The eruption at Geldingalur, Reykjanes, Iceland, which started on 19.03.2021 at 20:25, is continuing unabated as I write. The volcano is happily bubbling away building somewhat unstable but impressive looking cones and covering the Geldingadalur valley floor with lava.
The eruption is steadily increasing at the time of writing; it has a lava output of 5 -7m3 per second. IMO have estimated that the valley would fill enough for lava to overflow into the neighbouring valley, Meradalir, in a matter of days at the current eruption rates.
Scientists at the University of Iceland are analysing the lava. To date, they have reported that the lava is a primitive one (i.e. little magma evolution in the crust), indicative of a mantle source at a depth of 17 km to 20 km.
The Reykjanes Peninsula lies on oceanic crust created by the Mid Atlantic Ridge. The Peninsula, itself, straddles the Ridge. The crust here is 15 km thick, which is unusual so close to a spreading ridge. However, Iceland is a basaltic plateau overriding a mantle plume. Both the mantle plume and the Mid Atlantic Ridge influence formation of the crust. There are no magma chambers / reservoirs in the crust on the Peninsula; magma tends to ascend directly from the mantle.
The Peninsula is made up of lava shields, móberg hills, table mountains and fissure-fed lava flows and crater rows. The shield volcanoes on the Peninsula formed at the beginning of the Holocene between 10,000 and 7,000 years ago. Shield volcanoes form from hot picrite or olivine tholeiitic basaltic lava flows with rates of c . 5m3 per second. The móberg hills formed from submarine fissure eruptions and consist of pillow lavas, breccias and tuffs. The table mountains were formed from subglacial activity, which had the activity not been constrained by the ice cap, would have resulted in shields. Later Holocene activity has comprised effusive tholeiitic fissure eruptions which formed crater rows and produced large lava flows that now cover some of the earlier formations. Historic activity has been between 940 AD and 1340 AD, including the Reykjanes Fires of 1210 AD to 1240 AD; and, the Krýsuvík Fires of 1151 AD to 1188 AD.
Geldingadalur, itself, is a small valley to the south east of the summit of Fagradalsfjall, a 385m high hyaloclastite subglacial Pleistocene table mountain formed during the Weichselian glacial period, with a subaerial lava cap on its northwest part. It is currently classified as part of the Krýsuvík Volcanic System.
The Fagradalsfjall area is seismically very active, with large earthquake swarms, notably in 1998, 2000, and 2004, and again now as part of the new volcano-tectonic episode on the Reykjanes Peninsula that started in December 2019. Various studies from previous seismic activity have noted extensive faulting under the south west part of Fagradalsfjall; these faults strike N-S and NE -SW. In addition, there are two clusters of faults under the eastern part.
Earlier swarms in the current volcano-tectonic episode have resulted in magma intrusions, such as the one at Mt Þorbjörn which we discussed last year, but no eruption. The latest earthquake swarm which started on 22 February 2021 is the only one to result in an eruption at the time of writing.
Seismicity in the Current Swarm
We have updated our plots for the Reykjanes Peninsula and dividing them between the run up to the eruption on 19 March 2021 at 20:45 and after the eruption to 26 March 2021 15:55.
The plots preceding the eruption repeat the ones shown earlier so we are just showing the geodensity plot for comparison. You will note that the earthquakes do not reach down to 15 km in the current swarm to date. However, there were one or two deeper earthquake in some of the earlier episodes.
The plots for the period after the onset of the eruption (19.03.2021 20:45 to 26.03.2021 15.55) show that activity is concentrated on Geldingadalur and two spots north east of Fagradalsjall. Seismic activity has also extended further south.
Whether the earthquake hotspots will lead to new eruption sites, only time will tell.
For the current status, please consult IMO (link below).
If you wish to watch the eruption , there are local webcams. The link to one is given below.
For this update, our information comes from IMO and the Department for Civil Defence. We will update our earthquake plots later on.
The eruption which started yesterday on a ridge in Geldingadalur has been assessed as a minor one, contained in the valley; the eruptive fissure is around 500m to 700m long; and, there is no ash or tephra. Levels of S02 are low, except near the eruption site; gases can accumulate in the valley or other depressions. The main road to Keflavík from Reykjavík has been opened. However, the road between Grindavík and Þorlákshöfn is closed. The aviation code has been lowered to orange.
The eruption may change without notice. The Department of Civil Defence warn of the potential for new fissures opening either at the current site or elsewhere from the dyke near Fagradalsfjall. Large earthquakes are considered unlikely at the eruption site but the risk for a magnitude 6.5 still remains for Brennisteinfjöll. At the moment seismicity on the Reykjanes Peninsula is much reduced.
Hazards for those visiting the site are getting too close to the lava flow and not being able to outrun any lava that breaks off it; the craters are unstable and may break, releasing a lava flow; and explosions where hot lava meets water-logged ground. The Department of Civil Defence advises observers to keep to the hills surrounding the site. Not that it is easy to get to without a helicopter!
Local webcams have been set up from which the rest of us can watch; one is:
This was going to be a post with an update on the earthquake swarm on the Reykjanes Peninsula, but the magma beat me to it! IMO has just confirmed that a volcanic eruption is underway near Fagradalsfjall at Geldingadalur. The eruption started at 20:45 19.03.2021. It has been named as Geldingadalsgos, after the valley. At the time of writing, the eruption is a small fissure eruption; the fissure is c. 0.5km long.
The public have been advised not under any circumstances go close to the eruption site or on Reykjanesbraut. First responders need to be able to drive freely to assess the situation. Scientists are working on assessing the eruption, the site and possibilities.
People living nearby in Þorlákshöfn have been instructed to stay indoors, close windows and turn up their heating to avoid exposure to any volcanic gases. The Reykjanesbraut has been closed – the main road from the capital region to Reykjanesbær and the international airport at Keflavík.
Here are the updated earthquake plots by the author, anyway. The raw earthquake data has been obtained from IMO; this is confirmed earthquakes to date (19.03.2021 15:00). IMO’s page above gives the more recent earthquakes.
What we see from the plots is that seismic activity has now extended beyond Reykjanes to the west and the swarm is still active. Activity in the swarm is densest to the NE and SW of Fagradalsfjall. The depth plot shows that earthquakes in the swarm are tending to be smaller and shallower.
Extension of the swarm to the west is in keeping with the swarms which have occurred since December 2019.
Let’s hope that this is a “tourist eruption”; our thoughts are with anyone affected by this eruption.
For more up to date information, please consult IMO or the Department for Civil Protection.
14.03.2021: The magma intrusion on the Reykjanes Peninsula appears to be edging further southward. The longer this continues, the more likely an eruption. New plots added (Figs 13 – 15).
We have moved updates to the beginning of this post. The original post from 9 March 2021 and the earlier update are below.
We have updated our plots to 14.03.2021 17:46 for the area between 63.83314°N, 22.55148°W to 63.96605°N, 21.8566°W . Here are the results; the magma intrusion appears to be edging slowly further southwards, if we use the Department of Civil Protection’s line that the earthquake locations are the best indicator at the moment of where the magma is.
For the current status and advice, please consult IMO.
The Armchair Volcanologist
Since we wrote [our original post], the earthquake swarm continues unabated with several thousand more earthquakes and some more tremor pulses.
The Department of Civil Protection report today includes the following:
“Earthquake activity now reaches up to the Nátthagi valley south of Fagradalsfjall, which suggests that the southernmost end of the magma path lies there.
The magma path continues to expand although there is some uncertainty regarding the pace of the magma flow. Data has indicated that the magma path has been moving towards the south coast in the last few days, but latest surveys do not indicate that the path has moved notably in the last 24 hours.
With view of the eruption history and geological research, a volcanic fissure opening south of Fagradalsfjall and reaching the ocean is unlikely. Given the current circumstances, an undersea eruption with associated ash eruption is therefore unlikely.
As has been stated earlier in the Science Board’s notifications, while the magma path continues to expand it must be assumed that an eruption may occur in the area. The longer the current situation lasts, the more likely an eruption becomes. “
They also note that gas measurements are being taken in the area.
Our updated plots show the seismic activity moving further southward, notably the geodensity plot in Fig 12. There is also some parallel activity further west on a much smaller scale.
For the current status and advice, please consult IMO.
The Armchair Volcanologist
An eruption considered likely; magma c. 1km below the surface.
Despite the earlier tremor pulses, the Krýsuvík Volcanic System has not yet erupted. However, as seismicity continues to be intense, with well over 34,000 earthquakes recorded by Iceland’s SIL system now since 24 February 2021, it is thought that an eruption is likely.
The latest report from Iceland’s Civil Protection Service Council on March 8, 2021, states that if an eruption occurs, the most likely scenario is still a fissure eruption between Fagradalsfjall and Keilir. A magma intrusion (they use the term tunnel) is forming in the region, with most recent activity at its southern end. Magma has now reached an upper depth of c. 1 km. GPS and satellite readings indicate that the magma flow has decreased in the past week. If the intrusion continues to grow, further surges in seismic activity can be expected.
The earthquakes trending westward from the vicinity of the magma intrusion are thought to be the result of the crust accommodating the intrusion. No other magma movement has been detected during this swarm.
So where are Fagradalsfjall and Keilir? Here is a map (with directions on how to drive from one to the other, not that we would recommend that at the moment).
We have plotted the confirmed earthquakes for week 8 and week 9 2021, plus a few hours of yesterday, between 63.7°N, 21.0°W to 64.4°N, 23.0°W download from IMO’s site. Here are the latest plots for the Reykjanes Peninsula, 63.7°N, 21.0°W to 64.4°N, 23.0°W:
If we zoom in on the area between 63.83314°N, 22.55148°W to 63.96605°N, 21.8566°W we can take a closer look at the intrusion, itself, (or the earthquakes magma movement is causing). The area was selected to take in Svartsengi, Fagradalsfjall, Keilir and Krýsuvík.
Since we downloaded the data for the above plots, IMO have reported another short-lived burst in seismic activity at 05:20 this morning with a seismic tremor Mt. Fagradalsfjall, south of the intrusion.
IMO have produced a map of the dike intrusion and the areas of seismic activity that are arising due to the increased tension in the crust caused by the intrusion.
For the current status and advice, please consult IMO.
3 March 2021 (Updated 07.03.2021 – new plots added).
The earthquake swarm which started on 24 February 2021 between Kleifarvatn and Svartsengi on the Reykjanes Peninsula is continuing.
IMO have raised the aviation code for Krýsuvík to Orange and report a tremor pulse south of Keilir. At the time of writing, no eruption has been confirmed; however, visibility of the area is hampered by weather.
If magma does reach the surface, the most likely scenario is a fissure eruption, which would produce effusive basaltic lava flows and toxic gases, rather than an explosive ashy eruption. If lava meets a significant amount of water, some tephra may be produced.
The likely impact from any eruption is expected to be disruption of air traffic and also road traffic access to and from Keflavík International Airport, if lava flows cross the access road.
Keilir, itself, is a subglacial mound near Krýsuvík formed during the Pleistocene during a fissure eruption. The mound is built of tephra formed when melting ice met magma, topped by lava. Fagradalsfjall, another location associated with the earthquake swarm, is a Pleistocene table-mountain. As lava prefers to take the easy route out, it is unlikely to emerge via these two volcanoes whose lavas would be fairly solid – hence the expectation of a new fissure swarm.
For status updates, please consult IMO.
A local news service that is also providing updates in English is the Reykjavik Grapevine.
Life is not easy for the research scientists monitoring events. Two had to be rescued after having been separated from the main party while studying gas emissions. Spare a thought for the risks they take.
The public have been advised to stay clear of the area at least until it is known where and how lava emerges and where it would be safe to observe the eruption.
In our excitement at the thought of a possible eruption we overlooked the very real risk of larger earthquakes, if the intensity of the swarm continues: up to 6.0 M near Fagradalsfjall and up to 6.5 M in the Brennisteinfjöll range. Be careful if you are in the area.
Update 05.03.2021 23:29
We have plotted the earthquakes with a quality of 99.0 from IMO’s page showing the earthquakes for the last 48 hours for the Reykjanes Peninsula for the period 2 March 2021 to 5 March 2021 (23:29) (we were too slow to capture 1 March 2021). Here are the results. Colour coding in the scatter plots is by day and size reflects magnitude. The geodensity plot is weighted by magnitude.
Here are plots for the entire swarm from 24.03.2021 to 07.03.2021
As noted above, for the latest status please consult the experts: IMO.
28 February 2021 (updated 2 March 2021 with the addition of earthquake plots showing rifting / dike formation)
A large earthquake swarm started on 24 February 2021 on the Reykjanes Peninsula in the vicinity of the Krýsuvík volcanic system between Kleifarvatn and Svartsengi. At the time of writing the swarm is still ongoing with over 7,200 earthquakes record by Iceland’s SIL system. Three earthquakes of 5.0M or more have been recorded: 5.7M and 5.0M on 24 February and a 5.2 on 27 February 2021.
The alert level for the Krýsuvík volcanic system has been raised to yellow following sightings of steam jets in geothermal areas in the region after the 5.7M and 5.0M.
The Icelandic Met Office have attributed this swarm to the recent re-awakening of volcano-tectonic activity on the Peninsula.
We downloaded the confirmed earthquakes from IMO’s site to take a look. We plotted earthquake density for Week 8, 2021, earthquake locations for February 2021 and earthquakes by month from January 2009 to February 2021.
From our plots we can see the awakening of the volcano-tectonic activity with the upkick in number of earthquakes from December 2019. The current swarm is part of this activity.
At the time of writing, it is not possible to predict whether or not this activity will result in a local eruption in the near future. Only time will tell.
Update 1 & 2 /03/2021
Since writing the swarm has continued, with more than 15,000 earthquakes since it began last week.
The Department for Civil Protection has advised on 1 March 2021, that satellite images show deformation in the area has increased more than expected, indicating possible magma inflow.
We can see from the local GPS stations that there has been significant uplift near Krýsuvík.
We have also produced scatter plots by day for the swarm in week 8, 2021 which show possible rifting or dike formation.
IMO are updating the list of earthquakes for week 8, 2021, at the time of writing. For up-to-date information, please consult IMO.
While we are waiting to see if there is any volcanic activity at Grímsvötn or her neighbours, let’s take a look at how the current seismic activity in Iceland compares to previous years.
Our database, comprised of earthquake data downloaded from IMO (see Sources below), now goes back to 29 December 2008 and extends to 23 October 2020, although we may reupload the last week soon because IMO may have been in the process of updating the record when we downloaded the data.
From our graph, we can see that the total number of earthquakes was up in 2010, 2014, 2017 and 2020. In 2010, Eyjafjallajökull erupted, in 2014, Barðarbunga erupted at the Holuhraun fissure; in 2017, there was no subaerial volcanic activity, although Katla may have had some subglacial activity, and, in 2020, there is rifting both in the Reykjanes Peninsula and Tjörnes Fracture Zone but we have yet to see what, if any, volcanic activity emerges. Interestingly, the 2011 eruption of Grímsvötn did not push the total earthquakes up in 2011.
Let’s take a look at activity by region. Here we look at the four main volcanic regions: the Tjörnes Fracture Zone, Vatnajökull, Myrdalsjökull and the Reykjanes Peninsula, where there is most seismic activity.
We see that the eruption of Eyjafjalljokull increased the number of earthquakes in Myrdalsjökull but not to the extent that the eruption of Barðarbunga at the Holuhraun fissure and subsidence in the caldera pushed up the earthquakes for Vatnajökull in 2014 and subsequent years. In fact, the total number of earthquakes in all regions, except Myrdalsjökull, has remained elevated since Holuhraun.
Our database does not extend back far enough to draw any firm conclusions, however, it would appear that rifting events such as Holuhraun produce far more earthquakes than volcanic activity on its own.
Tjörnes Fracture Zone and on the Reykjanes Peninsula
This rather begs the question as to what is happening this year with the large earthquake swarms both in the Tjörnes Fracture Zone and on the Reykjanes Peninsula. Unless our database does not go back far enough, neither the 2011 Grímsvötn nor the 2014 Barðarbunga eruption was preceded by such large earthquake swarms in other regions.
The fact that there is significantly raised activity this year in both regions suggests to us that we may be witnessing the normal plate separation on the Mid Atlantic Ridge (it is not entirely smooth), possible local magma ascent, and / or the plates accommodating an ascending blob of magma from the mantle plume, which is believed to be under the Vatnajökull icecap. There is ground deformation at several spots under the Vatnajökull icecap which points to magma ascent.
IMO have reported that there could be a magmatic intrusion at depth on the Reykjanes Peninsula; this is supported by ground deformation.
Gas measurements, ground deformation and recent seismic activity at Grímsvötn (not enough to show in our graphs but above the background levels for the volcanic system) have led to the Icelandic authorities to consider that an eruption is possible there in the not too distant future and to raise the alert level a notch (see earlier article).
It is too soon to tell whether or not the rifting events, themselves, will result in eruption(s); it is possible that it is just a coincidence that we are seeing two large rifting events at roughly the same time – both areas are seismically active. Time will tell.
The Icelandic Met Office (IMO) has updated the aviation alert for Grímsvötn from green to yellow today (30.09.2020) because the volcano’s activity is above background level, now at a level comparable to that which preceded previous eruptions. They note:
Above average seismicity for September 2020;
Deepening cauldrons in the ice-cap round the caldera from geothermal activity;
Surface deformation exceeding that which preceded the 2011 eruption;
Magmatic gases detected in the summer of 2020.
An eruption is not considered imminent.
Water levels in the sub-glacial lake are high indicating possible jökulhlaups in the coming months. Draining of the lake by a jökulhlaup depressurised the system before the 2011 eruption, so an eruption is considered possible in the event of a jökulhlaup.
Activity may decrease without an eruption in this instance; only time will tell.
Jumping the gun a bit on our next post in the volcanic risk mitigation series, the IMO’s alert is an example of using alert levels to highlight the increased risk of an eruption to those who need to know, without being unduly alarmist – a straightforward statement of the facts supporting the current status. For the exact wording of the alert, please follow the link below.
Grímsvötn is located under the Vatnajökull ice-cap in an active rift zone of the Eastern Volcanic Zone, Iceland. She erupts frequently; her last in 2011 was a large VEI 4, which impacted local farmers and livestock and aviation in Europe.
Googling around a bit more, I note that Iceland’s Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management, Almannavarnir, have reported in their 25 September 2020 bulletin that an eruption is considered likely this Autumn (use Google Translate or other tool, if you need to, as it is in Icelandic).
A large earthquake swarm started on the morning of 19 July at around 1:30 am at Fagradalsfjall on the Reykjanes Peninsula. The largest earthquake had a magnitude of 5.1M. At the time of writing, there had been 1,635 earthquakes in the last 48 hours recorded on IMO’s website (note that not all of these have been confirmed). IMO’s map and breakdown of the swarm are shown below:
Close up of the Reykjanes Peninsula:
Fig 3: Breakdown of earthquakes by magnitude
This swarm is occurring on the east side of the swarms on the Reykjanes Peninsula which started late last year. IMO have reported that these swarms (still ongoing) are associated with multiple magma intrusions. The aviation code for the area is still green (IMO). IMO are in the process of evaluating the Fagradalsfjall swarm.
The swarm at the Tjörnes Fracture Zone is still ongoing.
The eagle-eyed amongst you will note that there is some seismic activity at Katla. Whether this will result in anything is anyone’s guess at the moment.
We have not yet updated our earthquake data-set for the current swarm. We will wait until IMO has had a chance to confirm more earthquakes
Update 24 July 2020
The swarm at Reykjanes is now less intense. In the meantime, Katla produced a shallow 3.0 M. IMO have remarked that earthquakes in the summer at Katla are not uncommon.
From memory, Katla was seismically active before the intense swarms started in August 2014 at Barðarbunga in the run up to the eruption at Holuhraun. This may have been a coincidence.
In this post we continue our journey round Iceland’s many volcanoes. We have reached the mighty Barðarbunga at the northwest corner of the Vatnajökull icecap.
Barðarbunga volcanic system lies in the Eastern Volcanic Zone, Iceland, near where the head of the mantle plume is thought to be. The system comprises a 2,000 m high central stratovolcano with a 65 km2, 700 m deep caldera, the Veiðivötn fissure swarm running NE to SW, and the Tröllagigar and the Dyngjuháls – Holuhraun fissure swarms running NE; the entire system is c. 190 km long and 25 km wide.
There is second central volcano in the system, Hamarinn, 20 km south west of the Barðarbunga central volcano. Hamarinn may be younger, indicated by the absence of both an intrusive complex and a caldera.
There are geothermal areas near the caldera rim of Barðarbunga and the east of Hamarinn, the latter is the source of jökulhlaups.
The area is tectonically very active: the Eastern Volcanic Belt accommodates much of the separation between the North American and Eurasian Plates. The area is close to the junction with the Northern Volcanic Zone, where Barðarbunga’s neighbours, Askja and Herðubreið, can be found.
According to GVP, there are 55 identifiable Holocene eruptive periods for the Barðarbunga system. Some of the eruptive history has been hidden by the ice-cap. However, lavas and tephra deposits on the ice-free sections of the fissures are more accessible.
Barðarbunga Central Volcano
The central volcano has had around 22 eruptions in the last 1000 years, most occurring between 1200 -1500 and in the 18th century. The last known subaerial eruption was in 1910.
Barðarbunga’s lavas are mainly basalt/ picro basalt. Her eruption types are explosive, phreato-magmatic with jökulhlaups, reflecting the impact of the ice-cap. The central volcano produces eruptions in the order of VEI 3 to 4, producing tephra – both airborne and waterborne. There is a silicic tephra layer in the ice-cap dating to the early 18th century but it is not clear that this came from Barðarbunga. If it did, any rhyolite would have come from partial melting of the basaltic crust.
Magma is sourced from a depth of 10 km or more below the caldera; above this source is an intrusive complex and a lower density region, probably of caldera in-fill. Magma may also be sourced direct from the mantle in the fissure swarms.
Fissure swarm eruptions are basaltic in the order of VEI 1 to 2, with a maximum of VEI 6 on the Veiðivötn fissure.
The last three eruptions on the south west fissure swarm were the VEI 4 at Vatnaöldur in 877, the VEI 6 at Veiðivötn in 1477 and the VEI 2 at Tröllagigar in 1862-1864. The first two of these were explosive tephra eruptions, producing 5 km3 to 10 km3 of tephra and small lava flows. Both the Vatnaöldur and Veiðivötn fissures cut into the Torfajökull volcano, causing it to erupt with silicic tephra and lava. The largest known effusive eruption on the SW fissure swarm is the Great Þjórsá lava which covers 900 km2 and reached the south coast via the Tungnaá and Þjórsá river valleys.
The Gjálp eruption in 1996 occurred on a subglacial fissure that links the Barðarbunga and Grímsvötn volcanic systems. While it is thought that the magma was sourced from beneath Barðarbunga, based on seismic and geodetic data, the magma erupted subaerially was characteristic of Grímsvötn’s lavas.
The frequency of eruptions on the northern fissure swarm is not known; the last eruption was at Holuhraun which started on 29 August 2014 and lasted until February 2015. Precursors to this eruption were a build up of seismic activity at Barðarbunga over seven years, which stopped immediately after the Grímsvötn 2011 eruption but resumed soon afterwards. The largest known effusive fissure eruption north of Vatnajökull is the mid Holocene 15 km3 Trölladyngja lava shield.
Holuhraun Eruption 2014 – 2015
The subaerial eruption started on 29 August 2014 at the Holuhruan vent 45 km NE of the Barðarbunga caldera; the eruption ended on 28 February 2015, having left an 85 km2 lava field and a 65 m deep depression in the Barðarbunga caldera’s ice cover. The eruption was a large SO2 and other volcanic gas producer, however there was little ash or tephra.
The central volcano, Barðarbunga had inflated prior to the eruption then deflated during the eruption as evidenced by subsidence in the ice covering. The volume of the subsidence was consistent with the dyke intrusion and the lava erupted at Holuraun, although there is seismic and geochemical evidence that some of the lava erupted at Holuhraun was fed direct from the mantle. It is estimated that 1.6 km3 lava was erupted.
Since September 2015, seismic and GPS data show that the volcano has started to refill at a depth of 10 to 15 km.
Recent Seismic Activity
We looked at earthquakes in the Barðarbunga, Askja, Herðubreið and Holuhraun area (64.56°N, 17.65°W to 65.3°N, 16.1°W) for the period 1 January 2009 to 28 June 2020. Not much activity had been noted in the area to the west and south west of Barðarbunga in our earlier plots; however, we had noted that heightened activity at Askja and Herðubreið had preceded the 2014 eruption at Holuhraun which lies between the three volcanoes, hence we included them in our plots. The link between the centres is rifting in the crust to accommodate the separation of the North American and Eurasian Plates.
There were 70,128 earthquakes in the period, of which 16,573 occurred before the 2014 -2015 eruption, 19,061 during the eruption and 34,494 post eruption; the average per calendar month was 247 pre eruption, 2,723 during the eruption and 539 post eruption; the maximum magnitude earthquake pre eruption was 3.9 M, during the eruption 5.5 M and 4.9 M post eruption; and, the deepest quakes had respective depths of 33.9 km, 31.0 km and 33.9 km. These numbers include activity at Barðarbunga, itself, the Holuhraun fissure, Askja and Herðubreið. The larger magnitude earthquakes occurred near the north and south caldera rim during the eruption. Since the eruption all four centres have had elevated seismic activity.
Seismicity during the 2014 to 2015 Holuhraun eruption
Three months prior to the eruption, there was an earthquake swarm at Herðubreið, noted here because the rifting event that preceded the Holuhraun eruption occurred on the same plate boundary. Seismic activity at Herðubreið or Askja may be precursors to activity at Vatnajökull, if they, themselves, are not the main event or brewing something. Something to watch out for bearing in mind the recent large swarms in the Tjörnes Fracture Zone and on the Reykjanes Peninsula.
The earthquake plots for August 2014 and November 2014 show the intense swarms from caldera collapse and also the rifting event.
We will look at Askja and Herðubreið in future posts.
“Barðarbunga”, Guðrún Larsen and Magnús T. Guðmundsson (Institute of Earth Sciences – Nordvulk, University of Iceland). In: Oladottir, B., Larsen, G. & Guðmundsson, M.T., Catalogue of Icelandic Volcanoes. IMO, UI and CPD-NCIP. Retrieved from Icelandic Volcanoes: http://icelandicvolcanos.is/?volcano=BAR
Fig 2: Map. After Björnsson (1988), Gudmundsson and Högnadöttir (2007), Jóhanneson and Saemundsson (1998a & b), Sigurgeirsson et al (2015). Base data, Iceland Geo Survey, IMO, NLSI | Base map: IMO. In: Oladottir, B., Larsen, G. & Guðmundsson, M.T., Catalogue of Icelandic Volcanoes. IMO, UI and CPD-NCIP. Retrieved from Icelandic Volcanoes: http://icelandicvolcanos.is/?volcano=BAR