Earthquake activity in Askja volcano

During the week there has been a swarm of minor earthquakes in Askja volcano. All of the earthquakes have been small and none have reached magnitude 2,0 far as I know.

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Askja volcano is the volcano most south on this image (the volcano on the end). Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

There is nothing suggesting that current earthquake swarms are due to magma movements at shallow depths. This is rather hydrothermal activity changes in the volcano due the it being warmed up by new magma entering it and warming up groundwater inside the volcano. That has happened before in earlier eruptions and is documented, the time scale of such changes is not documented far as I know.

Askja volcano started for prepare for an eruption phase in 2010, so far nothing suggest that an eruption is imminent, but it remains a question if the push from Bárðarbunga volcano has changed anything in Askja volcano.

Article updated at 18:56 UTC.

Update on Askja and Bárðarbunga volcanoes at 17:49 UTC

This information is going to get outdated quickly.

This is the weekend edition of my regular updates on activity in Bárðarbunga and Askja volcano. They are shorter and might not contain all the information on what is going on.

Current status on Askja volcano

  • Askja continues to be on Yellow alert.
  • Dyke does not seems to have any progress moving into Askja volcano system. Reason why that is are unknown.
  • Earthquake activity appears to have dropped in Askja for the past 24 hour period.

Current status on Bárðarbunga volcano

  • Largest earthquake for the past 24 hours is a magnitude 5,4 earthquake that took place at 07:03 UTC. It took place in south-west part of Bárðarbunga volcano. It did appear clearly on my geophones and they can be viewed here.
  • Eruption has been confirmed to have taken place on 23-August-2014. That eruption did not manage to break the trough the glacier since it is 400 to 600 meters thick were the eruption took place.
  • Most earthquake activity is taking place on 15 km long line in the Dyke, starting at the location were the eruption took place and goes some 15 km south from that location. Dyke does not seems to be moving north at the moment.
  • Eruption is now considered more likely in Bárðarbunga volcano it self than before.
  • Last large eruption that took place in Bárðarbunga volcano was in 1717. According to Global Volcanism Program that eruption was an VEI 3 eruption.
  • Eruption can happen in slopes of Bárðarbunga volcano, also in its caldera. The glacier in the caldera is up to 800 meters thick (+- 100 meters).
  • Earthquake activity is stable, with over 1000 to 2000 earthquakes recorded daily so far.

GPS data

Icelandic Met Office has released GPS data and it can be viewed here.

Storm warning

There is going to be a storm in Iceland on Sunday. This means fewer earthquakes are going to be detected due the wind noise.

News bits in English

Eruption at Bardarbunga now more likely (Rúv.is)
Fresh ice cracks in Bárðarbunga? (mbl.is)

Updates during the weekend

I am going to post updates during the weekends. I do however need to take a little break since I’ve been working and writing about Bárðarbunga for the past two weeks. So updates on weekends are going to be shorter and less detailed than on working days (Monday – Fridays). If eruption happens I am going to post information about that eruption soon as I become aware of it and details soon as possible.

Article updated at 17:52 UTC.
Article updated at 18:10 UTC.
Article updated at 19:01 UTC. I corrected information about the dyke earthquake location.

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.

Update on Askja and Bárðarbunga volcanoes at 22:21 UTC

This is a short update on Askja and Bárðarbunga volcanoes. This information is going to get outdated quickly. I am not going to use pictures from now on (in most cases), since the situation now is complex and is going to go more complex as this goes on.

If you are first time commenter I need to approve your comment once. I have the comment section set-up this way in order to prevent spam getting  into the comment section. I have enabled registration and registered users don’t need to deal with the word challenge. I had to close it a while ago due to spam bot problem that were registering on my website. I also need to approve all comments that have more than three links in them.

Askja volcano

  • The dyke from Bárðarbunga volcano continues its journey into Askja. It has not yet reached Askja magma chamber. When that is going to happen is unclear at the moment.
  • Activity has been picking up in Askja due to stress changed from the dyke.

 Bárðarbunga volcano

  • Dyke activity continues at similar rate as before. It is now moving about 1 – 2 km a day according to latest news. The dyke has reached Askja volcano main system, it has not reached Askja main magma chamber. Once that is breached earthquake activity along with harmonic tremor in Askja is going to trough the roof.
  • Eruption on 23-August-2014 has been confirmed. It only lasted for 1 – 2 hours before it died down. I think current ideas why it happened are wrong. From my perspective it happened due to magma pressure inside Bárðarbunga magma chamber reaching a high point (highest so far). This did mean that the dyke was not able to tap off the magma chamber at fast enough rate for a short while. Allowing magma to breach the crust at other locations. While this was a short event, this suggests that magma is coming into Bárðarbunga magma chamber at depth. So far the volume that is flowing in is low for the moment. I suspect that might change at any time and without any warning.
  • The reason why the ice cauldron did not appear sooner is that it took the water some time to dig its own path trough the glacier. Why it did go to Grímsvötn lake (Grímsfjall volcano) I do not knwo.
  • Earthquake activity remains high in the north end of the dyke. Earthquake activity is present in Bárðarbunga volcano (main volcano), but it is not constant at the moment. That might change without warning.
  • No dyke activity so far going south of Bárðarbunga volcano.
  • Cracks appearing in the crust suggest that the dyke depth is only about 2 km at most. This has also allowed for groundwater warning up in areas. This has been seen under areas were the glacier is thin. This is creating hot springs and hydrothermal areas along the dyke path.
  • Inflation so far is around 40 cm to the east and west. There is nothing to suggest it is going to slow down at the moment.
  • This might be a long eruption once it starts. How long I do not know. At most some years, as has happened in Bárðarbunga volcano in the past.
  • Today there has been minor “quiet” time in Bárðrabunga. Harmonic tremor has been stable and no cycle of up and down has taken place. In my view that might change in next hours. I am already seeing changes in the tremor plot that suggest this.

The situation is highly dynamic and is going to change rapidly at times. So this information is going to get outdated quickly for that reason. For wind, weather and earthquake information in Iceland please check Iceland Met Office website. My geophone website can be viewed here.

Article updated at 23:33 UTC.

Update on Bárðarbunga and Askja volcanoes at 13:34 UTC

This is a none picture update on Askja and Bárðarbunga volcanoes. The reason for this none picture update is that I haven’t had time to work on the images yet. This is the first time this has happened in Iceland since modern recording started. What is going to come out of this I do not know yet.

If you are in the area. Please don’t go into the closed area. There are fines for during so and it is also extremely dangerous since we don’t know properly what happens and risk of sudden flood is high and growing. Eruption might start at any time without warning, both outside the glacier and inside the glacier. If an eruption takes place in a glacier covered area, that means sudden glacier flood that are going to kill you if you are in flood path. In such glacier flood it is not just mud, volcano material, but also an ice bergs that are larger than 5 floor houses. If you get lost in such flood, the chance of being rescued from such flood are none. If you want to watch what is now unfolding do so at the save distance, this show is going to big according to my earliest estimate and guess work (not going to publish that here).

Askja volcano

  • The dyke from Bárðarbunga volcano has entered Askja volcano. Not the fissure swarm, the volcano it self.
  • Askja volcano status has been elevated to Yellow.

Bárðarbunga volcano

  • Cauldrons in Vatnajökull glacier that is on top of Bárðarbunga volcano have not grown during the night.
  • The water seems to be flowing into Grímsvötn (Grímsfjall volcano) lake. It has risen close to 15 meters in the past few days.
  • Earthquake activity is high. Both in the main volcano were a magnitude 5,4 earthquake (EMSC magnitude, USGS magnitude) took place today (28-August-2014) at 08:13 UTC. The earthquake took place in the caldera rim as most of the large earthquakes have happened.
  • Over 1300 earthquakes happened yesterday in the north end of the dyke swarm.
  • Cracks have started to happen in the crust above the dyke. This means the dyke is getting wider and is higher up in the crust then suggested by earthquake activity. There are reports of small cauldrons in Dyngjujökull glacier in the area, in the place were the glacier is thinnest and ending.
  • Harmonic tremor remains high on all SIL stations around Bárðarbunga volcano.

The situation is extremely dynamic and is going to change fast in next 24 to 48 hours. I am now close to 80% sure that an eruption is going to take place in both Askja volcano and Bárðarbunga volcano, since minor eruptions have been taking place under the glacier already.

Magnitude 4,5 earthquake in Askja volcano

Today (27-August-2014) at 01:52 UTC a magnitude 4,5 earthquake took place in Askja volcano. This is the largest earthquake in Askja volcano since 1992 according to news in Iceland. There are currently some minor earthquake taking place in Askja volcano at this moment, but they are far smaller then this event.

140827_1100
The earthquake in Askja volcano is marked by the green star on this map. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

This earthquake activity in Askja volcano appears to be taking place due to stress changes in the area. This stress changes happen due the dyke activity from Bárðarbunga volcano in the past week. I am expecting more earthquakes in this area in the next days to months due to this. Some of those earthquakes are going to be outside of volcanic areas and might have magnitude above 5,0. This earthquake did appear on my geophone and can be viewed here.

Bárðarbunga volcano update at 20:49 UTC

This information is going to get outdated quickly. Minor spelling note. It appears that dike is spelled with a simple “i” not a “y”. Information on what volcano dyke is can be found here on USGS website. Added: That is in U.S English, UK English uses Dyke so I am going to use UK English. Thanks to Squonk to pointing me to this information.

Special note on Askja volcano

There are many people speculating that the dyke might reach into Askja volcano. I find that to be unlikely outcome. That does not appear to have happen in the past and I don’t think the geology setting allows for it. The area is full of old dykes that have cooled into granite type of rock (and other hard types of rock) in the crust (this is a volcano area and I find this to be likely). Given the density and how hard granite is I find it unlikely that this magma is going to break it. It has been crossing softer rock in the crust for the past week. What I can’t rule out is that Bárðarbunga volcano might start an eruption in Askja volcano by some other mechanism that might or might not be well understood. Askja volcano did start to prepare for eruption cycle in the year 2010 (earthquake swarm at 20 km depth was the clue), but the process appears to be slow, at least the volcano doesn’t appear to be ready for an eruption as things look now.

Special note on Tungnafellsjökull volcano

Yesterday (24-August-2014) an magnitude 3,0 earthquake took place in Tungafellsjökull volcano, a small volcano west of Bárðarbunga volcano. There had been few other earthquakes also yesterday, just smaller. Currently there is nothing suggesting that Tungafellsjökull volcano is about to erupt. There has been earthquake activity taking place in Tungafellsjökull volcano during the past year, suggesting that the volcano is experiencing flow of new magma at depth (more then 15 km depth), but there isn’t anything to suggest that an eruption is imminent in it. There is also a good chance that current earthquake activity in Tungafellsjökull volcano is due to stress changes in the crust that are taking place due to the caldera of Bárðarbunga volcano is getting lower (more on that later in this article). I don’t think Bárðarbunga volcano is able to start an eruption in Tungnafellsjökull volcano, but this is also an volcano that has never erupted during historical times and current data suggest it might not have erupted at all during the last 10.000 years (or more). Tungafellsjökull volcano is located west of Bárðarbunga volcano, it has a green star on it currently (as of this writing) on Icelandic Met Office earthquake maps.

Bárðarbunga volcano update

Earthquake activity remains strong in Bárðarbunga volcano. Medium sized (magnitude 5,0 – 5,9) earthquakes (more information here)) have been taking place as the caldera gives away due to outflow of magma from the magma chamber in Bárðarbunga volcano. This appears to be happening due to less inflow of magma from depth (the mantle). The crust in this part of Iceland is up to 46 km thick due the mantle plume beneath it (more information in details here, warning a large pdf file). The lowering of the caldera is creating stress changes in the area. What the end result of that is going to be I don’t know, since the crust is slower to respond, but as more stress is build up in the area this way stronger earthquakes can be expected at later time.

Currently the dyke is now at location that last erupted in the year 1797, it has remained bit unclear if it was Bárðarbunga or Askja that started that eruption. Chemical analyse says the lava is from Bárðarbunga volcano, not Askja volcano. This is according to the news I did hear today. Currently the dike north end is now 20 km east of Trölladyngja. Earthquake activity has been picking up and increasing in that area for the past 24 hours. It however doesn’t appear to be as high as it is on the main area of the dyke (about 20 km ENE of Kistufell, north of Dyngjujökull glacier, just check the earthquake map if you are confused by this).

140825_2015
The earthquake activity for the past 48 hours in Bárðarbunga volcano. Green stars show earthquakes with higher magnitudes then 3,0. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

140825_2015_trace
The earthquake activity during the past 48 hours in Bárðarbunga volcano has been dense. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

dyn.svd.25.08.2014.at.20.25.utc
Harmonic tremor remains high on Dyngjuháls SIL station. It goes up and down in accordance with the magma inflow into the dike. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

ask.svd.25.08.2014.at.20.32.utc
Harmonic tremor is also high on Askja SIL station. Same movement can be seen as on Dyngjuháls SIL station. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

DYNC_3mrap.svd.25.08.2014.at.17.39.utc
GPS data shows that more magma has flowed into the dyke during the past 24 hour. More GPS stations can be found here. Copyright of this image belongs to University of Iceland.

In the news today in Iceland I have seen that there is now some discussion that this dyke might not erupt at all. Since it appears both to be getting deeper in some areas and there are currently no signs of it going upwards. The problem with this is the idea is in my view based on wrong parameters so I don’t agree with it. This dyke is going to erupt in my view, it is just a matter of time now. It might not erupt, that is always a possibility. I just think it is highly unlikely to be the outcome of all of this. This dyke is going to continue making a path for it self until it hits a resistance in the crust it cannot break after that it is going to go up, since its easier path for it, rather then to go down into the crust where its path has more resistance. When that might happen is something that I do not know.

Article updated at 21:03 UTC.
Article updated at 21:26 UTC.
Article updated at 00:13 UTC on 26-August-2014.
Article updated at 10:35 UTC on 26-August-2014.

More details on the landslide in Askja volcano

Over the past few days scientists from Icelandic Meteorological Office and University of Iceland, geology department have been studying the massive landslide in Askja volcano. The area is considered unstable as is and might remain unstable for the next year and even longer. Risk of new landslide in Askja is not higher now than normal, but even so the walking paths around Askja lake are going to remain closed due to changes that took place when the flood wave hit the volcanic crater coastline following the landslide.

It remains unclear why this landslide took place. It does not seem that wet soil is the reason for this, as was originally thought. Some speculation have been that this might be due to increased hydrothermal (hot springs) activity in Askja volcano. Nothing has yet been proven on what did cause this large landslide. There have also been news items that a earlier landslide around the same size might have taken place in Askja volcano in the years 1902 to 1960 (exact date is not known). Current size estimates are that the landslide is around 50 million cubic meters in size and around 700 meters wide at the top. More research is going to give more details on this landslide in the future. The seismic signal and following harmonic tremor that was detected following this landslide has a detailed analyse here on Icelandic Meteorological Office website.

If more landslides do happen in Askja volcano I am going to publish that information soon as possible. If more information is going to be published I am going to post them soon as possible.

Donations: Please remember to donate to support my work. Due to my move to Iceland in December I have updated the information here. Please take a note of the changes that are going to take place in January 2015. Thanks for the support.

Article updated at 00:10 UTC on 26-July-2014.

Updated information on Askja volcano landslide

This is a short update on Askja volcano landslide.

Travel ban is still in effect to Askja volcano. Parts of it are going to be lifted later today or tomorrow, but access to Askja lake is going to remain forbidden at least until Friday, after estimates on risk of new landslides have been performed by Icelandic Meteorological Office and Civil Protection in Iceland (Almannavarnir). Risk of new landslides taking place in this area remains and might remain for many months to come. It is now estimated that 50 to 60 million cubic meters of material did collapse down into Askja lake, but with only part of the material ending up into the lake it self. New estimates on the flood waves that where created now put them around 50 meters high, there was also not one wave that took place, but it is now estimated that four waves took place once the landslide hit the water.

Hiking paths to Askja volcano and Víti have been closed due landslide risk in the area around Askja lake. Please respect this closure since this area is now highly unstable and more landslides might fall without warning.

Update 1: The landslide (or rock slide as IMO calls this) is now estimated to be around 1 km wide. The tsunami waves that followed this landslide in Askja lake are now estimated to have been around 73 meters high (around Hallgrímskirkja church high). The area remains closed and is now regarded as highly unstable. Risk of new landslides in this area remains high at current time. The amount of soil that did just go into Askja lake is estimated to have been around 24 million cubic meters, with the total amount much higher (this is unconfirmed number).

I will post more information as more is known what happened.

Icelandic news of this

„Bráðabani“ að fara niður að vatn­inu (mbl.is)
Víga­leg­ur mökk­ur steig til him­ins (mbl.is, pictures)
Lukka að þetta gerist um miðnætti (Rúv.is)
Svona lítur Askja út í dag – Myndband (Rúv.is, video of Askja today)
Askja – fyrir og eftir berghlaupið (Rúv.is, this are before and after images of Askja)
Berghlaupið í Öskju eitt það stærsta (Rúv.is, new video of Askja area)

Donations: Please remember to donate to support my work (and keep me away from starving). I will move back to Iceland in December (see here). Thanks for the support.

Article updated at 13:55 UTC.
Article updated at 16:01 UTC.
Article updated at 22:16 UTC.
Article updated at 22:18 UTC.

All traffic to Askja volcano forbidden due to a large landside yesterday (22-July-2014)

According to Icelandic Meteorological Office, a large landslide fell yesterday (22-July-2014) around midnight in Askja volcano, the landslide did go into Askja lake creating a flood wave that was 100 to 200 meters high. It did reach the other end of the crater lake and did flow over its edge, some water did go into Víti crater. This landslide took place in south part of the Askja lake crater (best information I have at the moment). Harmonic tremor was detected following this events, it was recorded for 20 minutes according to news reports (no image since Askja harmonic tremor plot image is missing in IMO website).

A cloud was seen following this landslide, it is not clear if it was steam or just loose dirt material moving up into the air. Early estimates into this landslide are that around 24 million cubic meters of material did come down with this landslide, part of it ending in Askja lake and raising the water levels in Askja lake some two meters (early estimates). Until this matter has been checked by scientist and Almannavarnir in Iceland, all traffic to Askja volcano is forbidden. There is also a risk of more landslides taking place in Askja volcano, since the soil where the landslide took place might not have settled yet. It is highly dangerous to go there under the current conditions and I urge anyone not to go there due to how dangerous this area now is.

Update 1: Image of the landslide can be found here.

I am going to post more information about this once I have more details on this event.

Icelandic news on this

Öll umferð bönnuð um Öskju eftir gríðarlega stóra skriðu (DV.is)
Umferð um Öskju bönnuð eftir stóra skriðu (Rúv.is)
Stór skriða féll í Öskju­vatn (Mbl.is)

Donations: Please remember to donate. While I am going to move back to Iceland in December. I still have to make it until then (somehow). Thanks for the support.

Article updated at 00:34 UTC on 23-July-2014.