During the last few days there has been high conductivity in glacier rivers coming from Mýrdalsjökull glacier (Katla volcano). Due to how cold it is the glacier rivers are not getting any melt water or water from clear streams and that is making the hydrothermal water stronger than normal. Current conductivity is 567µS/cm in Múlakvísl in Mýrdalssandur sand area (not sure where the sensor is located). Some gas has also been detected and that gas is toxic and enough amount to result in breathing problems. Measured amount of H2S was 1ppm and this gas is toxic.
Some minor earthquake activity has been in Katla volcano during the last two days. That earthquake activity might be due to the emptying of the cauldrons in Mýrdalsjökull glacier. The magnitudes in this earthquake activity is minor and all below 2,0 at the moment.
Earthquake activity in Katla volcano. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.
It is difficult to know if this means anything other than cauldrons in the glacier emptying them self in nearby glacier rivers.
Yesterday (16-June-2015) a small glacier flood started in Skaftárkatlar cauldrons in Vatnajökull glacier. The glacier flood can go up to 900m³/sec at its largest. The main risk from this glacier flood are the gases released into the air once the glacier water gets into the river, it is the advised that people stay away from the glacier rivers called Skaftá, it is also advised that people stay away from the edges of the glaciers named Skaftárjökull glacier, Tungárjökuls and Síðujökuls. It is unclear how big this glacier flood is going to be and from what cauldron is emptying, there is a good chance the cauldron that is emptying is the western one, since the eastern one empted last year and does not hold a lot of water at the moment.
Following this type of glacier flood a peak of harmonic tremor is detected from the cauldron that is emptying, it is thought that this is due to the hydrothermal vents (hot springs) that power those cauldrons start to boil when the pressure is released. There is a small chance eruption taking place in this area due to glacier flood when the pressure of the water is released, this is a chance, but it remains a small one.
Skaftárhlaup líklega hafið (Rúv.is, Icelandic, Map)
Lítið Skaftárhlaup líklega hafið (Mbl.is, Icelandic)
Skaftárhlaup mjög líklega hafið (Vísir.is, Icelandic, image)
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Article updated at 21:52 UTC.
Today (11-May-2015) a glacier flood started from Grísmfjall volcano caldera. This is not a dangerous glacier flood due to its small size. There is however a danger from sulphur gases and other gases that dissolve when the pressure is dropped on the water. If people get too close to the Gígukvísl glacier river where the flood comes from Vatnajökull glacier they risk a damage to there eyes and lungs due to burning effects from the gases in the air.
Increased harmonic tremor from Grímsfjall volcano. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.
There is now a increased harmonic tremor from Grímsfjall volcano. It is not clear why that is, it is either the glacier flood or hydrothermal vents boiling at the bottom of the lake due to the sudden pressure release on them. There is nothing suggesting that an eruption is going to follow this glacier flood from Grímsfjall volcano. Last glacier flood took place in 2014.
Lítið hlaup í Gígjukvísl (Rúv.is, Icelandic)
Today (27-February-2015) there was no visible lava flow from the main crater in Holuhraun. The eruption is not officially over, this however seems to be the end of this eruption in Bárðarbunga volcano. It appears that gas emission continue from the crater and Holuhraun at the moment, it can be expected those are going to end in next few weeks to months.
New video of the crater in Holuhraun can be found here.
Ekki glóð í gígnum í Holuhrauni – Myndband (Rúv.is, video)
It is not known what happens next in Bárðarbunga volcano or when it is going to happen. All that can be done is to wait and see.
There hasn’t been a lot of new information about the eruption in Holuhraun this week. Earthquake activity continues in Bárðarbunga volcano as before, but at slower rate and earthquake with magnitude 3,0 and larger have almost stopped at the moment.
Earthquake activity in Bárðarbunga volcano for the past 48 hours, no earthquake above magnitude 3,0 has been recorded for the past few days. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.
Earthquake activity continues in Bárðarbunga volcano, but at far lower level than just few weeks ago. Subsidence has slowed down considerably at the moment. It has not stopped. There are earthquakes along the dyke from Bárðarbunga volcano, suggesting that pressure might be increasing in it. That in it self might not lead to a new eruption.
The eruption in Holuhraun continues, but at low level. The only remaining vent that is now open is building a new crater inside the big crater that has now stopped erupting. The eruption might continue at this low level for many more months. Current status of the eruption is not known due to extremely bad weather in Iceland at the moment. The eruption is not over, it is however really small at the moment.
Due to bad weather I am expecting that my geophones might go offline due to loss of power or other connection problems that might happen due to this bad weather. Information about the storm can be found here. This is not a weather to travel outside. If you are in Iceland, stay where you are and don’t travel until the weather has passed over Iceland.
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Article updated at 16:35 UTC.
There has not been major change in Holuhraun eruption since last week. The eruption continues at low phase at the moment far as I know. Bad weather has prevented scientists monitoring the eruption in the past few days. There continues to be considerable activity in Bárðarbunga volcano, the volcano continues to deflate.
Earthquake activity in Bárðarbunga volcano for the past 48 hours. Green star is a magnitude 4,1 earthquake that took place at 14:18 UTC on 18-February-2015. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.
New vents might open up along the dyke once current vent closes up in Holuhraun. There seems to be several weak points forming along the dyke, based on current earthquake activity (cluster of earthquake activity). There is also a risk this might happen before the eruption in Holuhraun ends. If the pressure inside the dyke is enough to start an eruption in new location before that.
The long term view of Bárðarbunga volcano
When the eruption in Holuhraun ends it is not going to mean the end of activity in Bárðarbunga volcano. Current activity is just a start of activity that is going to last for several years. According to Ármann Höskuldsson volcanologist in a interview at Rúv News yesterday. While it is not known for how long the rift episode that has now started in Bárðarbunga volcano is going to last. It is clear that this is at minimum of 5 years, common time for rift zone activity is up to ten years. There is a chance it is going to last longer than that. When it comes to Bárðarbunga volcano how long such activity is not known. There are also going to be breaks, with no activity at all between eruptions. Activity in Bárðarbunga volcano won’t be declared over until it is once again stable. Eruption activity in Bárðarbunga volcano might not end until the year 2026 at the longest.
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No mayor changes have been reported since my last update. Bárðarbunga volcano continues to subside at slow rate. The eruption in Holuhraun continues around the same rate as before. Sulfur dioxide pollution continues to be a problem. There are now also worries about the amount of sulfur dioxide that is bound into snow, since once spring arrives in Iceland (April – May) that snow is going to melt and flood the grasslands and rivers with sulfur dioxide pollution, when sulfur dioxide is combined with water it creates acid rain (that has also been a problem in Iceland).
Earthquake activity in Bárðarbunga volcano for the last 48 hours. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.
Earthquake activity remains high in Bárðarbunga volcano, but there has not been a magnitude 5,0 earthquake since January-8 according to latest reports. Largest earthquake in past 48 hours had the magnitude of 4,7. I did notice today (10-Feburary-2015) several deep earthquake had taken place. This might suggest that magma is coming up from depth into Bárðarbunga volcano. It is difficult to know for sure what this means at the moment.
Correction of misunderstanding regarding Hreppar Microplate
Hreppar microplate has nothing to do with the eruption and rifting episode in Bárðarbunga volcano. Details on Hreppar microplate can be found here (page 18). Few more details can be found here (page 9).
New article schedule for Bárðarbunga volcano updates
With less activity in Bárðarbunga volcano I am lowering the amount of articles I am writing about it. Since it is hard to write about the same thing for five months. There won’t be any article on Friday (13-Feburary). Next update is going to be on Wednesday 18-Feburary. After that I am going to have weekly updates on Bárðarbunga volcano activity.
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Since last update of activity in Bárðarbunga volcano there have not been major changes in Holuhraun eruption. The lava lake in the crater has lowered by several meters based on pictures from Holuhraun today. Large cliffs have formed where the lava river is, I don’t have exact depth for them, but it is around 30 – 40 meters according to my estimate (it might be wrong).
Bárðarbunga volcano earthquakes for the past 48 hours. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.
Largest earthquake in the past 48 hours had the magnitude of 4,6. Other earthquake activity is as it has been for the past three to four weeks in terms of earthquake activity. What I have been observing in the past few days are harmonic tremor spikes, the largest one happened on 30-January-2015, after that smaller harmonic tremor spikes have been taking place. It is unclear at the moment why this is happening. This might be due to changes in hydrothermal areas under the glacier or magma is on the move inside the volcano.
Update 1: New webcamera close to the eruption. It can be viewed here.
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Article updated at 20:30 UTC.
Article updated at 20:36 UTC.
Article updated at 21:14 UTC.
Since last update nothing major has changed in Holuhraun. There have been some changes in Bárðarbunga volcano it self and I am going to cover that later in this article. The magma flow from the craters in Holuhraun remains high at the moment, with latest flow measurements saying that flow of lava is now 100m³/sec. There seems to be uncertain or maybe changes in the flow of lava out of the crater. The volume is now ~1,4 km³. The lava-field has been getting thicker over the past weeks and closest to the craters it is now around 40 meters thick. New estimate of when the eruption might end are now 4 to 15 months.
Earthquake activity in Bárðarbunga volcano for the last 48 hours. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.
Earthquake activity remains high, but it continues to drop at steady rate between weeks. Earthquake activity now also drops between peaks in activity. I still don’t know if a small eruption took place in Bárðarbunga volcano. Nothing has yet been confirmed and it might remain unconfirmed for a long time. I am also seeing small spikes in the harmonic tremor data due to hydrothermal activity in Bárðarbunga volcano (far as I can tell).
If anything major happens I am going to post update about it soon as I can.
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Nothing major is to report from last update on Holuhraun eruption. It continues at the same phase as before. It has been slowly diminishing over the past few weeks and continues to do so. There are complex reasons for this, but one thing is clear. This eruption is going to end one day. The size of the lava is unclear that the moment. It volume is now around 1,4 km³ according to the news. Cauldrons in the glacier, on top of the Bárðarbunga volcano caldera rim have been getting deeper over the past few weeks. This means that the hydrothermal activity in those areas is increasing and presence of magma at shallow depth. This also suggests that amount of magma at that shallow depth is increasing. If it is going to erupt is unclear at the moment, there are however currently higher chance that it is going to do so, rather than not.
Earthquake activity in Bárðarbunga volcano for the past 48 hours. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.
There has been less earthquake activity taking place for the past 48 hours then during same days last week. There are peaks and lows in the earthquake activity, there might be a lot of earthquakes taking place one day, other days there appears to be a low in earthquake activity. What is also playing in as a factor here is the fact that bad weather has been taking place in Iceland for the past few days.
Last week scientists have been doing studies into the gas content of the eruption to see what is contains. SO² continues to be a problem in Iceland, depending on wind direction.
Til marks um hve hættulegt svæðið er (Ruv.is, Icelandic)
Rannsaka gas við Holuhraun (Ruv.is, Icelandic, video)
Holuhraun Eruption Gases Studied (Iceland Review)
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Article updated at 22:53 UTC.
Article updated at 22:55 UTC.