Increase in earthquake activity in Hamarinn volcano (Bárðarbunga volcano)

Over the last few days there has been increase in earthquake activity in Hamarinn volcano (Bárðarbunga volcano). In Global Volcanism Program record this area is known as Loki-Fögrufjöll. Largest earthquakes today (12-August-2019) had a magnitude of 2,8 and 2,5 and other earthquakes have been smaller in magnitude.


The earthquake activity in Hamarinn volcano (red/blue dots at the edge of the glacier). Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

Last time Hamarinn volcano had this type of earthquake activity it erupted for few months after it had started. That was on 12th July 2011. I wrote about those events here and here (glacier flood that followed, July 13th 2011). There were minor additional eruptions in August and November in 2011 according to the tremor data, those eruptions only lasted for ~4 hours at most. Since then this area has mostly been quiet and did drop down in activity after the eruption in Bárðarbunga volcano in 2014 to 2015.

It is unclear what is going on in Hamarinn volcano, for now there is no eruption taking place and any eruption is going to appear clearly on harmonic tremor data on the SIL network. It seems that eruptions in Hamarinn volcano start without any earthquake activity, I don’t know why that is. Last major eruption in Hamarinn volcano took place in the year 1910 from June 18 to October.

Earthquake in Hamarinn volcano

Today (23-November-2018) at 21:35 UTC an earthquake with magnitude of 3,5 took place in Hamarinn volcano (No GVP, is under Bárðarbunga volcano, also known as Loki-Fögrufjöll). Last unconfirmed eruption was in July 2011 and lasted ~12 hours. It resulted in a glacier flood and did not break the glacier. That eruption was only visible on harmonic tremor measurements.


Hamarinn volcano activity (green star to the left). Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

It is possible that more activity is on the way, before the eruption in 2011 there was a increase in earthquakes in Hamarinn volcano. The same pattern seems to be happening now. The July 2011 eruption started without any earthquake activity, suggesting that magma is shallow in the crust already and doesn’t need any major change in pressure to start an eruption.

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Glacier flood confirmed from Skaftárkatlar cauldron

It was confirmed today (02-August-2018) that glacier flood has started from Skaftárkatlar cauldron. According to the news the GPS monitoring station close the cauldrons started to drop around midnight. Around same time harmonic tremor started to change on nearby SIL stations.


Harmonic tremor on nearby SIL station due to glacier flood. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

It can take up to a week for the glacier flood to finish, but that depends on the amount of water in the cauldron that is emptying it self. According to the news the eastern Skaftákatlar cauldron is now emptying it self. It last did so three years ago.

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Possible confirmation of minor eruption in Hamarinn volcano in July 2011

In July-2011 a minor eruption took place in Hamarinn volcano (part of Bárðarbunga volcano system). For a long time I’ve thought that those events in Hamarinn volcano where an eruption, rather than anything else. Due to how the glacier flood appeared and how sudden this all thing did happen.

Today (05-March-2016) Stöð 2 (Channel 2) ran a small news segment about this and the possible confirmation of this minor eruption in Hamarinn volcano in July-2011. I have the same view on the minor eruption in Katla volcano that same month. Its the view of Magnús Tumi, professor in geology that the events in Katla volcano where due to hydrothermal activity, not a minor eruption. I disagree with his assessment on what did happen in Katla volcano that summer. The top flood from Hamarinn volcano in July-2011 was 2.200m³/sec.

The articles I wrote about the events in Hamarinn volcano can be found here.
New harmonic tremor detected. But it is not from Katla volcano
Glacier flood confirmed from Vatnajökull glacier, flood is from Hamarinn volcano (Loki-Fögrufjöll area)

Vísir.is / Stöð 2 news in Icelandic

Lítið leynigos líklega í Vatnajökli árið 2011 (Vísir.is, Icelandic, images, video)

Bárðarbunga volcano earthquake swarm (Week 01 2016)

Current earthquake activity in Bárðarbunga volcano is going to be a regular feature until next eruption. Due to that I won’t write about all the earthquakes that happens, just when a magnitude 3,0 or larger earthquakes take place. The situation in Bárðarbunga volcano and nearby areas is getting more complex due to increasing magma activity at depth and surprising high number of them are creating pathways to the shallow crust. Since the eruption in Holuhraun ended there has been increase in earthquake activity in Bárðarbunga volcano, this is best seen by almost weekly magnitude 3,0 or stronger earthquakes. What has also been appearing over the past few weeks is deep activity in Trölladyngja, activity that started on 28 km depth and up to 20 km depth currently. That process only took around 1,5 – 2,5 months to happen (short amount of time). The activity in Trölladyngja is troubling in my view, since it’s my opinion that if the magma manages to create a pathway to the surface it is going to start an eruption in that area. Magma below Trölladyngja might also stop in it’s track, if it gets close enough to the surface without eruption it might create a new hill or new hydrothermal area while it’s cooling down. Whatever happens in the end is going to be interesting.

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Latest earthquake activity in Bárðarbunga volcano. Copyright of this image belongs to Iceland Met Office.

The second issue that is now starting to show it self is Loki-Fögrufjöll volcano, also known as Hamarinn. Today a magnitude 3,2 earthquake took place in it, not far from Skaftárkötlum cauldrons, the depth was 0,7 km. The earthquake today in Bárðarbunga volcano also had the magnitude of 3,2 with the depth of 0,1 km. Loki-Fögrufjöll volcano is a complex volcano with shallow magma chambers. After the last glacier flood it was clear that hydrothermal activity in Skaftárkatlar cauldrons is increasing the hydrothermal areas are growing in size. This means there is more energy flowing into the hydrothermal systems and the only way that happens if new hotter magma into the volcano. This development is troubling, both in short term and long term. This increases the risk of minor eruption in Loki-Fögrufjöll volcano considerable in my view. Risk of larger eruption in Loki-Fögrufjöll volcano has also gone up. Last eruption in Loki-Fögrufjöll volcano that was large took place in the year 1910 and lasted from June to October that year. Last minor eruption in my view took place in July 2011, lasting for few hours. That eruption has not been confirmed by geologists yet, I don’t know why that is. A glacier flood followed that eruption.

Other complexities in all of this are random fissures that might open up under unknown dykes, starting a eruption in areas that might not have seen a eruption in a long time. Along with new magma dykes going somewhere new. Whatever happens it is going to be interesting and this is going to take a long time. It takes Bárðarbunga volcano, since it starts it eruption cycle up to 20 years to finish once it’s started. The eruption cycle that started in 1862 did not end until 1910. A new eruption cycle started in 2014 and it’s ongoing. The longest eruption cycle I see in GVP data is a eruption cycle that started in 1697, it didn’t end until the year 1797.

Hekla volcano

A single earthquake with the magnitude of 1,7 took place in Hekla volcano today. Nothing else happened following this earthquake. This means Hekla volcano remains quiet.

Frost quakes

It’s cold now in Iceland. This means frost quakes have been appearing on Iceland Met Office SIL stations. This has also been increasing the noise levels on some SIL stations (the blue band when seeing harmonic tremor levels).

History of eruptions in Iceland

I’ve added a short link to a post that a made back in 2011 and I continue to update. This post has all of the eruptions in Iceland since the year ~900. This is good for people that want to check for historical eruptions in Iceland.

Article updated at 00:25 UTC on 11-January-2016. Updated for slight increase in clarity of wording.

Something is going on in Hamarinn (Bárðarbunga) and Tungnafellsjökull volcanoes

Today (11-September-2015) an earthquake swarm started in Hamarinn volcano (no GVP profile, see Bárðarbunga volcano). This is a volcano that is inside Bárðarbunga volcano fissure swarm and might be connected to it, that connection is unclear, but historical data suggests that once Bárðarbunga volcano gets erupting sometimes Hamarinn volcano does too. There is a similar pattern in Grímsfjall volcano and Þórðarhyrna volcano (no GVP profile) as an another example.

Current sequence of earthquakes in Hamarinn volcano started with a small earthquake at 22,5 km depth. Few shallower earthquakes happened before that event, those earthquakes however might be connected to changes in hydrothermal systems in the volcano, rather then something else. The deep earthquake that took place started a series of smaller earthquakes at shallower depth, suggesting that pressure is already high inside the volcano, how close it might be to erupting is impossible to know, but the clues that I’m not seeing do not look good. This might die out, but I think the chance of that are small. Last eruption in Hamarinn volcano took place in July-2011, I wrote about it here, here and here.

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Current area of activity in Hamarinn volcano. This area is covered with a thick glacier up to 300 – 400 meters. Copyright of this image belongs to Iceland Met Office.

jok.svd.11.09.2015.at.22.48.utc
Harmonic tremor data is showing that current earthquake activity are low and long period earthquakes (green and red spikes). I also noted that on this image a harmonic tremor spike can be seen on the green band. It does not appear visible on the red and blue bands. I’m unclear on why this is. Copyright of this image belongs to Iceland Met Office.

skr.svd.11.09.2015.at.22.49.utc
The harmonic tremor spike does not appear on the SIL station Skrokkalda. I don’t know why that is. Earthquake activity appears clearly on it (spikes). Copyright of this image belongs to Iceland Met Office.

Activity in Tungafellsjökull volcano

There has been interesting earthquake activity in Tungafellsjökull volcano today. Today earthquake swarm started with the depth of 12,3 km and it mostly stayed there. Suggesting that magma dyke injections are taking place in the volcano at the moment. If and when this might lead to an eruption is impossible to know. Magma might be at shallower depth already due to high activity during the eruption in Bárðarbunga volcano.

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The earthquake activity in Tungafellsjökull volcano, it’s located north of both Bárðarbunga and Hamarinn volcano (NE of Hamarinn). Current activity is a small cluster of earthquakes in north-east part of Tungafellsjökull volcano. Copyright of this image belongs to Iceland Met Office.

Largest earthquake in this swarm so far had the magnitude of 1,9. It was also the shallowest earthquake in this swarm. So far no change on the surface of Tungnafellsjökull volcano, meaning that no hydrothermal vents have appeared so far. That might not happen since formation of hydrothermal vents does not always happen before an eruption.

What is going to happen next in Bárðarbunga volcano

It has been few days since the eruption in Holuhraun has ended and everything is quiet for the moment in Bárðarbunga volcano. What is going to happen next is a big question and nobody has the exact answer. Here are few options.

  • Nothing is going to happen. The rift is going to continue without more eruptions.
  • New magma intrusion is going to start soon in Bárðarbunga volcano. New eruption is going to start days to weeks later.

There is also high risk in my view of eruptions in Hamarinn volcano (also called Loki-Fögrufjöll). That volcano system is inside Bárðarbunga volcano and dyke intrusion from Bárðarbunga to the south might start a volcano eruption in it. I don’t know how big such eruption would be, it is my estimate. Dyke to Torfajökull volcano is unlikely to happen. I however cannot rule it out at this point.

What is going happen in Bárðarbunga volcano depends on many factors and not all of them are known. What is known is that heat has been increasing in shallower parts of the crust and caldera for the past six months and those signs are not good. What is not known is the time in question. Next eruption could happen tomorrow or nothing can happen for years. There is no way to know when next eruption is going to happen.

Currently I am just monitoring Bárðarbunga volcano and waiting to see what happens next. The text above is just speculation, not fact. It is not clear what is going to happen next. The only way to know that for sure is to wait until next eruption starts and that might be a long wait.

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Bárðarbunga volcano update on 5-January-2015

This is the short update for Bárðarbunga volcano for Monday 5-January-2015.

No major change has been reported in the eruption in Holuhraun during the weekend. The eruption continues mostly in the same phase as before. The lava now mostly flows in lava tubes in the large lava field that has been created in this four month old eruption.

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The earthquake activity in Bárðarbunga volcano for the past 48 hours. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

Earthquake activity in Bárðarbunga volcano has dropped for the past few days. It doesn’t seems to be increasing again, that suggest in my view that the magma chamber that was being emptied is now almost or completely empty. If that is the case there is a risk (in my view) that a it might collapse in on it self. That would not be a caldera collapse, rather just collapse of one chamber in a complex volcano. This might not happen, if it does the signs are going to be swarm of large earthquakes taking place during the time this happens. If this does not happen, the crust in Bárðarbunga volcano might stay (even if most or all of the magma is gone) up and not break so easily. It is however a common fact that nature does not like empty spaces where none need to be.

Tungafellsjökull and Hamarinn volcanoes

There is now a concern among that Bárðarbunga volcano is starting instability in Tungafellsjökull volcano and Hamarinn volcano (also known as Loki-Fögrufjöll). The volcanoes Grímsfjall and Kverkfjöll are at risk of increased instability due to Bárðarbunga volcano, at the moment however that does seems to be happening. The story is different with Tungafellsjökull and Hamarinn volcanoes, there is increased activity in those two volcanoes over the past four months.

There is a problem with Hamarinn volcano that it is not earthquake active volcano and it appears to be able to erupt without much warning or any earthquake activity at all (that might change, this is just what past data suggest). Suggesting that magma is already at shallow depth in it and the crust might be so soft that it doesn’t break (this is just my idea of what might be going on, it has not been proven by measurements far as I know). If that is the case, as the data suggest an eruption in Hamarinn volcano might happen without warning and little or no earthquake activity at all. Last eruption in Hamarinn volcano was in July-2011 and I did cover it here and here.

Tungafellsjökull volcano is a different story. There has been some dyke activity been taking place in it since late 2011 or early 2012. Those dykes have created pathways for larger magma intrusion into the crust. Currently that magma is not in high amount to erupt, it also does not have the pressure to erupt far as I can tell from the data (in my view). As this stands now, a considerable more has to happen in Tungafellsjökull volcano before a first ever eruption in historical times (warning! I have known to be wrong about those things).

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Status update on Bárðarbunga volcano at 21:21 UTC

This information is going to get outdated quickly.

About how I work my data

I do all my data work in my head. Since I don’t have the computer power or the programming skills do so in normal computer. This is generally refereed as “thought experiments” I think. The data set for Bárðarbunga volcano are now huge and it takes me a while to update them and work out what I am seeing.

Caldera collapse is in progress in Bárðarbunga volcano

I know that scientists in Iceland don’t want to mention this in the news and are still hoping for current sequence of events to stop. That is not going to happen, it was already to late when the magma found a way out of the magma chamber on 16-August-2014, all that can be done now is to plan for the eventual collapse of Bárðarbunga volcano into a new caldera. I don’t expect the mountain to make it based on current earthquake activity. Eruptions should also be expected without warning around the circle that the earthquakes have now formed around the magma chamber that is collapsing in Bárðarbunga volcano.

Bárðarbunga volcano is however not going to collapse quickly, while the eruption once it starts in Bárðarbunga volcano is only going to last 1 week at the longest. This type of events takes several weeks to months from start to end. When Askja volcano collapsed in 1875 it started sometimes in the year 1874 and did not end until October 1875 (Global Volcanism Program says 1. Jan, 1875 to 1875, 17 Oct.). So this might take more than six months from start to end and might not end until sometimes next year (2015). There is also a chance this collapse is going to take just several weeks. There is no way to know for sure how long this is going to take, since it depends on many unknown factors. There is also a factor that no caldera collapse has taken place in Iceland since modern recording and monitoring of volcanoes started in Iceland (around 1970).

Current status of the Bárðarbunga volcano

  • Eruption continues in Holuhraun lava field. Most of the craters have now stopped erupting and one is now just emitting gas according to latest reports today.
  • Power of the eruption in Holuhraun is about the same since it started, even if there are fewer vents erupting lava at the moment.
  • Visibility has been limited today due to bad weather in the highland of Iceland.
  • SO2 levels in populated areas in east Iceland did go up to 2550µg/m³ around 15:00 UTC in Reyðjarfjöður village. Health warning was issued for the area during the peak of the SO2 pollution.
  • Largest earthquakes today had the magnitude of 5,5 at 05:25 UTC, second largest earthquake today had the magnitude of 4,8 at 15:51 UTC. Other earthquakes have been smaller. There is now less earthquake activity taking place since magma is not breaking as much crust as before.
  • The caldera has now dropped some 20 meters according to last measurements taken when there was a flight over Bárðarbunga volcano.
  • There continues to be earthquake in the dyke, most of it is in area that is covered with glacier.
  • Eruption in Hamarinn (Loki-Fögrufjöll) volcano is now a possibility. It might start without warning and without any earthquake activity, or just little earthquake activity.
  • Dyke activity might start to go south of Bárðarbunga volcano. It has not happened yet, but there is a high risk of it in my personal view.
  • This is creating stress changes around Bárðarbunga volcano. There is a minimal risk of that starting an eruption in other volcano systems that are nearby. It is not likely to happen, but the possibility is there. The reason is that Bárðarbunga volcano is a large volcano, the second biggest in Iceland in my view. With Hofsjökull volcano being the largest in Iceland in my view.
  • The lava field continues to block the glacier river Jökulsá á Fjöllum. As this progresses there is going to be a natural dam in this area after few days.
  • Seven minor eruptions have been confirmed according to the news today (on Rúv). This is besides the eruptions that where in the glacier free area (and are still ongoing). None of those eruptions seems to have lasted for long.
  • Based on harmonic tremor I think pressure is again increasing in Bárðarbunga volcano magma chamber system. This does not appear to be resulting in more powerful eruption in Holuhraun. That is why I think there is increased risk of new dyke to start forming.
  • Gas output from the eruption in Holuhraun remains high and it is extremely dangerous to go there. The lava field is also creating a lot of local weather in good weather. That also makes this dangerous. This eruption is no place for tourist.

Updates

Updates go here when they happen.

News bits

I am going to add news here in case anything happens.

References list

Caldera (Wikipedia)
Modelling Caldera Collapse (OSU)
Caldera (Science Daily)

Deep earthquake in Hamarinn volcano

Yesterday (21-March-2014) an extremly deep earthquake took place in Hamarinn volcano (part of Bárðarbunga volcano often called Loki-Fögrufjöll). The magnitude of this earthquake was just 1,4 but its depth was around 29,7 km. The location of this earthquake was just 10,4 km North-East of Hamarinn volcano (main). So it possibly was inside Hamarinn main volcano system, but I am not sure on that detail.

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The earthquake activity in Hamarinn volcano and Öræfajökull volcano. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Meteorological Office.

Earthquakes that take place this depth happen due to magma movement or small dike intrusion at depth. I don’t know what is the actual case here, this might just be an earthquake at depth. The crust has the depth of 40 km at this location (study on this can be found here) due to hotspot [second link here] activity that has increased the thickness of the crust. Last eruption in Hamarinn volcano was in July 2011, it was an minor eruption that took place and lasted just for few hours and did not breach the glacier.

Post updated at 21:02 UTC.