Earthquake swarm in Katla volcano

Today (3. September 2011) at 16:45 UTC a earthquake swarm did start in Katla volcano. So far this earthquake swarm has been small, with the largest earthquake just with the size ML2.7 at the depth of 1.1 km (automatic data). But the quality of this earthquake was good, so location is accurate from what I can tell.

I am not sure at this moment if there is a harmonic tremor spike following this earthquake swarm or not. As the earthquakes are long period due the fact that they are created by magma movement in Katla volcano. This might be dike intrusion. But for the moment it is hard to know that for sure.


The area of earthquake activity today in Katla volcano. Copyright of this picture belongs to Iceland Met Office.


The ML2.7 earthquake (automatic size) in Katla volcano caldera. This picture is released under Creative Commons Licence, see Licence web page for more details.


Harmonic tremor plot of the current activity. Latest activity is at the end of the tremor plot. Copyright of this picture belongs to Iceland Met Office.


Harmonic tremor plot of the current activity. Latest activity is at the end of the tremor plot. Copyright of this picture belongs to Iceland Met Office.


Harmonic tremor plot of the current activity. Latest activity is at the end of the tremor plot. Copyright of this picture belongs to Iceland Met Office.

I cannot tell at the moment what is going on in Katla volcano. But the earthquakes tell me that the reason why they are happening is because of magma is moving inside Katla volcano. But latest data (not shown here) do however show that no harmonic tremor is currently ongoing, if it ever started during this earthquake swarm. I am expecting the earthquake swarm to continue and last for the next few hours. But I must point out that that is what might happen, as sometimes earthquake swarms just stop when you think that they might be about to start for real.

Inflation starts in Katla volcano

There seems to be inflation going on in Katla volcano, at least according to the automatic GPS data that IMO has on it’s web site. But this might be error in the data. But for the moment I do not think it is. But please do look at this data with the view that it might be wrong.


The inflation appears clearly on Lágu Hvolar GPS station. Copyright of this image belongs to Iceland Met Office.

The inflation can be seen on Lágu Hvolar and Sólheimaheiði GPS stations. But it appears to be more clear at HVOL GPS station. But that is most likey because that GPS station is closer to the magma pocket in question that creates this movement.


The inflation also appears on Sólheimaheiði GPS station. But not as clearly as on Lágu Hvolar GPS station. Copyright of this image belongs to Iceland Met Office.

What might be the critical inflation before a eruption starts is hard to know until it happens. For Eyjafjallajökull volcano that was 60mm, for Grímsfjall volcano the inflation was actually 350mm. But that volcano had eruptions that did not change it’s inflation numbers. I do not know why Grímsfjall volcano is so different in this respect from other volcanoes in Iceland (that I know of so far).

A ML3.2 earthquake (automatic size) happens in Katla volcano caldera

At 18:44 UTC a earthquake with the size ML3.2 and the depth of 2.9 km did happen in Katla volcano caldera (this size is based on automatic data and is going to be subject to a change).


The ML3.2 earthquake in Katla volcano. Copyright of this picture belongs to Iceland Met Office.

Currently there is strong wind around Katla volcano. This strong wind is interfering with IMO SIL network around Katla. But so far no harmonic tremor has been detected after this earthquake.

This earthquake appears to have be formed due to magma intrusion into the rock in Katla volcano caldera. It’s signature on my geophone shows that clearly.


The Z component unfiltered. This picture is released under Creative Commons licence.


The Z component filtered at 1Hz. This picture is released under Creative Commons licence.


All the component on my geophone. This is unfiltered data. This picture is released under Creative Commons licence.


All the component on my geophone. This is filtered data at 1Hz. This picture is released under Creative Commons licence.

This might just be part of normal Katla volcano activity. But it is a fact that it has more earthquakes during the summer and autumn then during the winter. But it is close to impossible to know if this just normal activity or something else. All that can be done is to wait and see what happens.

Minor harmonic tremor in Katla volcano

There seems to have been minor harmonic tremor in Katla volcano this evening. This harmonic tremor seems to have started after a ML0.7 earthquake with the depth of ~3.7 km did happen inside the Katla volcano caldera. Last harmonic tremor spike did take place on the 24th of August according to the tremor plot on Icelandic Met Office web page.


Harmonic tremor mixed in with the earthquakes from Katla volcano on this tremor plot. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.


Here is the harmonic tremor that I see on the tremor plot. It is the second spike. But the first spike is actually a earthquakes that did happen earlier today. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.


This harmonic tremor can also be seen on this SIL station clearly. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

On other SIL stations around Katla volcano the signal is not so clear. But this is really a small event and unlikely a pre-eruption event. But it is hard to know it for sure, as Katla volcano has done this before and there was no eruption following this type of events. All that can be done now is to wait and see what happens next. It is also important to notice that Icelandic Met Office has not confirmed this harmonic tremor spike yet.

Iceland government to increase monitoring and research into Iceland volcanoes

Iceland government did approve today to increase funding for research into Iceland volcanoes. But this is also part of a plan for a risk assessment for volcanoes in Iceland. But it is expected that this research is going to take 15 to 20 years. Funding has already been increased to Icelandic Met Office by grands from ICAO (among other I think, but I do not have it confirmed). But this is a direct response to the fact that Eyjafjallajökull volcano and Grímsfjall volcano have erupted in short time span (11 months apart).

But the Icelandic government is expecting a eruption in Grímsfjall volcano every two to seven years. But it is also expecting eruptions in Bárðarbunga volcano following this increased activity in Grímsfjall volcano. But eruption period often follow in Bárðarbunga volcano when activity increases in Grímsfjall volcano.

First step of this research is going to take three years to finish. But the news does not say what they are going to cover in this research. This risk assessment is done by the standards of U.N and WMO.

Icelandic News about this.

Hefja vinnu við hættumat fyrir eldgos – tekur 15 til 20 ár í heildina (Vísir.is, Icelandic)

Earthquake close to Hekla volcano. A earthquake swarm in Katla volcano

This has been a busy weekend in earthquakes, more then I was expecting. Here is a minor write up on the activity so far.

Hekla volcano:

A ML2.4 earthquake did happen close to Hekla volcano at 07:30 UTC. Depth of this earthquake was 3.7 km. The earthquake did happen on earthquake fault line that was created in a large earthquake in the year 1912. This fault line has been known since then and is well documented.


The SISZ earthquake this morning. This picture is released under Creative Common Licence. See Licence web page for more details.

Katla volcano:

Two new earthquake swarms took place in Katla volcano today. This earthquake started around 09:30 UTC this morning. Most of the earthquakes where smaller then ML1.0 in size. The depth was around 5.5 km on average. The largest earthquake was ML2.3 in size, with the depth of 5.5 km. That earthquake swarm was in Goðabunga area of Mýrdalsjökull glacier (Katla volcano). But here was also a minor earthquake swarm inside Katla volcano caldera. But in that earthquake swarm the earthquakes there where even smaller, most of those earthquake didn’t reach the size ML1.0. The earthquake swarm in Goðabunga area in Katla volcano might be due to dike intrusion in that area. I do not know if this might be something else. But given the data, this is the most likely the reason for this earthquake swarm in this area. The earthquake swarm did stop at 12:47 UTC. After that everything has been quiet so far.

Few earthquakes also did happen SE part of the Katla volcano caldera. But there have been earthquakes in this area since July. But this activity did start soon after the glacier flood from Mýrdalsjökull glacier.


Earthquake activity in Katla volcano. Copyright of this picture belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

All the earthquake swarms of today in Katla volcano, also the single earthquake close to Hekla volcano.

Icelandic news about this activity.

Mikið um smáskjálfta nærri Mýrdalsjökli (Vísir.is)
Jörð skelfur nálægt Hellu (Rúv.is)

Other: Short announcement. I have finally figured out how I am going to have my writing schedule. But my working period is going to be from 1. September to 1. June every year. This also means more activity on this blog and my other (Icelandic) blogs. During the summer time there is going to be reduced activity on all my blogs. But if something happens during the summer in earthquakes and volcanoes. I am going to write about it anyway or soon as I can do so.

Also note that I have started school to finish basic in electronic (house electronics and other basics in electronics). So I am busy during the day (most days). So my response might be slower then normal if anything happens in Iceland with earthquakes or volcano activity.

Other #2: I am having minor issues with uploading the gif images from my earthquake computer at the moment. So that is currently being done by the remote geophone computers at the moment. Because of this, there is no red colour if a large earthquakes happens in Iceland or close to a geophone station that I have up and running.

Earthquakes in Öræfajökull volcano

I do not have a time for long blog post about this at the moment. But here is a short overview of earthquake activity in Öræfajökull volcano.

Since the year 1991 there have been total of three earthquake swarms (with the one in last week) in Öræfajökull volcano. The two earthquake swarms where in the year December 2005 and in September 2008. Total of 70 or so earthquakes have taken place in this earthquake swarms. But only 30 or so earthquakes in the main crater of Öræfajökull volcano.


Earthquake activity in Öræfajökull volcano between the year 1991 and to 2011. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.


Earthquakes inside the main crater of Öræfajökull volcano from the year 1991 to 2011. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

All pictures are from here.

Currently the earthquake activity in Öræfajökull volcano is quite low. So I am not expecting anything for a long, long time now. The reason why earthquakes are taking place might be new magma. But this also might be due the glacier and pressure changes on the rock because of that. But I find the later idea less likely then the first one. But it hard to know for sure at the moment what actually is the real case now.

Minor earthquake swarm in Öræfajökull volcano

Since early this morning there has been a minor earthquake swarm in Öræfajökull volcano. This earthquake swarm is so far just minor one, with the largest earthquake being ML2.0 at 4.3 km depth.

This earthquake swarm is most likely due to magma injection into Öræfajökull volcano. But this volcano is normally quiet and almost never has any earthquakes. But that has been changing during the past few years, but earthquake swarms have been getting more common in Öræfajökull volcano. Something that is in fact a big change from few years ago when no earthquakes where recorded from Öræfajökull volcano.

This increased activity in Öræfajökull volcano seems to be happening at the same time as there is increased activity in Esjufjöll volcano. The two volcanoes are not connected. But this might suggest a more inflow of magma under the general area. But that is just a speculation, based on rather limited amount of data.


Öræfajökull volcano is located to the south end of Vatnajökull glacier. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

The earthquakes in Öræfajökull volcano have been taking place in the main crater of the volcano. But it is important to know that currently there is nothing to suggest that a eruption is imminent in Öræfajökull volcano or in Esjufjöll volcano.

Interesting reading material on Öræfajökull volcano

The 1362 AD Öræfajökull eruption, Iceland: Petrology and geochemistry of large-volume homogeneous rhyolite (pdf)

Katla volcano earthquake last night

Last night there was a earthquake with the size ML2.3 and with the depth of 1.3 km inside the caldera of Katla volcano. This earthquake might well be just part of the normal summer and autumn earthquake activity in Katla volcano. But at the moment it is hard to know for sure the difference at the moment.


Current area of activity in Katla volcano. It is mostly inside the caldera. Copyright of this picture belongs to Icelandic Met Office.


The ML2.3 earthquake in Katla volcano caldera last night. The P and S wave markers are unset. Picture Licence is Creative Commons.


The frequency spectrum of the Katla volcano caldera earthquake. As can be seen this earthquake has a lot of low frequency in it. Picture Licence is Creative Commons.


The Katla volcano caldera earthquake as it was recorded on my Hvammstangi geophone. It is quite unusual to record this small earthquake at this distance. This is filtered at 1Hz. Picture Licence is Creative Commons.


This earthquake here is from Goðabunga this morning. But Goðabunga is part of Katla volcano. But it is yet unknown if it is a volcano system on its own or not. The earthquakes from Goðabunga are different then the earthquakes from Katla volcano caldera, as can clearly been seen on this pictures. Picture Licence is Creative Commons.

Besides this minor earthquake activity. Everything remains quiet in Katla volcano at the moment. When that is going to change is impossible to know.

Blog post updated at 21:10 UTC.

Background noise compared to a eruption and other events

Here are few examples of how the tremor plots looks like if anything important is going on in Iceland.


Normal quiet tremor plot. Few earthquakes create spikes on it. But besides that everything is quiet. Copyright of this pictures belongs to Icelandic Met Office.


This is from the Grímsfjall volcano eruption in May 2011. On this tremor plot it can be clearly seen how much noise a eruption actually makes. The background noise just goes away soon as there is something going on. Copyright of this pictures belongs to Icelandic Met Office.


This is Skrokkalda SIL stastion on 12 July 2011. It can clearly be seen where the harmonic tremor goes above the background noise. Copyright of this pictures belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

It is quite clear. Besides earthquakes and some harmonic tremors that are different then this signals that I have shown here. Unless you see this on Icelandic Met Office tremor plot you can be sure that it is quiet in Iceland. Volcano eruptions make a lot of noise when they are ongoing, even the small eruptions make some noise that can be detected by the SIL network in Iceland.

Note: I might update this blog post on later date and put in more examples about the difference between background noise and a eruption.