Katla volcano update article of 29-July-2017

This article is going to be updated as activity continues in Katla volcano today on 29-July-2017. If an eruption starts (big one) a new article is going to be written for that event.

Overview of the activity during the night and today

It seems that during the night a minor eruption took place (this is just my view). This based on harmonic tremor pulse that appeared in Katla volcano after midnight, the source of the activity seems to be north-west part of the caldera. Possibly where a magnitude 3,0 earthquake had taken place at 00:48 UTC. Harmonic tremor remains unstable and above background levels, at the moment however it seems that current harmonic tremor when this is written is due to glacier flood pushing it self from under the glacier. The water that is moving under the glacier is few hours away from (at best) from appearing in glacier rivers that come from Katla volcano.


The earthquake activity in Katla volcano during the last 48 hours. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.


Harmonic tremor in Austmannsbunga in Katla volcano at 12:09 UTC. It clearly shows the minor eruption and ongoing harmonic tremor pulse. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.


Harmonic tremor in Austmannsbunga in Katla volcano at 13:04 UTC. This image shows ongoing activity in the tremor. This is mostly high frequency tremor and that is interesting. What that is not known. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.


Harmonic tremor in Goðabunga at 12:09 UTC. It clearly shows the night minor eruption and ongoing harmonic tremor. The harmonic tremor is however a lot less visible now on Goðabunga. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.


Harmonic tremor as it appears on Rjúpnafell (SIL station). This station is at more distance from the source of the harmonic tremor pulse and shows a weaker signal as a result. The night minor eruption is also clear on this SIL station but current harmonic tremor is less visible, it does appear but at much lower level. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

Katla volcano has been moved to yellow alert. It is now possible to watch the glacier flood live from here (Rúv.is). Currently the glacier flood is getting smaller, but that might only be a temporarily thing if more water is on its way from Mýrdalsjökull glacier. There has also been a drop in conductivity for now in Múlavísk glacier river.

Announcement in English on Rúv

People advised to stay away from Múlakvísl (Rúv.is)

This article is going to be updated as needed today.

Deep earthquake activity in Bárðarbunga volcano

Yesterday (06-September-2016) and today (07-September-2016) deep earthquake activity happened in Bárðarbunga volcano system. Most depth was at 25,9km in Trölladyngja, it is one of several deep earthquakes that have happened in that area. Few earthquakes at depth of 20,8 km took place in Bárðarbunga volcano (outside of the caldera).

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The deep earthquakes on this image are at south-east to Bárðarbunga (in the direction of Grímsvötn, north-east of Grímsvötn) and in Trölladyngja (one blue dot). Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

In Iceland earthquakes at this depth only happens due to movement of magma. Crust stresses do have effects at this depth far as I know. At the moment no magnitude 3,0 earthquakes have happened in Bárðarbunga, that might be unusual since normally after a swarm of deep earthquake few strong earthquakes happens in Bárðarbunga. That has at time of writing of this article not happened. If that happens remains to be seen. I got the feeling there might be something more in the works, but I’m going to wait and see what is going on now. At least wait for a word from Iceland Met Office about what is going on, if anything is going on at all.

All that can be done now is to wait for what happens next. (This is what geology is mostly about, endless waiting for something to happen.)

Harmonic tremor change close to Grímsfjall volcano

There seems to be a harmonic tremor pulse or a change around Grímsfjall volcano. This might be nothing, but the change appears on several SIL stations around Vatnajökull glacier. The harmonic tremor is strongest on Húsbóndi SIL station and Jökulheimar SIL station. This might be something else then magma, glacier movement or sudden flood are an possibility.

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Húsbóndi SIL station. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

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Jökulheimar SIL station. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

Currently I don’t know what is creating this change in harmonic tremor. I know it is not weather and this is on too many SIL station to be local noise. The SIL station at Grímsfjall volcano doesn’t show any change, so everything is quiet in that volcano. But this is within Grímsfjall volcano fissure swarm that contains the volcano Þórðarhyrna, it last erupted in the year 1902 and has been quiet since (information about eruptions in Þórðarhyrna volcano can be found under Grímsfjall volcano eruption history).

If anything happens I’ll update this article or post a new one.

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)

Earthquake swarm in Bárðarbunga volcano (Week 03/2016)

Today (20-January-2016) at 13:05 UTC an earthquake swarm started in Bárðarbunga volcano. This earthquake swarm was not a surprise to me, since I had seen clues it would happen on 17 and 18 of January-2016 (more details later in this article). I wasn’t sure if it would happen.

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The earthquake swarm in Bárðarbunga volcano today. Copyright of this image belongs to Iceland Met Office.

The largest earthquake in this swarm had the magnitude of 3,6 and that is a increase in magnitude from last earthquake swarm taking place at this location two weeks ago. This earthquake appears to have been created by a magma breaking rock under pressure (low frequency element present in it).

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The harmonic tremor plot from Vonarskarð SIL station, next to Bárðarbunga volcano. Copyright of this image belongs to Iceland Met Office.

I have noticed and I told Icelandic Met Office about this few days ago. There is a change in the harmonic tremor plot at 2-4Hz few days before an earthquake swarm starts in Bárðarbunga volcano. This has happened several times. Last time this happened is on 17 and 18 January-2016. Why this happens I don’t know for sure. One idea is that magma is over-pressuring once it enters the magma chamber and this might be gas release in the magma at the same time. If that is the reality, it is creating a magma foam at the top of the magma chamber that would erupt rather explosively when the pressure breaks the magma chamber currently holding it (see here, I’m not sure what this is called in science). This is only a idea that I have, but I find it the most likely explanation on what is going on in Bárðarbunga volcano. This might be wrong, but only time is going to tell what happens in Bárðarbunga volcano.

The time period between earthquake swarms is getting slightly shorter, now it’s around half a week from a whole week as was last month (December-2015). This change of phase suggests that more magma is flowing into the magma chamber and possibly in greater volume. The path the magma flows into the magma chamber is clear of all blockage, that means no earthquakes are created at that location. Current evidence suggest that only one magma chamber is being filled up with magma at the moment, but that magma chamber might be big and with some room left, but that might be quickly running out as is suggested by current earthquake swarms. The earthquake activity would be considerably higher if an eruption was about to start.

If anything more happens in Bárðarbunga volcano this week I’m going to update this article. Unless an eruption starts, then I’ll write a new one.

Update 1

A minor dyke intrusion took place in Bárðarbunga volcano caldera today (21-January-2016). The strongest earthquake in this dyke intrusion had the magnitude of 2,8 and depth of 2,5 km. This was a small and short event that took place.

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The dyke intrusion in Bárðarbunga volcano took place in SW part of the caldera. Copyright of this image belongs to Iceland Met Office.

It’s difficult to know for sure what this means. What is clear is that magma is trying to break a path to the surface and it might have found a weak spot in the crust inside the caldera. If this starts to be a regular feature it means problems. This is the second weak spot to form in the caldera, the first one being in North-east part of the caldera, creating weekly earthquakes since September-2015.

Article updated at 01:52 UTC on 21-January-2016. Error fixed in date (it was not 10 and 11, it was 17 and 18th of January-2016).
Article updated at 20:56 UTC on 21-January-2016.

Small glacier flood from Grímsfjall volcano caldera

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.

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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.

Icelandic News

Lítið hlaup í Gígjukvísl (Rúv.is, Icelandic)

The eruption in Holuhraun has ended

The eruption in Holuhraun ended yesterday (27-Februar-2015) it seems. Current status of Bárðarbunga volcano is now yellow. While the eruption is over the area continues to be closed for public due to danger of new eruptions in the area, both outside the glacier and inside it. It is unclear what is going to happen next in Bárðarbunga volcano. There is also a considerable gas emission from Holuhraun crater at the moment and that gas is toxic.

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

What happens next is not known. There is a high risk of new eruption taking place under the glacier. I don’t know if subsidence of the caldera is going on at the moment or has stopped. It might take days, weeks or months until inflation starts again in Bárðarbunga volcano. This is a rifting event and that means this is far from over. For the moment however it is going to be a little break (at least, it can be hope) in the activity in Holuhraun or Bárðarbunga volcano. The lava and the crater continue to be extremely hot (~800C) and are going to remain hot for many years (5 years?).

Since the eruption in Holuhraun is over I won’t post any update next Wednesday. Next update is going to be when something happens.

Icelandic News

Icelandic Met Office information website
The eruption has come to an end (Icelandic Met Office)

Note on email: If you need to send me email please send them to volcano [at] jonfr.com. I do not answer emails send to blog [at] jonfr.com. Emails that go this address are ignored.

Article updated at 16:59 UTC.

No lava flow visible in Holuhraun main crater

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.

Bárðarbunga volcano weekly update for 25-February-2015

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.

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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.

Bárðarbunga volcano weekly update on 18-February-2015

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.

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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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