Daily update on Bárðarbunga volcano, 15-September-2014

This information is going to get outdated quickly.

Current status at 12:59 UTC

  • Largest earthquake so far is a magnitude 5,4 that took place at 08:04 UTC.
  • Caldera has so far dropped 45 cm of today. Largest drop took place during the magnitude 5,4 earthquake and that lowering continued for two to three hours after the earthquake.
  • Eruption in Holuhraun continues at similar rate as yesterday (14-September-2014). Now it is mostly one crater that is erupting. The flow of lava is also not powerful enough to cross the river. So now it is spreading out from the central crater in all directions.
  • Earthquake activity has been moving south along the dyke. This means there is higher risk for earthquake eruptions under the glacier. There have been several minor eruptions under the glacier already.

Current status at 20:51 UTC

  • New vent has opened up south of current eruption. I can’t tell from Míla web cameras if this is a new vent or just old vent getting active again.
  • Most of the eruption continues in the central crater at the moment.
  • The rifting phase of the activity in Bárðarbunga volcano is going to take months to finish. In that time there are going to be more earthquakes and more fissure eruptions. There is also high risk of new dyke intrusions going into other directions from Bárðarbunga volcano.
  • If the Holuhraun eruption ends, a new one is going to start soon after in different place of that dyke. It might be on glacier free area or under the glacier. There is no way of knowing that for sure.

Still more on comments

If anyone sees a comment that might be a spam comment that has gotten trough my filter. Please let me know about it so I can remove them. I have removed several comments that I regard as spam on closer inspection. Please keep all political discussions to your self. There is plenty of space elsewhere on the internet for such discussion. This is not the website for such talk.

Article updated at 20:51 UTC.

What to expect from Bárðarbunga volcano

I am writing this now, since I might not have time to do so on Monday. Updates are going to continue to go here until Monday. Unless something major happens.

The collapse of Bárðarbunga volcano

The collapse of Bárðarbunga volcano has already started. The caldera collapse in Bárðarbunga volcano started on 16-August-2014 and has been going on since then. Here is what I am expecting from the caldera collapse once it reaches its peak.

  • There are going to be earthquakes in the range of 5,5 and up to 6,7. Maybe larger if the crust can handle it.
  • Glacier flood are going to go south-west and north (Húsavík area) and possibly in other directions. I am expecting damage to hydrothermal plants in the pathway of the floods. How much damage there is going to be depends on the magnitude of the flood and the path it takes.
  • I am expecting long periods of no power in parts of Iceland once the flood has passed. I am also expecting lack of communications in large areas of Iceland. This is why Rúv has been telling people to get long-wave radios for the past few days. Usage of mobile network is also going to be unreliable in large parts of Iceland once the collapse starts full force in Bárðarbunga volcano. Due to damage that glacier floods are going to create.
  • I am expecting an ash cloud that might go up to 20 km or higher up in the atmosphere. It is however impossible to know for sure what happens until this starts.
  • It is difficult to know fore sure how much drop is going to take place, but it can be up to many hundreds of meters.
  • I fear that north slope of Bárðarbunga might collapse forward once this starts. Earthquakes in the area give clues about weakness forming there.

Bárðarbunga volcano is 2009 meters high above the ocean. This means there is a lot of material that is going to blow outwards once the collapse starts full force. This is might be one of largest eruptions in Iceland since it got populated more than one thousands years ago. I am hoping that the picture that I am drawing up is not as bad the reality once this starts. I am also hoping that no loss of life is going to happen. I am hoping for the best in this case, but the clues that I am getting are no good at all.

Current status on Bárðarbunga volcano at 19:30 UTC

This information is going to get outdated quickly.

Current status on Bárðarbunga volcano

  • There are now two lava lakes (at least) in the fissure that has been erupting in Holuhraun. The eruption has not yet stopped, but it is less powerful but the flow of magma from the craters has not slowed down based on latest observations.
  • Bárðarbunga caldera is getting lower by 80 cm/day according to GPS measurements and other measurements that have been made. Total drop in the caldera so far is 21 meter. Cracks have started to form in the glacier that fills the caldera. Normally there are no cracks in that glacier. Most of the cracks are in the central caldera.
  • More magma is flowing into the dyke than out of it. Eruption has not yet increased yet, this also increases the risk of new eruptions along the dyke.
  • The central crater in the eruption continues to erupt, other craters have mostly stopped erupting and several of them are just emitting gas now.
  • Largest earthquake since midnight was a magnitude 4,7 at 09:32 UTC.
  • The lava field continues to flow into Jökulsá á Fjöllum glacier river. It is slowly blocking it, some explosions might take place, but due to the thickness of the lava that does not seem to happen often.
  • SO2 pollution is a big problem now in parts of East Iceland. The pollution goes depending on wind, so for the moment it is East Iceland that is having this issue.
  • GPS data shows that inflation continues in the dyke. This is because more magma is flowing into it than erupting from as I did mention above.

Icelandic Government preparing for major eruption

It seems that Icelandic government has started to prepare for major eruption in Iceland. This is evident when they put up a banner like this on Rúv website.

Rúv radio blackout alert banner due to an eruption at the bottom of this image. Screen-shot of Rúv.is website.

When the national radio of Iceland sets up a image like that. I take it as they know that things are bad in Bárðarbunga volcano. Same way as I know it. The website in question that the banner connects to can be found here, it has English text.

Updates 12-September-2014

  • The amount of SO2 in Reyðarfirði has now around 4000 µg/m³ (at 22:45 UTC). People in that village and nearby area advised to stay indoors and don’t go outside.
  • The largest crater in Holuhraun is now getting close to being 70 meters high.

Updates 13-September-2014

  • Largest earthquake since midnight was a magnitude 4,9 earthquake at 07:58 UTC. At that same time the caldera dropped 25 cm according to news on Rúv.
  • GPS stations show fast movements around Bárðarbunga  volcano. This means the current activity is far from over, even there has been a minor drop in activity at the moment.
  • Instability in Bárðarbunga volcano continues to increase.
  • There appears to be a fast inflation in Grímsfjall volcano. It is unclear why this is happening, but it might be due to influence from Bárðarbunga volcano. The sudden inflation in Grímsfjall volcano appears clearly on GPS measurement that are being done on top of the volcano. This might not lead to an eruption, since Grímsfjall volcano can take a lot of magma into its system. The eruption that took place in 2011 was the largest one in at least 140 years. Turns out this was just snow on the GPS antenna. So this is false alarm when it comes to Grímsfjall volcano.
  • Dangerous levels of SO2 are problem in eastern Iceland and where the wind blows it. Gas at the eruption site is also huge risk to anyone working in close proximity to the eruption site. It is also blocking the view to the eruption at Míla cams, along with dust storm that appears to be taking place now due to wind.
  • The eruption at Holuhraun is about the same as yesterday (12-September-2014).
  • The eruption is now confined mostly to the main crater in the fissure. Other craters have stopped erupting currently. That might change without warning.

Updates 14-September-2014

  • The eruption in Holuhraun seems to be ending. During the day the power of the eruption has dropped. The largest central crater is still erupting, but at a lot less power than yesterday and on 12-September-2014. Eruption has stopped in smaller craters in the eruption fissure.
  • The lava has stopped moving forward into Jökulsá á Fjöllum. It no longer has the energy to progress into the glacier river. New fields of lava are forming closer to the crater that continues to erupt.
  • Largest earthquake today (when this is written) is a magnitude 5,3 earthquake that took place at 14:06 UTC. Second largest earthquake today was a magnitude 4,0 earthquake that took place at 06:54 UTC.
  • The caldera continues to drop. Since this activity has continued to total drop is now 23 meters according to latest measurements (from yesterday). Most drop is taking place in north-east part of the caldera. More information can be found here, text is in Icelandic.
  • Harmonic tremor suggest that the pressure is increasing in Bárðarbunga volcano again. There is also high chance of small eruptions taking place under the glacier.
  • There is no rapid inflation taking place in Grímsfjall volcano. GPS signal got distorted by snow or ice on the GPS antenna.

News bits 12-September-2014

Stærsti gígurinn í Holuhrauni að ná 70 metra hæð og fer stækkandi (Vísir.is, video, Icelandic)

News bits 13-September-2014

“Like breathing from the exhaust pipe” (Rúv.is)
Botn Bárðarbunguöskju seig um 25 sm (Rúv.is, Icelandic)


This is shorter updated today due to there has not been a lot of change since yesterday and it is Friday.

More on comments

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I get few emails about the volcano activity in Bárðarbunga. I can answer some of them, but not all of them. I try to put what I know here, so please read it rather than to send me an email. I answer all emails about comments and this website.

Article updated at 19:35 UTC on 12-September-2014.
Article updated at 22:56 UTC on 12-September-2014.
Article updated at 14:54 UTC on 13-September-2014.
Article updated at 22:33 UTC on 13-September-2014.
Article updated at 02:53 UTC on 14-September-2014.
Article updated at 18:17 UTC on 14-September-2014.
Article updated at 18:28 UTC on 14-September-2014.

Status update on Bárðarbunga volcano at 22:11 UTC

This information is going to get outdated quickly.

  • Eruption in Holuhraun continues and there are no signs about it ending any time soon.
  • Lava lake has formed in one of the south crater according to the news today. The crater is not erupting at the moment.
  • Earthquake activity continues along the dyke south of the Holuhraun eruption.
  • Bárðarbunga continues to drop and I am estimating that the drop today is around 1 meter a day. This number has not been confirmed. Last confirmed number on the drop was that the Bárðarbunga volcano was dropping 90cm/day.
  • The area around the eruption site is toxic. Due to ever changing wind in the area the risk of getting SO2, CO, CO2 and other toxic gases over one self is always present.
  • There are warning in place for the SO2 pollution in Iceland at the moment. The warnings are issued based on wind direction at any given time.
  • The lava continues to flow into Jökulsá á Fjöllum glacier river. This lava is going to create a dam in next few days. The lava is flowing into the river at such force it doesn’t stop and doesn’t cool down properly to stop the flow of new lava into the glacier river.
  • I have been seeing harmonic tremor spikes all day today. I have traced them to Bárðarbunga volcano. I am not sure on location. It is difficult to know for sure what this means at the moment.

Earthquake activity

Earthquake activity today. Notice how the green stars (earthquake above magnitude 3,0) form a circle around the caldera that is about to collapse into it self. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

The earthquake trace of the earthquakes today. The larger earthquakes are spaced around 12 hours apart. I don’t know why that is. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

Tungnafellsjökull volcano

There has been earthquake activity today in Tungafellsjökull volcano. I don’t know what this means since I don’t have any history about eruptions in that volcano. None have been document in the past 1000 years, and none have shown up in the data for the past 8000 years at least. What I do know is that I suspect the volcano might have started to prepare for an volcano eruption in the future. At least Tungafellsjökull volcano was showing slightly higher activity in past few months than normal, but that earthquake activity did stop and everything did go back to normal until now. This might be as simple as just stress adjustment in the crust in the area. At current time I don’t think an eruption is imminent in Tungafellsjökull, but with no history to work with this volcano might surprise me and everyone else. For the moment I think it is just earthquake activity until I am disproved by the volcano or this earthquake activity just stops.

The caldera formation in Bárðarbunga volcano

The new caldera that is now forming in Bárðarbunga volcano is a large event, since Bárðarbunga volcano is a large volcano. GPS data (website here) says that here is still inflation ongoing in Bárðarbunga volcano and at the moment mostly in the dyke. What is so dangerous with this are many factors. Here is the top list of them.

  • The drop in certain parts of Bárðarbunga volcano down its slopes is up to 1800 meters.
  • The glacier over parts of Bárðarbunga volcano are up to 850 meters thick in the caldera. Outside the caldera the glacier is up to 600 meters thick.
  • There are hydro-power dams south-west of the Bárðarbunga volcano. Glacier flood might go that way. There are also some populated areas that might be at risk depending what way the glacier flood would go.
  • Populations at north of Jökulsá á Fjöllum glacier river (downstream) are at risk from large glacier flood. So are two bridges, the third one that is up on the high lands is not going to be saved.
  • There is going to be a huge ash cloud once Bárðarbunga volcano collapses into a new caldera. What damage that ash cloud is going to do depends on wind direction. If we have really bad luck we might be looking at air space closure for week or two in Europe depending on wind and weather systems.
  • There are other risks that I don’t about yet.

Bárðarbunga volcano caldera (the current one) is around 70 square km in size, around 10 km wide. With the depth of 850 meters and it is full of glacier as I have mentioned many times before. When this is going to hit disaster mode part of that glacier is going to melt and create massive floods. Even if the caldera collapse might happen there is still a high risk of continued eruption activity after that event. Since this might just be a start of long eruption cycle in Bárðarbunga volcano. Since it had been quiet for a long time until 16-August-2014 when this eruption cycle started in Bárðarbunga volcano. What is happening in Bárðarbunga volcano and is creating of a new caldera. The caldera is just now in its early formation stage, when the later stages start to happen I do not know since I don’t have any past data to work with. This does not happen often in Iceland I think and has never happened before since recording of earthquakes started in Iceland.


If anything major happens I am going to post updates here.

News bits

Subsidence by hundred of meters possible (Rúv.is)

The media in Iceland is now less occupied with this eruption than before. So it is harder for me to get information that way at current time.

Status update on Bárðarbunga volcano at 21:21 UTC

This information is going to get outdated quickly.

About how I work my data

I do all my data work in my head. Since I don’t have the computer power or the programming skills do so in normal computer. This is generally refereed as “thought experiments” I think. The data set for Bárðarbunga volcano are now huge and it takes me a while to update them and work out what I am seeing.

Caldera collapse is in progress in Bárðarbunga volcano

I know that scientists in Iceland don’t want to mention this in the news and are still hoping for current sequence of events to stop. That is not going to happen, it was already to late when the magma found a way out of the magma chamber on 16-August-2014, all that can be done now is to plan for the eventual collapse of Bárðarbunga volcano into a new caldera. I don’t expect the mountain to make it based on current earthquake activity. Eruptions should also be expected without warning around the circle that the earthquakes have now formed around the magma chamber that is collapsing in Bárðarbunga volcano.

Bárðarbunga volcano is however not going to collapse quickly, while the eruption once it starts in Bárðarbunga volcano is only going to last 1 week at the longest. This type of events takes several weeks to months from start to end. When Askja volcano collapsed in 1875 it started sometimes in the year 1874 and did not end until October 1875 (Global Volcanism Program says 1. Jan, 1875 to 1875, 17 Oct.). So this might take more than six months from start to end and might not end until sometimes next year (2015). There is also a chance this collapse is going to take just several weeks. There is no way to know for sure how long this is going to take, since it depends on many unknown factors. There is also a factor that no caldera collapse has taken place in Iceland since modern recording and monitoring of volcanoes started in Iceland (around 1970).

Current status of the Bárðarbunga volcano

  • Eruption continues in Holuhraun lava field. Most of the craters have now stopped erupting and one is now just emitting gas according to latest reports today.
  • Power of the eruption in Holuhraun is about the same since it started, even if there are fewer vents erupting lava at the moment.
  • Visibility has been limited today due to bad weather in the highland of Iceland.
  • SO2 levels in populated areas in east Iceland did go up to 2550µg/m³ around 15:00 UTC in Reyðjarfjöður village. Health warning was issued for the area during the peak of the SO2 pollution.
  • Largest earthquakes today had the magnitude of 5,5 at 05:25 UTC, second largest earthquake today had the magnitude of 4,8 at 15:51 UTC. Other earthquakes have been smaller. There is now less earthquake activity taking place since magma is not breaking as much crust as before.
  • The caldera has now dropped some 20 meters according to last measurements taken when there was a flight over Bárðarbunga volcano.
  • There continues to be earthquake in the dyke, most of it is in area that is covered with glacier.
  • Eruption in Hamarinn (Loki-Fögrufjöll) volcano is now a possibility. It might start without warning and without any earthquake activity, or just little earthquake activity.
  • Dyke activity might start to go south of Bárðarbunga volcano. It has not happened yet, but there is a high risk of it in my personal view.
  • This is creating stress changes around Bárðarbunga volcano. There is a minimal risk of that starting an eruption in other volcano systems that are nearby. It is not likely to happen, but the possibility is there. The reason is that Bárðarbunga volcano is a large volcano, the second biggest in Iceland in my view. With Hofsjökull volcano being the largest in Iceland in my view.
  • The lava field continues to block the glacier river Jökulsá á Fjöllum. As this progresses there is going to be a natural dam in this area after few days.
  • Seven minor eruptions have been confirmed according to the news today (on Rúv). This is besides the eruptions that where in the glacier free area (and are still ongoing). None of those eruptions seems to have lasted for long.
  • Based on harmonic tremor I think pressure is again increasing in Bárðarbunga volcano magma chamber system. This does not appear to be resulting in more powerful eruption in Holuhraun. That is why I think there is increased risk of new dyke to start forming.
  • Gas output from the eruption in Holuhraun remains high and it is extremely dangerous to go there. The lava field is also creating a lot of local weather in good weather. That also makes this dangerous. This eruption is no place for tourist.


Updates go here when they happen.

News bits

I am going to add news here in case anything happens.

References list

Caldera (Wikipedia)
Modelling Caldera Collapse (OSU)
Caldera (Science Daily)

Eruption update at 21:29 UTC

This information is going to go outdated quickly.

This is the current information about the eruption in Bárðarbunga volcano.

Please note: Since I cannot go to the area that is erupting my self (it is closed and I also live in Denmark at the moment). I have to relay on what is being told in the news and released by Icelandic Met Office along with other data. This means that I spend most of the day collecting data and working out what is going on (my view in most cases). This means that in most cases I write post late in the day when daily observation is done.

Current status of the eruption in Bárðarbunga volcano

  • New fissure did open around 2 – 3 km south of the eruption fissure that started erupting 31-August-2014.
  • Comments on this website did notice the eruption around 04:00 UTC on 05-September-2014. At the same time there was an minor increase in harmonic tremor on SIL stations close to the eruption.
  • The new eruption fissure is around 1 – 2 km long. It might get longer as time passes.
  • The new eruption was first reported by the press around 06:00 – 08:00 on Rúv.
  • New cauldron has formed some 6 km in Dyngjujökull glacier. The  glacier in the that area is 300 to 350 meters thick. Last report was that this cauldron was getting deeper during the day.
  • Higher conductivity has been reported in Jökulsá á fjöllum glacier river. That is currently continuing on that last check I did on Icelandic Met Office website.
  • Smell of rotten eggs is now coming from Jökulsá á fjöllum. Normally there is no such smell of that glacier river.
  • Inflation in the dyke continues, not on the same speed as before, but it is ongoing.
  • The rift valley appears to continue expand were he is visible.
  • The air around the eruption site is toxic due to release of SO2, CO, CO2, fluorine gases and other dangerous gases.
  • The water vapour cloud goes up to 4,5 km according to latest measurements.
  • The SO2 goes the way of the wind direction at any given time.
  • The lava field has just 1 km to Jökulsá á fjöllum glacier river. Once the lava enters the river it might start to build a dam and the lava is going to explode and steam a lot in the process.
  • Largest earthquake since midnight was magnitude 5,3 that took place at 01:19 UTC. It took place in Bárðarbunga volcano caldera rim. As other large earthquakes since this events started.
  • Largest earthquake in the dyke area took place at 14:31 UTC and had the magnitude of 3,2. It was under the glacier were most earthquake activity is now taking place.
  • Volcano eruption with ash cloud is now expected to take place. When and exactly where it is going to take place is not known at current time. I don’t think it going to have effects on international flight. But the local effects might be big if wind is in the direction of populated areas of Iceland.

GPS inflation

GPS measurements of the inflation that is currently taking place in the dyke. More GPS data can be found here. Copyright of this image belongs to University of Iceland.

Magma continues to flow into the dyke. It is at slower rates than before, but it still flowing into the dyke at rates that current eruption is not powerful enough to equal or drop the pressure inside the dyke. This is going to result in more eruptions as we have already started to see. When and where they are going to take place is something that is not known.

The eruption area is closed to the public

Due to risk of dangerous gases and flood the eruption area is closed to the public. Anyone that is found within the closed zone is going to get heavy fine. Going to this area is also extremely risky sine the area that is now eruption is extremely unstable with the risk of new eruption opening up without warning in the fault area and even outside it (if there is a weakness in the crust the magma is going to go that way). Police in Iceland have already spotted and fined two cars that were trying to enter the closed off area. This area of Iceland is also out in the middle of nowhere. The town is up to 10 hours away in a car (due to bad roads). Weather is also extremely unpredictable and can change without warning. So if you are thinking about going on car or foot. Don’t go!

The good news is that it is still allowed to fly over the area. So get one of those tours. I don’t know what they cost, but I know they take place if weather allows.

News bits

Arrested near the Holuhraun eruption (Rúv.is)
See the lava creeping forward at Holuhraun (Rúv.is, video)
The powers at play beneath the surface (Rúv.is, video)

More news in English can be found here (Rúv.is).

Updates for 06-September-2014

  • As noted by many here there is now news report on how much Bárðarbunga volcano has lowered since 16-August-2014. Bárðarbunga volcano has lowered some 15 meters according to latest measurements. This does not reduces the risk of eruption in Bárðarbunga caldera, in fact, this might increase it by a large margin. Such large drop in a mountain has not happened in Iceland since Askja 1875 when that volcano dropped some 300 meters in one of the largest eruption in the 19th century. According to the news on Rúv the caldera crust is in fact floating the magma that is keeping it up. Part of that magma is now erupting just north of Dyngjökull glacier.
  • Magnitude 5,0 earthquake took place in Bárðarbunga volcano at 05:40 UTC. It was in the NE Bárðarbunga in the caldera rim.
  • The risk of large eruption in Bárðarbunga volcano has increased due the current activity and drop of the caldera (as explained above). When such eruption would take place is impossible to know at this time.
  • The lava field is now just 900 meters from Jökulsá á Fjöllum glacier river. It is going to get into contact with the main stream sometimes in the next 24 hour period.
  • The activity in the new eruption fissure has decreased a little over the past 24 hours. It is now only erupting in one or two craters at the moment.
  • There is high risk of new fissures opening in the rift valley without warning. Both outside the glacier and below it. If an eruption takes place under the glacier there is going to be sudden glacier flood that is going to hit without warning.
  • Possible minor eruption might have happened under Dyngjökull glacier in last few days. As there have been cauldron formations in it. One of the cauldron is some 6 km from the glacier edge. The deepest cauldron is 35 meter deep according to radar measurements.
  • A new cauldron was also found some 10 km from the edge of Dyngjujökull glacier. This suggest that minor eruption took place there in past few days.
  • Blue mist has been seen today in east Iceland. It is not clear what is happening, but there are clues that this blue mist is connected to the eruption. Sensors to measure this blue mist have been sent to east Iceland. This blue mist can also be seen on satellites that Icelandic Met Office uses for weather measurements.

News bits for 06-September-2014

Rannsaka bláa móðu á Austurlandi (Rúv.is, picture of the blue mist, Icelandic)
Eldstöðvarnar í Holuhrauni – Myndband (Rúv.is, Icelandic, video)

Updates for 07-September-2014

  • Earthquake with the magnitude of 5,4 took place at 07:07 UTC. This earthquake took place in the caldera rim as other earthquakes in Bárðarbunga volcano.
  • The flow of magma is currently 100 to 200 m³ every second.
  • The new fissure has stopped erupting according to latest news.
  • There is a high risk of new fissure opening up in the erupting area without warning.
  • The lava field has reached Jökulsá á Fjöllum glacier river. This is going to increase conductivity in the river as the lava goes more into the glacier river. There is a lot of steam cloud being created following this. It is not clear when the lava field is going to dam the glacier river.
  • There are now only 2 – 3 craters erupting in the main erupting fissure. The power of the eruption remains the same.
  • Earthquake activity continues south of current eruption. Most of the earthquake activity now is taking place in the glacier, where minor eruptions have been taking place in past few days.
  • There is no sign of this activity is about to end.
  • Bárðarbunga volcano caldera continues to sink. There is a lack of earthquakes in the caldera it self. That suggest the heat below the crust is high enough to make the crust soft and that prevents earthquakes from happening. More on this tomorrow (Monday).

News bits on 07-September-2014

100 – 200 rúmmetrar úr jörðu á sekúndu (Rúv.is, video, Icelandic)
Svona hefur Bárðarbunga sigið (Rúv.is, picture of the lowering of Bárðarbunga caldera, Icelandic)

Article updated at 14:04 UTC on 06-September-2014.
Article updated at 14:11 UTC on 06-September-2014.
Article updated at 18:16 UTC on 06-September-2014.
Article updated at 18:18 UTC on 06-September-2014.
Article updated at 18:29 UTC on 06-September-2014.
Article updated at 19:43 UTC on 06-September-2014.
Article updated at 14:52 UTC on 07-September-2014.

Eruption update for Bárðarbunga volcano at 18:52 UTC

This information is going to get outdated fast.

This is latest information that I got on Bárðarbunga volcano eruption. The status of the eruption and the volcano is always changing so I do not have up to date information on what is going on. The area is also remote and subject to bad weather at times and often for days.

  • There is no change in the eruption it self. There is also no sign that this eruption is about to end. It has now been going on for the past four days.
  • The lava field is just few days away from entering Jökulsá á Fjöllum glacier river. It has already entered smaller streams in the area. When the lava enters the river it is going to create steam explosions and small local ash clouds.
  • More magma is flowing into the dyke at depth than is erupting from it. This means that there is extremely high risk of the magma breaking a new path to the surface south of current eruption. The most likely place for new eruption to start is in the rift valley that has formed.
  • The rift valley that has been created continues to grow. This also shows that magma is just 2 km under the surface at the most. Large parts of this rift valley is under the glacier.
  • Currently there is no explanation on why harmonic tremor increased yesterday (03-September-2014). No eruption under the glacier seems to have taken place. At least no sign of such event has been observed as of yet.
  • People have been trying to enter the area in illegal way. This is extremely dangerous. Since an eruption under the glacier might start without warning, there is also risk of quick sand around this area due to all the changes that are now taking place in the crust at Holuhraun lava field.
  • Bárðarbunga volcano caldera continues to have earthquakes. Largest earthquake since midnight had the magnitude of 4,8 at 03:44 UTC, second largest earthquake had the magnitude of 4,4 at 10:28 UTC. Other earthquakes have been smaller.
  • There has been a slight increase in earthquake activity in Bárðarbunga volcano caldera. Most of this earthquake activity is micro-earthquakes.
  • The glacier inside Bárðarbunga volcano caldera is up to 850 meters thick according to the news report I did hear today.
  • Since the eruption started there has been drop in earthquake activity. Most of the earthquake activity is taking place south of current eruption in an forming rift valley at that same location.
  • Eruption in Bárðarbunga volcano caldera is still a possibility and has not been ruled out. Eruption under the glacier south of current eruption has not been ruled and is expected to take place at some point in the future if the current eruption continues as it has been doing.

News bits in English and Icelandic

“Everything changes when night falls”
(Rúv.is, video)
(Full) frontal breakout of Pāhoehoe lava (Rúv.is, video)
Up to 130 meter high lava fountains (Rúv.is)

Hraunið nálg­ast Jök­ulsá (mbl.is, Icelandic, picture)

Updates 04-September-2014

Evening news on Rúv, 04-September-2013. Has some great video(s) of the eruption. Second news starts at 05:50.

  • Toxic gas has been measured up to 6 km above the eruption craters. Most of the toxic gas that is being released is SO2 (see Wikipedia information here). There is also some CO (Wikipedia information here) along with minor amounts of hydrogen. There is also some water vapour getting released from the lava in this eruption.

Updates 05-September-2014

  • Two new fissures have opened up according to Rúv News. This new fissures are now erupting and are closer to the glacier than the fissure that started erupting almost one week ago.

Article updated at 20:48 UTC on 04-September-2014.
Article updated at 20:50 UTC on 04-September-2014.
Article updated at 21:58 UTC on 04-September-2014.
Article updated at 08:09 UTC on 05-September-2014.

Update on Bárðarbunga volcano and eruption at 19:23 UTC

This is a short update on current status in Bárðarbunga volcano and the eruption. This information is going to get outdated quickly.

Current status in Bárðarbunga volcano

  • Earthquake activity remains reactively high at the moment. Strongest earthquakes today had the magnitude of 4,9, 5,0 and 5,3. Other earthquakes have been smaller.
  • Dyke activity remains high and eruption remains high. See more details below.
  • Risk of eruption in Bárðarbunga volcano caldera remains high.
  • There is nothing suggesting that current events are about to end.

Current status of the eruption in Holuhrauni lava field

  • Eruption dropped this morning, but after 12:00 UTC it increased again. There does not seem to be any change the dyke that is feeding the eruption.
  • Sulphur (SO2) is being released into the atmosphere, according to measurements that is around 20,000 tonnes/day. Good map can be found here, the news in Icelandic.
  • According to the news, this eruption is about 5 times larger than the eruption in Fimmvörðuhálsi in Eyjafjallajökli. One geologist told in the news that this eruption had erupted everything that Fimmvörðuháls eruption did in it’s time around 12:00 today (If my memory is correct on this).
  • The lava field continues to grow. I am not sure about exact size at the moment.
  • Pressure in the dyke appears to be high. This might result in more fissure eruption and there is a high risk that some of them might open up under the glacier. More is going to be known tomorrow if the dyke pressure is changing.
  • Northern part of the fissure is more active than the south part. Part of the fissure has  closed and is not erupting any more. That might change without warning if the eruption gains more strength.
  • This eruption is might continue to for weeks or even moths.

If there is any sudden change I am going to post information soon as I can.

News bits

Close-up view of fresh Icelandic lava (Rúv.is)
Gosið ennþá nokkuð kröftugt – loftmyndir (air video, Rúv.is)


New crater opened up suddenly. It is far north on this image (to the right).

The new crater soon after it started erupting. Screen-shot of Míla web camera. Copyright of this image belongs to Míla.

  • The lava field is getting close to Jökulsá á Fjöllum glacier river. Once that happens steam explosions are going to start and local ash clouds are going to be created. They won’t have any effect on anything but the local area. Once the lava field gets into the glacier river it is also going to show higher conductivity on instruments that are monitoring the glacier river downstream. Due the volcanic material getting into the glacier river.
  • There is a risk of fissure opening up under the glacier without warning. Both close and at more distance from current eruption site.

Article updated at 03:39 UTC on 02-September-2014.
Article updated at 22:27 UTC on 02-September-2014.

Status update on Askja and Bárðarbunga at 18:35 UTC

This information is going to get outdated quickly.

For the media (news) please note! I am not a professional geologist. I got all the same knowledge as they do, but I am not a professional geologist. For professional view on what is going on please contact Icelandic Met Office or University of Iceland, Geology department.

Askja volcano

This is the current information that I got on Askja volcano.

  • Dyke from Bárðarbungu volcano continues into Askja volcano. It has slowed down according to reports from yesterday. I have not seen any reports on its process today.
  • Earthquake activity is increasing in Askja volcano. This is due to effects from the dyke.
  • Askja continues to be on Yellow alert status.

Bárðarbunga volcano

This are current informations that I got on Bárðarbunga volcano.

  • The eruption is over for now. It only lasted 3 – 4 hours.
  • This eruption was only lava. No or almost no volcano ash was put into the atmosphere. Some water vapour was seen (the white clouds) after the eruption ended.
  • The eruption took place in a fissure that last erupted in the year 1797. That eruption created Holuhraun lava field. This eruption took place in a crater row.
  • The eruption fissure was 900 meters long according to news in Iceland today.
  • Earthquake activity dropped while the eruption took place. It has increased again. I did see on my geophones an earthquake swarm as the eruption reached its peak.
  • This is the first time I see an eruption in a older crater row. This might be normal for this area of Iceland.
  • Future eruptions can happen at any time while current activity continues in Bárðarbunga volcano.
  • Largest earthquakes today was a magnitude 5,2 earthquake, second largest earthquake today was a magnitude 4,8 and third largest earthquake today was a magnitude 4,1.
  • Earthquake activity continues to be high, with over 900 earthquakes recorded so far today (according to my earthquake counter).
  • Harmonic tremor is on same level as it has been on since 16-August-2014.

Analyse of the eruption

The eruption started around 00:02 UTC, when it was first visible on Míla web cameras. I was notified of this by a person watching the cameras over Facebook around 00:30 UTC. According to Rúv news and other news sources the eruption peaked at 01:20 UTC. It was over around 04:00 UTC. The volume this eruption placed on the surface was minor, it had no impact on the magma that is in the dyke. Future eruptions on this fissure cannot be ruled out. As stated above last eruption took place on this same fissure in the year 1797.

This is the second confirmed eruption in Bárðarbunga volcano since this started. With the first one being on 23-August-2014. When a similar minor eruption took place. That eruption was under glacier (up to 600 meters of it) and was not observed for that reason. This new period of activity in Bárðarbunga volcano is possibly going to last for years, if only based on the volcano eruption history as it is documented on Global Volcanism Program website. I am at least preparing to write about Bárðarbunga for a long time now.

I am going to write notification about new eruptions soon as I become aware of them. The weather forecast for the next few days is not good. So visibility is going to be limited in the area close to Bárðarbunga.

Images of the new lava and mixture of old and new craters can be found here.

Article updated at 18:43 UTC.
Article updated at 18:51 UTC.
Article updated at 19:10 UTC.
Article updated at 15:14 UTC on 30-August-2014.

Bárðarbunga volcano update at 00:31 UTC

This information is going to get outdated quickly.

This is the short update on status on the activity in Bárðarbungu volcano.

  • Current activity is mostly unchanged. Earthquake activity remains high  and there are around 1000 earthquakes every 24 hours.
  • According to the news today and Icelandic Met Office data, the dyke doesn’t appear to be getting longer. It is now around 37 km long.
  • Largest earthquake since 2008 took place in Bárðarbunga volcano on 26-August-2014 at 01:26 UTC. It had the magnitude of 5,7 and took place in Bárðarbunga caldera. Second medium earthquake took place today at 11:56 UTC and had the magnitude 4,6. It was felt in Akureyri.
  • There are no signs of magma going to the surface as of writing of this article. I do expect that change quickly.
  • It is now my view that after the magnitude 5,7 earthquake the risk of an eruption Bárðarbungu caldera has increased from what it was. I don’t know yet if an such eruption is going to take place. I however find it to be the most likely outcome based on current status.

The magnitude 5,7 earthquake that took place on 26-August-2014 is the strong earthquake in Iceland since 2008, when a magnitude 6,3 earthquake happened between Selfoss town and Hveragerði in the South Seismic Zone in Iceland (often just called SISZ). Earthquake activity remains high in the north end of the dyke, with strongest earthquake today having the magnitude 4,6. With many more magnitude 3,0 and stronger earthquakes taking place. There are still over 1000 earthquakes being recorded every 24 hours in area where the dyke is located (about 20 km east of Trölladyngja).

Earthquake activity in Bárðarbunga volcano today. This map is already outdated. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

Earthquake activity remains extremely dense in the dyke from Bárðarbunga volcano. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

Total lack of earthquake at the start of the dyke suggest that the flow of magma is now smooth and it is flowing without any resistance to the north end of dyke. Where the dyke seems to have hit a resistance in the crust that he is not able to break at current time. I don’t know if the earthquakes that have been taking place today are going to change that. But if this resistance in the crust holds there is a chance it there are going to be even large earthquakes that are going to take place at this location. What magnitude is to expect is difficult to know for sure, but the crust in this area is able to make earthquakes above magnitude 5,5, but how far up the scale it goes I do not know.

There has been some deep earthquake activity taking place according to the automatic data, but since it is automatic data it might be wrong. The deepest earthquake that I did see to day took place today had a automatic depth of 29,3 km with quality of 90,10. There is a chance this dyke might get into connection of other deep dyke in this area. This are dykes that form deep in the crust at depth of more then 30 km, they don’t make any earthquakes when they form since the crust material in this region of the crust is soft and is unable to break and does not make an earthquake as result. I do not know what happens if this dyke manages to connect to an dyke that might have formed in the deeper range of the earth crust in this area. It is also a highly unlikely outcome, for the moment however it is not impossible. Since the dyke now has problems pushing north, and as an result of that it seems to be pushing a little bit down as result. It is clear that once it can not extent any future down or to the sides, it is going to go up. I am not expecting the flow of magma into the dyke to drop any time soon. That might happen, it is just unlikely to happen given the current data. Estimated amount of magma is around 350 million m³ today (26-August-2014).

Harmonic tremor remained high in Bárðarbunga volcano due to magma flow in the dyke. This is Dyngjuháls SIL station. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

Here is the harmonic tremor in Bárðarbunga on the SIL station in Kreppuhraun. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

The harmonic tremor shows that the dyke inflow continues as I did write about above. It also shows one important thing, the flow of magma into the dyke and presumably into Bárðarbunga volcano is not even. It happens in short periods of high inflow with lower periods between them.

GPS data show the magma continues to flow into the dyke at 5 to 10 km depth. More GPS plots can be found here. Copyright of this image belongs to University of Iceland.

The magnitude 5,7 earthquake as it appeared on my geophone in Heklubyggð. This image is released under Creative Commons licence. See CC Licence page for more details.

The magnitude 5,7 earthquake as it appeared on my geophone in Böðvarshólar. This image is released under Creative Commons licence. See CC Licence page for more details.

What this has told me is that there is far more magma in Bárðarbunga volcano then appear at first sight. How much of it can actually erupt in an eruption I do not know. But this seems to be far more complicated then I first thought, it is not just a dyke pushing out of Bárðarbunga volcano. There is also a lot more magma inside the magma chamber that is starting to look for an way out, at least from the looks of current activity. The glacier inside the caldera is 700 meters thick so the magma inside the magma chamber that is directly below the caldera is under this extra pressure from the glacier. Once that magma overcomes the pressure of the glacier an eruption is going to start in the caldera, until that time we might see more dyke activity going north and south of Bárðarbunga volcano. Since the magma is going to go first the easiest way out. How much pressure has to be inside the magma chamber to overcome the pressure of the 700 meter thick glacier inside the caldera I do not know. All I know is that it is a high number on any pressure scale.

As of this writing a new magnitude 5,1 (more on EMSC website here) has taken place in Bárðarbunga volcano caldera. Larger earthquake appear clearly on my geophones that can be viewed here.