Strong earthquake activity in Katla volcano

At 19:10 UTC today (02-February-2022) an strong earthquake swarm started in Katla volcano. Strongest earthquakes so far had a magnitude of Mw4,0 (19:10 UTC) and Mw3,4 (19:44 UTC).

Earthquake activity in Katla volcano. A lot of red dots with two green stars on the calder rim
Earthquake activity in Katla volcano. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

At the writing of this article it is unclear if this is going to result in an eruption. The chances are good, but this activity might still slow down and stop before any eruption, small or large happens in Katla volcano.

This article is going to be updated if needed or new article is going to be written if the situation changes enough from what it is now.

Strong earthquake close to Húsafell

Today (1-February-2022) at 00:05 UTC an earthquake with magnitude of Mw3,7 took place close to Húsafell. This earthquake was felt in Reykjavík. This earthquake swarm is ongoing, it is slow moving and often stops A second earthquake with magnitude Mw3,0 took place at 01:15 UTC. During the last 48 hours a total of 107 earthquakes have happened in Húsafell area.

Two green stars west of Langjökull glacier with smaller earthquakes in the same area
Earthquake activity in Húsafell. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

Largest known earthquake in this area has a magnitude of 5,5 in the year 1974. That is all I know about this earthquake, that earthquake was also slightly more north then current swarm. Why this earthquake activity is happening is unclear since there are not any known volcanoes in this area or earthquake faults. There is a low (as in degrees of hot water) hydrothermal area in this area and recent news articles have suggested that this earthquake activity might be connected to that area. That is at best speculation and nothing has been proved so far. The existence of this low hydrothermal area shows that magma is in the crust in this area at shallow depth and has been for a while. For hydrothermal area to form, both cracks in the crust needs to be open and magma needs to reach 1 to 2 km up in the crust to warm up ground water in the crust.

Earthquake swarm south-west of Langjökull glacier

Since December 2021 an earthquake swarm has been ongoing south-west of Langjökull glacier. This area is not part of any known fault zone or any volcano. This is just tectonic earthquakes and is outside of main earthquake areas. This intra-plate earthquakes happens sometimes in Iceland. Why that is remains unknown, but best idea is this happens because of stress changes because of tectonic movement. Earthquake magnitude can go up to Mw5,5 or larger. But such events are extremely rare, but do happen.

Earthquake swarm south-west of Langjökull glacier. Green star shows a magnitude Mw3,3 earthquake
Earthquake south-west of Langjökull glacier. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

This is the second earthquake with magnitude Mw3,3 in this area, with the earlier one happening on 18th January 2022. The hill this earthquake swarm is happening in is called Húsafell.

The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai explosion on 15-January-2022

This is a special article about the eruption and the explosion in Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano, close to Tonga in the Pacific Ocean. I don’t know a lot about this volcano so I might get details wrong. This is also not a long article, because of lack of my knowledge. Because of copyright, I can’t use any images in this article.

At 04:00 UTC on 15-January-2022 an eruption started in >Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano, that is 65 distance from Tonga islands (population around 100.000). In what seems to be a process that only took about 1 to 3 hours, the eruption exploded with largest eruption force in modern history. This is possibly largest eruption since 1912 (Alaska) in the world or even largest eruption since Krakatoa in 1883. According to articles, research into this volcano suggest that it has an explosive period eruption phase every 1000 years, the last one being around the year 1100. The length of this eruption seems to have been 3 to 5 hours in total and in last 24 hours there have been reports of a lot smaller eruptions happening. Each of them only lasting few hours at most.

When the explosion happened it created a tsunami that hit Tonga few moments later with waves up to 1,13 meters high and Fiji islands where it with waves that where around 80 cm high (reports). Around 13 hours later, the tsunami hit the west coast of the United States and Canada, Los Angeles area and other coastal areas. The sound wave that followed was heard clearly 2300 km away in New Zealand and in Alaska at distance of 9373 km, the explosion was also heard clearly in Fiji islands that are in 700 to 1000 km distance. The air pressure wave that happened during the explosion did go over the Earth two times, it was detected in Iceland at around 17:00 to 18:00 on 15-January-2022 and the second wave was detected on 16-January-2022 at around 05:00 to 06:00 in Iceland.

It is going to take years to understand the size and effects of this volcano explosion because how remote it is, since it is out in the ocean and next populated area is 65 km away and that’s the only monitoring of this volcano, since other options are not possible for monitoring of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano.

The effects of the explosion was largest in Tonga that is now cut off from the internet because of damage to undersea fibre cable that connects them to the internet. How long that repair work is going to take depends on a lot of things, but it can take weeks or months until fibre connection is restored. There was also a lot of tsunami damage in Tonga, how extensive it is I don’t know because of lack of reports.

This is all I have for now on this eruption. I don’t know if I’ll write another article about this event, since I only cover world events that are major events and this volcano explosion has been classified in my system as a major volcano event.

More detailed article with images of the volcano

Why the volcanic eruption in Tonga was so violent, and what to expect next (The Conversation)

On a little break until end of January 2022

I made the chose to go on a little break. While this is just a writing break from activity reports, unless there’s an eruption or a large earthquake. I am going to be on a break until end of January 2022. I need this break, because for the last 12 (close to). I have been writing on this website with almost no breaks, or few short ones at most. Because of increase in activity in Iceland, I now need to increase my breaks between large events, like eruptions or large earthquakes. This gives me to time to recharge my batteries before the next large events start in Iceland.

This also is going to result in that I won’t write about smaller events in Iceland. This is possibly a temporarily solution to make my workload a slightly less and allows me to attend to other projects (that I much need to do). Like write about what is happening in space on my Spacewatch website (that I’ve been neglecting for too long) or write few short stories that I’ve been thinking about for a while and put them up on my Stories of Infinity website. I won’t start writing new stories until I move back to Denmark though.

This article is not going to be published on the social media. Since I am slowly trying to reduce my dependence on social media for a good reason that most people should aware of now what is.

Magma on its way up the crust in Fagradalsfjall mountain, last measurements shows 1600 meters left (1,6km)

According to a news on Vísir.is (linked below) the magma has started to rise in Fagradalsfjall mountain. At the time of the measurement from a satellite the magma had around 1600 meters (1,6km) left until it reached the surface. At the speed the magma was travelling, around 130 meters a day an eruption was expected to happen around 11-January-2022. This is the current estimate, but that might change of the magma increases or slows down the speed it is going up in the crust.

It is unclear what area is going to erupt since the new dyke is more alongside the older eruption dyke. There is more chance than less that new craters are going to open up and start erupting, some of the area is under fresh lava from earlier eruption. Making the area look interesting when this eruption starts.

Icelandic News

Kvikan á uppleið en á enn 1.600 metra eftir (Vísir.is)

Felt earthquake on South Icelandic Seismic zone

During the night of 30-December-2021 at 04:16 UTC an earthquake with magnitude of Mw3,0 was felt in Selfoss town and Hveragerði town. This earthquake was part of a swarm in the area that is ongoing at the writing of this article.

Green star on the far right on the map with few red dots, showing the earthquake activity in SISZ
Earthquake activity in SISZ. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

There are no volcanoes in this area so this is only a tectonic activity. It is not possible to know when this earthquake swarm ends. This might be a aftershock activity after the Mw6,3 earthquake in SISZ that took place in this location in the year 2008. I expect this earthquake swarm to continue to few more days to weeks and then just end quietly.