Unclear what is happening in Bárðarbunga volcano

This information is going to get outdated extremely fast.

  • Earthquake activity remains high.
  • Cauldron have formed in Vatnajökull glacier just SE and SSE of Bárðarbunga volcano.
  • The cauldrons are 4 to 6 km long and about 1 km wide.
  • No harmonic tremor have been seen, but that might have its own reasons.


Earthquake activity in Bárðarbunga volcano for past 48 hours. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

Earthquake activity remains dense in Bárðarbunga volcano for the past 48 hours. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

Harmonic tremor remains high on Dyngjuháls SIL station. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

Harmonic tremor is also high on Kreppuhraun SIL station. Copyright of this image belongs to Icelandic Met Office.

The cauldrons that have been spotted today in Vatnajökull just SE and SSE of Bárðarbunga volcano are in the south end are of the current dyke. What is also important, they are also in an area were magnitude 5,0 earthquake did happen few days ago, in a area that has not had any dyke activity since 16-August-2014 when this all started. It is still unclear what happened to all the water in this melt, the glacier in this area is 400 to 600 meters thick and this is not a little melt that has taken place in the glacier. There is a chance the water did go to Grímsvötns lake (caldera like in Grímsfjall volcano), but that remains unclear at the moment.

I am going to post more information about this once I have them.

Updated at 00:14 UTC on 28-August-2014.

This entry was posted in Bárðarbunga, Dyke intrusions, Earthquakes, Eruptions, Glacier flood, GPS data, GPS Monitoring, Lava, Magma, Monitoring, Swarm, Vatnajökull glacier, Volcano. Bookmark the permalink.

67 Responses to Unclear what is happening in Bárðarbunga volcano

  1. John Difool says:

    Harmonic tremors picking up rapidly? Imho, will this be a Bardabunga eruption, possibly a south or south-east flank blowout or a fissure eruption somewhere in the dyke between Bardabunga and Askja?

  2. Holger_N_Alberta says:

    I think the cauldrons are much smaller, i.e. 10-15 m deep (no diameter given). The cauldrons are said to be located on a line 6-4 km long – that’s where those number come from: http://en.vedur.is/earthquakes-and-volcanism/articles/nr/2947

  3. Unmentionable says:

    Grimsvotn median filtered has gone the quietest since this whole magma movement began. Something changed for it, the noise stopped.

  4. Sander says:

    this volcano is playing poker with everyone

    who can read its cards?

    • Dmh says:

      It’s accumulating potential energy for the eruption.
      We cannot forget that it has a large glacier over it.

  5. Mike says:

    Any recent updates?

  6. zyfly says:

    The Forbes article linked below says: “there have been no reports of the harmonic tremors that often indicate magma is making its way towards the surface and an eruption”

    IMO today says: “Heightened tremor level/volcanic tremor has not been observed on IMO’s seismometers at the moment”

    Then IMO later says: “No signs of volcanic tremor.”

    Can someone make sense of all this gobble-de-gook and explain the difference between harmonic and volcanic tremors.


  7. Andrew in Finland says:

    Seems a bit odd that IMO cannot release a bit of video and some pictures of those ‘cauldrons’. How hard can it be?

  8. Andrew in Finland says:

    Man that captcha is beyond me! Tried 6 times……..and now I have lost my comment

    Audio is clear though……

    I was thinking it seems a bit odd that IMO did not release some pictures of the cauldrons……..not like it is hard for them to do that

    • I have enabled registration of users again. I had to disable it some time ago due to spam bot activity. Logged in users don’t have to deal with captcha challenge.

  9. Andrew in Finland says:

    Anybody else struggling with that bloody captcha???

    • Dmh says:

      Yes, I already had my share of 5-6 times of trial and error a couple days ago.
      Now I’m using the voice option, it’s easier. 🙂

  10. Andrew in Finland says:

    the captcha is far too difficult!

  11. Andrew in Finland says:

    Bloody hell that damned captcha!!!!! about ten times now! Audio too!

  12. Andrew in Finland says:

    The CAPTCHA is almost impossible! I have had ten attempts. Plus you lose the damned comment anyway! Grrrrrrr! I saved this comment though

  13. Kim says:

    check out webcam on left, look at steam coming out and on 23th, lake was solid. SO, WHAT IS UP??? THANKS


  14. Unmentionable says:

    See this Jon, Kverkfjoll west cam steam and melting of snow and ice.


  15. Andrew in Finland says:

    There is nothing new to see there:


  16. Kim says:

    Andrew, thank you. New to all this, thanks for the link.

  17. Kim says:

    Andrew, question for you. I have also noticed that the Azores quakes have also picked up, when quakes were happening in Iceland. I know they are all connected by the Atlantic Fault. If Iceland volcano goes off, would it affect the Azores also??? Thank you.


    • Al says:

      That’s not good!

      I was going to quickly head for the Azores if we had a VEI 7 or 8 eruption in Iceland. I really hope that does not happen!! we would be very unlucky if it did.

      To be honest, I think that seismic activity in the Azores appears quite normal, cant see see any earthquake swarms, maybe some minor after tremors, but that’s about it.

  18. Andrew in Finland says:

    Kim I am very far from being an expert. Just a reporter of what has already been reported. It seems extremely unlikely that Icelandic events could create changes in the Azores in a way that would be visible in our life times.

  19. AF says:

    Mammut played a gig in Iceland and my geophone in Riga was almost destroyed. My unborn grandchildren also registered the event. Perhaps they are the cause of all the tectonic and magma dancing?

  20. AF says:

    PS i haven’t met my future wife yet let alone had children. Mammut music is waking up the Gods. Sorry Jon light relief! Hey remember to donate to suppoet Jons tireless altruism – that includes all the journalists leaning so heavily on his work at times like this.

  21. Peter says:

    Some silly questions…

    1. Given the scale of some of the numbers that have been thrown around the last week or s, a small line of possible eruptions, so small that they weren’t even detected, seems like small beer… Why is everyone so worried.

    2. Everyone is expressing surprise that this eruption hasn’t been detected. In my job, when reality and my equipment disagree with each, I usually check my equipment first, and then look to see if there is something else in the environment responsible for the mismatch, and only then third, do I wonder if my interpretation of reality is incorrect. So the question is, first how robust is the detection equipment, second, what could of masked the results, and third, what else could have melted that ice?

    • Scots John says:

      Personal opinion, eruptions plus strong EQ’s around caldera increase risk of development of eruption due to amount of fractured rock.

      Second one, readings could be masked by the quantity of water down there. Jon suggests this may have drained to Grímsvötns lake. Carl on the ‘other place’ did note some days ago that when Bardarbunga had large EQ, Grimsfjall pulsed.

      There is a bigger picture here involving a large known magmatic movement, the question is what is moving down there that is NOT known?

    • Les Francis says:

      This is Iceland we are talking about.
      One of the most volcanically active inhabited countries on the planet.

      The population there has been greatly affected by volcanos in the past. Not that long ago an entire town was engulfed by lava and ash.

      You can bet that the authorities there have the best and latest stuff and their observations and interpretations will be top notch. It could be that lives are dependent upon it.

      Having said that the same authorities are not into overblown predictions or up playing or down playing events as they occur. They need to call it as they see it.

      Also quite a few foreign vulcanologists have down their PHD’s in Iceland.

    • Unmentionable says:

      I’m not surprised at all.

      If I open a flexible cavity and have a hose filling it as I do so, will the water over-top the container if I keep stretching the container apart and increasing its volume faster than the hose and water can keep up?

      Or will the water fall or stay around the same level?

      What about for a fissure, if the crust is continually moving apart, even while the magma path north is stymied? It can’t fill the space with magma and erupt until the crust stops moving apart.

      But look out when the CGPS data stops moving apart.

      There’s nothing wrong with the equipment, just the interpretation.

  22. Erjtech says:

    Cauldrons are on the surface? 10m deep? How can an eruption melt the glaciers surface and not where it makes contact with the ice? Little confused (not difficult lol)

  23. Ian says:

    There was a suspected mini eruption a few days ago, then it was decided nothing had happened. Perhaps there was after all a small eruption and it has just taken a few days for evidence of this to appear on the surface.

  24. Jay says:

    This mornings activity all seems to be shallower now.

  25. Guys, the webcam at Kverkfjoll, that one with the steamplumes in front, is located in a hotspring area. NOTHING to do with any eruption. Eruptions will lead to massive plumes in the BACK of the webcamimage. Plumes that possibly reach a few kilometers high. Not just a little spring-plume 😉

    Little spring-plumes are like on this photo, which I’ve taken in 2009 at Kverkfjoll:

    @Erjtech: easy: the glacier melts underneath where the possible eruption takes place, ice gone there, so what sits on top of it sinks down. Upper part breaks. Lower parts are more fluid.

    • Scots John says:

      Volcano café has a timeline series of takes from this cam showing the surface melt in the foreground and beyond the ridge has extended significantly.

      • Unmentionable says:

        Yes, I agree, I knew this was a hot spring area, someone pointed that out days back. But it does not get around the fact that there was no steam for days and then it began to show and now its very obvious, and has melted most ice and snow, and done so in the context of what is occurring just across to the next ridge. And there were large magmatic quakes in that area in the last 24 hrs.

      • NO, there have been SOME but veeeeery few quakes at Kverkfjoll so far. All these quakes occur more westward of Kverkfjoll, under Dyngjokull.

        Steam is also very dependent on air-temperature and moisture. But it could have thousands of reasons besides all that we are witnessing now at Bardarbunga.

  26. whistler says:

    5,0 just some while ago. But yet again, calmed down right away.

  27. Treacleminer says:

    Looks to me like it has now burrowed under the flanks (slopes) of Askja and is now appearing the other side. Possibly it will pick up again now if it hasn’t spread out i.e. split into too many small side branches to be viable now.

  28. Treacleminer says:

    As the ground appears to be sinking now at north Dyngjujökul where the swarm was, does that mean that the dyke extends much higher than we think?

  29. Unmentionable says:

    Iceland’s Magnus Tumi Gudmundsson, professor of geophysics at the University of Iceland, has acknowledged in an RUV article that recent data reveals some level of rifting and pulling-apart “cleaving” of the sub crust is occurring, in the central crustal block, which may not have occurred for 100 to 200 years.

    Seismic activity near the Askja caldera
    Fyrst birt: 27.08.2014 13:40, Síðast uppfært: 27.08.2014 15:33

    “How much has the land spread? “It´s difficult to say precisely. The intrusion is perhaps 2 – 3 meters wide, but that does not mean that the distance between Egilsstadir and Reykjavik has increased by that; rather the island is being pulled apart, and the landmass on either side is pushed together. But locally, down in the crust, the rock has been cleaved.“


    So a deep-seated crustal rift has to some degree begun, and remains to be seen how much rifting that is. Thank you to Prof Gudmundsson for getting the word out to the public and media.

  30. Scots John says:

    Ground is either steaming or smoking on bardabunga webcam

    • whistler says:

      thats just dust beeing blown by the wing. nothing to see there

      • Scots John says:

        Don’t think so, it is coming from 3 specific areas and getting denser by the minute

      • whistler says:

        No, its just dust, the same thing happened a week ago and we all thought first its starting. It became very dense later, but it was just dust beeing blown. It looked exactly like this when it was starting and it was in the exact same areas. Just dust.

      • Scots John says:

        I was watching last week too and I agree its coming from the three same areas, which doesn’t make sense.

        I hear you clearly, but I’m keeping an open mind.

  31. Al says:

    I would have thought that if so much ice has melted under pressure much of the water would have entered the ground and circulated. If this is the case would we not expect to see more hydrothermal activity from known existing locations as well as new ones?

  32. Andrew says:

    Much of the Highland area of Iceland is lava desert and sandstorms are common in deserts. The weather has been remarkably good (dry and sunny) in this part of the Highlands since the activity started (I wish it had been like that when I was last there!). The reason why we’re seeing the dust in the same areas is because there are no rivers there. And if there had been raised temperatures in the glacier outflow for as long as there’s been “steam” from recent volcanic activity, we’d expect to see raised water temperatures, but we aren’t.

    • Al says:

      I would assume hydrothermal vent water is quite different from surface river water.

      Surely we would only see raised water temperatures if the melt water from the subglacial eruption can escape. The melt water is obviously trapped as we don’t see raised temperature, or has been forced into the hyrothermal system within the rocks. Whatever is happening, it’s all building up, which is not good.

  33. hjalmar says:

    there is some earthquakes at 0.1 km depth, can that be ice cracking instead of real earthquakes?

  34. Fred says:

    Does anybody know the exact location and heading of the 2 Mila cameras?

    • Al says:

      I’ve just sent them an email asking about the locations of the cameras. I will let everyone know if I get a reply.

  35. whistler says:

    RUV.is has a new video of the area, amazing footage of the cracks.

  36. Egidio says:

    Askja, yellow

  37. Shelbar says:

    Which volcano is at danger of erupting? Thanks

  38. Askja has now been moved up to Yellow warning stage.

  39. EsaT says:

    Aviation color of Askja has been raised from green to yellow.
    “Volcano is exhibiting signs of elevated unrest above known background level.”

  40. mrsdan says:

    could this ongoing situation turn into another laki or worse?

    • Dmh says:

      IMO the chances of a large eruption, like VEI 6, 7, etc., are not very big because I believe that the very large eruptions happen only in periods during which no very large EQs (Mag 8.8 or greater) happen.
      The reason for this correlation are the historic records that indicate the existence of some alternate/ complementary periodicity for these very large geophysical events, i.e., large EQs and large eruptions excluding each other.
      We have had quite a few large EQs since the beginning of the present XXI century- 3 with Mag 8.8 or more- and if “my theory” is correct, this would preclude any large eruption for at least 10 years, possibly more.

  41. Unmentionable says:

    The harmonic is finally starting to lift, been a slow curve this time.

    38 hours since it last got feisty.

  42. Treacleminer says:

    The caudron’s could have been made by Lagarfljótsormurinn which could be fire breathing like a dragon and tunnel between lakes through glaciers.

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