Earthquake activity in Katla volcano

Even if there is December and Katla volcano is supposed to have less earthquake activity during this time of year. It seems to be that currently that is not the case. But the earthquake activity is less then it was this summer after the minor eruption in July 2011. No major earthquake swarm has been taking place in Katla volcano for the past few weeks. But there is a lot of earthquakes taking place, without it being a earthquake swarm at one single location inside Katla volcano.


Current earthquake activity in Katla volcano. Copyright of this image belongs to Iceland Met Office.

Many people might ask if this earthquake activity is something to worry about. The answer is no. Katla volcano is unlikely to start an eruption in December. But if this pattern of earthquake activity it is clear that Katla volcano is going to erupt sooner rather then later. But the question after the mini-eruption last summer (July 2011), if there are going to be around 10 years until next eruption takes place in Katla volcano. For the moment nobody knows for sure.

Other: I want to remind people about the forum. It can be used to ask questions, chat, share pictures and so on.

Harmonic tremor in El Hierro volcano drops

There was a change in the eruption in El Hierro volcano last night. The harmonic tremor started to drop of slowly. This drop in harmonic tremor comes several days after a drop in earthquake activity happened. But it might be possible that this drop in earthquake activity in north El Hierro volcano might be because a erupting vent did open up in north El Hierro volcano. But at such depth that the eruption was not noticed on the surface on the ocean. At least that might be the reason. But without any data, this is just a speculation. But at any rate, the earthquake activity in north part of El Hierro volcano has dropped down to almost zero in few days time.


The harmonic tremor yesterday (5 December, 2011). The drop in harmonic tremor can clearly be seen here. Copyright of this picture belongs to IGN (Instituto Geográfico Nacional).


The harmonic tremor today at 08:15 UTC. The harmonic tremor continues to drop during the past few hours. Copyright of this picture belongs to IGN (Instituto Geográfico Nacional).

The harmonic tremor drop is something that has happened before in El Hierro volcano. Just before a new fissure did open up in El Hierro volcano eruption. I am unsure if that is the case now. But it should become clear in about two to three days. But it is also a possibility that this eruption is coming to a end. But it has been erupting now for close to three months now. So this eruption might just ending. But we might have to wait a bit until that is confirmed. But at the moment the harmonic tremor is dropping and that means the eruption is smaller for the moment.

Growing earthquake swarm in Krísuvík volcano

There seems to be a growing earthquake swarm in Krísuvík volcano on the Reykjanes peninsula. The strongest earthquake so far is a ML2.2 according to the automatic size estimate. Some ghost earthquakes appear to be outside a town called Akranes and Reykjavík to the north. But that are earthquakes that are in fact nothing but errors. This earthquake swarm is tectonic in nature, not volcanic. So there is not going to be a eruption in Krísuvík volcano from what I can tell at current moment.


The earthquake swarm in Krísuvík volcano. Copyright of this picture belongs to Iceland Met Office.

It is hard to know how this earthquake swarm is going to develop. But this earthquake swarm looks growing. For that it is going to peak in activity sometimes in the next few hours. But when exactly is hard to know for sure. I am going to update this blog post if something major happens. The strongest earthquakes appears on my geophone and can be viewed here.

Earthquake swarm 14 km to the east of Akureyri town

At 19:22 UTC a small earthquake swarm started 14 km east of Akureyri town. The earthquake swarm started with a earthquake with the size of ML3.11 at the depth of 9 km. The area of activity is unusual, but there are none known fault lines in this area that I am aware of. This area is also a bit off TFZ fault zone. This area normally does not have any earthquakes. I am not sure yet if this are intra-plate earthquakes or not, as this area is close to the NVZ (North Volcanic Zone).

This earthquake was felt in Akureyri town by the local people. How well I do not know.


The area where the earthquake swarm is taking place. Copyright of this picture belongs to Iceland Met Office.

I did record the strongest earthquake on enough geophone to be able to make a plot map from my own software from software called WinQuake that I use to plot earthquakes time, location and depth information with data from Iceland Meteorological Office.


Here is the earthquake location according to my geophones with location data from IMO. This picture is released under Creative Commons licence. See top bar for more information.

Here are the wave form data that where recorded on my geophones (they can be viewed online here). The Sauðárkrókur geophone is a testing geophone that I am currently running. But it is going to be turned off now in December.


The earthquake as it was recorded on the Heklubyggð geophone. This picture is released under Creative Commons licence. See top bar for more information.


The earthquake on Hvammstangi geophone. This picture is released under Creative Commons licence. See top bar for more information.


The test geophone at Sauðárkrókur village. This geophone is noisy. This picture is released under Creative Commons licence. See top bar for more information.


The strongest aftershock that I did record on my Hvammstangi geophone. The wave form data on Sauðárkrókur geophone where not good for some reason. So I do not display them here. This picture is released under Creative Commons licence. See top bar for more information.

The wave form outside the earthquake are ocean waves. They are strong now and show clearly on my geophone. So they appear even more clearly on the SIL network as higher tremor levels. But that is nothing that looks like a volcanic harmonic tremor.

As for the earthquake swarm. It is hard to know what it means. But more aftershocks in this area for the next few days are not impossible. As has been seen before in areas that suddenly start to make earthquakes after a long break.

Icelandic News reports of this event. Please use Google Translate with care. It does not yet understand.

Jarðskjálfti við Akureyri (mbl.is)
Jarðskjálftar við Akureyri (Rúv.is)
Þrír jarðskjálftar nærri Akureyri (Vísir.is)

Blog post updated at 06:02 UTC on 3 December, 2011. Fixing errors in the text.

Activity remains low in Iceland. Eruption continues in El Hierro volcano

At the present time the earthquake activity remains low in Iceland. This goes for both Katla volcano and other areas of Iceland. This is the regular quiet time in Iceland, as it happens sometimes. For the next days, there is a risk of frost-quakes as the ground freezes over in a cold snap.

El Hierro volcano, Canary Islands

The eruption in El Hierro volcano continues as before. New eruption vents have been opening up at random in the south part of El Hierro volcano. Earthquake activity to the north has dropped. While at the same time, the earthquake activity seems to have increased slightly to the west part of El Hierro volcano. I am not sure why that is yet.

In the tremor data. I have been seeing several explosions taking place. But they create a spikes in the tremor plot, that is different then what happens when a earthquake takes place.


The current harmonic tremor from El Hierro volcano. Explosions are the spike activity (30 November, 2011). Some of this however might be sudden increase in eruption activity. Copyright of this picture belongs to IGN (Instituto Geográfico Nacional).

Other then that. The eruption in El Hierro volcano seems to be about the same for the moment as it has been for the past almost two months now. So far it is impossible to know when this eruptions ends. But eruption in La Palma volcano lasted about one month on average. Eruptions in Lanzarote volcano have lasted about three months (last eruption was in the year 1824). Based on this. This might be a eruption that lasts for about 3 to 5 months at the longest in my opinion. But what actually happens is just something that is a wait and see matter.

Update on the weekend activity

Iceland

This weekend was quiet in Iceland. There was almost nothing going on. There was only one small earthquake swarm in Krýsuvík volcano. But this earthquake swarm was tectonic in nature, not volcanic. The largest earthquake in this earthquake swarm was about ML3.2 in size. Few earthquakes where in Katla volcano, but less this weekend then many others. But it is normal for Katla volcano to be quiet during November to March each year due to snow that is added to the glacier. But that increased the pressure of the glacier on top of the magma chamber (floating balance laws at work here).

Mainland Spain

There was a flurry of earthquakes on Mainland Spain during the weekend. None of this earthquakes where felt, from what I can gather at IGN web site.

Canary Islands, Spain

The eruption at El Hierro volcano continues as it has done for the past almost two months now. The harmonic levels are about the same as it has been, but there seems to be minor intermittent in activity from El Hierro volcano. IGN has setup a picture web site with images that show the activity since this eruption started clearly.

Erik at Eruption blog has good blog post about the magma mixing that appears to be taking place in the eruption in El Hierro volcano.

Other then this. Is is all quiet in Iceland for the moment. But frost-quakes should be expected in the next 48 hours or so in Iceland. As the ground freezes over in a really cold weather.

Update for the eruption in El Hierro volcano

As the eruption in El Hierro volcano moves closer to the second month. Information on what has been going on has gone bit hard to come by (for me anyway). As people settle with there new reality (erupting volcano). But that does not stop me from reporting on it.

The current status of the eruption is that nothing much has changed since last blog post. But yesterday there where reports of new vents opening up off the south coast of El Hierro volcano. But this is the area where current eruption has been taking place the past month and a half. It remains to be seen if that is going to change or not. But earthquake activity has continued in north part of El Hierro volcano. This earthquake activity seems to be a mixed one. But that means there are both earthquakes due to dike intrusions and local tectonic earthquakes. I now think that this earthquake activity is going to continue all the eruption. I am not sure why a eruption has not started in north part of El Hierro volcano yet. But for the moment it is just earthquakes. The strongest earthquakes in this area can go up to Mb5.0 in size. But I base that on what type of rock makes up the area, along with the thickness of the crust. But that is from 10 km thick.


The earthquake activity for the past 48 hours in El Hierro volcano (picture from 22 November, 2011). Copyright of this picture belongs to IGN (Instituto Geográfico Nacional).


Earthquake activity in El Hierro volcano for the past 4 days. Copyright of this picture belongs to IGN (Instituto Geográfico Nacional).


The earthquake activity from July 2011. This earthquake activity maps out well where the magma lies in the El Hierro volcano. But as the magma expands in the crust, it creates earthquake activity. Copyright of this picture belongs to IGN (Instituto Geográfico Nacional).

The harmonic tremor tells me what is going on in the eruption, when I lack all other visual data on what exactly is going on. But the harmonic tremor increases or drops depending on the strength of the eruption. But that aspect of the eruption is based on how many and how large fissures are open at the time.


The harmonic tremor as it is today (22 November, 2011) at 21:11 UTC. The eruption as can be seen is around the same level as before. But this is not the strongest the harmonic tremor has been. Copyright of this picture belongs to IGN (Instituto Geográfico Nacional).


The harmonic tremor when the eruption was more active then today. This can clearly be seen by how the harmonic tremor is stronger then the scale of the harmonic tremor plot. This happens when a new fissure opens up and its eruption is at the strongest. Copyright of this picture belongs to IGN (Instituto Geográfico Nacional).

The IGN web site on El Hierro volcano eruption can be found here. But it is in Spanish.

I am continuing to monitor this eruption. Even if it is a long term eruption, but that are eruptions that are longer then 1 month. As the for the eruption as a whole, little change has taken place in terms of strenght and location of the eruption. But that might change without warning as before.

The weekend earthquake swarm deep out on the Reykjanes Ridge

During the weekend there was as earthquake swarm deep outside on the Reykjanes Ridge. It was about 700 km south of Reykjavík city. It was not felt on land and was only noticed on instruments. The last earthquake to be recorded was at 22:04 UTC, on 20 November 2011. It’s size was Mb4.4 according to EMSC. The largest earthquakes in this earthquake swarm had the size of Mb4.8, but there where several earthquakes recorded with this size.

Due to the location it is impossible to know if there was a eruption in this area or not. The ocean depth there is greater then 1 km (if my memory is correct). This means that if a eruption is taking place in this location. Nothing is going to appear on the surface of the ocean. So why this earthquakes are taking place are only speculation everything besides normal tectonic activity in this area. But the Reykjanes Ridge is a rift zone that often has earthquakes without any eruption taking place. There have however been several earthquake swarm during the year in this location. But what the actual reason remains a mystery due the location.

Other then this it is now quiet time in Iceland. This is the type of quiet time that I always worry about. But lets wait and see what is up with this lack of activity in Iceland.

Note: Update on the eruption in El Hierro volcano eruption is due tomorrow. This is now a long term eruption as explained few blog posts ago. So there are only updates on what is going on once in a while.

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.

Katla volcano newest earthquake swarm

During the night of the 16th of November, 2011 there was a new earthquake swarm in Katla volcano. This earthquake swarm is a part of ongoing pattern in Katla volcano. This pattern started after the small eruption that took place in Katla in July 2011. It was observed yesterday that there was a deep earthquake in Katla volcano, with the depth of 28 km. This earthquake did most likely did happen due to a dike intrusion deep inside Katla volcano, but it might well be that this was just a normal earthquake. It is hard to know that for sure. But deep dike intrusions are well known in Katla volcano. Sometimes they are followed by a harmonic tremor for few moments or minutes.


The earthquakes from Katla volcano can clearly be seen on this tremor plot from Iceland Met Office. But they make the spikes that are on it. Copyright of this picture belongs to Iceland Met Office.


The location of last earthquake swarm in Katla volcano. Most of the earthquakes are inside the caldera of Katla volcano. Copyright of this picture belongs to Iceland Met Office.


The largest earthquake in this earthquake swarm. Its size was ML2.35 and it had the depth of 4 km. This picture is released under Creative Commons Licence. Please see the top bar (there is a link there) for more information on this.

This was a long period earthquake. But this is the only clue at the moment that Katla volcano is going to erupt soon. But when is still a unknown question at present time.


The frequency analysis of the ML2.35 earthquake. As can be seen here this earthquake has really low frequency component. But most of the energy goes into about 2Hz frequency. This picture is released under Creative Commons Licence. Please see the top bar (there is a link there) for more information on this.

It is impossible to know how many earthquake swarm Katla volcano is going to have before it erupts. But this is a one way street that Katla volcano is now on. For us humans, we just have to wait and see what happens next. Nothing else can be done when it comes to forces of nature. When the time comes, get out of the way of Katla volcano.