Yesterday (13-November-2019) has been a little quieter in the earthquake swarm in Askja volcano. Largest earthquake in the last 24 hours had a magnitude of Mw3,1. Over the last 48 hours around 500 earthquakes have happened in Askja volcano. There was a peak in activity after the magntidue Mw3,1 earthquake but it slowed down soon after that. Depth of this earthquake swarm has changed slightly, deepest points are now at 7 to 8 km and that might be a problem since magma is possibly at 10 to 15 km depth in this location. If this is a magma that can erupt I don’t know, if there is magma at this location it might also be a magma that’s too cold to erupt.
The earthquake activity in Askja volcano. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.
The earthquakes continue to be rift-zone earthquakes along fault lines and there is as of the writing of this article no signs of magma movement in Askja volcano as a result of this earthquake swarm. This earthquake swarm has been going on for a week from today (14-November-2019). It is a question if this earthquake swarm is over or if this is just a quiet time in this earthquake swarm activity. It is known in Askja volcano eruption history that eruption in Askja volcano and nearby fissure swarms start with long period of earthquake activity that continues to grow over time. This can be read in this studies of earlier eruptions, study 1961 eruption, study 1875 eruption. Current situation continues to keep monitoring what is going on.
Science article on earthquake activity in Askja (added link)
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This is a short update on the earthquake activity in Askja volcano.
Earthquake activity has now moved to a new phase in Askja volcano. This appears to be a rifting event taking place in Askja volcano. They do often result in a fissure eruption of lava and sometimes short lived volcano ash event. That might not happen and as of writing of this article no magma movement has been seen on nearby SIL stations. That might change without warning at any time.
Earthquake activity in Askja volcano as of 23:25 UTC on 12-November-2019. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.
Density of the earthquake swarm has increased from earlier as is clear here. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.
It is not possible to know what happens next in this earthquake activity in Askja volcano. The only thing that can be done is to wait and see what happens.
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The earthquake activity in Askja volcano continues with no clear signs that it is about to stop. Since midnight around 200 earthquakes have happened at the writing of this article. Icelandic Met Office is currently holding a meeting about this earthquake swarm in Askja volcano.
The earthquake swarm in Askja volcano as of 12-November-2019 at 11:55 UTC. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.
There seems to be a pulse activity in this earthquake swarm. Activity drops for several hours before increasing again and then slows down again. That is possible clue that this earthquake swarm has its origins in magma activity that has not yet reached shallow levels of the crust. There is no deep earthquake activity in this swarm and that might not happen. What exactly is going on in Askja volcano remains unclear at the writing for this article.
There are now two possibles of what might happen next
- Earthquake activity continues until an eruption happens. This would be a lava eruption with no or limited amount of volcano ash happening in the process.
- This earthquake swarm continues until it just stops and no eruption happens.
What happens is impossible to know for sure since this earthquake activity is a mystery as of the writing of this article.
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Since I wrote the article yesterday (09-November-2019) on the earthquake swarm in Askja volcano there has been increase in the earthquake activity. One magnitude Mw3,4 earthquake has happened and one magnitude Mw3,2 earthquake also happened. The active earthquake area seems to have expanded a little to both north and south. This earthquake swarm continues to appear to be only tectonic in nature and there are no signs of magma movement in the shallow levels of the crust on nearby SIL stations. It is not possible to know for sure what is happening in deeper levels of the crust.
The earthquake activity in Askja volcano. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.
There is a chance this earthquake swarm is going to increase before this activity slows down. What happens next depends on the built up stress levels in the crust in Askja volcano. In the last 48 hours over 300 earthquakes have taken place in Askja volcano.
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Since earlier this week (Week 45) there has been a ongoing earthquake swarm in Askja volcano. Largest earthquake in this swarm so far had a magnitude Mw2,8 while other earthquakes have been smaller in magnitude. This earthquake activity is happening on a fault that is North – South directions. The earthquake activity is happening just inside or just outside (this is unclear) in the main Askja volcano. This might be dyke injection into Askja volcano at this location but that remains unclear since there are no clear signs of what is happening. This might just be a tectonic activity in Askja volcano as often happens in rift zones.
Askja volcano earthquake swarm. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.
What makes this earthquake swarm something to monitor is how long it has been going on. Its been going on at least five days and maybe even six days at the writing of this article. In most cases this type of earthquake swarm activity stops without anything more happening in Askja volcano. I suspect that is also going to be the case with this earthquake swarm.
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After more than a month of no noticeable earthquake activity in Iceland there is finally something new to report. It remains quiet in Iceland and most earthquake activity today is just small earthquakes in the magnitude range of 0,0 – 2,8.
This is only my view and might not be the same as views of professional scientists that monitor volcanoes as their job.
Askja volcano has started showing clear signs that an eruption might happen in near future. When that might happen is impossible to know, but given recent history this might happen in 18 to 48 months time from writing of this article. It might also be a considerable longer time until a eruption happens. Current sequence of activity started in 2011 so its already been ongoing for a considerable long period of time.
The activity in Askja volcano. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.
In recent months Askja volcano has been showing signs of increased earthquake activity. This is mostly small earthquakes with magnitude from 0,0 to 3,0 in magnitude. Located in small swarms that appear at random location within the volcano. There are quiet time period in this earthquake activity as is normal.
An eruption in Askja volcano is not a major risk to flight in Iceland or Europe. Since if an eruption happens it is going to be lava fissure eruption similar to what erupted in Bárðarbunga volcano in Holuhraun 2014 to 2015. That eruption might also have increased the speed of when Askja volcano is going to erupt. Since the dike intrusion from Bárðarbunga volcano almost started an eruption in Askja volcano, it was only two to three days from happening but stopped in its track before it happened. That might have put Askja volcano on a path of unsuitability that might now be starting to show in increased earthquake activity.
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Yesterday (14-March-2018) a earthquake swarm started in Askja volcano. The area the earthquake swarm is happening in has been having smaller earthquakes for several weeks already. Currently this earthquake activity is ongoing.
Earthquake activity in Askja volcano (green star). Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.
This is the strongest earthquake in Askja volcano since August-2014 when a magnitude 4,5 earthquake happened in this area due to activity in Bárðarbunga volcano and the connected dyke intrusion. That also resulted in a deformation in Askja volcano that later did go back to normal. At the moment there is no harmonic tremor being detected and that means no magma movement and no eruption.
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For the past few days there has been a earthquake activity in Askja volcano. All of the earthquakes so far have been small in magnitude and only few have reached magnitude above 1,0. This earthquake activity is due to magma movements and its the first time I have seen it reported at this shallow depth (above 10 km depth).
Earthquake activity in Askja volcano. North of Vatnajökull glacier. There is also activity in Herðubreið to the east, but that’s an unrelated activity and is due to tectonic forces in the area. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.
There are no clear signs that an eruption is about to happen in Askja volcano or in Dyngjufjöll as this area is also called. If an eruption starts in this area outside of any major water area its only going to erupt lava with minimal risk. Explosive eruption due to water is also a possibility but those are impossible to predict.
Yesterday (06-April-2016) a swarm of deep earthquakes took place in Askja volcano. None of the earthquakes that took place where large in magnitude, with the largest one having a magnitude of 1,6.
Earthquake activity in Askja volcano, close to Dreka (dragon). Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.
Main depth of this earthquake swarm was around 21 km. It did not go up in the crust and nothing suggests that it is going to do so at this point in time. No change in harmonic tremor took place during this earthquake swarm.
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Yesterday (15-March-2016) an earthquake swarm took place in Askja volcano. This was an deep earthquake swarm, with deepest earthquake having the depth of 18,7 km and the shallowest earthquake with the depth of 14,9 km. The earthquake swarm took place inside the volcano and there are clues that suggest it has it’s origin. This has been happening regularly since 2010 and after the Bárðarbunga volcano dyke getting close to the main magma chamber in Askja volcano the activity has slowly been increasing. This activity is not above background levels and nothing suggests that an eruption is about to happen any time soon.
Askja volcano is located to the north-east of Bárðarbunga volcano. Copyright of this image belongs to Iceland Met Office.
For the moment the progress and the change in Askja volcano is slow, but that might change if the magma inside the system finds a pathway to the surface. If an eruption does happen I’m not expecting anything big, just a lava eruption that is going to go on for few days to weeks. Unless the magma gets into contact with water, creating a short term explosions. This is only a speculation, but Askja volcano is an active system and as such anything should be expected from it.