Earthquake activity update on 16.11.2012

Here is a short update on earthquake activity in Iceland. It has been stormy few weeks so recorded earthquake activity has not been a lot in Iceland.

Tjörnes Fracture Zone

Earthquake activity continues in TFZ. A bit less then when it did start on 20. October 2012. But it still moves along. The risk of large earthquake area remains for this area. When, where and how big remains unknown factors so far.


Earthquake activity in TFZ. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Meteorological Office.

Herðubreiðarfjöll volcano

Herðubreiðarfjöll volcano is a small volcano (no GVP entry that I know of) just north of Askja volcano. But Herðubreiðarfjöll volcano are in fact part of Askja volcano fissure swarm. But I do not think they are part of Askja volcano as such.


Earthquake activity in Herðarbreiðarfjöll volcano (the blue dots). Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Meteorological Office.

The earthquake activity in Herðurbreiðarfjöll volcano was most likely a minor dike intrusion into the volcano. What that means is too early to say at this moment. But most likely it does not mean anything for now at least.

There has been some minor ice-quake activity in Iceland when the temperature drops below 0 degrees in Iceland.

Earthquake swarm in TFZ continues, little earthquake activity in Katla voclano, new earthquake activity in Askja volcano

Here is a short update on activity in Iceland for the past few days.

Tjörnes Fracture Zone

Earthquake activity continues in Tjörnes Fracture Zone. But this earthquake activity has been ongoing since 20 October, 2012. Every once in a while a magnitude 3.0 earthquake takes place, or larger. The risk of large earthquake taking place in this area remains. General alert for this area is also in effect because of this danger of large earthquake taking place in this area.


The earthquake activity in TFZ. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Meteorological Office.

Katla volcano

Winter has come. At least when it comes to earthquake activity in Katla volcano. But little to none earthquake activity is now taking place in Katla volcano. Earthquake activity is now well below background level. It can be expected that current status is going to remain in Katla volcano until next summer.


Earthquake activity in Katla volcano for the past few days. Nothing important is taking place in Katla volcano as this image clearly shows. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Meteorological Office.

Askja volcano

While Katla volcano is getting quiet. It seems that Askja volcano is getting slightly more active. But earthquake activity in Askja volcano during the past few weeks suggests a minor magma intrusion (dike intrusion) might have taken place. But none of the earthquakes that took place where above magnitude 2.0 in size.


Earthquakes in Askja volcano during the past few days. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Meteorological Office.

I do not think this earthquake activity in Askja volcano means it is getting close for an eruption. Since there are no signs in that direction at the moment. But this earthquake activity is interesting. What ever it means in the short term for Askja volcano. It is also common that volcanoes have earthquake activity without anything happening at all following such earthquake activity.

Askja lake deeper then original measurements did show

After measurements taken this summer. It has now been learned that Askja lake is deeper then estimated from earlier measurements that where taken in the year 1963 by the Sigurjóni Rist. Volcanologist Ármann Höskuldsson has been working on this measurements during the summer months in Iceland. The raw data shows the Askja lake depth is 257 meters where it is deepest. But this is 40 meters deeper then earlier measurements did show.

It is not known why Askja lake is now deeper then earlier measurements did show. But it is possible that soil might have been sinking down, or something of that nature. But next summer scientists the raw data is going to be properly analyzed. By then scientists are going to know the exact depth of Askja lake. Along with how the bottom of the lake actually looks like.

Rúv News about this

Öskjuvatn dýpra en áður var talið (Rúv.is, Icelandic)

Askja lake ice-free mystery deepens

A short update on Askja volcano ice-free lake.

There have been news about the tour of geologist to Askja lake this week in the news. So far the result are puzzling. It turns out that Askja lake is just 1C, but that is normal for this time of year. So why it is ice-free remains a mystery at current time. Data from GPS and seismometers. Samples of the water has been taken also for a analyze and review of weather condition’s is under way. But so far the Askja lake mystery deepens.

News about Askja volcano and new video of Askja volcano. Use Google translate in the hope to understand what is sad.

Ísleysið á Öskjuvatni er ráðgáta (Rúv.is, Pictures, Icelandic)
Loftmyndir af Öskjuvatni (Video of Askja lake, Icelandic)

Ice free Askja lake due to increased hydro-thermal activity

According to news on Rúv scientists are now on there way up to Askja volcano to see what is going on and why Askja volcano has become ice-free. But it now believed that increased hydro-thermal activity in Askja volcano is the reason why Askja lake got ice-free during middle of winter.

The tour is expected to last for around 3 to 4 days if the weather is good. GPS data is also going to be collected in this trip to Askja volcano.

Iceland news about this. Use Google translate in order to try and understand this.

Aukinn jarðhiti bræddi ís á Öskju (Rúv.is, Icelandic)

This blog is shorter then normal because the hard disk in my laptop is giving up. I am going to try and setup linux based USB stick to boot the computer up. That should resolve any major issue that I am currently having like speed, sometimes just opening up a new browser window takes up to two minutes due to how slow the hard drive is now.

Overview of current events in Askja volcano

The current events in Askja volcano started in Week 9 of the year 2010. Before that, Askja volcano has been showing signs of change since the year 2007 at least. In the year 2010, Week 9 a earthquake swarm was recorded by Iceland Meteorological Office. Most of the earthquakes where at around 20 km depth, and it was followed by considerable amount of harmonic tremor activity. I did know about it at the time, but I did think it would be at least 10 to 20 years until Askja volcano would not erupt. But this might have been a event in an series of event that started long time ago, without me knowing about it before (I am still checking data, it takes some time).


The earthquake activity in Askja volcano in Week 9 of the year 2010. Copyright of this picture belongs to Iceland Meteorological Office.

The image above clearly shows where magma was flowing into Askja volcano around 20 km depth. But they are to the north-east of Askja lake. The depth of this earthquakes was from 20 to 23 km.


Map of earthquake activity in Askja volcano. The green dots are earthquakes with a shallow depth, that is depth from 2 to 8 km. Yellow earthquakes have the depth of 12 to 30 km. This data is from the year 2007 at least. Copyright of this picture belongs to its owner (Janet Key).


The depth of the earthquakes in Askja volcano. Copyright of this picture belongs to its owner (Janet Key).


Depth of the earthquakes. This view shows also where the earthquakes are taking place in Askja volcano and close to it. Copyright of this picture belongs to its owner (Janet Key).

All of this map and charts are from this blog post here.


This is a heat camera image of Askja lake. Copyright of this picture belongs to Iceland Coast Guard, the image is from here.

Last year (2011) there was an dike intrusion in north part of Askja volcano. This dike intrusion was clear by a earthquakes that took place. But it stopped and has not shown any activity again in this area. As sometimes happens with dike intrusions. But this activity is an good sign that magma is now flowing into Askja volcano again. But over period of at least 10 to 20 years, it seems that magma has been flowing out of Askja volcano system. Where it has been going I have no idea. But some hypothesis suggests that it might be flowing into Krafla volcano. But there is no good data to support this hypothesis in partial.


Activity in Askja volcano in the year 2011. This activity took place on 05.05.2011 at 16:25 UTC. Copyright of this picture belongs to Iceland Meteorological Office.

At the moment there is nothing that suggest eruption is imminent. But current progress in Askja volcano is something to keep an watch on. But it is also clear that current status in Askja volcano is changing fast. So while there is nothing to suggest a eruption at the moment, it might change without warning in Askja volcano.

Pictures of Askja lake.

Askja lake 12 June 2011.
Picture of Askja lake (32 months ago according to flickr.)

More on Askja lake sudden warming up

Few more news have appeared about the sudden warming of Askja volcano caldera lake. From what I this news say. It seems that this sudden melt of ice in Askja lake did start in beginning of March, by the end of March the lake had gone completely ice free. This is highly unusual and is not known to have happened before. This increase in hydro-thermal activity seems to be located at the bottom of the lake. But so far there is no new change around Askja lake. But it was reported yesterday that known hydro-thermal areas in Askja volcano where well active. It is now being reported that Askja lake got ice-free over period of two weeks so. But that is highly unusual and fast change in Askja lake.

Earthquake activity has not been above background level in Askja volcano so far. But this increase in hydro-thermal activity is interesting from geological point of view, and is the most clear sign that Askja volcano is preparing for a eruption. But there have been earthquakes taking place in Askja volcano. But as I sad yesterday. There have been few earthquakes in Askja volcano during past few months. Askja lake is about 1000 meters above the sea level. This means that once ice settles the lake in December it normally lasts until mid July. But the lake is self is normally up to 22C warm. So the warm increase

If anyone is going to Askja volcano. It is now official advice that people how are travelling in this area not to into Víti lake, or into Askja lake due to risk of dangerous gases that might be coming up from the ground. If you have no special reason going to Askja volcano, you should not go there at this point due to the changes in the volcano. As at this moment it is unknown what exactly is creating this changes in the Askja lake, and possibly nearby hydro-thermal areas.

University of Iceland and Iceland Meteorological Office are going to go after Easter and setup more monitoring hardware and run some test on what might be taking place in Askja volcano.

Update 1: Here is a youtube video by the user gummih that shows how fast Askja lake did thaw during middle of winter.

Icelandic news about this. Use Google translate to make sense of it.

Fylgst með framvindu mála í Öskju (mbl.is)
„Óeðlilegt ástand“ í Öskjuvatni (DV.is)
Fólk fari ekki að Öskjuvatni (mbl.is) – The news with the offical warning about going to Askja lake and Askja volcano.
Vara ferðafólk við Öskjuvatni og Víti (Rúv.is)
Almannavarnir: Ekki fara að Öskju (DV.is)
Óvenjulegt ástand við Öskju (Almannavarnir, Iceland Civil Emergency Authority)
Fólki bent á að fara ekki að Öskju (Vísir.is)

News in English about this

Photos: Iceless Iceland Volcano Lake Causes Speculation (icelandreview.com)

Blog post updated at 18:46 UTC on 04.04.2012.
Blog post updated at 19:12 UTC on 04.04.2012.
Blog post updated at 20:12 UTC on 04.04.2012.
Blog post updated at 01:28 UTC on 05.04.2012.

Askja lake ice free during winter

It seems that Askja volcano is warming up. Literally. According to news on Morgunblaðið web site. The Askja volcano lake is now ice free. But that is highly unusual event. But normally during this time of year it is frozen over. In the news it is explained that this might be because the south wind in Iceland during the past few days, or the most likely second option. Askja volcano lake is now ice free because of more hydro-thermal activity in it. But that is seen as more likely option, as Mývatn lake, that is at considerable lower altitude is now frozen over. There was done a air survey with thermal cameras to see if there was any increased heat on the surface. So far that is not the case at the moment. But it might well be that the hydro-thermal areas under Askja lake are getting more active an warmer. At least that is the only explanation that makes logical sense to the scientists according to this news report. But while the surface activity is none. The chance is that at the bottom of the lake it is getting really hot, and that in turn warms up all the water mass in the Askja lake. But this means that the energy output from the hydro-thermal areas is already high. Even if it is not visible at the surface of the lake.

Askja lake is around 220 meters deep. It was formed in large eruption in the year 1875 (VEI=5). But that was an caldera formation event that took place. But where Askja lake is now, it used to have a mountain that was in decent high before it was blown up into the air. At current time there is no new hydro-thermal activity in Askja volcano (around the lake). Besides the one reported in Askja lake. But based on recorded history, that might change soon. But it seems that before an eruption in Askja volcano, hydro-thermal activity increases in Askja volcano. But that means new hot springs, geysers and such. With all associated dangers and smells from sulfur. At current time, there is no risk of imminent eruption. As the activity at this moment suggests this is just starting, a long more might need to happen before an eruption. But that might change without warning as always. Since all volcanoes are impossible to predict what happens in them. Askja volcano has been having slight increase in earthquake activity during past few months. That suggests new magma is flowing into Askja volcano. But that earthquake activity has somewhat stopped completely and activity has quieted down from what it was few months ago.

Update 1: Here is a new picture of Askja volcano. Taken by Ómar Ragnarsson retired news reporter from Iceland. He also has a new image from Kverkfjöll volcano here.

Update 2: Iceland Meteorological Office has issued a press release about Askja volcano. It says that Askja lake is now ice free (same as in other news). The coast guard did go to check Askja lake on 2nd April 2012 with thermal cameras. In that trip it was discovered that Askja lake is completely ice free with no floating ice in it. The known hydro-thermal areas that are known where well active according to IMO. But no new areas of hydro-thermal activity where spotted in this flight over Askja volcano. Iceland Meteorological Office is going to increase surveillance with Askja volcano and to watch for future progress on what might happen in Askja volcano in the future.

News about this in Icelandic. Use Google translate to scare the Easter Bunny.

Öskjuvatn íslaust með öllu (mbl.is)
Íslaust Öskjuvatn í mars (Vatnajökulsþjóðgarður)
Öskjuvatn íslaust (Iceland Meteorological Office)

New pictures of Askja lake are in both news. Showing it completely ice free during the winter. Pictures are taken on 18th and 27th of March. Iceland Meteorological Office has MODIS picture of Askja volcano that clearly shows how ice free Askja lake actually is.

Blog post updated at 01:32 UTC on 03.04.2012.
Blog post updated at 01:45 UTC on 03.04.2012.
Blog post updated at 16:32 UTC on 03.04.2012.
Blog post updated at 16:48 UTC on 03.04.2012.

Minor earthquake activity in Iceland

During the past few weeks it has been quiet in Iceland. Really quiet, with almost nothing going on. It is still like that to some extent. So this is just a short overview of the small activity that has been taking place in Iceland during the past 48 hours or so.


The earthquake activity in Iceland during the past 48 hours. Copyright of this image belongs to Iceland Met Office.

The most activity in the last 48 hours have been on the Reykjanes and on TFZ. But there was an small earthquake swarm in each area. With earthquakes that did not get over ML2.5 in size so far. Two earthquakes where in Askja volcano. One in Grímsfjall volcano fissure system (maybe in Þórðarhyrna volcano).


Earthquake west of Hekla volcano, in the SISZ. This picture is released under Creative Common Licencee. See the licence page for more detail.

Katla volcano

During this winter. Katla volcano has been quiet. This is somewhat normal, as more snow means more ice-mass on top of the volcano. But now that has started to melt a little and that means less ice-mass on top of the volcano. That could mean more activity in Katla volcnao during the next few weeks. So far however the activity remains small and there are no special earthquakes to report.


Earthquake activity in Katla volcano, on this picture earthquake activity west of Hekla volcano can also been seen here. Copyright of this image belongs to Iceland Met Office.

The earthquakes west of Hekla volcano belong to the SISZ fault area. Not Hekla volcano it self. What is also interesting is the earthquake activity in south part of Katla volcano. In area outside of the glacier. This are small earthquakes, that do not appear on my geophone. Even if they are close to it. I am unsure what this means for the future. But it is worth keeping an eye on it.

Earthquake swarm in Askja volcano and Katla volcano

During the night there was a earthquake swarm in Askja volcano and in Katla volcano. The earthquake swarm in Katla volcano might be ongoing, but it is hard to know that for sure at the moment.

The earthquake swarm in Askja volcano are signs that volcano is preparing for a eruption period. But it seems like that magma has been starting to collecting in Askja volcano last year (in March of 2010). This progress also seems to be moving along faster then I did expect last year. But the earthquake swarm that took place during night was because if a possible dike intrusion from Askja volcano that got into the crust inside Askja volcano fissure swarm. So far the pressure of the magma is not high enough to start a eruption and I am unsure how long this progress needs to continue before Askja volcano is ready for a eruption. The largest earthquake that happened during the night was ML3.4 and on around 1 km depth according to the news on Rúv.


The earthquake area in Askja volcano. It is outside the main Askja volcano, but inside Askja volcano fissure swarm, the star marks the location of the ML3.2 earthquake (automatic size). Copyright of this picture belongs to Iceland Met Office.

Earthquake activity continues in Katla volcano as before. Most of the earthquakes are as before just small ones. Currently the earthquakes do not appear to be from dike intrusion as happened last week (5 October, 2011) with the earthquakes that where up to ML3.9 in size (checked data). After this large earthquake swarm activity dropped considerably. But it has been picking up again slowly during the week. But earthquake observation has been difficult due to frequent storms during the past two weeks that have been passing over Iceland. This storms have had wind up to 30m/s and wind gusts up to 56m/s (recorded).


The earthquake swarm in Katla volcano caldera. This area was active this summer when there was a minor eruption in Katla volcano. Copyright of this picture belongs to Iceland Met Office.

For the moment it is hard to know what happens next in Katla volcano or in Askja volcano. But it is clear that Askja volcano is preparing for a eruption (along with Kverkfjöll volcano). It is clear that Katla volcano is continuing to prepare for a eruption. But it is impossible to know when and how big that eruption might be. Until a eruption takes place, more dike intrusions with following earthquake swarms should be expected in Katla volcano.

Note: I am going to write more on El Hierro volcano (Canary Islands, Spain) later today. When I know more on what is going on in that volcano. But information gathering takes a little time when it is in a language that I do not properly understand yet.

News on this from Rúv.is.

Jarðskjálfti við Lokatind (Rúv.is, Icelandic)

Blog post updated at 14:23 UTC on 11 October, 2011