Increased activity in Askja volcano

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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Earthquake swarm in Askja volcano

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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Magma movement in Askja volcano (Dyngjufjöll)

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.

Deep earthquake activity in Askja volcano

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.

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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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Deep earthquakes in Askja volcano (15-March-2016)

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.

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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.

Short overview of earthquake activity in Iceland

This is a short update of earthquake activity in Iceland on 28-February-2016.

Bárðarbunga volcano

Over the past 48 hours there has been earthquake activity and dyke activity in Bárðarbunga volcano. Some of this earthquake activity has been on around 15km depth. Suggesting magma movements within Bárðarbunga volcano system. Earthquake activity always seems to increase few hours to days after a swarm of deep earthquakes appear in Bárðarbunga volcano.

A dyke activity has appeared on the edge of Bárðarbunga volcano, it is located south-east in the volcano. In a area that has seen this type of dyke activity before. It is interesting that this activity seems to persist at this location.

Tungnafellsjökull volcano

Over the past few days few earthquakes have appeared in Tungnafellsjökull volcano. Some of those earthquakes have had the depth around 15 km. This suggest some type of magma movements inside the volcano, but nothing that suggests that its going to reach the surface any time soon.

Askja volcano

Earlier this week (Week 08) an deep earthquake swarm took place in Askja volcano. With earthquakes having the depth down to around 22 km. Suggesting that magma is flowing into Askja volcano magma chamber at depth. This has been happening at regular basis since 2010. At the moment there is nothing suggesting that eruption is going to happen any time soon in Askja volcano.

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Earthquake activity in Bárðarbunga, Tungnafellsjökull and Askja volcano. Copyright of this image belongs to Iceland Met Office.

Katla volcano

There was some minor earthquake activity in Goðabunga in Katla volcano. This appears to be normal activity for this region of Katla volcano. No other interesting activity took place this week (Week 08) in Katla volcano.

Hekla volcano

Two earthquake where detected in Hekla volcano. Nothing else happened following this earthquake activity. Why this earthquake activity happens remains unclear.

Torfajökull volcano

A minor earthquake activity took place in Torfajökull volcano during the weekend. This activity is possibly due to changes in hyrdrothermal areas in Torfajökull volcano.

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Earthquake activity in Katla, Torfajökull and Hekla volcano. Copyright of this image belongs to Iceland Met Office.

Other than this activity things remain quiet in Iceland. There are few minor earthquake swarms on Reykjanes peninsula and Tjörnes Fracture Zone. But they are too small at the moment to write about.

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Move to Denmark

It is now official. I’m moving back to Denmark on 14. April, with just few minor details left to work out (getting a loan for the apartment insurance and few other things). I’ll move into my new apartment on the 15th April. More details later next weeks when I know about the apartment loan.

Deep earthquake activity in Bárðarbunga and Askja volcano

Today (18-February-2016) and yesterday (17-February-2016) there has been deep earthquake activity in Askja volcano and in Bárðarbunga volcano.

Askja volcano

Since March 2010 Askja volcano has been having period activity taking deep inside Askja volcano. This suggests that both deep dyke intrusions are taking place in the volcano system, yesterday and today (close to Dreka area and Herðubreiðartögl volcano). None of those dyke intrusions is going to reach the surface. They are going to remain at depth. This does show that since 2010 magma activity at depth is possibly increasing in Askja volcano. When a eruption might take place is impossible to know, but it might be a really long time until it happens. Unless Bárðarbunga volcano enters the mixture and speeds things up. Earthquake activity close to Herðurbreið are normal tectonic earthquakes at shallow depth >10km.

Bárðarbunga volcano

Most of this week Bárðarbunga volcano has been quiet. That might be about to change, since today few deep earthquake appeared in the northern part of the volcano. This suggests that fresh magma from deep magma chamber is pushing up now. The resulting earthquakes are due to pressure change inside the volcano that fractures the rock in the process. Earthquake activity has also been in the dyke (Holuhraun eruption) at the edge of the glacier. I don’t know why that is. A clear dyke intrusion took place in Hamarinn volcano on 17-February-2016, with earthquakes at the depth of 12 – 13 km. This is the first dyke activity in this volcano for a while now. Magma is shallow in Hamarinn volcano, making it sensitive to pressure changes and possible eruptions.

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Earthquake activity in Askja and Bárðarbunga volcanoes. Along with earthquake activity close to Herðurbreið area. Copyright of this image belongs to Iceland Met Office.

Maps of Iceland

For people who want to know what I’m often taking about there is a map that can be bought. This is a geological map of Iceland, it shows all the volcanoes, both active and extinct ones in Iceland. Along with fault zones and fissure swarms. It can be bought from here. Please note that I don’t get anything from this, it’s just so that people can have access to information about Iceland. The prise of this map is €13,80 without shipping, or 15,31 USD without shipping today.

Donations

Please remember to support my work with donations. I’m getting rather broke as it currently stands. Thanks for the support.

Earthquake activity in Askja volcano

During the week there has been a swarm of minor earthquakes in Askja volcano. All of the earthquakes have been small and none have reached magnitude 2,0 far as I know.

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Askja volcano is the volcano most south on this image (the volcano on the end). Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

There is nothing suggesting that current earthquake swarms are due to magma movements at shallow depths. This is rather hydrothermal activity changes in the volcano due the it being warmed up by new magma entering it and warming up groundwater inside the volcano. That has happened before in earlier eruptions and is documented, the time scale of such changes is not documented far as I know.

Askja volcano started for prepare for an eruption phase in 2010, so far nothing suggest that an eruption is imminent, but it remains a question if the push from Bárðarbunga volcano has changed anything in Askja volcano.

Article updated at 18:56 UTC.

Update on Askja and Bárðarbunga volcanoes at 17:49 UTC

This information is going to get outdated quickly.

This is the weekend edition of my regular updates on activity in Bárðarbunga and Askja volcano. They are shorter and might not contain all the information on what is going on.

Current status on Askja volcano

  • Askja continues to be on Yellow alert.
  • Dyke does not seems to have any progress moving into Askja volcano system. Reason why that is are unknown.
  • Earthquake activity appears to have dropped in Askja for the past 24 hour period.

Current status on Bárðarbunga volcano

  • Largest earthquake for the past 24 hours is a magnitude 5,4 earthquake that took place at 07:03 UTC. It took place in south-west part of Bárðarbunga volcano. It did appear clearly on my geophones and they can be viewed here.
  • Eruption has been confirmed to have taken place on 23-August-2014. That eruption did not manage to break the trough the glacier since it is 400 to 600 meters thick were the eruption took place.
  • Most earthquake activity is taking place on 15 km long line in the Dyke, starting at the location were the eruption took place and goes some 15 km south from that location. Dyke does not seems to be moving north at the moment.
  • Eruption is now considered more likely in Bárðarbunga volcano it self than before.
  • Last large eruption that took place in Bárðarbunga volcano was in 1717. According to Global Volcanism Program that eruption was an VEI 3 eruption.
  • Eruption can happen in slopes of Bárðarbunga volcano, also in its caldera. The glacier in the caldera is up to 800 meters thick (+- 100 meters).
  • Earthquake activity is stable, with over 1000 to 2000 earthquakes recorded daily so far.

GPS data

Icelandic Met Office has released GPS data and it can be viewed here.

Storm warning

There is going to be a storm in Iceland on Sunday. This means fewer earthquakes are going to be detected due the wind noise.

News bits in English

Eruption at Bardarbunga now more likely (Rúv.is)
Fresh ice cracks in Bárðarbunga? (mbl.is)

Updates during the weekend

I am going to post updates during the weekends. I do however need to take a little break since I’ve been working and writing about Bárðarbunga for the past two weeks. So updates on weekends are going to be shorter and less detailed than on working days (Monday – Fridays). If eruption happens I am going to post information about that eruption soon as I become aware of it and details soon as possible.

Article updated at 17:52 UTC.
Article updated at 18:10 UTC.
Article updated at 19:01 UTC. I corrected information about the dyke earthquake location.

Status update on Askja and Bárðarbunga at 18:35 UTC

This information is going to get outdated quickly.

For the media (news) please note! I am not a professional geologist. I got all the same knowledge as they do, but I am not a professional geologist. For professional view on what is going on please contact Icelandic Met Office or University of Iceland, Geology department.

Askja volcano

This is the current information that I got on Askja volcano.

  • Dyke from Bárðarbungu volcano continues into Askja volcano. It has slowed down according to reports from yesterday. I have not seen any reports on its process today.
  • Earthquake activity is increasing in Askja volcano. This is due to effects from the dyke.
  • Askja continues to be on Yellow alert status.

Bárðarbunga volcano

This are current informations that I got on Bárðarbunga volcano.

  • The eruption is over for now. It only lasted 3 – 4 hours.
  • This eruption was only lava. No or almost no volcano ash was put into the atmosphere. Some water vapour was seen (the white clouds) after the eruption ended.
  • The eruption took place in a fissure that last erupted in the year 1797. That eruption created Holuhraun lava field. This eruption took place in a crater row.
  • The eruption fissure was 900 meters long according to news in Iceland today.
  • Earthquake activity dropped while the eruption took place. It has increased again. I did see on my geophones an earthquake swarm as the eruption reached its peak.
  • This is the first time I see an eruption in a older crater row. This might be normal for this area of Iceland.
  • Future eruptions can happen at any time while current activity continues in Bárðarbunga volcano.
  • Largest earthquakes today was a magnitude 5,2 earthquake, second largest earthquake today was a magnitude 4,8 and third largest earthquake today was a magnitude 4,1.
  • Earthquake activity continues to be high, with over 900 earthquakes recorded so far today (according to my earthquake counter).
  • Harmonic tremor is on same level as it has been on since 16-August-2014.

Analyse of the eruption

The eruption started around 00:02 UTC, when it was first visible on Míla web cameras. I was notified of this by a person watching the cameras over Facebook around 00:30 UTC. According to Rúv news and other news sources the eruption peaked at 01:20 UTC. It was over around 04:00 UTC. The volume this eruption placed on the surface was minor, it had no impact on the magma that is in the dyke. Future eruptions on this fissure cannot be ruled out. As stated above last eruption took place on this same fissure in the year 1797.

This is the second confirmed eruption in Bárðarbunga volcano since this started. With the first one being on 23-August-2014. When a similar minor eruption took place. That eruption was under glacier (up to 600 meters of it) and was not observed for that reason. This new period of activity in Bárðarbunga volcano is possibly going to last for years, if only based on the volcano eruption history as it is documented on Global Volcanism Program website. I am at least preparing to write about Bárðarbunga for a long time now.

I am going to write notification about new eruptions soon as I become aware of them. The weather forecast for the next few days is not good. So visibility is going to be limited in the area close to Bárðarbunga.

Images of the new lava and mixture of old and new craters can be found here.

Article updated at 18:43 UTC.
Article updated at 18:51 UTC.
Article updated at 19:10 UTC.
Article updated at 15:14 UTC on 30-August-2014.