Eruption update at 15:24 UTC

This is a short update on the eruption north of Vatnajökull glacier. The eruption has its origin in Bárðarbunga volcano. This information is going to get outdated quickly.

  • North end of the eruption fissure is in an area were no eruption has happened before (at least known eruption).
  • The eruption started around 03:00 – 04:45 UTC.
  • The eruption now is about large as largest eruptions in Krafla volcano during its eruption period according to the news.
  • Largest earthquake today was magnitude 5,1 that took place in North-east Bárðarbunga caldera. There is now an high risk of eruption in the Bárðarbungu volcano caldera.
  • There is a crazy storm in the area. Limiting viability at the moment. Wind is goes up to 25 to 30 m/s and wind gusts are even stronger.
  • The eruption fissure is now around 2 km long. It is on the glacier free area. The eruption fissure is the same one that erupted on 29-August-2014.
  • There is a high risk of new fissures opening up without warning in this area and under the glacier.
  • There are currently no signs of the eruption stopping at the moment.
  • The lava is now covering around 3 to 5 square km of area. This is just a desert area and nothing is at risk. It is running over the lava field that was created in the eruption of 1797.
  • There is currently no risk of any volcano ash. Since this is Hawaiian (Wikipedia link) type of eruption that is now taking place.

The eruption can be viewed on Míla web cam here (Bárðarbunga) and here (Bárðarbunga 2). Extremely bad weather is limiting visibility at times down to nothing. Weather is expected to clear up in few hours at the earliest.

Updates (as they come in)

  • There is now more power in the eruption. Reported by Rúv in last few minutes.
  • Lava fountains have been reported to up 70 meters high.
  • There is nothing indicating that the eruption is about to end.
  • North part of the fissure seems to have extended. There also seems to be less activity for the moment on the south end. That might change without warning.

Article updated at 15:25 UTC.
Article updated at 15:33 UTC.
Article updated at 19:41 UTC.
Article updated at 19:43 UTC.

210 Replies to “Eruption update at 15:24 UTC”

  1. According to Live Science 15.9 million gallons per minute (1000 cubic meters per second) was flowing out the fissure around 7 this morning!

  2. The left end of the fissure is really cranking up too! It was just a small spot an hour ago, this is exciting to watch!

  3. I am surprised the scientists are so daring. They may have assessed than no explosive eruption will take place but that is not the only danger. The poison gases could get then, or asphyxiated them!

  4. Are you seeing the bright spot that opened up on the right? It was 2 spots then merged! Way in front. Of the fissure! Now its faded

      1. Don’t put much stock in the Yellowstone sensationalism. Yellowstone is a nothing special. There are other more active volcanos on earth, that have put out bigger eruptions than Yellowstone. Lake toba for instance, has had larger eruptions than Yellowstone, has erupted more frequently, and more recently. Lake Taupo is up there as well.

        Besides most of the so called research on global warming is more or less tabloid junk. Said for ratings, fear mongering, and to try to claim 15 min of fame. Until there are accurate models that explain where the heat has gone for the past 15 years, why its gone there, and explain how and why this trend will end, you can’t put much stock in future predictions, that fail still to predict the present. I’ve heard the heat is all in the pacific. No its the Atlantic, no its the south pacific and north pacific. Now its being claimed to all be in the north Atlantic. There is no real consensus, only sensationalism and fearmongering.

      2. i put no stock i am not idiot 🙂 you said your self so many volcanoes and i agree with you but thats no the point.The point is at last understand how volcanoes work as whole in the enviroment not as individuals.The main problem is that thats why we havent a clear view of what is going on now and for the future

      3. sorry for my bad english what is happening to me?haahhah.The point is at last to understand how volcanoes work as a whole in the enviroment not as individuals.The main problem is that, thats why we havent a clear view of what is going on now and for the future

      4. Sorry, I didn’t mean that as an attack or anything. I just get tired of hearing about global warming hype and Yellowstone ad well. :).

      5. Suddenly I’m jealous of those bright enough (and rich enough) to confine their reading exclusively to peer-reviewed journals.

  5. Anyone else noticing the earthquakes past askja are arranged in a line as if its an extension of the dyke with a missing section through the side of askja. Also to note the fact that the frequency of quakes there has increased dramatically

    1. Noticed it days ago. It’s the predictable result of the crustal tension stress-field moving north as the CGPS stations in the area show that it is. It is not the extension of a dike, it is the extension of … crustal extension itself.

      I’ve been waiting for HEDI CGPS station in the NE to begin to signify the approach change in the stress field, and perhaps yesterday it did begin to feel it (or it could be noise, time will tell):

      HEDI (Hedinshofdi)

  6. We hour’s of yesterday morning lava still flowing out of the dyke it’s a beautiful site

  7. Far as I can tell, I think the south end of the fissure is now extending. It was not doing so before. It was mostly inactive. I will check for this when I awake. I need some sleep now.

  8. What is the consensus on Bardarbunga?

    I am trying to decide if I spend another $600 on a flight on Wednesday.

    Does anyone think the volcano under the glacier will hold until Friday/Saturday?

    1. I don’t think there is imminent risk of eruption under the glacier at the moment. Even if an eruption started under the glacier today it would still take that eruption at least 3 to 5 days to melt the glacier and break the ice.

      Even if an eruption started at thinner part of the glacier this type of eruption makes a rather large partial ash when it happens under the glacier. That type of ash fall quickly to the ground and do not spend long time up in the air.

      I don’t think your flight is at any risk.

      1. I don’t know why people keep saying that when in 2010 Eyjafjallajökull did precisely the opposite from a fairly small eruption.

        The name means “glacier” (or more properly here “ice cap”) of the Eyjafjöll. The word jökull, meaning glacier or ice cap, is cognate with the Middle English word ikel surviving in the -icle of English icicle). – Wikipedia

      2. I feel like I’m hedging my bets, I can either spend $600 on a new flight one way or hang on til Friday hoping that Bardarbunga doesn’t explode tons of ash into the atmosphere.
        The HYSPLIT model for 9/3 is showing ash (how much and what type in southern England on 9/4-9/5 should Bardarbunga have a ash rich eruption (the model states ash concentration 2-3, what that means I don’t know)

      3. Eyjafjallajökull 2010 eruption ash cloud did happen because basalt did get into contact with magma that was more like Felsic originally, since it had been cooling down for almost 200 years.

        When it got into contact with new and warm basalt it created a new type of magma called andesite. That magma was explosive due to gas content in it. That also did mean that it did not need any water to create ash cloud and the ash partials as the result were more fine and for that reason were able to stay longer up in the air.

        More (Wikipedia links).

      4. You don’t take account of the fact that basaltic-andesites commonly erupt from this central volcanic zone during rifting events. All of them do it, I checked for this on the first day this got rolling on the 16th of August. So I’ll put the other side of the hazard equation a bit more candidly, and people can decide for themselves what the relative hazard is.

        The Smithsonian describes the known major eruption volcanics from Bardarbunga as “Major: Basalt / Picro-Basalt, Rhyolite”. The 1477 eruption sequence was dominated by voluminous andesitic tephra blanket deposition of which their description says, “The last major eruption of Veidivötn, in 1477, also produced a large tephra deposit.” Although the Veidivötn eruption is primarily known for its flood basalt it included a VEI=6 explosion from Bardarbunga (some claim to be the biggest Icelandic blast in several thousand years) and a deep andesitic tephra deposit resulted from it over iceland and also in a solid dusting in Europe (just as Askja did to Norway and Sweden in 1875).

        Similarly, a basaltic andesite mix occurred at Gjlap: “… A volcanic eruption beneath the Vatnajokullicecap in central Iceland(Figure1)began on September 30, 1996, along a 7-km-long fissure between the volcanoes Bardarbunga and Grimsvotn. The eruption continued for 13 days and produced-0. 5km^3 of basaltic andesite. …” Source: Pall Einarsson, Bryndis Brandsdottir, Magnus Tumi Gudmundsson, Helgi Bjornsson, Karl Gronvold and Freysteinn Sigmundsson, Center of the Iceland Hotspot Experiences Volcanic Unrest PAGES 369, 374-375; Eos, Vol. 78 , No. 35, September 2, 1997,

        All that was lacking there was the scale and duration needed to get it into the jet stream. Same for Kverkfjoll, which has the same Basalt/Picro-Basalt, Rhyolite mix and explosiveness. Same for Grimsvotn. And definitely the same for Askja which is much more prone to silica enhanced melt and is now on a yellow aviation alert level. The 2011 eruption punched into the lower stratosphere, in seconds, through the icesheet, as though it was irrelevant.

        So why people just presume the potential is lowish in this situation I find amazing, it does not gel with what we know about these volcanoes. People should be prepared (already) for the possibility of widespread tephra blankets over coming months, simply because there seems to be no reasonable rationale for presuming this situation can’t or won’t escalate to large explosive punctuations.

        Perhaps there are equivalent periods of significant whole central crustal rifting that don’t include such explosions, but any sober assessment has to recognize that those will tend to be the more rare instance, than the typical case.

      5. “People should be prepared (already) for the possibility of widespread tephra blankets over coming months, simply because there seems to be no reasonable rationale for presuming this situation can’t or won’t escalate to large explosive punctuations.”

        I agree that people should be at least aware that there is a fair chance that, on timescale of something like a year, a volcano may well produce an ash cloud and cause some disruption. However, I do not think that the risk for a given day is high enough to warrant changing travel plans at a significant cost.

        I think one still needs several unfortunate coincidences for travel to be severely affected by ash: first, you need the eruption, second, the eruption needs to be ashy with appropriate size distribution, third, the ash must be injected to suitable height in the atmosphere and fourth, winds must transport the ash to correct, widespread area to disrupt travel.

        To achieve #4, fifth, the eruption should really have a suitable, long-lasting intensity like E did to really allow variable winds to spread the ash over wide area. Too intense, and the ash cloud will be dense but compact and too weak, and the ash won’t rise high enough. Grimsvötn did not produce much disruption because it was quickly over.

        In any case, on EU flights one should be covered by the airline’s duty-of-care regulations so airlines cannot just turn passengers back at airport. It is up to airlines to arrange the transportation.

  9. Well, I’ve been away from this for a few hours while I finish packing for my trip that will land in and then depart an hour later from Reykjavik very early Tuesday morning, and I never expected to see come back to the computer and see what I am seeing on Mila cam 2. I am seriously very nervous now, although Iceland Air isn’t canceling any flights yet.

  10. It is just a show for the tourists and a bit of inconvenience so far with no obvious signs it is going to get significantly worse for a long time to come

  11. Strong earthquakes around Bardarbunga have occurred recently the best I can tell using the Iceland Met site.

    1. Yes, it has long past the cumulative total suggested for a caldera collapse. Last M4.5 eq as I write was an hour ago. That worries me since it has also been suggested that the magma chamber is being fed from below with fresh mantle magma which would not be a good scenario.

      1. If the positioning is correct though, not all of the quakes have been the roof of the caldera creaking. Some are deeper than that, suggesting it is the movement of magma causing them?

      2. Yes very deep andy, but the suggested cumulative total in the upper part did already exceed the suggested required total without including the deeper ones as I understand it.

        The deeper ones do suggest mantle plume feed direct to chamber don’t you think?

      3. Is there a site that is more specific on the locations of the quakes near Bardarbunga? The Iceland met site isn’t, its just showing in the area of Bardarbunga

  12. Webcam 2 is really spectacular right now. 05.28am Iceland time.
    What a fantastic view

    1. Really looking forwards to the high definition videos of those fountains later today. It is a pity that this morning there is less to see of the detail even though the eruptions are very much bigger

  13. Thank you Jon, and others. Have learned such a lot these past days, even a bit of Icelandic, but would so like to hear the sound of the eruption. Is there any recording of the sound available? I cannot access the Mila cameras from down here, but can see on YouTube.
    Stay safe.

  14. Good Morning Everyone

    Could someone please explain what exactly is being omitted in the smoke from the eruption now.
    There is as someone has already mentioned a greenish colour to the area now.

      1. Elizabeth, I lived in NZ for almost two decades in an area of high earthquake risk. To begin with it is natural to worry when you get a few shakes but after a while you become fairly immune. This eruption is mostly inconvenient for people near island, even if it gets much worse. Almost nobody lives in this area

  15. Thankyou for your insight Unmentionable. Can you comment on exactly what a tephra blanket is as per effect upon human biology / toxicity etc. I ask in the sense of being forearmed with means to protect or antidote etc. In the same vein as people consuming iodine in the event of radioactive fallout (for instance) . Thanks

    1. Tephra is airborne extrusive solids of virtually any size. Close in to the volcano they can be house-sized blocks, but it includes the finest pulverized globe circling glassy micro particles as well. I won’t comment on gasses, just follow the usual official IMO advice.

  16. I expect that governments are quietly preparing for possible large scale events. Whilst the chances of a large scale natural catastrophe are small, they are certainly large enough to justify precautionary contingency planning.

    As it is, one can readily understand why this is being talked down.

    The experienced old hands here, who know lots about volcanoes, are able to accept that there is a whole spread of outcomes possible, most of which don’t lead to disaster. For people like me, the instinct is to think that the possible outcomes in extremes, either little or Laki. It’s taken a couple of weeks of reading sites like this and every volcano book I can find, to come to terms with how ignorant I am. Luckily I started that journey, before the collective, geologist, in drawing of breath last Thursday, when you guys saw those cracks and realised how shallow the dyke was, and before Bardarbunga started getting really shaky.

    If I was looking at things now, I would be much more worried than I am. And that sort of alarm spread wide, might be worse than the effects of an eruption and would make proper contingency planning very difficult.

  17. A moment ago, I saw a number of very brief flashes of white light in various locations in the foreground on B cam 2 (they showed up against the dark ground) – is there an explanation for these please? The only way I can describe this was that it was like stars twinkling.

    1. Whatever you’re drinking can I have some lol

      I think its the first suns rays hitting quartz or glassy rocks. No doubt I’ll be wrong though 🙂

      1. Just water and OJ at this time of the morning. 🙂 Thanks – your suggestion about the sun’s first rays causing it is a possibility. I did take a screen shot at the time, which shows one of the light spots but I don’t know how to post pictures on here from my desktop. Must dash to work now, anyway!

    2. This sometimes happens to rocks that are placed under high impact stress loads in lab studies. There was a series of published experiments around ten years back where bullets were fired at rocks to initiate an acoustic shock in the rock sample to measure precisely what the rock did.

      The experimenter was shocked to discover that the rocks sparkled and glowed at various frequencies and emitted electrons proportional to the impact energy and area of concentration of impact. So it was proposed that this could be the mechanism explain numerous reports in the Andes of ‘earthquake lights’ in the mountains at night. Namely, a significant shock passes through a solid outcrop and excites it to sparkle and glow and that if the quake is large enough it could release enough electrons to cause migrating arc discharge across the surface of rocks.

      The effect is just the regular piezo-electric effect on the scale of a rock, which any lab can repeat this experiment to verify it at any time. It involves the emission of electrons from stressed crystals. It of course how most microphones work, the audio wave stress a crystal that’s attached to a diaphragm and the air, and the electrons carry the audio information to the amplifier. Some for geo phones I suppose, Jon could say, I don’t know anything about them.

      Rocks do the same thing, just moreso especially if there’s a conductive mineral path in the rock, so the electrons released will flow within these and heat the area and glow and may arc discharge if hit hard enough. So if an earthquake occurred close to the surface, experiments show an sufficiently shocked solid outcrop could potentially emit light and sparks.

      Here’s the paper, it’s one more very significant empirical observation that’s been almost completely overlooked by the mainstream.

      Alternatively, it can just be volcanic ‘bombs’ of liquid melt being thrown out and splattering open on impact. More likely too.

      1. Thanks for posting that link.

        Maybe we could harness electricity from volcanic acivity!

      2. Most of Iceland’s electricity does indeed come from volcanic activity. Though mainly from pumping water down to be heated by nice safe hot rock deep below ground (then the steam used to drive turbines) rather than directly from hot flowing lava or earthquakes 🙂

      3. Yeah that would be the ideal sustainable baseload, electrons from rocks and geodynamic energy, but you have to find a way to make the elections flow from solid crust.

  18. There is heavy earthquake activity in Bardarbunga caldera, I wonder how many quakes it can sustain before collapsing.

    And the earthquake activity is moving towards Herðubreið, which status is unknown. Its the part of Askja fissure swarm, so it makes sense that the quakes are moving towards it. This activity may further extend the fissure swarm towards northeast.

  19. I think it is more realistic to talk about Caldera settlement or subsidence than collapse. Unless there is a case for the caldera to expand outwards alarmingly and then suddenly fall back down again all you are most likely to see is settlement .

    1. See the interferogram of vertical movement linked. It’s not that the roof of the caldera moving, its every thing it’s within that’s moving, including the rest of the volcano and its feeder network i.e. the whole crust is pulling apart like chewing gum, and so it thins and sinks. The subcrust moved first because is was hot, ductile and siting on a partial melt, and the effects of its movement have now arrived at the surface. If the distension goes too far the top of the crust will pull back fully as well, like the base already has. Magma is rising because of that degree of pullback that has already occurred.

      But there is not reason to accept that the lid of Bardarbunga itself is moving with respect to the magma chamber, there’s no data showing that as yet. there was only an interpretation of the data that suggested the magma was dropping back out.

      We can’t have it both ways, if the magma dropped out an the lip slumped down, then what pushed the dike out 40 km in two weeks and maintains the pressure for constant earthquakes? Well, of course that is not remotely plausible.

      The proper interpretation, as the interferograms show, is the whole crust is moving apart and failing, which is what the CGPS shows. So Bardarbunga did not drain of magma, its been filling up the whole time, hence the distending ice crack displacement in photos we saw yesterday.

      And we wont see deflation collapse from the eruption because Bardarbunga is not supplying the magma, a subcrustal melt is moving up the stress conduit. Which makes actual rational and physical sense.

      CGPS fringe Bardarbunga caldera (down then up)

      1. Just to clarify, ascending and descending in this case means, the satellite took the image in one orbit traveling from north to south (descending) and in another orbit traveling south to north (ascending) over the scene ; )

      2. Unmentionable: Despite your humble name you seem to be very sure of what is happening in the current Icelandic events. If you have such expert knowledge in the field, perhaps, you should tell us knowledge seeking readers who you are, or, at least, how you have gained your knowledge. If not, at least to me, it is strange to hide behind an anonymous name, and, rather unscientific to, without hesitation, hand out “the truth”.
        I’m not saying I don’t think you have your points, but…

  20. What is the possible explanation of the change in 0,5-1Hz tremor spectrum (red line) in Dyngjuháls?
    Almost at the same moment when the second eruption at Holuhraun started, there was significant change – red and green line simply “disappeared”. Is it due to the weather, some malfunction of the device or anything else?

    1. How about there is eruption of magma very near this site as shown in cam2? The red is hidden because it is higher – i think you realise that though?

    1. I will see if i can find a data feed or expert comment on the recent data there.

    2. if you download that gif and view it in a much bigger size you can see the green lines and there is the suggestion of red in two places. At a guess whereas usually the red intensity falls down rapidly before rising and becomes visible, it is now constantly high but is always in all cases less intense than blue, so blue which has priority in the display obscures it. Display priority appears to be blue then green then red

  21. Have no clue, but am loving this all have been checking on here now for over a week to the point where I am late cooking tea, and getting up in the night to see what is going on, wish I had studied this sort of thing at school as I am fascinated , keep it up guys and girls this OAP is loving it x

  22. The visibility from the webcams is alot less than yesterday and a much bigger cloud of steam, dust or ash? on cam1.

    Something seems to have changed or is changing ?

    1. Has anyone any idea what is happening, there is a large dark cloud on cam1 and I am not sure, but I see some black rain drops on the camera? could be light reflection.

      The visibiliy has changed so dramatically, has Bardarbunga erupted? can’t see!

      1. Well it rains, and water and lava dont mix well, and creates steam and explotions,.I guess what we see on the cam is a big steam cloud, and it has a tiny amount of ash in it..
        I could be wrong though but I my guess is that its just a steam cloud because its raining and the lavas are cooling down.

  23. Unmentionable, because what you told above: Could a new dike then also forms to the SW of Bardarbunga, I think it would make sense as rifting widens.

    Possibly some eruption within Bardar caldera is unavoidable, but might be only medium size and slight exposive due to ice cap

    1. I haven’t been thinking that way Irpsit, in my feeble mental model it seems to be the hinge point that isn’t stressing to the SW, just making for some rotation around VONC and HAFS area. And the quakes aren’t there either, so I’ve taken the view it probably won’t destabilize until things get done NE of there, like Bardarbunga actually letting go and releasing a lot of strain fast, so stress is able to unzip more to the SW, who knows when thereafter.

    2. Yes, dykes can go in that direction. They have not done so yet, but it cannot be ruled out. If that happens they are going go into a volcano called Hamarinn or Loki-Fögrufjöll that is covered by glacier in that area.

      Bárðarbunga fissure swarm extends in south-west down to Torfajökull volcano (north og Katla volcano).

      1. fascinating the dyke can open up 40kms in one direction and make no progress at all in the other direction. Suggesting it only travels along existing open cracks rather than forces its way?

      2. That’s another sign that a strained crust is controlling the intrusion propagation and is already beginning to pulling the crust apart for the magma to exploit. The melt an uplift pressure response which can from time to time also contribute, if it gets held up.

  24. From Icelandic Met office last update they point different possibilities about next to happen.

    3 of 4 possibilities talk about a new eruption (each in different locations).

    We must await therefore a new eruption due the Dike, the Caldera or under the icecap. At same time current one can grow, continue as it is or die (which to me this is still not going to happen….)…so I believe the earthquakes are pointing to scientists more movement on the way..

      1. “They” have stated that as 1st possibility since August 16th: Activity remains and after dies.

        Necessary when something starts, is to stop. Soon or late will. So makes sense to state it as 1st option, since it will happen.
        But then “they” have changed the other as days we counted, and now as explained, they see more movement to come..

        At least for me, and reading as they wrote it….

  25. I’m looking at bardabunga 2 webcam.Has it changed location since yesterday.The perspective seems totally different.Any comments?

  26. There is not much mention in here of that swarm to the northeast of askja, how come? Is that swarm not related to what’s going on just to it’s south? Can we be expecting anything to happen in that area or not?

      1. But how come it’s skipped a chunk of land between? IMO just say swarms are common there and that askja has been quite over the past day or so. I just find it hard to accept that the dike intrusion to the south and the swarm NE if askja are just coincidence.

  27. Unmentionable: could you explain in simple terms what is a hinge point centered on Bardarbunga and how do you see that rotation happening, relating to the movements of both Namerican and European plate and Hreppar microplate. What is really happening when a sort of rifting like this happens, and when a sort of rifting like to the SW happens. And in 1862-1875, apparently rifting occurred first SW then NE. How do you envision it?

  28. Ian, the simple answer to your question may be that the characteristics of the underlying crust are different. If Asia has a liquid or jelly-like magma chamber under it, the rifting would rather be extension of the jelly. On the other side you would get rifting of the crust again, or at least more tension caused earthquakes…

Comments are closed.