lurking around here, but can also help with accessing various journals via my university.

        Also, there is a livejournal community, which exists solely for this purpose, to ask others for difficult-to-get papers:
        They are usually very fast and can find just about anything.

  17. When my classes at school coming to a end at 30th of November (the tests start at 1st of December). There are going to be more blog posts on this blog. As then I am going to have more time to write them.

  18. Carl!

    Let me refer to a reply by Erik Klemetti, and remember he specialises in magma, about what was erupting at Eyjafjallajökull. according to him it was quite likely that remaining material from both the 17th and 19th Century eruptions could have been remobilised by the fresh basaltic intrusion and erupted as intermediary, andesitic.
    In this context, the cooling and solidifying possible in the mere 80 years since Esjufjölls last eruption pales into insignificance.

    The question is if the postulated intrusion is big enough to remobilise a sufficient amount of eruptible magma. Right now my guess is no, but with a sustained or further intrusions, who knows? Otherwise I find your hypothesis quite attractive and, as far as I can tell, accurate.

    1. Yepp, he is by far the master on the gluey gloop we all have come to love 🙂

      I also think that we both need more intrusion to increase the gas-content and also for the volcano to develop a more complex magma-reservoir (at least judging from Lurkings plots (what the Piip would we do without them?)) through quake fracturing.

      Just keap in mind that there is no evidence for the eruption in 1927 at Esjufjöll. Just a Jökulhlaup that might have smelled like sulphur that might have been from the Volcano and there might have been ash that might have come from it too. But no harder evidence. If it was an eruption it was probably a very week VEI=O. What gives credence to the 1927 eruption is actually more that we have activity now… Strange as it sounds 🙂

  19. Monday
    15.11.2010 14:22:01 63.631 -19.319 7.6 km 2.7 99.0 3.5 km WSW of Goðabunga
    15.11.2010 02:36:16 63.630 -19.387 0.1 km 1.4 99.0 6.8 km W of Goðabunga
    14.11.2010 22:59:50 63.655 -19.335 1.0 km 0.7 99.0 4.5 km WNW of Goðabunga
    14.11.2010 22:59:38 63.651 -19.332 1.0 km 0.4 99.0 4.3 km WNW of Goðabunga all of this in the same place and more in the last days…

  20. Tuesday
    16.11.2010 18:43:20 64.650 -16.680 1.1 km 2.8 90.08 3.2 km WNW of Kverkfjöll
    16.11.2010 17:36:11 64.653 -16.682 19.2 km 1.8 67.62 3.5 km WNW of Kverkfjöll
    16.11.2010 03:58:51 64.449 -17.213 0.1 km 1.8 99.0 5.7 km NNE of Grímsfjall

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