Hydrothermal activity creates dangerous ice cave in Hofsjökull volcano

Hydrothermal activity has formed a ice cave in Hofsjökull glacier (volcano details here). According to an announcement by Icelandic Met Office this ice cave is dangerous due to sulphur (SO2) pollution and that it goes above 60ppm. That can result in loss of breathing, loss of vision and damage to eyes and lungs. People should only enter this ice cave with gas monitoring hardware on them. One seven year old girl passed out due to sulphur poising some weeks ago in a trip to this newly formed ice cave. There is also a high risk of collapse from the roof of the ice cave as ice appears to be loose above it and can collapse down without warning at any time.

There is also a risk of hydrothermal activity increasing and that is going to result in more sulphur (SO2) gas in the cave and other dangerous gases coming up. This appears to the same location that had increased activity 15 years ago that also formed an ice cave. The reason for this increase in hydrothermal activity is unclear since no earthquake activity has been recorded in Hofsjökull volcano for the past 10 years. This means earthquake activity above background levels, one or three earthquakes are recorded each year in random part of the caldera or parts of Hofsjökull volcano outside of the caldera area. Höfsjökull volcano is on its own rifting zone (information here, related paper here) (marked as SRZ on some documents) along with Kerlingarfjöll volcano (it is now under GVP as Hreppar. I don’t know why that is).

Icelandic News

Veðurstofa varar við íshelli í Hofsjökli (Rúv.is, Picture, Icelandic)

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Minor earthquake activity in Hofsjökull volcano

On the 30th of March-2017 there was some minor earthquake activity in Hofsjökull volcano. This was a minor earthquake activity, with the largest earthquake having the magnitude of 1,3 at depth of 4,5 km. The deepest earthquake had magnitude of 1,0 and depth of 10,1 km.


Earthquake activity in Hofsjökull volcano. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

I’m not expecting anything more to happen in Hofsjökull volcano. This volcano does not have any known eruption during the last 12.000 years that I know of. I don’t know what the latest research into activity in Hofsjökull volcano says, I was also unable to find any information about possible time frame when last eruption took place in Hofsjökull volcano. As it currently stands, I don’t expect anything more to happen besides maybe one or two extra earthquake appearing in Hofsjökull volcano.

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Few earthquakes in Hofsjökull volcano

Today (15-October-2016) few earthquakes took place in Hofsjökull volcano. This where just few earthquakes with the largest earthquake having the magnitude of 1,4. Slight to the east a magnitude 2,3 earthquake happened, that however was a intra-plate earthquake and is not connected to any volcano.

161015_1340
Earthquake activity in Hofsjökull volcano. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

This earthquake activity in Hofsjökull volcano appears to be a response to a stress change in the area, even if sits on its own rift zone (Skagafjörður rift zone, science paper). It is my guess that the source of this stress changes can be found in Bárðarbunga volcano and the movement of the eastern rift zone that is currently happening. I’m not expecting any eruption from Hofsjökull volcano, it’s not known when last eruption took place in Hofsjökull volcano. More earthquakes might happen in the future due to stress changes in the upper crust close to Hofsjökull volcano or in Hofsjökull volcano.

Update on 16-October-2016

The Icelandic Met Office has updated the earthquakes location. Now they are all in Hofsjökull volcano. Six earthquakes happened and the largest one had the magnitude of 2,3. No intra-plate earthquake happened, that was just a wrong manual location.

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Updated locations of the earthquakes in Hofsjökull volcano. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

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Article updated on 16-October-2016 at 16:23 UTC. Updated earthquake map added.

Earthquake activity in Hofsjökull volcano

Today (13-June-2014) an earthquake activity took place in Hofsjökull volcano. The largest earthquake in this activity had the magnitude of 2,8 with the depth of 5,1 km.

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Earthquake activity in Hofsjökull volcano. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Meteorological Office.

Earthquake activity in Hofsjökull volcano is not common but it does happen once to twice a year. Everything remains quiet at Hofsjökull volcano and I don’t expect that is going to change any time soon.

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Updated at 16:47 UTC.
Updated at 17:23 UTC.
Updated at 17:39 UTC.

Source of the glacier flood in Hofsjökull volcano found

In August-2013 there was an glacier flood from Hofsjökull volcano, this glacier flood was minor and did not cause any damage. The source of this glacier flood has now been found according to Icelandic Meteorological Office. A new glacier cauldron has been found in Hofsjökull glacier, where none was before. The cauldron is around 700 meters long and about 30 – 50 meters deep. The glacier is cracked a lot around the cauldron and it’s dangerous to travel to this area because of that. The hight of this cauldron is around 1700 meters above sea level.

hofsjokull_24sept2013
Hofsjökull volcano and glacier. The new glacier cauldron is located at ~64°49,5‘N; 18°52‘W. Click on the image for full resolution. Image from NASA/USGS/Icelandic Meteorological Office/Geological Department of University of Iceland (Jarðvísindastofnun Háskólans).

According to Icelandic Meteorological Office this part of the glacier has not had any glacier cauldrons before that they know of. This cauldron has the volume of 1 million cubic meters (106 m3) according to Icelandic Meteorological Office. This area now has highly active hydro-thermal area and hot-springs. What formed this glacier cauldron is unclear at the moment, it was not an eruption since no such signals have been recorded from Hofsjökull volcano before or after the glacier flood in August-2013. It is also unclear if this glacier cauldron is going to create new glacier flood in the future.

Icelandic Meteorological Office announcement

Hlaup úr Hofsjökli í ágúst 2013 (vedur.is, in Icelandic)

Icelandic News

Fundu sigketil á Hofsjökli (mbl.is, Icelandic)

Blog post updated at 21:02 UTC on 11-October-2013.
Blog post updated at 01:45 UTC on 12-October-2013.

Glacier flood from Hofsjökull volcano continues

Yesterday (21-August-2013) saw the start of small glacier flood from Hofsjökull volcano, this glacier flood has continued today and west Jökulsá in Skagarfirði continues to smell of sulfur and is dark color. Conductivity remains high in the glacier river following this glacier flood. It is not known currently for sure what areas of Hofsjökull volcano this comes from or what cauldrons are emptying of hydrothermal water build up.

Announcement (seen on Facebook) from Almannavarnir (Iceland Civil Protection) and Icelandic Meteorological Office on the strength of sulfur following this glacier flood is so high that it is dangerous to be close the source of the glacier flood (closest to Hofsjökull volcano). Strength of sulfur in the area is high enough to damage people lungs, travellers in the area advised to stay away from the source of the glacier river Jökulsá until this glacier flood is over, that might take few days at most. No earthquake activity has been observed in Hofsjökull volcano following this glacier flood. The volcano has been completely quiet during this glacier flood and at current time do not expect it to show any activity. Currently there is little known about Hofsjökull volcano and the activity in it, since it has never erupted during modern era (past 12.000 years).

Icelandic news about this glacier flood

Kanna hvað er á seyði í Vestari Jökulsá (Rúv.is, Icelandic)
Lítið jökulhlaup í Hofsjökli (Rúv.is)
Hlaup í Vestari Jökulsá (mbl.is, pictures)

Blog post updated at 16:56 UTC on 22-August-2013.

Possible glacier flood from Hofsjökull volcano

It has been reported today that possible glacier flood has taken place in Hofsjökull volcano. Reports did come to Icelandic Meteorological Office that a glacier river named Jökulsá Vestri in Skagarfirði (Wikipedia). It is not known what is causing this change in the glacier river, it might be anything from a mud slide to change in the glacier itself. Amount of water in the glacier river has not changed according to IMO monitoring of the river.

Smell of sulfur has been reported with this change in the glacier river. That means the water has been in contact with hydrothermal areas that are under Hofsjökull glacier (volcano). No earthquake activity or change of any type has taken place following this change in Jökulsá Vestri in Skagarfirði.

If anything more happens. I am going to update this blog post or post an new one if I need to.

Icelandic News on this event

Jökulsá Vestari óvenjuleg á litin (Rúv.is)
Brennisteinslykt við Goðdali (mbl.is)

Minor earthquake in Höfsjökull volcano. Continued earthquake activity in Tjörnes Fracture Zone

It has been quiet in Iceland for the past few weeks. Mostly due to bad weather. But that drops the SIL network ability to detect minor earthquake activity in Iceland.

Hofsjökull volcano

Hofsjökull volcano is among Iceland most quiet volcanoes. With no eruption documented in historical times. Hofsjökull volcano is also a interesting volcano. As it more like two volcanoes in one. Why that is I am not sure. Hofsjökull volcano is covered with a glacier that is up to 650 meters thick in the central caldera.


The earthquake in Hofsjökull volcano. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Meteorological Office.

This earthquake was small. Just magnitude 1.3. But with the depth of 22,4 km. So it took place in the magma chamber, or close to it. Rather then any crustal earthquake activity. But it is hard to know for sure at the moment. During a normal year. Hofsjökull volcano can have up to 10 earthquakes during the year. Some years there are no earthquakes at all in Hofsjökull volcano.

Tjörnes Fracture Zone

Earthquake swarm that started on 20th of October in TFZ continues to this day. But currently the earthquake activity is just minor earthquakes at the moment. But the swarm is ongoing now for one month. There are also no signs of this earthquake swarm stopping. Even if the earthquakes are just minor ones for now.


Current earthquake activity in TFZ today and past few days. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Meteorological Office.

I fully expect the earthquake activity to continue in TFZ. When it might stop is impossible to know for now. So keeping an eye of this area of TFZ is a good idea. The risk of large earthquake taking place in this area remains unchanged last I knew.

The dormant volcanoes in Iceland

While all the active volcanoes in Iceland get all the press and coverage. There are volcanoes in Iceland that are not so active and have remain dormant for thousands of years now and currently do not show any signs of activity. Some have some hot spring activity. But that is about it for them. The following volcanoes in Iceland have not erupted in historical times. Some have not even erupted in past 12.000 years best to my knowledge. But as history has proved in other parts of the world. An dormant volcano can start to erupt when it feels like it and without any warning at all in some cases.

This is based on Global Volcanism Program data. So it might be subject to errors and updates.

Volcano

Hrómundartindur – Last eruption is unknown. This volcano is an stratovolcano.

Grensdalur – Last eruption was in Pleistocene and its current status is Pleistocene-Fumarolic. This volcano is an stratovolcano.

Grímsnes – Last eruption is believed to have taken place around 3500 BC. But this volcano is marked as tephrochronology. This volcano makes crater rows when it erupts.
Geysir – This volcano last erupted in Pleistocene and is marked as Pleistocene-Geysers. This is an stratovolcano.

Hveravellir – This volcano last erupted around the year 950 AD. It is currently marked as radiocarbon. This is an subglacial volcano.

Hofsjökull – This volcano has erupted sometimes in the last 12.000 years. It has the marking holocene. This is an subglacial volcano. The second volcano in this system is not marked in GVP database. But that volcano is named Kerlingarfjöll. I do not know when it last erupted. There is also an embeeded second volcano in Hofsjökull volcano that is Independent from the main Hofsjökull volcano (yes, this is the case it seems). I do not have any idea when that did last erupt.

Esjufjöll – This is an sub-glacier volcano in Vatnajökull glacier. Its last eruption is uncertain. But is believed to taken place in the year 1927. From the year 2000 this volcano has been showing signs of increased activity. This volcano is an stratovolcano.

Fremrinamur – This volcano is last believed to have erupted in the year 1200 BC. This volcano is an stratovolcano.

Þeystareykjabunga – This volcano last erupted around the year 900 BC. This volcano is an shield volcano.

Snæfellsjökull – This volcano last erupted around 200 AD. It is currently marked as radiocarbon. This is an stratovolcano.

Helgrindur (also known as Lysuhóll) – This volcano has no record of eruption. But it is thought that it erupted sometimes in the past 12.000 years. But exact time is not known. This volcano makes pyroclastic cones. This volcano is the smallest volcano system in Iceland.

Tindafjallajökull – It is unknown if this volcano has erupted during holocene. But the GVP information say that dozen of small eruptions took place in early holocene. This is an stratovolcano.

Snæfell – This volcano is located east of Vatnajökull glacier and south of Kverkfjöll volcano. It was once believed that this volcano was extinct. But new research into it has changed that opinion. This is most likely an stratovolcano. But I do not have it confirmed. This volcano has at least not erupted for several thousands years or more. Currently there are no information about this volcano in the Global Volcanism Program database.

Skrokkalda – This volcano is dormant. But I do not know if it has erupted in historical times or not, but I do no think that is the case. I am also not sure what type of volcano it is.

There are few more volcanoes missing due the fact that they are not in the Global Volcanism Program database. But I have them on a map that I own. So they are going to be added later when I update this blog post.

Overview of Hjofsjökull volcano activity

Hofsfjökull volcano is not among the most activate volcanoes in Iceland. It has never erupted since Iceland got inhabited. The last eruption that took place in Hofsjökull volcano is undated, but took place sometimes in the last 12.000 years or so.

Here is a short overview of the activity since the year 1999 in Hofsjökull volcano. All pictures are from the web site of Icelandic Met Office and copyright of them belongs to them.

Last earthquake swarm took place in Week 47, in the year 1999.

In Week 21, in the year 2008 a harmonic tremor pulse was detected from Hofsjökull volcano. This started at 13:30 UTC on the 24. May 2008.

SIL stations in Iceland showing the harmonic tremor pulse. Picture number one.

SIL stations in Iceland showing the harmonic tremor pulse. Picture number two.

Spectrograph from the SIL station Saurbær (south Iceland, located on the SISZ).

Spectrograph from the SIL station Skrokkalda. This station is located closest to Hofsjökull volcano, along with the SIL station at Hveravöllum hydrothermal area.

During this episode of harmonic tremor one earthquake was detected in north Hofsjökull volcano.

The one earthquake detected in Week 21 in the year 2008. On the week overview for Week 21 in the year 2008 they think that this might have been a swarm of small earthquakes that they where unable to locate. But I do not agree with that, given the data that is published on this event.

Other then this there have been few earthquakes every now and then in Hofsjökull volcano. But besides that it remains quiet and is most likely to be so for the time being.