Strong earthquake swarm in Bárðarbunga volcano

During the early hours of 19-November-2016 a strong earthquake swarm took place in Bárðarbunga volcano. This is the strongest earthquake swarm in Bárðarbunga volcano for a long time now. Strongest earthquake had the magnitude of 4,0, other magnitudes where 3,5 and 3,1. All other magnitudes where smaller.

The earthquake activity in Bárðarbunga volcano. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

This earthquake activity suggests that pressure is increasing fast inside the volcano. I don’t know how much Bárðarbunga volcano has inflated since September-2015 but that must be considerable amount since a earthquake of magnitude 4,0 means a slip of few millimetres (I don’t have the information of much movement happens when a earthquake happen. I didn’t find the data about it). Over the past one year there has been a lot of earthquakes taken place in the Bárðarbunga volcano caldera, suggesting a rapid inflation of the volcano. It is not known if this is going to result in a eruption soon or sometimes later, all that is known is that magma is flowing into shallow magma chamber from deep within the volcano.


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Article updated at 22:42 UTC. Added a missing part.

This entry was posted in Bárðarbunga, Earthquakes, Inflation, Magma, Monitoring, Swarm, Volcano. Bookmark the permalink.

41 Responses to Strong earthquake swarm in Bárðarbunga volcano

  1. Sander says:

    where can we place the bets for the first one to erupt: Bardarbunga or Katla ?

  2. SR says:

    Don’t forget Hekla, she has been quieter of late, but pressure there is sufficient for an eruption at any time now, plus it’s been very long since the last eruption.

    I think I’ll place my bet for Katla. Bárðarbunga is inflating quickly, but it hasn’t been that long since it last erupted. Hekla is well pressurized, but it has been rather quiet of late, while Katla has been quite active- a 3.0 today and a plenty of smaller quakes all fall long, plus conductivity in Múlakvisl going up all the time…but then, these are volcanoes and I’m not all that knowledgeable anyway.

    • Scots John says:

      Hekla is known for its unpredictable behaviour with very little warning and there have been a few odd earthquakes there in recent weeks. It has always been my side bet!

  3. WurzelDave says:

    Grimsvotn, then Katla, Hekla, Bardabunga.
    So confident am I, I’ll bet a cheese sandwich on it! 🙂

  4. John Gee says:

    I think there is good data to match the incidence of EQ activity to the phases of the Moon. And recently we have had a close SuperMoon. Consider the activity in New Zealand. That EXACTLY matches the close proximity of the Moon.

    And now a swarm in Iceland, another sensitive area. There is surely some correlation.

    • This does not happen. Random chances happen at random, that goes for the New Zealand.

      More details here,

    • a320er says:

      Nonsense. Pure nonsense.

    • Henk Weijerstrass says:

      The only thing the moon has influence at, are high and low tide in the oceans/seas. If the gravity of the moon would be that powerful to create these strong earthquakes; like the one in New Zealand, we could walk effortless, like on the moon.

    • overit says:

      I believe that theory IS correct
      as most slow solar sunspot times also produce activity quakewise
      and we have had low to no sunspots and the perigee moon.
      a side issue but interesting maybe for some?
      epilepsy seizures also appear to peak at just on full moon cycles and the beginning of waning cycle
      I am noticing over the course of a full yr with an epileptic pet
      he was not due(has a 3mthly approx cycle) but has had a series of them since the perigee moon

      • This is nonsense. I have nothing else to say about this.

      • Z says:

        Sad to hear about your dog’s condition, overit. But leave the moon out of your theories, since it is… well, nonsense.

        Here’s an image to help putting things to scale:

        In short, if Tellus was the size of a pea, the Moon would be like a grain of sand. An extreme perigee means this ‘moon-grain’ is something like 12 cm away from the ‘Tellus-pea’, while at extreme apogee you’d have to move the sand grain about 1.5 cm further away from the pea. And these are the EXTREMES.

        Here’s also a useful site with perigee and apogee distances, month by month, year by year.

        I wish people could read/listen to some Carl Sagan instead of whatever crackpot baloney they’re consuming and spewing out in public.

  5. William Gunning says:

    John if this is the case why hasn’t other fault lines especially those with more strain on them around the world been triggered. This craziness has to stop I’m sorry

  6. Solli says:

    A sharp increase of water and conducticity from the glacial Riverside on Sólheimasandi coming from mýrdalsjökull or katla, scientist from IMO released a statement on

  7. SR says:

    Can someone interpret this new and interesting looking tremor recorded at GOD lowpass?
    Not that I’m excited or anything, but I don’t think I’ve seen this before during my Katla-stalking career…

    • Solli says:

      Some Glacial rivers from Katla are also boosting up in Conductivity aswell as tremor spikes on the sil around katla and in katla. Seems to me like she is up to something

      • SR says:

        With exception of Krossá and Markarfljót, it looks like that. And Múlakvísl conductivity has hovered around 200 for several days now. So it has risen quite a bit during this fall, and rather steadily as well-there have been only a few short drops mostly related to heavy rains in the area. This is interesting, though we probably shouldn’t read too much into it. Even though Katla seems to be up to something, this kind of thing could go on for quite a while before anything big happens.

        Jón, thanks! Fascinating! I read about the Japan earthquake, but would not have thought that its ripples can be seen as far as in Iceland (or in a place that has plenty of earthquake activity of its own). The things I keep learning in here! 😀

    • You are seeing the earthquake wave from the Japan earthquake. It had the magnitude of Mw6,9.

  8. Z says:

    Looks like another strong EQ in the DYN region.

  9. Luisport says:

    22.11.2016 15:53:11 64.618 -17.436 0.1 km 3.6 99.0 5.0 km ESE of Bárðarbunga

  10. Adrian says:

    Sorry about off-topic. Something is happening under Vesuvius. Weak but very shallow tremors in the center of volcano. Everyday I checking situation under him, and this situation is new for me.

  11. Micke says:

    I doubt the rift activity at have any connection to the quakes in NZ and Japan but it’s seems like a respond to less pressure relived at the other side.
    I guess it have a lot more influence then the moon:)

  12. Z says:

    Has it been raining much in Myrdalsjökull region?
    Most hydrology stations show a rapid increase of waterflow. but conductivity readings are not as consistent.

  13. Henk Weijerstrass says:

    Mother nature is a wonderful woman to ‘make’ 2 quakes at the same depth (0.1) km; the same location and distance (6,9 km NNE of Gođabunga) and with EXACT 4 minutes between the two: 14:41:25 and 14:45:25. Nice!

  14. Jon…with the 3.8 at Bardy this morning, followed by a 2.5 and a 2.9, does that mean lava pushing up from below ?

    I would have thought the lesser quakes would have come first, followed by the bigger one as you say inflation is the cause for the +3 quakes and pressure from below.

    I’m confused ?


    • The magma is pushing the “lid” in the caldera up again. This is creating earthquakes along the North-east part of the Bárðarbunga volcano caldera. Why that happens is not known at the moment. That magma is inflating the Bárðarbunga volcano and that process started in September-2015.

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