Hekla – Unusual Seismicity

Photographer: Kröyer (2009)

During the last 24 hours Hekla has been the recipient of 3 earthquakes and four microseismical events ranging from 0M to 0.7M. The depth has ranged from 7.5km to 0.7km. The fartherest earthquake was an 0.2M yesterday that was 5km due east. The trend has been from east to the center under the volcano proper. The seismics has trended from depth and upwards. Todays quake at 0.7 is on top of the uppermost of the magma chambers of Hekla.

Due to the logarithmic scale, earthquakes at 0M is not exactly zero, so they do exist, it is just that the scale gets a bit wonky in the really low end.

There has been no rise in the tremor levels and so far no reports of increases in gas emission. There has also been no rapid GPS motion during the last 2 weeks. Currently the borehole strainmeters are offline due to a server failure. Many of these specialized plots are piped through the server that hosts the older parts of the site. The problem will hopefully be fixed in the morning.

This behaviour is not what was seen during the last eruption. In 2000 the small quakes (below 0.5M) started about 2 hours before the eruption started. This is far more outspread.

My judgement is that this is a sign of a coming eruption. But what neither I, nor anyone else can say, is when that will happen. It is though most likely not far around the bend due to Hekla being judged to be close, since quite some time, by the IMO.

Currently we have twice the uplift and magma influx compared to 2000, we have had borehole transients, and odd seismic activity. So, the signs do really lean towards an eruption being close. Problem is just that we as always are talking about anything from in 2 hours, to somewhere in the next decade or so.

So in the end we can just sum it up as Hekla being her usual and mysterious self.

For the press

What is stated above about Hekla being close to an eruption should be understod as that she is always close to an eruption. That is her nature. Hekla currently does not warrant more than a short notice at most. And please dear lord, do not write any doom and gloom story about the end of the world. At most it will be a nuisance. Same goes for Katla.



322 thoughts on “Hekla – Unusual Seismicity

  1. I hav actually never seen this large an area being so clearly affected by Bob.
    She is really rocking today.

  2. Boy, when I saw that quake underneath Hekla yesterday, I thought to myself: “Here we go!” XD Somehow, Hekla even snuck her way into my dreams last night.

    • Many places in the far northern area is having problems due to solar storm. It is visible as large auroras. Also, any internet is slower than usual, or not working.
      The amount of internet that is affected is depending on the balance beetwen fibreoptics and copperwire.
      So, do not be alarmed if half of Iceland is gone soon (and me for that matter).

      • Thanks carl, maybe thats the problem I am having then. Last night was a pain nothing wanted to load up, and the web cams keep freezing. I thought I had overheated the lap top by to much Bob watching.(my computer skills suck)

        • If you are talking depending on where you are yourself, and when you where watching it was probably that.
          Iceland was almost gone during Icelandic night. I had a problem during the night to access pretty much anything outside of Scandinavia. For me the cameras in spain is almost gone by now. Iceland is going away.

          • Thanks again Guys, much appreciated. I was going to attempt to try and figure out what on earth was up with the lap top today, and in all probability I would have screwed it up big time. So you saved me much frustration. I sure hope Bob and Hekla behave while this is going on.

  3. OT- According to my little astrophysicist friend there is helluvalot of heavy geomagnetic activity at the mo which may get stronger over the next few hours. Phat aurora alert!

      • Yes, it is causing problems for me, and that is a first. Normally I never even notice things like this so it must be really bad today, or on exactly some weird frequency that hits harder than normal.

        • It is steadily getting heavier and the aurora should even be seen over Scotland tonight. Although the solar flare wasn’t too massive it was pointed almost exactly at Earth so you may be struggling with connection for a few hours yet..

  4. I had no disruption at all in recent hours. And finally, just 5 min the aurora appears now in a break in the clouds. Looks bright and a green corona dancing. I hope the clouds clear for an amazing show tonight. You cannot see it in peace tower webcam as weather is overcast in reykjavik and also the auroras are not in north but upwards.

    • Then you are very lucky. IMO is having disturbances on their feed. But I guess that is due to some of the equipment being on sat-feed or on copper-wire.

      • I think the disturbance is from their website or heavy traffic. I havent heard anyone having electrical or communication problems today, here in Iceland. I think it takes a much larger geomagnetic storm (like G3 or G4) for that to happen. Last time this happened in a large scale was in 1989 in Canada. It can also happen much more dramatic than just a black-out, but that is quite rare event.

        • This M3 flare although pointed quite directly to Earth, the CME kind of missed our planet. The storm has been weak so far. But the solar maximum is just starting.

        • Actually, for some reason it has created a lot of problems. I think it was on exactly some sat-frequency that som use for transfer.
          The disturbance is not due to heavy traffic.

        • Up to now I don’t have problems with getting into IMO or other Icelandic sites. But I changed from Firefox to Google Chrome. You could perhaps try another Server, Carl. 🙂

          • Currently there are no problems for me either.
            And no, I do not want Google to know even more about me than they allready know.
            Google – Do only evil.

    • There is a lot of activity showing on the La Restinga village web cam between the jacuzzi and the shore, especially on the right of the screen.

    • But oddly no corresponding quakes really…
      However I look I could not find a corresponding quake that could be responsible for that big one and 04.28ish…

      • Poppers… not an official term.

        Those really small short duration signals that are about the same size category and that occur in groups. It’s akin to the sound sequence of a ripping sheet of plywood. The crack starts and makes a snap/pop, as the crack progresses along the sheet, each extension of it makes a new snap/pop. You can use a piece of cardboard as a similar analogy.

        In my line of thinking, I think it is the sound of small cracks opening up and then progressing through the strata and then a new crack opening.

        These are not “tornillos” as defined. (and first noted at Galeras) Those are “screw” shaped waveforms and tend to last a few seconds in duration. (though they may be related and I’m just talking about a short version)

        These are the sort of things that perplexed me in their absence at El Hierro. They never showed up there.

        I’ve seen them in Redoubt and Eyjafjallajökull’s traces.

        It doesn’t mean anything is gonna happen, it just means that something is moving around down there.

        Could even be a Graboid.

    • Stand by Bob

      When the night has come
      And the Bob is dark
      And the moon is the only light we’ll see
      No I won’t be afraid, no I won’t be afraid
      Just as long as you stand, stand by Bob

      And darlin’, darlin’, stand by Bob, oh now now stand by Bob
      Stand by Bob, stand by Bob

      If the Bob that we look upon
      Should tumble and fall
      And the mountains should crumble to the sea
      I won’t cry, I won’t cry, no I won’t shed a tear
      Just as long as you stand, stand by Bob

      And darlin’, darlin’, stand by Bob, oh stand by Bob
      Stand by Bob, stand by Bob, stand by Bob, yeah

      Whenever you’re in trouble won’t you stand by Bob, oh now now stand by Bob
      Oh stand by Bob, stand by Bob, stand by Bob

      Darlin’, darlin’, stand by me, stand by Bob
      Oh stand by Bob, stand by Bob, stand by Bob

    • Actually, it is as I suspected. That is straight inside the volcano.
      It is a stress sign that the central volcano can not take much more pressure before going off.
      The stress is caused by the magma inflation causing pressure that is starting to deform the mountain.

      Second thing is that we should remember that it is 100 metres below the reference depth, and then we have another 1,4km of mountain ontop of that.

      But, these shallow quakes are not a good sign. If they continue to have happen for a few more days in this slow and weak fashion I would say that we are just a few weeks from an eruption at most.

      • reference depth

        I have been trying to find that for over two years. You don’t happen to know what it is do you? You know, the reference depth as stated by IMO?

        • Doh… I know it was something that I meant to ask them… I do have a half a memory that it is set to be at sealevel.

          Wagabond, you do not happen to know do you?

  5. Bob.

    Couple of things to think about. Bob is in sputter mode right now. The pressure release is sporadic. There will probably be longer and longer intervals between flare ups.

    But the inflation has not returned to normal.

    This points towards the overall magma intrusion become a pluton emplacement as it cools. Just remember that that cooling process could be a few hundred years or more. Until then, what is down there will have time to fraction into different minerals as the crystals grow (at varying temps and pressures as different compounds turn solid)

    Should there be a new sequence or infusion of magma, this material could become re-mobilized and be part of whatever happens.

    An alternate scenario, is that the vent for Bob could become too choked by then and a new path would form. Where, is anybodies guess.

    Again… I’m not a geologist etc.

    • But, the splutters are large when they do happen. With quit a lot of material coming up.

      Even though Bob is spluttering right now, we should always remember that all it takes is for just a bit of more magma coming up and we will have Bob around for quite a while more. I suspect there has been one or two globs of magma coming up sofar after the start of the eruption, and since the chamber is allready topped off it would restart it all again.

      I guess we will have to wait and see what happens.
      One thing is sure, the eruption has not finnished yet.

      • Hmm….the other Canary stations are still showing a respectable signal from El Hierro so even if CHIE has gone a bit quieter (downscaling and / or Bob taking a rest) , magma is still moving somewhere….

  6. On Avcan FB they are discussing the SLS copied.

    hope that you see, is one of the stones that have been released yesterday.Temperature, always the interior according to IGN, (426 ° c are taken inside), was maintained even at 100 ° C at the Centre of Restinga, I understand is invested enough time to reach port etc… Etc… If would help the time it takes to cool down and according to IGN the weight could be in 60Kg.Saludos

    At the time said that Restinga volcano emissions had higher content in Ur-Th to the rest of rocks of the archipelago, implying (I guess) that come from a zone deeper than the rest of magmatic Chambers of recent eruptions. This in turn can mean a rash extremely long, if this is the case of a direct from the mantle contribution and not a more superficial camera. That, in turn, will mean more promotion of the eruptive mouth with the months, increasingly more near surface, material floating and with higher temperature. At least I think so as well. (Translated by Bing)

    43 minutes ago · Like ·

    • Hmm… That is quite interesting.

      Direct evidence of a mantle source. No deflation (to pre-eruptive levels). Relatively low flow rates now.

      Hard to call how this will turn out… especially if Bob closes up.

    • “Ur-Th to the rest of rocks of the archipelago”

      If this is correct….

      I HORKING love to be right!!!
      I have been saying all along that this has been a direct fed eruption from the hotspot mantleplum. With magma arriving at even pressure or in globs. If the comment above is true then I was correct all along. And that means quite a few things.
      One of them being that it can go on for quite some time, the second is that even if the eruption ends it will most likely be a new eruption in quite short time (10 – 30 years) due to constant continued influx of material. And also… that the hotspot and mantleplume is proven for the canaries (cough… aherm…)

    • BTW…

      Ur – Uranium
      Th – Thorium

      Two of the main radioactive isotopes that a believed to contribute to the interior heat of the Earth. (the other being Potassium 40)

      The other source of heat is what is left over from the accretion of the planet. In other words, heat of formation as gravity attracted our region of dust into what we now call “The Earth”

    • Graboids are a fictional creature in the Comedy/Horror movie series “Tremors.”

      The movie opens up with a Seismologist working in the desert southwest US trying to localize odd seismic signals that turn out to be related to large carnivorous worm like creatures that burrow through the earth and are the reason for some mysterious disappearances in and around the (also fictitious) town of Perfection, Nevada.


      It’s actually quite a funny movie series.

      • Ok, i am going to try me the series, so that i can understand your enthusiasm. So now I’ll go count sheep, must be tomorrow morning at 5:00 to arise. I wish you the your the riddle “Bob” today night still lost!

  7. Very interesting Paper Peter.
    Summery for for all who dont want to read in detail :
    – The crystal structure of the magma shows that magma from the mantle crystallized several times at different pressures, in a depth of 14-36km. But then there is a lack of molten and recrystallized crust material. So they think that there are varios linked magma chambers in the upper mantle, but if it comes to an eruption the magma moves up within weeks to some months from the mantle to the surface.
    -There is probably no shallow magma reservoir feeding El Hierros rift zones.
    -Paper is from 2009, before Bob errupted
    -They also took samples from La Palma, La Gomera and Tenerife
    -‘multistage magma ascent with major crystal fractionation in the uppermost mantle and short-term stagnation at shallower levels is apparently the rule rather than the exception’

    Maybe the canary volcanos are not as unknow as i thought, as this paper of 2009 seems a pretty accurate description of Bobs magma.

    • But, the part of El Hierro not having magma chambers have been soundly disputed by other papers. And also by data observed durin the eruption. But those are not feeding any rift zones, they are feeding the Tanganasoga central volcano and the Tinganar fissure volcanoes.

    • That one is far outside of the Hekla fissure.
      It is probably related to Torfajökull. Or just one of the normal earthquakes that happen in Iceland just to confuse us. But it is in no way related to Hekla.

      • Its very close to the place where the Veidivotn (Bardarbunga) fissures reaches Torfajokull system, which erupted in 1477 near Landmannalaugar. I am not sure which system this is related to. Defintively not Hekla. But it seems interesting this happening just a few hours after the Hekla quakes.

  8. Yes – we can see it in North Scotland (Lossiemouth – Moray Firth). Clouds have just cleared. Not particularly colourful but a wide glow in the north sky. Hoping it will get better as the night goes on. It tends to improve towards midnight here.

  9. Just a heads up here.
    Saurbear is offline right now, so any small quakes at Hekla will go undetected for a while.
    This is sad since we have had quite a lot of mini-quakes recently.

    • Correct that, I can get the quake signature data.
      There have been 5 micro-quakes today in addition of the two larger ones.

  10. @Ursula ( https://volcanocafe.wordpress.com/2012/01/21/sheepy-dalek-ramon-margalef-day/comment-page-1/#comment-13834 ) and all others who want to watch the RUV Hekla cam even when the browsers fail.

    Try the VLC Media Player. It is very reliable. It also makes screenshots in a relaxing way. You have to download (free) and install it. Open the player and choose Media / Open Network Stream / paste mms://3.efstaleiti.rs.ruv.is/hekla/ into the box and Enter. Enjoy!

    If there is a VCL expert out there, I would be very glad to hear how to play YouTube videos with VLC. I did the same as above (pasting the short YouTube URL) but – that makes the player crash…

    • Not the expert, but if you can get VLC to digest the direct feed link, it will work just fine.

      Use the “Open Network Stream” function under “Media”

      Drop/paste the link in the URL location.

      It may take a bit for VLC to negotiate the mms connection, and it may actually fail, but it it works you can also take that link to make VLC automatically record the stream to hard disk.

      I was doing that with some of the ROV feeds off of the deepwater horizon. Goat Fest.

    • As for how to find the direct feed… that requires a bit of spelunking through the page where the feed is located, looking through the HTML. Use “view source” for whatever browser you have.

  11. For those who enjoy quakes above Jan Mayen at the MAR.

    Magnitude mb 4.5
    Date time 2012-01-22 16:26:22.0 UTC
    Location 72.91 N ; 4.34 E
    Depth 10 km
    1081 km NW Trondheim (pop 147,139 ; local time 17:26:22.6 2012-01-22)
    631 km NW Tromsø (pop 52,436 ; local time 17:26:22.6 2012-01-22)
    580 km NW Andenes (pop 2,766 ; local time 17:26:22.6 2012-01-22)

  12. I have a question regarding el hierro it seems that it now erupts in pulses, the eruption stops only to restart every few hours, this activity together with he results indicating a deep source of the material could this indicate us the pace in which the new material comes from the deep? I mean every time new magma arrives, it pushes the old one out and the eruption restarts…
    If this is a complete nonsense please correct me I am eager to learn XD

    • Problem is that you are asking a question that I do not think anyone has an answer to really.

      But my guess is that we have now achieved an equilibrium in the base line of pressure, ie that it rests a bit before having a gas release episode, then the pressure goes up, eruptive phase comes, then pressure drops and the cycle starts over.
      What starts the gas release is the good question, might be magma going up into the chamber(s).

      But, I am speculating here.

  13. Interesting earthquakes in Langjokull (near Hveravellir caldera) and north of Torfajokull, probably related to the extreme end of Veidivotn fissure, which erupted in 1477.

  14. More Bobilicious songs…
    Welcome to the Hotel California
    Such a lovely Bob (Such a lovely Bob)
    Such a lovely Bob
    Plenty of Bob at the Hotel California
    Any time of year (Any time of year)
    You can find Bob here…

  15. Down at Restolinga one evening I was there
    When I heard Involcan shouting underneath the flair
    I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts!
    There they are all standing in a row!
    Big ones, small ones, some as big as your head
    Give them a twist a flick of the wrist
    That’s what Involcan said…

    • Teco! Are you practicing for the poetry competition that AVCAN is organizing for their fans on Facebook? You can send them three poems about ‘Bob’ (El tema principal es “El Volcán de Las Calmas”). Your poetic creations must be fresh, unpublished pieces of prose or poetry – I suppose in Español although nothing is said about language – and the winner is determined by popular vote after anonymous presentation. Entries must be sent at concursos@avcan.org and can be handed in until January 30th. The winner will be announced on the 5th of February and the prize to win is being published with your name attached and, of course, eternal fame.
      Here’s the guidelines – in PDF: http://www.avcan.org/varios/POESIA.pdf

      • I will have to present something far more original, but I bet I can pull something out of my simple sleeve! Thanks for the link 🙂

  16. As a special thank you for all who posted links so I could see the wonderful play of lights from the Aurora I have posted this folk song.

  17. The Kraken/Bob.

    Below the thunders of the upper deep;
    Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea,
    His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
    The Kraken/Bob sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee
    About his shadowy sides: above him swell
    Huge sponges of millennial growth and height;
    And far away into the sickly light,
    From many a wondrous grot and secret cell
    Unnumbered and enormous polypi
    Winnow with giant arms the slumbering green.
    There hath he lain for ages and will lie
    Battening upon huge sea-worms in his sleep,
    Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;
    Then once by man and angels to be seen,
    In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.

    Apologies to Alfred Tennyson.

  18. Thy Bobism is too mee –
    like a bumblebee to its mother-bee!
    It floats it floats, the floater boats;
    shivering, pummeling, flocking – burning!

    – And alas it goes – back to sea!

    Picked that up in my Vogon poetry class!

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