Bárðarbunga volcano update on 5-January-2015

This is the short update for Bárðarbunga volcano for Monday 5-January-2015.

No major change has been reported in the eruption in Holuhraun during the weekend. The eruption continues mostly in the same phase as before. The lava now mostly flows in lava tubes in the large lava field that has been created in this four month old eruption.

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

Earthquake activity in Bárðarbunga volcano has dropped for the past few days. It doesn’t seems to be increasing again, that suggest in my view that the magma chamber that was being emptied is now almost or completely empty. If that is the case there is a risk (in my view) that a it might collapse in on it self. That would not be a caldera collapse, rather just collapse of one chamber in a complex volcano. This might not happen, if it does the signs are going to be swarm of large earthquakes taking place during the time this happens. If this does not happen, the crust in Bárðarbunga volcano might stay (even if most or all of the magma is gone) up and not break so easily. It is however a common fact that nature does not like empty spaces where none need to be.

Tungafellsjökull and Hamarinn volcanoes

There is now a concern among that Bárðarbunga volcano is starting instability in Tungafellsjökull volcano and Hamarinn volcano (also known as Loki-Fögrufjöll). The volcanoes Grímsfjall and Kverkfjöll are at risk of increased instability due to Bárðarbunga volcano, at the moment however that does seems to be happening. The story is different with Tungafellsjökull and Hamarinn volcanoes, there is increased activity in those two volcanoes over the past four months.

There is a problem with Hamarinn volcano that it is not earthquake active volcano and it appears to be able to erupt without much warning or any earthquake activity at all (that might change, this is just what past data suggest). Suggesting that magma is already at shallow depth in it and the crust might be so soft that it doesn’t break (this is just my idea of what might be going on, it has not been proven by measurements far as I know). If that is the case, as the data suggest an eruption in Hamarinn volcano might happen without warning and little or no earthquake activity at all. Last eruption in Hamarinn volcano was in July-2011 and I did cover it here and here.

Tungafellsjökull volcano is a different story. There has been some dyke activity been taking place in it since late 2011 or early 2012. Those dykes have created pathways for larger magma intrusion into the crust. Currently that magma is not in high amount to erupt, it also does not have the pressure to erupt far as I can tell from the data (in my view). As this stands now, a considerable more has to happen in Tungafellsjökull volcano before a first ever eruption in historical times (warning! I have known to be wrong about those things).


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50 Replies to “Bárðarbunga volcano update on 5-January-2015”

  1. Lol, we’ve all been wrong Jon _ don’t worry about it. As a Hekla but I have a weather eye on it as the borehole strain gauges have been quite busy. One of us will be right sooner or later 😉

    1. Grammar correction, you noticed that, but not inappropriate use of ‘but’ after Hekla which should have been ‘nut’.

      Simple answer Andrew, bloomin spell corrector on this tablet.

      Nice to know you hang on my every word though =-O

      1. I’ll keep hanging on your words and on Jón’s: it may yet be “be”. And I know my buts from my nuts, too – just didn’t want to be too much of a show off!

  2. Just now on Dutch television, the news: images of the eruption. And the question: why this volcano on Iceland is a threat to our health…..

    1. On what news en time was it Jenkie? Shame that I’ve missed it!
      Kind regards,
      Henkie Weijerstrass

      1. It was at the end of the Achtuurjournaal. 😉 But it was an announcement for something else. I think Nieuwsuur or the Ten o’clock news. But I unfortunately missed that part!

    2. Are you talking about a new eruption or the same one we’ve been watching these 4 months?

      I feel clueless.

      1. Hello Da Xin,

        The same eruption! It’s a program of 30 minutes and is about the threats Bardarbunga could pose to the world.

        Kind regards,

        Henk Weijerstrass

  3. You’re quick! So it has still to be broadcast? I’m going to ask a friend to record it for me, because I’n currently allready in bed (working tomorrow ☺). By the way, what town do you live in Holland?

    1. I hope I am right and it will be on Nieuwsuur! I live in Denekamp, near the German border 😉

      1. Nice to know that there are some other fellow countrymen on this board. So we have a Holland – Friesland – Twente Triangle already.

      2. Dear Jenkie,
        My friend looked it up and the program is tonight (january 7) on Ned. 1 from 19:20 – 19:50 hrs.,is called: “Kennis van nu” and is entirely devoted to Bardy!
        Ever been to Iceland? I several times and in 2013 I ran de Laugarvegur ultra marathon between Landmannalaugur and Thorsmörk: 55 kms.
        @Porsche928: because of your name: do you own such a car or is it a dreamwish?
        And there are more ‘dutchies’ on this blog; I even met a new friend with a LaRo in 2012! He lives in Nieuw Vennep by the way.
        Henk Weijerstrass

      3. @Henk Weijerstrass

        Yes, a 1987 S4. Currently for three months off the road.

        I live as said in Friesland, my coordinates are: 52.976893, 5.498441

  4. I would like to inform you there is another fellow countryman at Pijnacker/ Zuid-Holland 🙂 who is daily checking all news regarding the Barbarduga Volcano at this blog. 🙂

    1. Nieuwleusen, NL, here 😉 I read the blog on an almost daily basis, and post some ideas, questions, comments sometimes a week or month… this is a great blog about Iceland volcanos here! (Compliments to Jon!) All happy 2015 volcano watching year! 🙂

    1. Hello LeAnne,

      Maybe a Holland – America alliance?

      Kind regards,


    2. Hello, LeAnne! I am following this exceptional blog from Dallas as well! It’s amazing that we Bardarbunga afficianados from all over the world can meet here. What do you think of 11 earthquakes here in Dallas over the past 27 hours? Very strange….


    Henk Weijerstrass

    I feel LESS clueless, now.

    HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY NEW YEAR to you and those you love . . . in the best ‘Duck Dynasty’ joi de vivre.

    1. Da Xin, you have become a friend to many! Thank you for your good questions, thoughtful insight and frequent comments! I look forward to visiting this site and sharing this ongoing event with such a curious, insightful and intelligent community. Thank You, Jon, for being such a great Host!

      1. NvrAzBad,

        You are the dear one with such skill in bringing a near 70 year old man to tears of joy at being of any interest or use to y’all.

        THANX TONZ

        PLEASE Have a blessed New Year!

        And certainly thanks and support to Jon and all the rest of you for such a fun and informative site.

  6. There are even more “dutch” speaking followers, I live in Glabbeek, center Belgium.

  7. I have been reading on this blog for almost two years and sometimes I react 😉 So I know there are more Dutch (speaking) people here 😉 I unfortunately have never been to Iceland. I just have a passion for volcanos, nature etc. And Henk: thanks, I am going to watch tonight!

    1. Dear Jenkie,
      My ex-roommate (I don’t know a better description) has made 2 Hi8 movies from our trips to Iceland; one in 1997 with my Triumph Spitfire 1500 (right after the big eruption of Gjálp in 1996 which destroyed 25 km’s of the ringroad (nr. 1) and 600 meters of a 900 meter long bridge) and one with a Suzuki Vitara JLX in which we visited Askja and Kverkfjöll.
      You’re free to visit and watch one (or both) movies (although I realise it’s a long drive from Denekamp); same goes for you Porsche 928 (you’re closer by)☺
      My emailaddress: henk.maukie@hotmail.com
      Kind regards, Henk

  8. Hello again from Norway. I think we are a couple of regular readers and contributors (Inge B, Steinar Midtskogen…) from the land of the Fjords too. Not to brag. Just to show the vast diversity of orign in here. And I really love it!

    Todays question; I am noticing a build-up of SO2-concentrations in the mid to southern part of the northern hemisphere. Compared to sept./oct. the build-up looks quite massive. I haven’t followed this closely, so I don’t know wether this is normal or not (seasonal?). A steady growth since september (if not normal) could indicate a build-up from a likely source (Holuhraun?) but again I am curious, looking to find an answer. The strange thing is that it looks “clean” from apx. 60 deegrees north and up.


    If anyone has datasets/gifs of SO2-concentrations from earlier years (same time) or any knowledge to this it would be much appreciated. From the look of it SO2 has been building up from around equator and gradually building north. As apose to in sept./oct. when you only could see windgenerated patterns of high SO2. Spreading out from Iceland towards whereever the wind blew… And kind of like this beeing the long term effect you would ecpect from gradually adding more and more water (bad example maybe) inside a ball spinning on an axis?

    Hope anyone can shed some light on this.

    Best from Bergen, Norway.

  9. Wednesday
    07.01.2015 11:10:27 64.672 -17.484 17.4 km 4.1 99.0 4.1 km NNE of Bárðarbunga

    07.01.2015 10:49:23 64.670 -17.441 9.2 km 4.0 99.0 5.3 km NE of Bárðarbunga

    07.01.2015 08:10:53 64.613 -17.424 11.1 km 4.1 99.0 5.8 km ESE of Bárðarbunga

    1. Hei Luisport!
      I am surprised to see it here! 🙂 From where do you know Michaels homepage? (He is from my hometown.)
      It is not that well known, even not in solar-earth-physics circles.
      Hope to see some aurora the coming night, weather permitting…as everytime. But there are clear skies coming from the Netherlands. 😉

  10. Interesting that there are suddenly a few quakes at greater depth again, i .e the 4.1 at 17km. Maybe new magma input coming up?

    1. That seems to be the case. Since deep earthquakes like this almost never happens without magma. It is impossible to know if this means that the eruption is going to change. I however find it most likely outcome of this.

      1. As some of you may have seen last night, the maker of the Dutch documentary which will be aired tonight, has taken some Holuhraun lava home for investigation.

        The preliminary outcome of this investigation – so he told last night – is that this lava is from 40 km depth.
        So it’s not from a shallow magma reservoir. We already thought so, but this is a new confirmation that the magma at Holuhraun is coming from great depth.

        Considering the new bigger quakes take place at larger depth, we can assume there is new magma rising from below Bardarbunga.

      2. Yes, even the IMO team had views on this. There were indicators that the surface compound inclusions were adiabatic melt from deep source accentuated by the high magma temperature. I’ve never been totally convinced the bb chambers were solely responsible for the holuhraun.

        There is just as much indication of a connection between bb and tungsnafellsjokul, yet in reality I suspect the activity there is due to the multiplanar actions of the hreppar plate.

      3. If the magma at Holuhraun is coming from great depth how does that change the cause of the caldera subsidence?

      4. “If the magma at Holuhraun is coming from great depth how does that change the cause of the caldera subsidence?”

        Well, caldera subsidence has always been speculation. We know the ice surface inside the caldera is subsiding, but we can’t be certain that the floor of the caldera is subsiding. Ice surface subsidence could be due to melting at the base of the glacier inside the caldera due to geothermal heat.

      5. So at the moment we do not know that there is a direct relationship between the eruption at Holuhraun and the Bardarbunga caldera subsiding other than timing?

      6. There have a lot of analyses been done by Icelandic scientists and others on Holuhraun lava and the outcome was, that petrology including trace elements are indicating a source (anyway also) in Bárdarbunga because the lava samples taken then were most similar to the Bárdarbunga petrology samples.

        See eg. a newly (Nov.22, 2014) published abstract (in English, though the cover is in Icelandic): Petrology of the fissure eruption north of Dyngjujökull, by Thor Thordarsson, etal.
        in: http://www.jfi.is/radstefnur/haustradstefna-2014-agripahefti-2/ p. 5 (p.17 of pdf)

      7. @IngeB -Thanks for that – Interesting article. What I am trying to understand is if the surface of the ice subsiding in the caldera has any direct effect of the force of the lava eruption at Holuhraun.

    1. THANKS for the links. Great video.

      Maybe there will be some English subtitles wedded to it at some point on youtube.

  11. Hi Leanne, this is Kevin up in Seattle. I have been following here daily since mid August, a few days before any surface eruption had begun. We 12’s are watching your Cowboy’s as well….

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