Slow increase in earthquake activity in Öræfajökull volcano

There seems to be a slow increase in earthquake activity in Öræfajökull volcano. For the last 48 hours the number seems to be rising. This is how it looks on this graph from Icelandic Met Office.


Earthquake activity in Öræfajökull volcano from 2005 – today. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

This increase in earthquake activity suggest that more magma is pushing up the volcano at faster rate. The main idea now is that the magma that is pushing up Öræfajökull volcano is rhyolite in nature and that seems to be confirmed to an extent by the earthquake activity as it now appearing.


Last 48 hours of earthquake activity in Öræfajökull volcano. The volcano is located in south part of Vatnajökull glacier. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

How this develops is a big question due to lack of accurate historical accounts. What is known about the eruption in 1362 was written down up to two centuries later and when that happens lack of accuracy is passed into the written record. The written record for the eruption in 1727 – 1728 is slightly better but is far from being accurate.

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

10 Responses to Slow increase in earthquake activity in Öræfajökull volcano

  1. Gizmo says:

    “For the last 48 hours the earthquake number seems to be rising.”
    I would consider this statement as proven…! –> http://hraun.vedur.is/ja/arg/png/oraefajokull_15d.png
    Even for the last 6 days.

    • Current rate seems to be from 3 earthquakes/h to 10 earthquakes/h at the moment. This is in line with rhyolite magma slowly pushing upwards in Öræfjökull volcano at the moment.

  2. Dr D says:

    I forget what rhyolite magma correlates with. More ash in the air?

    Jon, what’s your experience and hunches tell you at this point? i.e. your best guess?

    Öræfjökull volcano will erupt before Bardabunga or the other way around?

    • Rhyolite magma is slow moving and its explosive type due to how thick it is. That means the eruption is only ash and no magma. This ash is also fine grained and that means it can stay for a long period up in the air. When a eruption happens in Öræfajökull volcano (if current process doesn’t stop) expect massive flight disruptions in Europe and even in the U.S/Canada few days later.

    • Jonas Nilsson says:

      That would make it all to a kind of “supervolcano”. Maybe only Bardarbunga and Öræfjökull. But most likely only Öræfjökull, if any of them in near future.

  3. Mike Ross says:

    Interesting quake at an interesting place…

    04.12.2017 09:45:50 64.139 -17.086 10.5 km 1.3 99.0 14.5 km NNW of Skaftafell

  4. Gizmo says:

    What a beauty!
    10. November 2017 / Sentinel-2B
    https://twitter.com/anttilip/status/935951841489190912
    See also flickr-link (pic download bottom right) for full resolution.

    • Scots john says:

      Beautiful photo! That central cauldron is right over the central magma column, a rhyolitic eruption through that ice cap would be extremely explosive!

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