Bárðarbunga volcano update for Wednesday 05-November-2014

This is current status in Bárðarbunga volcano for Wednesday 05-November-2014.

There has not been any major change in the eruption in Holuhraun since Monday 03-November-2014. The eruption continues around the same phase as before. Earthquake activity continues to be strong as it has been for the past two months. With several magnitude 3 – 4,9 earthquakes happening every day, the amount of earthquakes is different between days.

Earthquake activity in Bárðarbunga volcano for the past 48 hours. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

It continues to be extremely dangerous going to the eruption site as two police men found out yesterday. They hit a pocket of dangerous gases that had removed most of the oxygen in the area where they had located them self, at the edge of the lava field and where some two to three kilometres away from main erupting crater. They almost passed out due to lack of oxygen and they where using gas masks according to the news on Rúv about this insistent.

Drop of the caldera in Bárðarbunga volcano continues at the same rate as before, the most drop is now around 44 meters in the caldera. Cauldrons in the glacier above Bárðarbunga volcano continue to getting deeper, the depth has increased around 5 – 8 meters in the past 11 days according to recent measurements. The amount of melt according to calculations is around 2 cubic meters per second (m³/sec). This is equal to energy release for few hundreds megawatts according to University of Iceland. It is now difficult getting to the eruption site due to winter in the area, travel by car is now at minimum seven hours the other way in best conditions.

Other than this I don’t think there is anything else new about Bárðarbunga volcano eruption at the moment.

Icelandic News

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97 Replies to “Bárðarbunga volcano update for Wednesday 05-November-2014”

  1. Hi Jon, thanks for updates and information … and providing us with this server!

    “It is now difficult getting to the eruption site due to winter in the area, travel by car is now at minimum seven hours the other way in best conditions.”

    But there are people … since three days every evening two cars leaving the area (seen on MILA Cams around 20:00 UTC).

    1. Seems rather probable to me given the fact that CO2 is one of the gasses most expelled during volcanic eruptions.

      But it seems they don’t know. There was no measurement device at the location which could have indicated which gas it was. The Civil Protection spokesman Víðir said (acc. to the a.m. news article) that some kinds of gasses could have been among the possible culprits which make the region still more dangerous in causing a shortness of oxygen. And this would be, acc. Víðir, another of the reasons why the region is closed for all except the people working there.

      1. It seems they were caught out by lack of irritation from gas present and that could be CO2,also the reports of dead birds earlier?

      2. Could be CO2, or it could be any combination of other noxious gases, like SO2 and CO and so on. Oxygen is highly reactant at high temperatures and is easily depleted at the eruption site into compounds of all sorts. Lack of oxygen could be just that, lack of oxygen.

      1. You can see the bad weather on Jökulsarlon webcam.
        I haven’t seen this cam shaking that much before.
        Still no snow at sea-level yet.

      2. Hi Jon.
        Things are getting close to the 45 Meter drop you have mentioned before.
        could you explain again why 45 Meters could be a no-return point for BB.
        Also could you touch base on where we will be after BB hits that mark And what may take place.

        Or have we passed the 45 Meter point yet.

      3. I don’t know if this still applies. So I am just waiting to see what happens next. The increase in hydrothermal activity in Bárðarbunga volcano is not a good sign, so at least an eruption under the glacier should be expected.

    1. Yes AndyW, I noticed on the IMO website that over the last 4 days the earthquakes appear to be reducing in amount and size.

    2. Could be. It might not stop at that point though!

      The reversal in subsidence can swing into an upward bulging phase. It all depends on where the magma originates. Is it just from one of the chambers or sills under the caldera, or is it part of a long-term upwelling from the mantle or from a hot spot plume under Bardarbunga?

  2. Thursday
    06.11.2014 08:44:58 64.677 -17.480 4.8 km 4.2 99.0 4.7 km NNE of Bárðarbunga

  3. Still a bit too early to say if it’s dying down I think. Currently we’re at 172 EQs in the last 48 hours. There have been times where it’s been down to just over a hundred. The number is always lower when there is a storm in the area like there is now.

    1. EQ wise this looks similar to what happened on September 30th and October 1st, when there were no 5+ EQs for a few days, then they picked up again. If you look at the long term subsidence graph you can see that the amount of EQs is pretty stable.


    2. Mafl, Thanks for that important, informative series of graphs.

      They clearly show that at least two different things are going on at the same time.

      These are not necessarily simply directly related to each other, as some people would like to think. They’re just triggered, and ’caused’ so to say, by a number of common underlying geophysical events, some long term, some sudden. That’s why prediction is less certain than the weather.

    1. I replied you in the older post. The links are lists with all dates, so you have to count by yourself…

  4. Thursday
    06.11.2014 14:37:11 64.675 -17.475 8.1 km 4.2 99.0 4.6 km NNE of Bárðarbunga

  5. Enno says:
    November 6, 2014 at 00:44

    “But there are people … since three days every evening two cars leaving the area (seen on MILA Cams around 20:00 UTC).”

    People visiting the site are probably there to refuel generators?

    1. EMSC has it as a 4.7.

      Magnitude M 4.7
      Region ICELAND
      Date time 2014-11-06 18:26:35.8 UTC
      Location 64.60 N ; 16.93 W
      Depth 10 km

    1. Thanks for the post about the book, He has that one, we got it for him last Christmas.

  6. Yes, at 7.11am, as you say will probably be revised upwards. It seems to me when BB has a quiet spell this is followed by a big quake which then heralds another phase with more frequent quakes. Although the storm which has been raging overnight is likely to have inhibited the detection of smaller quakes.

    1. I believe the quakes we are seeing from the Iceland monitors are manually checked. So they don’t appear untill some one has checked the automated data, and this is when they come into work in the morning, so we may see more appear from last night over the next few hours. As you suggest the small quakes are impacted by noise from the storms, so many probably don’t pass the manual test.

    2. Has anyone noticed in the long term caldera drop chart at the base of this page is not a straight line, it has a curve showing a very gradual decrease in drop over time? If you continue this curve then at what point in time will the curve hit bottom and then maybe rise?


  7. That was certainly a large EQ.

    Looking at the Caldera Drop chart at the time of this eq, it looks like it did the opposite and moved up this time. This seems to have happened a few times recently. For me this suggests that the pressure is increasing from below, or that the mass of the plug has reduced. Maybe bits are dropping from the bottom of the plug.

  8. I do not think this is quite the biggest quake yet, close to the beginning (I believe within August) I am fairly certain there was one quake of 5.7. Since that time there has been at least one of 5.5, and more than one of 5.4. I think there is probably an increase of pressure from below, but of course I could be wrong about this!

    1. Yes, that’s correct: Largest was M5.7 in August, I think it was on the 23rd.
      We had several M5.5’s since.
      It seems we are reaching a turning point, also regarding the caldera situation.

    2. Could it be the tempreture increasing under BB causing bits to drop off the plug?

      If the pressure is increasing causing the rise of the caldera is the Holuhraun activity increasing, decreasing or staying the same?

      Is the flow of deep magma to Holuhraun now directing more to BB and that is why the quakes have stopped there?

      Any thoughts Jon?

    1. The picture has a very strange text in the English version, I never saw “rising steam vents”, certainly again one of the deeds of Google Translate or something comparable (“Steam vents rise from the lava field: water vapor. Gas further” )
      The Icelandic text is: “Gosstöðvar, gufustrókar úr hrauni og Jökulsá á Fjöllum”
      And this means: “Erupting vents, stream clouds from the lava and (the river) Jökulsá á Fjöllum.”

  9. IMO say the volume of the subsidance has not decreased, merely the level of drop has decreased because a greater surface area is on the move.

  10. IngeB Great new earthquake video from IMO. This is truly an extraordinary earthquake swarm. I guess we shall learn more when the seismologists are able to carry out detailed analyses of the quakes to determine the nature and pattern of faulting involved.

    I note from the paper on the 1996 earthquake and eruption by Fichtner and Tkalcic (2010), quoted in the Twitter discussion that you flagged up, that collapse of the BB caldera could precede rather than follow an eruption, but that according to some previous studies, eruption of even a relatively small amount of magma under the ice can act as the trigger for caldera collapse, thereby increasing the pressure in the magma chamber from magmastatic to lithostatic (i.e. loading the magma chamber with the weight of the descending plug), and making a large eruption more likely.

    This paper was rather uncertain whether the ring faulting associated with the earthquake in 1996 was normal faulting (caused by tension) or reverse faulting (caused by compression) or a mixture of both around different sides of the rim.

    In contrast, it is interesting to look back at the debate about the cause of the caldera collapse and the earthquake storm that took place during the early stages of the eruption, as summarized by Rei:


    Agust Gudmundsson and Haraldur Sigurdsson proposed the hypothesis that the plug in the caldera is actually being forced downwards by the regional stress field set up by the crustal extension associated with the fissure eruption, which is squeezing the sides of the caldera together, causing reverse faulting, rather than subsiding as an underlying magma chamber empties (normal faulting) like more classical calderas located on subduction zones. This view is expanded on in a detailed modelling study:


    Clearly, it is not at all obvious, even to the experts, what exactly is going on or how things may develop!

    1. oops. That’s meant as a response to IngeB’s video link showing lots of crevasses (fissures in the ice).

  11. Friday
    07.11.2014 14:21:57 64.683 -17.462 7.4 km 4.2 99.0 5.7 km NNE of Bárðarbunga

  12. This is from the IMO advisory today.
    “The GPS station in the centre of Bardarbunga show that the subsidence of the caldera has decreased. Other
    measurements do though show that the volume of the subsidence increases with the same rate as it has done since
    these measurements started in September.”
    They seem to be totally conflicting statements or am I not understanding?

    1. The area that is subsiding is now not just the caldera. It’s the whole volcano that is now lowering and this is something that I consider a really bad news.

    2. It means the early subsidence was at a faster rate over a smaller area and now it is half the rate over twice the area,does that make sense?

      1. Hi Jon, they can explain a little closer. What do they see that? Why are the bad news? Thanks in advance for the answer!

  13. Friday
    07.11.2014 14:40:51 64.667 -17.411 5.5 km 4.4 99.0 6.3 km ENE of Bárðarbunga

  14. I am considering the thoughts of Pyrite and Deep Thought.
    What do we know, for the geological evidence?
    – We have a caldera about 700 meters deep. If we consider a cone volume, that is about 15 times our event of 45 meters subsidence (of a volume of ~1km3). That gives 18km3 of drained magma on the past (cone volume with a radius 5km). But if we consider a cylinder volume, then the volume of the caldera is 55km3, or 55 times the ammount of the current event.

    – The current event suggests that the caldera collapse is therefore the result of drainage of magma into the regional rifting event, over a series of more than one event, possibly many.

    – Bardarbunga has many massive lava events. 500 years ago, Veidivotn was a dike starting southwest of Bardarbunga caldera and erupted 15km3. 1200 years ago, Vatnaoldur had a similar volume. And there have been at least six other similar events. Obviously these southwest rifting events account for far more erupted magma (around 60-100km3) than that volume that the caldera currently shows to have been drained from the central volcano, if we consider a cone volume of 15km3, but the rifting / dike seems to extend towards its direction. That would imply a “straight from the mantle” feeder dike for those eruptions. If we consider a cylinder volume, then the volumes match more or less exactly!

    – Towards the northeast, there is Trolladyngja, early Holocene, at least 20km3 shield volcano, but the other events around are pretty minor (less than 1km3). Holuhraun is then second largest event in the northeast of Bardarbunga since Holocene.

    – In summary, for Bardarbunga, about 80-120km3 have erupted since early holocene, in regional rifting events. And the current caldera shows 15 to 55km3 of drained magma, dependin whether we consider a cone or a cylinder volume. Obviously some magma in those eruptions came from the mantle, but half of it could have been drained directly from the central volcano.

    – Askja adds some support to all of this. In early 1875, an eruption occurred of about 0.5km3 over a long fissure some 60km north of Askja, and the dike was clearly linked to the Askja caldera sinking. As the fissure eruption lasted 3 months, the sinking was about 40 meters (1km3 – like now!), and then suddently the last plinian eruption (5km3) occured and the caldera was down to 200 meters. Obviously the volumes add up perfectly (Askja caldera volume is around 6km3, if we consider a cone volume and a radius 3km). This might account for the intruded magma along the rift plus magma erupted (perhaps around 1km3), and the magma erupted in the plinian caldera collapse eruption (another 5km3).

    – Finally, we know that these central volcanoes rise several hundred meters above the surrounding plateau. Bardarbunga by about 800-1000 meters, Askja by about 400-500 meters. So they must have their own influx of magma over a long period of time, that makes them rise above the plateau. In Bardarbunga this is about 150 km3 if we consider a frustum circular cone volume of 10km radius, but of which 50km3 went missing in the caldera sunken volume. So, this shows that for the time being, the volcano must have received 100 km3 of magma. So why we do see so little evidence of volcanic eruptions in Bardarbunga buildin the edifice upwards? Ocasional ring-fault eruptions? Lava domes?

    1. When you put it this way, this is kind of worrying. You are talking some serious volumes. Then again, geology is pretty slow, so maybe something big happens now, maybe not for another 500 years.

    2. Kolla,

      It’s not worrying. Let’s not go wording into a scaremongering sort of style.

      These large volumes are put over a long period of time. With ocasionally displays of large volumes (5-20km3) every few centuries, usually only large lava events. Iceland is a sort of large igneous province.

      I just see that the subsidence correlates well with the large lava eruptions draining that volume in their own, no need for big caldera explosive eruptions.
      But when they happen, they often increase the caldera depth and volume.

      What I do not understand is why these central volcanoes have such massive edificies, and we see so little evidence of eruptions in their central volcanoes themselves. Perhaps it is mostly intruded magma forcing the volcanic edifice upwards. Or perhaps some lava domes occur, as well as ocasional ring fault-shaped eruptions.

      Even more intriguing: a caldera cannot subside forever, otherwise we would see evidence of much deeper and larger calderas. But we don’t. So either they erupt explosively and add material upwards at a certain point, or inflation must occur for a long time in between these sharp subsidence events.

      But Bardarbunga is already the deepest caldera of Iceland (0r the second after Hofsjokull). This can’t go forever. Somehow the caldera will have to inflate or fill up again.

      1. Perhaps Jon, you can explain me (or us) a bit better regarding this.

        ps: in ice-free Torfajokull and Krafla calderas, we know that either inflation has occured or small eruptions at regular periods help to fill the calderas.

        Perhaps at Bardarbunga and Katla, the same event happens, small or big subglacial eruptions adding volume upwards to the caldera, filling the volume that later gets sunk again during a large regional rifting event like now.

      2. What will the effect be of a supply from the mantle underneath Bardabunga? If that is the case, will an inflation of the caldera cause a bigger lava eruption at the rifting site, due to the unlimited supply? Will the supply of magma originating from the mantle have more “power” to fill up the caldera or even push it further up?

      3. I think a mantle derived event underneath Bardarbunga (something extremely likely to be happening) will cause the eruption at Holuhraun to go for a long period of time (months, years) and form a small shield volcano,

        Such a process could also result in other eruptions in other spots, even eruptions within the caldera and inflation there. So yes you are basically correct.

        My conclusions seem to support that magma on these large eruptions like Veidivotn, Holuhraun, Trolladyngja, originate from constant mantle feeding coming through Bardarbunga central volcano, with perhaps minor feeder dike beneath the eruption site straight from the mantle. So two feeding mechanisms at same time.

        But the volume of past eruptions correlates well with magma flowing through Bardarbunga caldera laterally into those eruptions. But more magma coming from depths, than that drained from upper chambers. Just like Jon says.

    3. Most of what you’re saying is historical and statistical, and needs to be viewed in that light. Statistics give us smooth curves, nature gives us only individual random data points. The predictive power is purely statistical, because that’s what we feed into the charts and computers. Relying on induction from the past can be exceedingly useful, even unavoidable, but it is logically false on at least two counts. We walk assuming the ground will never give way. But that is not true. Sometimes it does.

      What would you mean by straight from the mantle? Shallow magma due to continental tectonics or deep magma due to plume feeder?

      Is the eruption being fed from a lower chamber just like toothpaste from an open tube being pressed?

  15. With the EOD, the worst scenario is the likely one. With Global winter/famine expected, it’s no surprise one of the major players has woken up and is getting ready for the final act.

    1. Homer, that should NOT occur. Let’s stick to the facts, not to doom fantasies.

      A large explosive event up to 20km3 (VEI6) is of course possible but not likely; it’s actually rare and unlikely. Magma under Bardarbunga is something like a volume around 200km3, and usually only a small portion of it erupts.

      The largest ever eruptions in Iceland are around that size (10 to 20km3). Larger than that starts to be physically impossible. I repeat, physically impossible. The largest explosive eruption ever found by scientists in Iceland was around 25km3, that is as high as it can possible get.

      So a global winter caused by a large eruption (like a VEI7 or even VEI8) is just NOT possible. A VEI8 event like you suggest (“global famine”) is therefore absolutely IMPOSSIBLE. As the volcano does not even has the 1000s km3 of magma necessary for it!

      A smaller size explosive eruption, even large enough to 1-5km3 (VEI5) is of course much more likely (like it happen in Askja). That is bad (just for Iceland), but not a global disaster at all. It just would disrupt airlines in Europe for a few weeks again. And again it is still just one of the possible scenarios. Not the most likely one.

      Remember that in 1990s we had a VEI6 from Pinatubo, and nothing special happened in the world. Or when Novarupta happened in 1912. Those very large eruptions never created even a very significant impact in the world, just a minor mild one.

      For that you need something larger, like Tambora (100km3 or more) and still it is just a year without summer, but civilization goes relatively unaffected after it.

      We are much more likely to cause a global disaster by a human problem, than rather from a natural cause. Such natural disasters only happen very very rarely. So don’t worry with those thoughts.

      1. Thank you for your input Irpsit, But i have a Q:
        If there were to be an Eruption (vei4-vei5) And all that material is thrown out of BB Will the void be fill fast or slow.
        What does the Mantle plume bring to the table, Will there be a clear path to the surface, Will we see large lava flows and super high Fountains…Or would it all just cool and end after something like that.

      2. Any eruption occuring the caldera is one of two:

        – minor and weak efusive lava eruption under the ice cap,not visible on the surface, except tremor and earthquakes and flooding. As lava erupting melts some of the ice, and sort of carves a cave under the ice cave, or even becomes pillow lva quickly cooling. Think the case of Katla in July 2011.

        – mid to large explosive ash eruption, because it reaches the surface. No lava fountains, just tall ash cloud. Probably powerful but short-lived. Think the case of Grimsvotn in May 2011.

  16. Just for interest from a conversation a few days ago – if you look at Katla mila cam at the moment there is one of those ‘mushroom’ clouds (although it is flattening out now) on the left that the weather keeps scaring us with 🙂 Well of course I hope it is the weather…. 😉


    1. If Katla were up to something special we would first warned about it by lots a smaller and esp. some big earthquakes.

      1. Yes of course you are right. There is no eruption. It was just a very good illustration of the weather clouds playing tricks again. 🙂 I took a screenshot but I do not know how to post it here. Thank you.

  17. re posted as it came out in wrong thread location.

    Has anyone noticed in the long term caldera drop chart at the base of this page is not a straight line, it has a curve showing a very gradual decrease in drop over time? If you continue this curve then at what point in time will the curve hit bottom and then maybe rise?


      1. Yes, many predicted February or March based in maths.

        Maybe yes, subsidience and eruption at Holuhraun stops or greatly slows, by then, late winter, circa Feb or March.

        With subsidience ending at around 60 meters, and eruption at around 100km2 and total volume of 2-3km3.

        But this doesn’t mean the end of these events. I think we will see big activity in Iceland, earthquakes and volcanic activiry, in the next 20 years. Hotspot peak.

  18. Hotspot magma plume rising to meet evolved and partially evolved magma chamber under Bardarbunga causing this magma chamber to expand ,particularly to the NNE .This is deforming the caldera floor and contributing to the eruption at Holuhraun,a large eruption at the caldera would be impossible to predict and is not certain to occur?

    1. Can you elaborate on that? That’s a rather new inspiring theory. Please reply at the new most recent post.

  19. @Irpsit
    I don´t know if you have responsibilities as moderator in this forum, but I can´t help noticing you using the exact same expression as Jón was using earlier, “scaremongering”.

    to me you say
    “It’s not worrying. Let’s not go wording into a scaremongering sort of style.”

    For your information, “worrying” is an expression Jón and others here use frequently. Is it “scaremongering” now, when I use it?

    Let me tell you something. I live in Iceland. The stories of huge percentages of my people being wiped out, in one cataclysm or the other, these are a part of our history, we learn about this from early age. We know this is a dangerous place, yet this is our country we love.

    After reading your explanation I became genuinely worried. I started to think about the possibility and probability of a cataclysm similar to those we learn about in school.

    So maybe you should act more responsibly when throwing around huge numbers, volumes up to 55 times the current eruption you say? Because these numbers do sound worrying indeed, to us living in the vicinity of the volcano.

    1. Kolla, sorry didn’t mean to offend you. I merely correct you because in my first post, and I should still re-state it, the volumes of 55 times larger than the current event is just the volume of the caldera, not the volume of a possible future eruption. In fact, it is impossible for all that volume to erupt in one single time. This is way I say let’s not worry that much. This sort of volume will be erupted in many episodes over thousands of years! And in fact, that volume might be much higher, if we take a cylinder estimate of the caldera volume. But to not mislead anyone, this is just over thousands of years! Not a single time event!

      But one course might be a reason for a smaller but reasonable worry. The fact that Bardarbunga has thrown up large eruptions up to 20km3, but mostly lava types, but clearly they can present a large volume of lava and a large volume of poisonous gas. So far the current eruption is short of that. So, let’s stick to the present sort of situation and not launch into speculating disasters more than it is already done. In fact one just needs to admit this possibility and prepare for it. That’s the positive way of approaching things. Simply worrying does not help anything and only make us stressful and well, worried, which is not a healthy thing, when for a long time.

      Also my post seems to point that caldera collapse explosive events are not necessary to explain a caldera sinking event, so again less reason to worry about a major explosive ash eruption at Bardarbunga caldera.

      Sorry for anything else.
      ps: i also live in Iceland, but I am not afraid of anything. I think when it comes to danger accessment, it is far more likely to suffer from an accident in car or in a mountain, or a health problem, than from a massive eruption. At most, a massive eruption at Vatnajokull, will just cause gas and ash disconfort.

      1. You are in the business of “correcting” me?

        There is nothing to correct, I only expressed slight concern. Or is that not allowed around here? I´m not really interested in lengthy explanations about how you are right and I am wrong. My original comment was short and didn´t contain much, only my reflections at the time. You are really wasting your time writing lengthy explanations to “correct” it.

      2. Can both of you please drop this. Thanks.

        It is clear that the situation in Bárðarbunga volcano is serious, what we don’t know at the moment is the outcome of all this activity.

      3. Sorry Kolla. As Jon asked, I now drop this discussion, I merely add my appologies to you to whatever happened.

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