No volcano eruption starting in Bárðarbunga volcano

The Icelandic Met Office has issued that there is no eruption about to start in Bárðarbunga volcano. News that claim that are wrong and remain that until proven otherwise.

Iceland Met Office announcement. Original announcement can be found here (IMO web site)

Specialist remark

Presently, there are no signs of an imminent volcanic eruption in Iceland. The Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO) did not issue a warning last weekend in connection with increased seismicity beneath the Vatnajökull ice-cap. If signs of an eruption were apparent, IMO would issue a warning immediately.

A lot of earthquakes does not always mean that a eruption is immanent. It sometimes just means a lot of earthquakes and nothing more. Media dramatization does not chance this fact.

Icelandic News on this. Use Google Translate at own risk.

Gos er ekki að hefjast (Ví, Icelandic)

59 Replies to “No volcano eruption starting in Bárðarbunga volcano”

  1. I think we ikeapt it within our limits of spekulation. Problem is newspapers…

    But I think I will go with the golden rule, if it ain’t erupting it ain’t erupting 🙂

    But I tend to agree with MET (would be silly otherwise), I also see Bardarbunga as a rather unlikely volcano right now. I think that Grimsvötn is much closer to erupting. But, Bardarbunga could surprise us all.
    But my point is that Bardarbungas inflation-rate is fairly unknown for obvious reasons, we do not have either gps or strainmeter data for Bardarbunga, heck, it might be the least watched large volcano on the planet. Now I think a lot of people are screaming yes there is measurments. Yes there is, but they are taken from afar, and pretty much it is SILs only, that’s it. No gps, no strainmeter, and soforth.
    Grimsvötn is much better checked, even though we (me) are harping about it needing better equipment.
    Thing is that Grimsvötn has erupted recently, Bardarbunga hasn’t. So the money is spent on Grimsvötn, probably whisely in my opinion.
    In conclusion, I have a problem seeing that anyone can say anything definitly going on at Bardarbunga. I would actually say that MET made a kind of blunder here, they quite simply do not know, and that can bite them in the ass if Bardarbunga erupts.

    1. Carl said, “I would actually say that MET made a kind of blunder here, they quite simply do not know, and that can bite them in the ass if Bardarbunga erupts.”

      I’ve only been reading the blog since last Oct. but the most important thing I’ve learned is that no one seems to be able to predict the exact dates of eruptions. These Icelandic volcanoes have a mind of their own in addition to a great sense of humor. They seem to defy and mock all predictions.

      1. I forgot who, but someone ( I think it was Mots fo) suggested that to you on eruptions weeks ago. I have just been a devoted follower ever since

  2. I almost choked on my lunch when I read that Jon had been quoted in Daily Mail (UK) about the “eruption”. Unfortunately, this scare story in the Daily Mail is pretty standard for this particular “newspaper”!!

    1. Yes, the UK Daily Mail is the twits who published a half page spread in the 1990’s saying I had a plutonium manufacturing plant in my garage! If Sellafiels needed a gigantic reprocessing plant, how come I could fit it in my garage. Anyway, they paid up their libel money for that.

  3. Bardarbunga is still a giant, and under the Icelandic plume, I guess it’s a volcano to really watch for. It’s on same size as Katla and Askja, and has shown able to deliver VEI6 eruptions, as in 1477. But for some reason, magma chooses to exit most often through Grimsvotn.

    My previous comment (on a former closed thread): there was a hell of a storm here yesterday (near Selfoss). Winds have topped 115km/h with a maximum gust 147km/h. Amazing! Almost hurricane 1 winds. We even had damage in some windows of our home. The blizzards on the weekend were also pretty nice. A new storm comes Friday.

    1. Treads only close when it goes down five levels, or it becomes older then 30 days.

      I don’t close the comment system manually. So far I do not have any reason to do so.

  4. @Carl:
    Please, go on speculating, I love that.
    Just think that Jón did well by being precise on his new blogpost.
    Bring Müsli to Carl!

  5. I don’t think it was us. We keep looking to Grimsvötns peculiarities and noting that Bardarbunga isn’t as connected to Askja as we thought.

    Don’t tell me I’m going to have to start emblazoning my graphics with disclaimers just because someone wanders by and comes up with a totally different interpretation than what we are discussing.

    1. I totally refuse to emblazon anything except my coat of arms. And that should have public warning, “Please be carefull as you pass the butt-ugly graphics”.

      I agree, I do not think it was us, but apparantly some schmuck journalist found the site after a bit of googling.

    1. Thanks, here’s the segment that mentions Jón:

      “Jón Frimann, a respected blogger on the Island who writes about the country’s volcanoes and earthquakes, wrote that geologists now seem to take the seismic activity more seriously than before.

      A number of airlines suffered heavy economic losses due to the axis of the cloud, and many believed the authorities’ assessment of the danger of aircraft were exaggerated. Today SAS delivered the blood-red figures for 2010, with a deficit of 3 billion Swedish crowns before tax, says the outbreak alone reduced the result by 700 million Swedish crowns.

      Last Bárdarbunga erupted was in 1910, while the last major eruption occurred in 1477, when it spewed out the largest lava flow ever recorded in the last 10,000 years.”


  6. Could activity at Kistufell also awaken Askja in a similar way as Bardarbunga links with Grimsvotn? After all, Bardarbunga fissures spread to the north close to Askja, where earthquakes are also happening.

    1. Let me do a theory here, but based on a bit of fact.

      1. Kistufell would probably do nothing to Askja. According to the quake-chart that really gave me joy yesterday (Lurking, purveyor of fine volcanic erotry) there seems to be no (at least active) conduit between those two, or the material in the ground is to tensile to break into quakes.
      2. There seems to be some tectonic connection in the area between Kverkfjöll and Askja according to the Lurking plot.
      3. But, during the Krafla-fires eruption there was subsidisation at Askja, Bardarbunga (temporary campaign gps was used since there are no permanent ones for Bardarbunga) and Grimsvötn. And that seems to point to there being some large-scale systematic interaction going on that we do not understand. Sadly they did not measure subsidation at Kistufell and Kverkfjöll.

      Hope this answered your question a bit.

      Lurkings above-mentioned beautifull plot:

      1. There actually is a proven tectonic link between Askja and Bardarbunga. I’ve read an article about it and I tried to find it back in my history but I couldn’t find it. 🙁

      2. Yes, that is what I was pointing towards in my point 3 above. It is the article you have found that I meant, but I couldn’t refind it either.
        Problem with the article is that they didn’t prove which way the connection runs, and what the properties are exactly. It kind of left a lot open…

  7. Well, Jon hasn’t finished his move yet, so I still stand by my prediction that Bardarbunga will erupt with VEI6 before he hangs the last picture on the wall. Don’t underestimate the power of Murphy. He even controls volcanos.

    1. There isn’t anything that indicates that Bárðarbunga volcano is about to erupt. Until that changes you don’t have to worry about Bárðarbunga volcano.




    And… if you are in the media and you can’t get these simple FACTS straight, you, and your editors are freeking morons.

    Now.. back to what I was yammering about.

    This is a close up view of Grimsvötn showing the quakes since Jan 2010. The slant lineament shows up pretty well.

    (view north)

    The line does not drop down into the daughter volcano, but instead it terminates under the southern flank just outside the caldera. These are the red quakes near “G” in the other graphic.

    Hamarinn has a similar lineament that meets the oddball set that SEEMINGLY connects Bardarbunga and Grimsvötn. (all caps for the press idiots)

    Underneath this PSEUDO connection point the quakes taper off to nothing as you go deeper. Either the rock there is more resilient to fracturing, or it is more ductile. I’m leaning towards more ductile since this is the area where the 1996 event occurred.


    1. But the press isnt about facts, they are about ads. When there is a crisis, their revenue streams crank up and they all feel very important and vital and paid. Question Everything you hear in the media and separate the wheat from the chaff. Otherwise, you are a cow and a pawn for their whims or agendas. God gave us a brain…use it wisely in moderation and temperance with a sparing dose of passion 🙂

      Nice chastisement LurkMan 🙂 Loved it.

  9. So, is this shallow connection between Bardarbunga and Grimsvotn, due to the fragile rock between both, close to surface, or are there really a magma link between both? This is then above their magmatic chambers no? Maybe this works the same way, as the magma spreading to both sides of the central volcano at Bardarbunga…

    I am also not a geologist!!

    1. @Irpsit:


      Thanks for the really good questions. A really good question is one no one has an answer for 🙂
      I think that Lurkmaster has a good point in his theory that there is a magmatic connection between G and B, with H probably working as an over-flow capacitor for B and G. It probably all started with 1 or more fissure(s) from each volcano spreading untill they met and “mated”. Probably around the fissure that goes from B to H. Then H became the capacitor since it doesn’t have feeder tube of its own, or has a week one compared to B and G.
      But it might just be fractured rock. Only way to know is to get lava-samples from the last eruptions of B, G and H and compare. The Gjalp eruption rock should then have traits from both B and G since it probably where an interaction-eruption between both. Hamarinn should have mixed lavas from both B and G, and B and G themselves should probably have separate lavas. If they don’t they are probably one volcano. But when they compared the ashes of the 2004 G eruption with the last B lava the chemical composition had different chemical markers, so it is probably not one hypervolcano, albet the chemical compositions could have changed since B erupted last in 1911 and G in 2004. Then it would “just” be 2 immense volcanos that live in some weird symbiotic relation.
      “Magma chambers” is really not a good word. It is a system of tubes, dykes, infusion zones and soforth (think anthill). And also, big volcanos like B and G have several systems of these features. So, no, it is probably not above the “magma-reservoirs”, I would guess it is in line with the higher parts of those systems, but not above them. That would probably create a crypto-dome.
      I would say it doesn’t work in the same way as Bardarbunga spreads, I would say it is caused by the spreading fissures of B and G. 😉


  10. A lot of people (corporations in reality) are twitchy about Iceland, but only because of the revenue loss. This one is clearly unlikely.

    BTW, for those interested, there is archive/hub of volcano videos here:

  11. Hmmm! Thanks! I found this site half-way through writing this post and changed the conclusions accordingly.

    Now that I’ve read these comments I’m not sure I wasn’t a little too optimistic at the end – ah, well. Time will tell.


    1. “I have only been doing it since January, and had not planned on posting it until I had more data, but if you squint at this map in just the right way, you can see that there might be a connection forming.”

      Well… here is a plot of the are that you were musing over.

      It’s about 15 years of quakes and is from the Iceland Met listing. The flat file is a bit north of 260,000 events and ranges from the southern end of the Reykjanes to north of the Tjörnes fracture zone.. I think as far as Jan Mayen.

      This plot is a bit truncated to cover just the area you were commenting on.

      And… a massive perspective view of the same data

      1. Thanks, that gives me a bit more information, but the point in doing it by months is that it will might show the evolution of a structure, which you can’t do if you lump it all together.


      2. Based on your post, I’m guessing that you are looking for connections to a pending Laki style fissure structure.

        (I could be wrong)

        The reason for the 15 year data group is to see if there is anything there at all. There are a few… and it’s a very few, that fall along the Laki fissure line.

        As for the month by month data, that’s quite easy to extract… just tedious. First you have to import the flat file into your database or spreadsheet, then fabricate a translation into something can sort off of.

        The 14.1 meg flat file :

    2. Laki sits within Grimsvötn’s fissure swarm, Eldgjá is in Katla’s swarm. I’ve poked around looking at the quakes myself, certain that there should be some residual seismic activity. At best there are only trace events. Remember, this is from the full 15 years of data.

      A closer view

      Google Earth, when you zoom into the area, or any of the native Icelandic satellite websites show lineament after lineament of fissure cones and valleys paralleling those two events. It’s happened quite a bit, but from what I can see in the record not a whole lot is going on there now. From what I have seen the other features are pre-Holocene.

      Here is a good overview map purloined from: “IAVCEI General Assembly 2008 Conference Field Excursions Excursion 1: Historical Flood Lava Eruptions The 1783-84 Laki and 934-40 Eldgjá events” field guide.

      I would post a link but its a pretty long one and has lots of blank spaces in it. Your best bet is to do a Google search for it (advanced) and chose only pdfs.

      I’ve marked Eldgjá and Laki on it. Of note is the purple region North and West of the map center. Those are holocene flows. I don’t know enough about Iceland to tell you which volcano put those down.

    3. Hello Dave and welcome to the nut-house!

      After reading your blog-post (pretty nice), I will though have to comment on your concerns for Laki.
      First of all, here we have a tendency that someone comes up with a theory, and then we run with it untill it tends to become “general knowledge”, or is debunked. Nota bene, even most of the “general knowledges” are improvable in a short time-span.
      Laki: A while ago I concocted a theory that the reason for the zone between Katla and Vatnajökull being “quake-dead” is that the area is built up by layers of more tensile material due to intense magmatic-fissuring. This because of the area being the focal point of the iceland-spreading. In short, the bedrock there can stretch further before breaking than the surrounding older material. So like a rubber-band it can stretch far, and subsequently contain higher energy-potential, before breaking. And when it breaks we get a series of large quakes (above 5.0) and you get a “laki-style” fissure opening up. This seems to happen with a fair degree of regularity and is spaced in time so that it happens with a good degree of exactitude. Ie, we are close, but not there yet for it to happen.
      After I had this idea of a theory, 2 more zones have been identified, one around Torfajökull (connecting with the original “dead-zone”), and another in the area between Kistufell/Loki and Askja (Veidivötn fissure zone). Later on someone (I think it was either Pieter or Renato) found some papers that verified the basic parts of the theory. So yes, the “Laki-area” is heading for an eruption, but sometime during the comming 150 years or so. Coincidentally I am more worried about the Kistufell-Askja dead-zone…

      Laki part 2:
      But saying that it will be Laki that will erupt is probably wrong. There have been a lot of fissures opening up like this, for instance Eldgja fissure. It will all depend on which of the 3 volcanos governing the “dead-zone” is closest, and where in the zone the rip occurs. I would say that Laki is unlikely since that part is currently the newest to release it’s tension, and also the place with the highest abillity to flex. If I was forced to guess, I would say either Katla (responsible for Elgja) or even more likely Torfajökull would be the feeder for the next fissure-eruption. And I would also guess that it would be a new fissure opening up in an area that is the least tensile in the zone.


    1. Yes, but the issue is getting the coordinate systems to match. Generally, I use the lat-lon marks to determine the fractional degrees per pixel and locate the coordinates of the image borders, then scale my plot to that and overlay the data.

      That image hasn’t got lat-lon marks so I’ll have to try and locate them with Google Earth, sizing the image to match. IF it uses the same projection as Google Earth, then yes, it will work. If not… then no.

      Let me fiddle with it a bit to see what I come up with.

    2. No… it won’t work.

      Once I get the northern reaches aligned, the southern section is several kilometers off, once I align the southern section, the northern reaches are off. That means that the projection of the image is different than Google Earth. I can’t get a reliable set of coordinates to scale the image.

    3. Okay… I found an image with lat-lon marks that is of the same projection as your linked image. Merging the two images I was able to get the marks within about 1 to 2 km of where they are at.

      Now the question is what do you want to see on it? Doing a whole country plot is just going to give you an overview of where the activity is at. Zooming in on an area will give you greater detail, but the accuracy could be a couple of kilometers off.

      Your call.

  12. Since I couldn’t use the image that JulesP pointed at, I went poking around some of the pdfs that I have accumulated. Though is doesn’t have a suitable image, it did have pretty nice description of the mechanics of the fissure swarms and central volcanoes.

    Specifically, page 121 through 125 (as numbered in the document)

    A snippet:

    Two somewhat contrasting models have been proposed for the subsurface structure of the volcanic system and behaviour of the magma plumbing system during major rifting episodes:

    (a) One where magma replenishment and pressurization of a shallow crustal chamber and subsequent injection of lateral dykes into the fissure swarm is viewed as the driving mechanism of rifting on the volcanic system.

    (b) Another where rifting episodes on volcanic systems are driven by the magma pressurization in large and elongate reservoirs at the base of the crust (>20 km depth) and subsequent injection of subvertical dykes into the upper crust.

    People who are into the nitty-gritty aspect of it all might find it to be an interesting read. (the document is only 35 pages from a larger collection)

  13. So with all the wind going on in Iceland by now, some question popped up in my mind.

    Lots of earthquakes get lost in the noise of the wind, though sometimes a strong earthquake poppes up above the noise. Is the magnitude of the earthquake that appears than lower (lowered with the “noise intensity”) or is it the real magnitude?


    1. I think its the real magnitude. Imagine a crowd of people making a lot of noise. And you want to talk to somebody on this environment. To be heard, you need to speak up, to go over the noise. But you will not be turned down because of that.

      1. It would be the real magnitude, at least almost.
        For one, it would not be lower, the law of preservation of energy forbids that (albeit a stupid programmer can break that law).

        Imagine you set off an explosion reaching 120dB. Then at the same time you have a choir surrounding the explosion singing at 100db. Then you measure it equidistanly between the explosion and the choir. The values above are from that hypothetical measuring point and the values are first taken separatly. When you then set of the explosion of and the choir sing you will get a slightly higher total value. How high, no how low will the increase be?
        If the choir had been singing at 120db (at measuring point) too, the combined energy needed to produce the sound would have to be doubled to get to 123dB. So, now we can count backwards. For every three dB, the energy halves. We have 6 and 2/3 of a halving between the explosion and the choir. Ie, the energy goes up to a grand total of…

        Hope this clearified it. Otherwise think of the sensitivity of speaker. Let us say that your speaker would play at 90dB at 1 watt, at 2 watts it would then play at 93dB…


  14. Quite a swarm going on just east of Krysuvik…Low quality though. As it is a swarm im fairly certain that there actually is one but the quality seems to indicate that the location7depth of the swarm might be altered at a later point.

    Could it be Krysuvik acting up again perhaps?

  15. That´s Hengill and quite a dense swarm too. I wonder if this “swarming” behavior is a precursor to some other action or if the mountaing just got cold and started to shiver. 🙂 Interesting anyway!

  16. That’s pretty damn close to the Hellisheiði power station if I have my geography right…


  17. From
    Around 20 earthquakes recorded Um 20 skjálftar hafa mælst

    Google translate (with little help) :
    Around 20 earthquakes have been recorded close to Hellisheiðavirkjun, near Henglinum, since at about one today. Earth Scientist at the Icelandic Meteorological Office says that even though no evidence of any additional events. The likely reason, however, could be that water has been pumped up from wells today. It can often cause tremors of this kind.

  18. I cant go on without mentioning it!

    Cairo protesters erupt in celebration

    Cairo, Egypt (CNN) — Demonstrations that began with quiet determination on the Internet more than three weeks ago erupted into riotous jubilation Friday evening, moments after Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak announced he would step aside.

    Protesters swarmed army tanks that had been deployed to keep order, banged drums, blew whistles and frantically waved the Egyptian flag in celebration. They danced in circles and chanted.

    Two men dropped to their knees and began to pray as soon as the news was announced.

    “Freedom!” crowds chanted outside the white carved walls of the presidential palace.
    Hosni Mubarak steps down

    “God is great,” they shouted in Tahrir Square.

    The reaction was quick to pour in across some of the same social networking sites that Egyptians used to help organize the historic protests.

    “Egypt — you are a shining light,” one Twitter user posted in congratulations.

  19. @Stefan,

    We’ll see. The military involvement is outside their constitution and this is effectively a military coup. Interestingly this is roughly the same method with which Nasser came to power. Mubarak is/was just the latest incarnation of the rulers from that “caste”

    So… what exactly has changed?

    1. the “Revolution” came from the people and not from the military. but your right – only time will tell if change is real.

      so back to volcanos ; )

  20. Well, the “revolution” came from the people (same age group by the way) in Iran, and we see how that turned out.

    Oddly enough, the “revolution” in Tunisia, Jordan, and other sites seem to be coached by the same groups, or at least have financial connections to the same groups.

    All the gnashing of teeth in Egypt and they wind up with the same junta in control that they had in control… sort of like changing the hood ornament on a Chevy and calling it a Rolls Royce.


    Up close and personal with the new swarm:

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