Grímsfjall volcano prepares for new eruption

It is clear that Grímsfjall volcano is an restless volcano. In the year 2011 it had the largest eruption for at least 140 years. But even so that does not stop the volcano from preparing new eruption sometimes soon. But I am now expecting an new eruption from Grímsfjall volcano in the next 12 to 48 months or so at the earliest. The preparing for eruption clues have already started to show. But that is an slow increase in earthquakes in Grímsfjall volcano. Something that has always been a clear indicator of that an eruption might not be far off, even if nobody knows when and how big next eruption is going to be. It has been documented that Grímsfjall volcano does sometimes have an eruption every once or two year when the activity is at highest. But since the year 1983 the eruptions in Grímsfjall volcano have been getting more frequent and larger, the largest one so far being last year.

The latest earthquake in Grímsfjall volcano. It has not been reviewed so it’s location might change. Copyright of this picture belongs to Iceland Meteorological Office.

GPS data from the past 6 months (I think). As can be seen not a lot of magma has been going into Grímsfjall volcano system since the large eruption that started 21.05.2011. So far the inflation has only been around 100 mm to date, but even so that is more then whole inflation of Eyjafjallajökull volcano in the year 2010. But that was only around 60 mm for comparison. Copyright of this picture belongs to Iceland Meteorological Office.

It is unclear what happens next in Grímsfjall volcano. But for us how watch volcanoes. This is going to mean a lot of waiting time until next eruption in Grímsfjall volcano.

Minor magma dike intrusion into Upptyppingar tuff mountain

Yesterday (12.01.2012) there was an minor earthquake swarm in Upptyppingar tuff mountain. But they are inside Kverkfjöll volcano fissure swarm that extends several km away from the main volcano. The largest earthquake in this earthquake swarm was around ML2.0 in size, with the depth of 14.4 km. But this was also the deepest earthquake in this earthquake swarm. But most of the earthquakes had the depth of 14.4 km and up to 7.8 km. So I am sure that this was magma, rather then tectonic movements that did create this small earthquake swarm.

The earthquake activity in Upptyppingar tuff mountains. Copyright of this picture belongs to Icelandic Meteorological Office.

This might mean that there is more activity on the way in Upptyppingar tuff mountain. As this suggests that new magma has started to flow into the magma sill that has formed under the Upptyppingar tuff mountains. It is hard to know or if there is going to be an eruption there. But I find it most likely going to be the case. But it might well be good 10 to 20 years into the future until an eruption happens in that spot. But activity started in this area in the year 2007, so there already have been good 5 years since activity started in Upptyppingar tuff mountain. For the moment however, it is all wait and see and earthquakes.

Special donation help wanted!

I want to do something for my mom and dad. How are not the most technical people in the world. The fact is that where they live there is no mobile signal inside the house, but it is good out side the house. This can be fixed with an GSM repeater. But that costs money. Around 47.000 ISK, 2.189 DKK, 244 GBP, 294€, $372. I am going to get permission from the mobile companies and the authorities in Iceland to setup this minor repeater in the licensed spectrum (900Mhz). I want to do this. But I currently do not have the money to do this at present time. That is why I am asking for donation so I can do this. But I want to buy them the smallest GSM repeater that is possible to buy in Iceland, just so that they can get GSM signal inside the house.

Thanks for the support. 🙂

Possibility of a new fissure has opened up in El Hierro volcano eruption

It seems by the harmonic tremor data that a new erupting fissure has opened up somewhere in El Hierro volcano. But given lack of visual observation I do believe that this fissure is at really great depth, and is not leaving any signs on the surface that a new eruption is taking place. Where this new fissure might be is unknown to me at present time. But based on the harmonic tremor data this new eruption seems to be powerful one. It should be expected that new fissures opens up a random while El Hierro volcano is erupting. So far the fissures that have been opening up have been short and out in the ocean. It should also be expect that erupting fissures stop erupting for no reason and with no warning at all. This seems to have happened as I am writing down this blog post.

The harmonic tremor from the eruption in El Hierro volcano yesterday. It can be seen on this harmonic tremor chart that the eruption was powerful all yesterday. Copyright of this picture belongs to IGN (Instituto Geográfico Nacional).

The harmonic tremor around 22:07 UTC. At that time the eruption was in full power as can be seen. Copyright of this picture belongs to IGN (Instituto Geográfico Nacional).

The harmonic tremor at 22:46 UTC. Notice how the drop is sudden when the new eruption fissure stops erupting. What happens is that the magma source that fed the erupting fissure did dry up. Why and how that happens in unknown to me. Copyright of this picture belongs to IGN (Instituto Geográfico Nacional).

This might mean that a new fissure might open up in the next few hours to days. Where that might happen is impossible to know. But as the fissures have been open up so far, it is going to be in a North – south line (about) in El Hierro volcano. What has however become a problem in my opinion is that the magma might have “boiled” the rock and made it soft. So it might not make a earthquakes before a eruption starts in it. This might be the case if the magma has been in the crust for the past 5 weeks. But the only example of that type of event that I know of was in Eyjafjallajökull volcano last year (2010), when a new fissure did open up suddenly and without any earthquakes or warning after 4 weeks of eruption. The reason for that was the same one on what I think might be happening in El Hierro volcano.

From what I can tell, based on data and earthquakes it does not seems that the eruptions in El Hierro volcano are over. As new magma continues to flow in from depth (the mantle). Until that flow stops, El Hierro volcano is going to continue to erupt. However there might be breaks from few hours and up to several weeks between eruptions, in that case no eruption would be taking place. This has its origin in the fact that this is a fissure rift events of shorts, a similar eruption took place in Krafla volcano in Iceland for over a 10 year period. Movement and flash inflation and deflation are also to be expected during this period in El Hierro volcano eruption. As it has many similarities of the eruption in Krafla volcano in Iceland. But it is not exactly the same, just similar. As Krafla volcano is on the inter-plate rift zone. While El Hierro volcano is on a hot spot rift zone, far inside the Africa Plate.

Update on the forum: There have been some technical difficulties with the whois registration. How that works out is not yet clear. I am going to short that issue out before I set-up the forum on the domain. In the case I have to register a new domain name. What happens in this case should be come clear next week I hope.

General update for Katla volcano and El Hierro voclano

This is a general update for Katla volcano and El Hierro volcano.

Katla volcano, Iceland

During the weekend there was a minor dike intrusion into Katla volcano caldera. The largest earthquake in this earthquake swarm was a ML2.1 with the depth of 1.4km. This is among the smallest earthquake swarms in Katla volcano since activity started to increase after the small eruption in July 2011. The reason for this earthquake swarms in Katla volcano are dike intrusions (wiki). Sometimes following this are small glacier floods from Mýrdalsjökull glacier that is on top of the caldera. But that does not seems to have this time around, or the last time there was a dike intrusion in Katla volcano (few weeks ago).

The earthquake activity in Katla volcano during the weekend. Copyright of this picture belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

El Hierro volcano, Canary Islands, Spain

The eruption in El Hierro volcano continues as it has been doing for the past four weeks (almost). But the chance of a new island forming has grown somewhat in the past few days. The main reason for that is that eruption did gain some strength during the past two weeks. The increased strength in the eruption was due to a new injection of magma into El Hierro volcano. Both at the main magma sill and what seems to be a new magma intrusion into El Hierro at depth. That magma has so far not been able to reach the surface and remains at the depth of 20 km or so. But there also seems to be some dike intrusion activity been taking place in the same area, as more magma is injected under El Hierro volcano North West of the town of Frontera (IGN name information).

For that reason the risk of new eruption vents open up in this area is high in my opinion and is going to remain that during this eruption. But it remains to be seen if a new eruptions vents open up in this area. But that depends on the amount of magma that is currently injecting into El Hierro volcano at depth. It is impossible to know for how long new magma is going to get supplied into El Hierro volcano. But so far this process has been ongoing since July, so that is already five months (or about that) that new magma has been flowing into El Hierro volcano.

The formation of new Island off the coast of El Hierro Island is now a real chance. As the erupting vent has build up close enough to the surface of the water to start the Surtsey Island process. That process in it self is going to take few weeks to complete, at least until the crater no longer gets water into it. When the water can no longer into the crater the eruptions turns to lava fountain eruption. A Hawaiian style of eruption to be exact. That progress is going to remain to the end of eruption. But this is only going to happen if the eruption lasts long enough to build a small Island off the coast of El Hierro Island. So far that remains unseen. However the chance for this to happen is good in my view.

There is also worth noticing that this eruption is a bit variable in eruption strength. This can clearly be seen on the harmonic tremor plots that can be viewed online from El Hierro volcano. This is normal, as the flow of magma from inside El Hierro volcano is not stable and can change suddenly. The risk of new fissures to open up without warning remains high in the area around the current eruption vent is also high. The new fissure have the risk of opening up without any earthquakes and warning. To some extent this has already happened during this eruption. But I am not sure the new eruption vents did stay erupting for a long time. This is however most likely to repeat it self regularly during this eruption.

The harmonic tremor in El Hierro volcano on 7 November, 2011 at 09:32 UTC. Copyright of this picture belongs to Instituto Geográfico Nacional.

Off topic: Small apology

Here is a small apology to my readers. I have been a little bit under the weather in past few weeks. There are many reasons for this. But the biggest one is that my plan to live in Denmark failed this summer. But the chance of me moving back to Denmark has lifted my mood again. But I also found that playing computer games helps me dealing with my current status a bit. Because of this under the weather issue. My blog post have not been that good in my view. For that I want to apology. I can’t promise that this won’t happen again while I am living in Iceland. It is also a factor that the darkest time of the year never goes well with me (Mid October to early March).

Short update on El Hierro volcano eruption

This is a short update on El Hierro volcano eruption. As the situation is changing fast this past few hours.

It seems that the eruption in El Hierro volcano is gaining strength and power. The harmonic tremor on the seismomter that is on the El Hierro Island it self has started to get saturated again. It also have been unconfirmed reports of the south fissure growing in size. But so far nothing has happened in the north part of El Hierro volcano. Even if there have been many earthquakes in that area. But this area fell suspicious silent this morning. So something might be up in that area. Update 1: A string of earthquakes happened around 12:00 UTC in this area. Suggesting that something is still up there.

The harmonic tremor at 13:52 UTC. Notice how the tremor has started to saturate the seismometer. Copyright of this picture belongs to Instituto Geográfico Nacional.

What happens next is anyone guess. But people need to be aware that fissure eruptions are sometimes long in terms of the length of the fissure. But that phase normally does not last long, as soon the eruption is going to isolate it self into few craters on the fissure. I also recommend that people read Erik Klemetti blog post about El Hierro from yesterday. If you haven’t already done so.

Increased eruption activity in El Hierro volcano

I was going to post this yesterday. But I fell a sleep at 17:00 UTC and I didn’t wake up until 03:00 UTC.

The eruption in El Hierro volcano continues as it has been doing for past few weeks with little change. The first eruption vent that did open south of El Hierro Island has continued to erupt. But so far no Island has formed and it is unclear if it is going to form, as the depth is great in this area. Since yesterday around 06:00 UTC the harmonic tremor has been increasing. But this suggests that new vents have opened up in the south eruption area. I got some pictures of that yesterday in the email. But they did not show anything new in my view. Thanks to the readers how did send me those pictures.

The current fluctuation in the harmonic tremor from El Hierro suggests that magma is on the move in the north part of El Hierro Island. Both off the coast and maybe inland on the Island where earthquakes have been taking place. It is impossible to know how this is going to develop during the next few hours to days. As that depends on the rock structure of El Hierro Island and earlier eruptions.

Earthquake activity

During the past two weeks the earthquake activity have been growing in the North-west part of El Hierro Island. The reason why this is happening is that a new fissure is about to open in this area. As I have mentioned before in earlier blog posts. When and where is impossible to know for sure. The largest earthquake so far took place this morning, it size was ML4.0 with the depth of 20 km. But this is the automatic data from IGN. This pattern of earthquake activity is most likely going to continue during this eruption process in El Hierro volcano. Since the eruption type here is a fissure eruption.

It is worth noting that earthquakes in once place does not mean that the eruption is going to happen in that place. As the magma can travel in dikes all over the El Hierro Island and show it self anywhere on the Island it self. So the general risk is high in my opinion. The only action that can be taken is to be prepared for sudden eruption of new vents on El Hierro Island. Since there is a good amount of magma on the move inside El Hierro volcano.

The harmonic tremor in El Hierro at 08:54 UTC (when picture is saved). The spikes are earthquakes, and harmonic tremor spikes are the “waves” in the harmonic tremor pattern. Copyright of this picture belongs to Instituto Geográfico Nacional.

Update 1:

* When I wrote this blog post. This two earthquakes took place.

1109584 02/11/2011 08:37:11 27.9267 -18.1084 3 1.7 mbLg NW FRONTERA.IHI
1109582 02/11/2011 08:36:00 27.5986 -17.9594 1 1.9 mbLg S EL PINAR.IHI

This are the most shallow earthquakes that I have seen so far. From the depth it is possible a magma has found a clean path to surface in this two areas. Sadly there is no map. So I am not sure where this earthquakes took place in El Hierro volcano.

Update 1b: The earthquake have been revised. Now the depth is 9 km for the ML1.7 and 22km for the ML1.9.

The shallow earthquake.

1109584 02/11/2011 08:37:11 27.9304 -18.1107 9 1.7 mbLg NW FRONTERA.IHI [+]

I am going to post more information when I know more on what is taking place in El Hierro.

Blog post updated at 11:24 UTC on 2 November, 2011

Special report: Rift zone eruption continues at El Hierro volcano

This is going to be a short blog post about what is going on in El Hierro. But I have a longer blog post planned for tomorrow.

The current eruption in El Hierro volcano is a fissure eruption. As such a new eruption vent can be expected for the time while magma continues to be injected into El Hierro volcano from depth (28+ km). When a new fissure starts to open it is pre-seeded by a swarm of earthquakes. Lack of this knowledge, or some type of ignorance about this fact has me worried that a eruption. As there is a real risk of eruption happening close to a populated area in El Hierro. It is also a fact that a new fissure can open up extremely fast and with no warning at all. Since when the magma reaches the surface there is no guarantee that the fissure is going to open up with a swarm of earthquakes. In most cases that I know about, the eruption fissure opens up with no earthquakes at all and with no earthquakes. The only earthquakes that take place is when the magma is breaking a path up to the surface.

Earthquakes during the last 10 days in El Hierro volcano. The new magma injection appears clearly with earthquakes ion this map. Copyright of this picture belongs to Instituto Geográfico Nacional.

All earthquakes in El Hierro volcano since July. The new magma injection appears clearly on this map. Copyright of this picture belongs to Instituto Geográfico Nacional.

At this moment it is unclear if the new magma injection has got into contact with the magma that started to inject under El Hierro volcano in July 2011. If that happens the two magma injections are going to merge. But what happens after that is unknown to me. As I have never seen that type of process happen before.

When the El Hierro island is viewed from above it is clear that there are eruption periods where the El Hierro Island is covered with eruption cones in fissure eruptions. It is close to impossible to know if that this the case now or not. But I fear that it might be the case, as it has been long time since El Hierro erupted last time and the Island grows in fissure eruption jumps that take some time to pass over. One such eruption period jump appears to have started on 10 October, 2011. How long it is going to last depends on how large it is going to be. But this is going to last more then few weeks. But there are going to be breaks in between eruption episodes in El Hierro.

The harmonic tremor in El Hierro just before midnight of 28 October, 2011. The spikes are earthquakes N to NW of El Hierro Island. Copyright of this picture belongs to Instituto Geográfico Nacional.

There has been some drop in harmonic tremors from the first (and only?) eruption vent just outside the coast of El Hierro. This means that it might be closing up. But that is normal for this type of eruption. When this eruption vent closes up or just before it closes up. A new eruption vent is going to open up at new location. As the magma inside El Hierro volcano supports that in my opinion. When and where is the unknown factor in this equation.

As for the question on how long this eruption period could last. I am hoping that it is going to be over when I move to Canary Islands (maybe El Hierro Island) in about 4 to 10 years time (at the latest). But this type of eruption take a long time to finish. So covering this eruption(s) is going to be ongoing for some time now.

Special report: New magma intrusion into El Hierro volcano, Canary Islands, Spain

Few days ago a new magma intrusion did start in El Hierro volcano, Canary Islands, Spain. But this means that the pressure is increasing inside El Hierro current magma still. The new magma is going the same path as before, and is forming a new sill north-west part of El Hierro volcano. It seems that this magma has not yet encountered the magma that is already inside El Hierro volcano. What happens when the new magma encounters the slightly older magma is a open question. But I am sure what happens is going to be interesting and is going to create a new eruption vent in my opinion.

The new magma intrusion in El Hierro. It is not yet in contact with the existing magma in El Hierro. It is hard to know exactly what happens when the new magma gets into contact with the magma that is already in El Hierro. Copyright of this picture belongs to Instituto Geográfico Nacional.

What is really interesting about this new magma is that this seems to be a new intrusion from a new conduct below El Hierro. This conduct does not appear in the earthquakes that started in July 2011 to today. There is a great risk that more new conducts are going to open up under El Hierro in this same manner. But this means that new magma can start to flow into El Hierro at new point under El Hierro. But that is always marked by a increase in earthquake activity where a new magma intrusion starts in El Hierro. This new magma intrusion into El Hierro appears to be rather small at the moment. But it is most likely going to grow over the next few weeks.

Current harmonic tremor levels in El Hierro volcano. Given by the current harmonic tremor level this eruption remains small. But the harmonic tremor is poorly to not being detected on nearby Canary Islands. The spike in the tremor plot is a earthquake. Copyright of this picture belongs to Instituto Geográfico Nacional.

It seems that IGN did rescale the tremor plot in the early beginning of the eruption. Making me draw false conclusions on what was going on in El Hierro. But it seems that the eruption is stable and has been from the beginning. But so far this is a small eruption, based on the tremor data. I say it is small because the harmonic tremor is not detected about ~60 km away from El Hierro. As a example in the eruption of Grímsfjall volcano, the harmonic tremor was detected clearly up to ~200 km away from the eruption. But the harmonic tremor signals how much magma is moving inside a volcano up to the surface. But not how explosive the eruption is. But explosions can and are detected on seismometers when a eruption goes explosive.

If anything major happens in El Hierro. I am going to update this blog post.

Special report: Update 6 on the eruption in El Hierro, Canary Islands, Spain

Special note: Please notice that my (personal) watching system is also going to include the mainland of Spain (mainland Spain has two volcanoes that I am aware of, along with some earthquake activity) when I change it next month, along with Canary Islands. Everything else is also going to be a subject to a special reports if the event is important enough. That is not always going to be case however. But I am going to post more details on this in the beginning of next month.
Little seems to have changed in the eruption of El Hierro since my last update on it. That was on 19 October, 2011. Harmonic tremor is constant, but appears to have dropped a little in the past few days. But with the fluctuation that is often increases again before it drops down again. This means that the eruption is ongoing, but is loosing power to continue at current eruption vent. This was not unexpected. This has however not slowed down inflation in El Hierro from what I can gather on GPS data on El Hierro.

As the current eruption vents close down it seems that earthquakes have started again under El Hierro. But the earthquakes have the depth from 28 km and up to around 5 km. This strongly suggests that new magma is entering under El Hierro and is again increasing the pressure inside the El Hierro magma sill (or chamber, but note that El Hierro does not have a stable magma chamber it seems). This increases earthquakes while the magma does not have any good path up to the surface. When a new path for the magma starts to form again, a large earthquake swarm is going to take place in El Hierro. It is not going to be anything bigger then already has taken place in El Hierro already. With the largest earthquakes going up to Mb5.0 in size. That is at least my opinion.

All the earthquakes that have happened in El Hierro since magma intrusions started in July 2011. This pictures clearly shows in my view the amount of magma (in terms of size, not volume) that is under El Hierro at the moment. As it is marked on the outer layers by the earthquakes. Copyright of this picture belongs to Instituto Geográfico Nacional.

The harmonic tremor in El Hierro at midnight on 21 October, 2011. As can be seen, it fluctuates a little bit. Copyright of this picture belongs to Instituto Geográfico Nacional.

The major risk in the current eruption cycle of El Hierro is the risk that new eruption vent is going to open up nearby a human population without warning. But El Hierro has a lot of cinder cones from earlier eruption cycles. That creates the risk that a new eruption vent is going to open up on dry land without warning. But it is impossible to know when and where that might happen.

Claims that this eruption in El Hierro is going to create tsunami due to landslides are false and have no basic in fact or reality. As landslides are unlikely to happen in this eruption episode or if a eruption happens on dry land.

Special Report: Update 2 on the eruption in El Hierro

This is a special report on the eruption in El Hierro. This is also a good time (as any) to announce that I plan to write about volcanoes in Canary Islands in the future. As I plan on moving to the Canary Islands in about 10 years time (no reason to start late on this). But I have already induced the Canary Islands volcanoes into my personal watch system. But I have my own personal system to watch volcanoes in Iceland and now Canary Islands. However, Canary Islands are not part of my personal emergency system until I move to Canary Islands.

Update to the name of this blog is going to happen soon, but I am not sure when. But I am going to move in a about 10 years time (going to live in Denmark until that happens). Until then, they are going to go into special report group and only major events are going to be blogged about. Please note that this might change if I move earlier to Canary Islands then I now plan.


The eruption in El Hierro volcano continues today, as it did yesterday. But the strength of the eruption appears to have dropped today from what it was yesterday. But this does not mean that the eruption is over. It just means that the current fissure that is erupting is about to close up, mostly due to the material that it has been ejecting into the ocean floor. That means a new fissure or vents is about to open up somewhere. When and where is impossible to know. But this is the nature of volcanoes that erupt in this manner, but El Hierro is a shield volcano [second link here]. Good examples are Krafla volcano and Vestmannaeyjar Island volcano. Both of those volcanoes are in Iceland.

Today around 14:20 UTC there was a sharp tremor drop in El Hierro. This means that the magma flow dropped in the current eruption fissure. This also means that if the pressure is not enough that fissure is going to stop erupting. Because of this has happened a new fissure or a vent should be expect at any time as I have told before. When and where that might happen is impossible to know, as that outcome depends on where the magma finds its pathways inside the volcano. There might not be any earthquakes before this happens, as the rock is unlikey to be hard enough to make them. Some small earthquakes might happen if the rock layer is hard enough. Today few deep earthquakes have been recorded. This means that new magma is getting into El Hierro volcano from the mantle (where no earthquakes happen). This also means that this eruption might take place for some time now. But it is impossible to know for how long, as there might be a lot of magma flowing up from the mantle it self and up to El Hierro volcano.

The harmonic tremor and the drop in the harmonic tremor today. Copyright of this picture belongs to Instituto Geográfico Nacional.

Many people have been wondering why this eruption has not been seen. The fact is that depth drops quiet fast around El Hierro Island. Around 4 km out the depth is close to 1.5 to 2 km, it is only close to the island that the depth starts to get shallower. At the moment is is hard to say what happens next in this eruption on El Hierro. But more vents should be expect to open up then have already have.

I am going to update this blog post if anything changes in El Hierro volcano eruption.