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This information is going to get outdated quickly.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)

Deep earthquake in Hamarinn volcano

Yesterday (21-March-2014) an extremly deep earthquake took place in Hamarinn volcano (part of Bárðarbunga volcano often called Loki-Fögrufjöll). The magnitude of this earthquake was just 1,4 but its depth was around 29,7 km. The location of this earthquake was just 10,4 km North-East of Hamarinn volcano (main). So it possibly was inside Hamarinn main volcano system, but I am not sure on that detail.

The earthquake activity in Hamarinn volcano and Öræfajökull volcano. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Meteorological Office.

Earthquakes that take place this depth happen due to magma movement or small dike intrusion at depth. I don’t know what is the actual case here, this might just be an earthquake at depth. The crust has the depth of 40 km at this location (study on this can be found here) due to hotspot [second link here] activity that has increased the thickness of the crust. Last eruption in Hamarinn volcano was in July 2011, it was an minor eruption that took place and lasted just for few hours and did not breach the glacier.

Post updated at 21:02 UTC.

Deep earthquake in Hamarinn volcano

Today (25-February-2014) at 09:49 UTC an deep earthquake took place in Hamarinn volcano (is under Bárðarbunga volcano at GVP database as Loki-Fögrufjöll). This earthquake had the depth of 29,6 km and magnitude of 1,8. This means it was created by magma movement rather then tectonic forces.

The earthquake that had the depth of 29,6 km is located 12,5 km south of Hamarinn (64,417 -17,605). Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Meteorological Office.

Hamarinn volcano last erupted in July 2011 [coverage of that can be found here] in an minor eruption that lasted for few hours but resulted in glacier flood in the area. Since then activity has dropped, but over the recent months it has been picking up again slowly. So far it is just earthquakes at depth. Harminn volcano is highly active volcano, even if it is not constantly erupting at the moment. The reason is that it is almost centre above the hot spot fuels the eruption activity in this area.

Blog post updated at 21:28 UTC.

Waiting for the eastern Skaftá glacier cauldron

The glacier flood in Skaftá glacier river is almost over or is over at present time (21-January-2014). This however does not mean that everything is over. Since there are two cauldrons in the Vatnajökull glacier in the Hamarinn volcano it means there is more water stored there now then has now flooded from the glacier. It is now clear that the eastern Skaftá glacier cauldron in Vatnajökull glacier has not emptied it self in this flood from the western Skaftá glacier cauldron.

The eastern (Eystri) and western (Vestari) cauldrons in Vatnajökull glacier. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Meteorological Office.

When the eastern glacier cauldron empties it self they are expecting a lot larger glacier flood to take place. Since there is a lot more water holding up in the eastern Skaftá glacier cauldron. It is also longer since it flooded and emptied it self. Last glacier flood from the eastern Skaftá glacier cauldron was in the year 2010. More information on how this flood system works can be found here (in Icelandic) on Icelandic university website geology department.

Glacier flood started in Skaftár glacier river

It was announced today (19-January-2014) that glacier flood has started in Skaftá glacier river (or connected rivers) from Skjaftár cauldrons in Vatnajökull glacier. Currently the water is discharging from Skaftár cauldrons at the rate of 370 m3/s according to Icelandic Meteorological Office. So far no changes have taken place in harmonic tremors close to Hamarinn volcano where the Skaftár cauldrons lie within Vatnajökull glacier.

Smell of hydrogen sulphide has been detected by people living close the rivers that the glacier flood is discharging into. There is a considerable risk of poisoning if people get to close the rivers that hold the flood water. It is currently believed that it is the western Skaftár cauldron that is now emptying, that one did empty it self back the in the year 2012. That is however not going to be confirmed until the area can be checked by flying over it and see what is taking place at this location. That might take few days since it is dependent on weather when it is possible to do such flight.

Location of Skaftár cauldrons in Vatnajökull glacier. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Meteorological Office. Picture is taken from Icelandic Meteorological Office Facebook page.

The current flood in Skaftár glacier river. The water monitoring stations around Vatnajökull glacier. Red stations are monitored for floods, black ones are normal flow stations. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Meteorological Office. Picture is taken from Icelandic Meteorological Office Facebook page.

Uncertainty level has been declared in the area do to this glacier flood by the Civil Protection and Emergency Management in Iceland. It is advised against people travelling in the area while this glacier flood takes place. On Vatnajökull glacier there is also a risk of new cracks forming in the glacier was the cauldron is emptied of water in the next few days. This cracks are dangerous and really deep and wide on the top, but get narrower closer to the end of them. It is possible to monitor the glacier flood here on Icelandic Meteorological Office website.

Icelandic news about this. Some English text is in some of the news. It is possible to use Google Translate on this, but result can be unreliable.

Skaftárhlaup er mjög líklega hafið (Rú, maps, English text)
Skaftárhlaup hafið en það vex óvenju hægt (Rú, Icelandic, maps)
Óvissustig vegna Skaftárhlaups (Rú, Icelandic, maps)

Skaftárhlaup er hafið (, English text)
Óvissustig vegna Skaftárhlaups (, Icelandic)
Fundað um næstu skref (, Icelandic)

Post updated at 20:34 UTC on 19-January-2014.

Rate of eruptions in Iceland

Donation note: I am currently working on a new solution for people to support my work and effort here. It is still possible to donate directly via Paypal by using my email address ( if you have Paypal account. I have removed the subscription option since I hope to be able close down my Paypal account no later than on 1-Febuary-2014. As things are turning out I am not going to use and at the moment I do not have any account with them.

Update on donations: Since my other options have not worked out. I am going to keep Paypal as an way to get donations. As explained before I can not have the regular donation button due to requirement that Paypal has. There is nothing I can do about it since I do not want to risk loosing my Paypal account since I am going to be using it.

There is a common believe that eruptions in Iceland happens in Iceland every 3 to 5 years. According to this believe the next eruption in Iceland should take place around the year 2014 to 2016. The reality of this is far more complex than common believe is in this matters. It is true that eruptions are common in Iceland, but it is not the same to say that eruption happens at regular intervals. For instance the longest break in 20th century since proper documentation of eruptions started was 7 years (Krafla 1984 and then Hekla in 1991). Then there are shorter time periods between eruptions as happened in the year 2011 when no more than three eruptions took place in that year. Two minor ones and one large one. The minor eruptions took place in Grímsfjall volcano (largest eruption in 140 years) and smaller eruptions in Katla volcano (lasted for ~10 hours) and in Hamarinn volcano (~16 hours). Then we had a minor explosion (no eruption) in Kverkfjöll volcano during the summer of 2013 [coverage link on it here and here].

It is not uncommon in Iceland to have several eruption from several volcanoes at the same time or over few month period during the year. It has happened in the history of Iceland and can happen again. It is also not uncommon not to have any eruption in Iceland for a long time and quiet scene last for several years. Currently it is quiet in Iceland but the history has shown that it is not always so. For more details on eruptions in Iceland I reccomend this blog post ( and this overview from Icelandic Meteorological Office.

Blog post updated at 22:10 UTC.
Blog post updated on 10-November-2013 at 23:40 UTC.

Interesting earthquake activity in Hamarinn volcano

Over the past few days interesting earthquake activity has been taking place in Hamarinn volcano. The earthquakes have been aligning along two east-west lines. Possibly an fissure in the volcano. I am not sure why this is happening, but I did record one earthquake from Hamarinn volcano today (07-September-2013) and that trace suggests this earthquakes have there origin in magma movements in the Hamarinn volcano. That has not yet been confirmed and this might never be confirmed due to lack of data. Largest earthquake so far had the magnitude of 2.2 at the depth of 4.5 km.

Hamarinn volcano earthquake activity. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Meteorological Office.

Last eruption in Hamarinn volcano was on 11 – 12-July-2011. It was an minor eruption and I did cover it here and here. Small eruptions are common in Icelandic volcanoes just as the are in other volcanoes around the world. Before the minor eruption in the year 2011 there was several months of earthquake activity in Hamarinn volcano. The area that now has this earthquake activity is the same area that had this minor eruption in the year 2011. I do not know if current activity is an early indicator that it is going to happen again. It however cannot be ruled out currently. What can be done is to monitor current levels of activity and just wait and see what happens next.

Earthquake activity in several volcanoes

Today (04-September-2013) had some minor earthquake activity in several volcanoes in Vatnajökull glacier. All of this earthquakes were small and less than magnitude 3.0 in size.

Kverkfjöll volcano

The deepest earthquake activity was in Kverkfjöll, with earthquakes at 31 km depth and 24 km depth. This deep earthquake activity is possible connected to magma movements since tectonic earthquakes are unlikely to take place this deep in the crust.

Grímsfjall volcano

One earthquake was recorded in Grímsfjall volcano, it was minor and shallow. This might even just be a glacier quake, rather than normal earthquake.

Öræfajökull volcano

Öræfajökull volcano did see two earthquake today, at the depth of 4 to 5 km. Both were small and tectonic in nature from the looks of it. Earthquakes are not common in Öræfajökull volcano so I am not sure why this increase has now taken place. It is worth noticing that sil network is now more sensitive in this area than before since new stations have been added in this area. This means that smaller earthquakes are now being detected than before.

Esjufjöll volcano

Esjufjöll volcano had two earthquake, the third earthquake might be a ice-quake. I am not sure if it was an real earthquake or not. Esjufjöll volcano normally do not have any earthquake activity, but few years ago an earthquake activity started with earthquakes that had magnitude of 2.5 to 3.0 so there is something going on in this volcano. What that might be I am not sure of yet.

Earthquake activity in Kverkfjöll, Öræfajökull, Esjufjöll, Grímsfjall volcanoes. All small earthquakes. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Meteorological Office.

I do not expect anything major to take place in Vatnajökull volcano. Since the current quiet period in Iceland just seems to be ongoing as is.

Minor dike intrusion into Bárðarbunga – Hamarinn volcanoes

It seems that yesterday (02-September-2013) a minor dike intrusion took place in Bárðarbunga – Hamarinn volcanoes. This created an minor harmonic tremor yesterday on nearby sil stations. There were earthquakes following this events, the strongest one had the magnitude of 2.8 at the depth of 14 km. A second earthquake with the magnitude of 2.1 took place few moments later, it had the depth of 15.5 km. Only one smaller earthquake have seen taken place in this area of Bárðarbunga – Hamarinn volcanoes.

The earthquake activity in Báðarbunga – Hamarinn volcano area. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Meteorological Office.

It is important to notice that dike intrusions are common in this area, often happen many times a year. How many takes place can vary between years. That dike intrusion took place does not mean an eruption is going to take place. It just means that magma moved, what that means for the future is unknown at present time.

Donations: It would be nice if people donated so that I can buy food this month. In other case I am going to have to eat really little this month and I am not happy about such things taking place.

Blog post updated at 21:43 UTC on 3-September-2013.

Interesting harmonic signals appearing around Vatnajökull glacier

In the past few hours an interesting harmonic signals have been taking place on two sil stations (so far) around Vatnajökull glacier. I do not know what is creating this harmonic tremor spikes on them, it might be water on the move or starting to move from Skaftár cauldron in Vatnajökull glacier or it might be something different that I do not know about at present time. Currently the source of this harmonic tremor is unknown and it might never been known in the worst case. I do hope to figure out in next few hours what is creating this harmonic tremor spikes on this two sil stations.

The harmonic tremor signal at Skrokkalda sil station. The harmonic tremor signal can be found at the end of the tremor plot. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Meteorological Office.

The harmonic tremor signal at Jökulsel sil station. It is at the end of the tremor plot. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Meteorological Office.

As I say above, the source of this tremor signal is not known. It might be bad weather in the area, traffic (unlikely due to bad weather in this part of Iceland at the moment) or something that is not known at the moment. What I can rule out at the moment is this harmonic tremor signal does not appear to come from magma movement, the frequency of the harmonic tremor is too high for that at the moment and does not show little to no energy at 0.5 to 1 Hz band. This suggest the source is something else then magma, this however does not rule out magma. Since magma is known to due many strange things under pressure and high frequency harmonic tremors are not unknown, but they are unlikely to take place rather than being a common feature in volcano activity.

For the moment the best thing that can be done is to monitor the signal and see if there are any changes and on the nearby sil stations. For the moment I do not expect any major change in this area, risk of glacier flood is still in place for this part of Vatnajökull glacier. If this harmonic tremor signal connects to that is not known at the moment.