Grímsfjall continues to inflate at fast rate

Over the past two days the GPS station on Grímsfjall has been reporting some interesting data on what is going on inside Grímsfjall. But it appears that Grímsfjall is inflating at really fast speed at the moment. The movement is mostly upwards, as the station is located on the top of the mountain.

Currently the GPS station at Grímsfjall is reporting about 85mm movement upwards and about 5mm movement north (moving south). At last the movement east is about 10mm. But that gives the expansion site close to the GPS station, I would estimate rather rudely about 5 to 10 km from the SIL and GPS location. But it might be closer or longer. This is just a badly educated guess that I am doing here.

It is clear that if Grímsfjall continues to inflate at the same rate and it has been doing for the past few days and weeks it is going to erupt real soon. When is a good question as always.


33 Replies to “Grímsfjall continues to inflate at fast rate”

  1. Hi Jón,

    Indeed, I’ve been checking the inflation at Grímsvötn / Grímsfjall every day and it looks like one of Iceland’s many volcanos might treat us to a show real soon.

    Is there any media coverage in Iceland about this?

  2. @Holger N California, A eruption in Grímsfjall might happen real soon indeed. About the media coverage in Iceland. There currently is a lack of it in Iceland. As the media doesn’t show much interest to this until something happens.

    The little media coverage that has been just speak about the possibility of Grímsfjall being next in line for a eruption out of all the volcanoes that are ready to start erupting in Iceland.

  3. And as was said before Grimsfjall is in the middle of nowhere and beneath one of the largest glaciers in europe. So we cant expect the same possibilities as for Fimmvörduhals and Eyjafjallajökul. There are no cams in that place. 🙂

  4. @Holger: There is actually more or less no coverage about volcanoes. On one side, because nothing happens on the other side because of the political turbulences and demonstrations taking place. Thats the stuff that people are actually discussing and which is covered by the media.

  5. @ Chris,

    Yes, I’ve seen a few short articles even in English language publications. It’s understandable that the media are preoccupied with other things right now.

    Let’s hope the impeding eruption at Grímsvötn / Grímsfjall won’t cause too much upheaval for Iceland. You guys have enough trouble getting the economy back up again already….

  6. I seem to remember reading about an historical eruption at Bardabunga leading to an eruption at Grimsvotn. If so, if Grimsvotn erupts, I wonder if there is a similiar association to Bardabunga as there is with Eyjafjallajökull and Katla.

    Anyone venture a guess as to the force of this potential eruption?

  7. Don’t forget that Grímsvötn does this every year, at about this time of year.

    The big question is if it will stop or slow it’s ascent or if the rise is related to a pending event.

  8. @ Lurking,

    Yes indeed, I remember the link you provided a couple of days ago:

    I guess the seasonal uplift spikes are linked to the reduced glacial weight after the summer melting season. But I find it notable how the uplift of the Grímsfjall GPS station differs in scale from the others in that plot. That may be an indication of higher overall activity levels in the Grímsvötn / Grímsfjall system.

  9. Interesting study I read lately was trying to weight the hypothesis that eruptions at Katla 9 of 9 times came near the end or just after the summer months due to the weighting factor from glacial shrinking with elliptical size of the Katla glacier being a key element in the eruptions possibly triggered by glacial shrinking. If we add tectonic instability and the current cyclical factor with entering a more active period, I would be a little more apprehensive this summer or thereafter in Iceland.

  10. It almost never happens that we get two eruptions in one year in Iceland. But three would be unheard of in recent times far as I can recall.

    1. I wonder what the feeling is in Iceland right now with what appears to be increasing seismic events and predictions for the start of an active period. I also heard that there is the frequent smell of sulphur detected a lot and this has put some people on edge.

      Lastly, I am seeing a slight increase in seismicity at Katla for the deeper events (>5km). Also there is a slight widening of the clustering in the last several days. Also interesting to a layman like me is the clustering in the NW edge where the underlying magma chambers have been more active in recent eruptions. I am wondering of this clustering is due to heating up from magma intruding, otherwise I would expect the pattern of quakes related to glacial shifting to be more diffuse.

      1. @RonF

        “… I wonder if there is a similiar association to Bardabunga as there is with Eyjafjallajökull and Katla.”

        Based on what I have read, no, and yes. Bárðarbunga and Grímsvötn do not share a common fissure swarm. The mechanism for magma to get from one to the other is to have the dike systems intermingle (along the fissures). Bárðarbunga’s “little brother” is Hamarinn. Both sit inside the same fissure cluster. Grímsvötn’s “little brother” is Thordarhyrna.

        Technically, Eyjafjallajökull is not inside of Katla’s fissure swarm, so the method if sharing magma may be similar to the Bárðarbunga / Grímsvötn mechanism… shared but not shared.

        Hopefully this leaves you as confused as I am.

  11. Jón!? How many volcanoes are there under Vatnajökull? Five? (Bárðarbunga, Hamarinn, Grimsvötn, Kverkfjöll and now Thordarhyrna. Any others?

  12. Kinship?

    Third Cousin I believe.

    Kverkfjöll resides in a separate fissure swarm than Bárðarbunga or Grímsvötn.

    I took Figure 2 from the gravity map paper (Gudmundsson et al) and highlighted the various fissure swarms and placed the Laki and Eldgjá events on there for reference. (cuz some one is gonna ask, you know it). It’s sort of large, but here it is : . Remember that according to that paper, Bárðarbunga and Grímsvötn can share magma flow through intermingling dike structures. Most notable (to me anyway) is that in the “Non double couple” event a large quake at Bárðarbunga resulted in an eruption near one of Grímsvötn’s vents.

    I couldn’t get the overlay to mesh with the quake plot, so I did this months quakes separately. You’ll have to eyeball where they are on the two images. I put Barda and Grims central calderas on there for reference.

    To me… it looks like Kverkfjöll may have some stuff going on down around 10 km or so.

  13. BTW… I would have pasted the whole title to that paper as a reference but I can’t get the @#$@# clipboard to paste the right characters… for some of them all it gives me is an umlaut instead of the correct one. I think it has to do with how the characters are coming out of the PDF since the other copy/pastes of Icelandic text work correctly. (I can’t spell Grímsvötn with the keyboard, but I can copy paste… and for the record, that is one cool arse name.

    1. Couldn’t be any better. Now I counted seven volcanoes! And all of them except for Oraefarjökull (?) are showing earthquakes. Nice plot. You are amazing!

  14. > It almost never happens that we get two eruptions in one year in Iceland. But three would be unheard of in recent times far as I can recall.
    @Jón: And what would happen if this two or three would be under Vatnajökull? It remembers me on the german novel “Brodelndes Eis”. Do you know this book? Gaby Gawlitza, a german natural scientist wrote this book about a scenario of the eruption of several volcanoes at Vatnajökull at the same time. I hope the conent and scenario of this book is as bad as it is written?!

    1. I read this book and I really regretted buying it. Its not only a stupid story, it contains all the prejudices about Iceland (elves and trolls…) and is as well badly written. Not to mention all the methological and technical errors. So they see the glowing of the volcano under the glacier for days and nothing happens. Or on one page they drive half an hour to the village below the Vatnajökull from Reykjavik (a tour of approx. 400km) and when the lava finally breaks through, they decribe it as a 300km wide firewall. Not very consistent. And than there is this stupid love story by the side.
      I will write some review about this on my blog, but this has to wait at the moment.

      1. Thanks @ Chris. This confirms my feeling about the book. It’s bad enough that a scientist could write such a wrong book, but I wonder how she could find a publisher for it… It would be great if you write some review of this book in your book.

      2. As far as I know, Gawlitza has been a teacher in biology and chemistry until she got injured in an accident in her school. Pretty much like the story in the book. I would say she a natural scientific education, but I would call her scientist. Although this sounds more professional.

      3. Okay. That becomes clearer. On the book there only stands “Naturwissenschaftlerin”. But I am missing not only a study of geology of Icland and of course volcanoes, also one in creative writing. It’s really badly written, also the failed love story. You are so right. Although… my English here is not necessarily better. 😉

  15. The BBC ran a feature on Iceland’s volcanoes tonight on a show called Bang Goes The Theory. They also promoted links via The Open University. I’ll try to find them for you.

    Followed you here from The Big Think, where I have been a reader for a short while. Well done on the Blog. I’ll be reading daily.

    I have no expertise, but am fascinated, and as a film maker, I’ve been up close and very personal with the Souffriere Hills volcano.

  16. Jon, I appear to be a miserable man. I’ll treat my smiley as ironic.

    One more thing….I have a house in Swedish Lapland. I learned this summer, from a gold prospecting geologist, that my house sits on the resurgent dome of a Caldera (in the Skelleftea area). I was quite excited, even though it has been dormant for 1.8bn years.

  17. Lurking;
    To get the ö character, hold down ALT and type 148 on the numeric keypad.

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