Herðubreið – Renewed activity at Askja

Photograph by Zanthia. On the picture one can see Mount Herðubreið. Herðubreið (Broad Sholder) is a tabletop mountain, or in another word, a Thuya.

Yesterday an earthquake swarm started with a 3.4M earthquake at Herðubreið. So far the swarm has had 15 earthquakes above 2M, among those 3 where at Askja proper. This swarm as well as the previous ones at Herðubreið have been to the west of the volcano. And those earthquake swarms have been deemed to be lateral intrusions from Askja.

Image by Icelandic Met Office (IMO). Askja to the left of the green star, the black “circle” above is Frémrinamúr. Kverkfjöll is due south and not showing here.

Image by Icelandic Met Office (IMO).

Only problem here is the 3 earthquakes that happened within Dyngjufjöll (Askja). Having 3 earthquakes above 2M at the same time as a medium sized earthquake swarm takes place rather beggers coincidence. I think when the hubbub of this is over the area will be removed from Kverkfjölls fissure swarm. One should also remember that Kverkfjöll is the smallest volcano on the riftline.

Image by Icelandic Met Office (IMO). There seems to be magmatic components to the earthquake swarm when looking at a higher resolution.

On the other hand, this is as far as known not anywhere near any part of Askjas fissure system. We should remember that. Personally I thought up untill now that Herðubreið itself belonged to the Frémrinamúr volcanic fissure swarm. Apparantly I was as wrong about that as the ones who thought it belonged to Kverkfjöll.

Image by Icelandic Met Office (IMO). The earthquake swarm shows well also at the Dyngjufjöll SIL-station.

So, now we are back to a long dormant volcano that had it’s last eruption before deglaciation. And that put it as having erupted at 6000BC latest (time when the glacier withdrew). How do we know that? Thuyas only form under glaciers that are big enough to contain the erupted lava thusly forming the tell-tale tabletop look of a thuya. So, we are talking about a long dormant volcano here.

Image by University of Iceland and Professor Sigrún Hréinsdottir. Inflation showing at Askja. The inflation at Herðubreið started 2 years before.

If we look at the 12 +2M earthquakes we find that 9 of those are between 2.2 and 7.9 kilometres deep. 2 of them are 1.1km deep, and that is a dummy value when an actuall depth has not been set, then we have the original 3.4M quake that has a suspiciously undeep figure. The current given depth is almost certainly around 5 to 7km and will be revised sooner or later. What does this then tell us? That the figures point towards a magmatic intrusion into an old chamber. Remember, this is my interpretation.

So, back to Herðubreið. What is Herðubreið? In my eyes Herðubreið is starting to look like a volcano on it’s own. One of the reasons is that it started to inflate just to the east before Askja started to inflate. It in fact started inflating and having earthquake swarms to the east before Askja stoped deflating. So, I am actually contemplating that Herðubreið and Askja had a common origin and has been rifted apart by the EISZ part of the MAR over the course of millenia. What I am trying to say is that they might actually share a deep root found in the current EISZ. We could think of them as two non-twins sharing the same womb and umbilical cord.

Untill we have new data from the area this is a bit speculative, but I do not think it is that much way off.



299 thoughts on “Herðubreið – Renewed activity at Askja

  1. Having an update function is sometimes rather good, especially when you go and confuse east and west… 😳
    So If you read something odd about East of Herðubreið, then it was my befuddled brain having a moment of confusion…

    • During my initial training as an air traffic controller I once confused North & South 😀
      That was under extreme stress though 🙂

      Tor Hogne

      PS: I also told a pilot to “make a LEFT hand 360-turn to the RIGHT”… He was rather taken aback ^^

        • Actually; If you travel to Iceland (or to the USA for that matter) from anywhere in Europe except the British Isles, you’ll likely have to travel through my airspace. So, beware ^^


    • Not that much really, Herðubreið has had numerous quake-swarms since 2005.
      And the lateral intrusion was published in 2011 by Hazel Rhymer.
      So, not any real news, I just took the opportunity to write it up into a post.

  2. The real news would be if it started to erupt, something that is actually starting to look more and more possible.
    If it does erupt it would most likely be a flanking eruption, either on it’s own (which would make it likely that Herðubreið is a volcano on it’s own), or together with Askja.

    But, this is something that probably lies a bit into the future.
    Caveat here is that I am writing when the quake swarm is ongoing. There is a very minute possibility that this is a run-up.

    • Good analysis, Carl! There is a possibility that the misbegotten, misleading and completely irrelevant “Central Volcano” concept has caused volcanologists to get a kind of “mind-lock” within the CV-paradigm which leads them to think always in terms of how their observations relate to Askja, hence the “lateral intrusions from Askaj” explanation every time there’s been activity in the Herðubreið, Herðubreiðartögl or Herðubreiðarlinðir area which – as you so rightly point out – is on the other side of the EVZ rift.

      • I think the central volcano concept is rather whonked up.
        I use the phrase “central volcano” when talking about a volcanoes feeder-tube, magma-reservoir, and surface vents.
        Bob for instance was a flanking vent of Tanganasoga (a clear example). But often in reallity it is hard to discern what is a flanking vent, a double volcano (Hamarinn / Bardarbunga is perhaps such a beast), or when is rifting fissure a part of a central volcano? If we take the dead zone lava floods they are just to large for being emaneted entirely from a central volcano.
        Yes, a term like that is usefull, but then one should know the volcanic innards rather well for it to be used.

        • In Iceland, things get ocasionally rippen apart.

          Doesn’t matter what people think! It can just rip open anywhere along the rift.

    • But it really did not look like a cinder-cone, more like proto-strato-volcano, or a shield-volcano caused by rather sticky basalt.

      • I agree, it really does look like a miniature stratovolcano perched atop the tuya. It’s only that when Herðubreið was acting up a couple of years ago, someone in the know said it was a cinder cone.

        • I do not agree…. And untill someone shows me the composition of it I would say that it is not composed of cinder (should have blown asunder by now since this is stormy Iceland)…
          Logic gives that it is a rather nice proto strato 🙂

  3. As Henrik pointed out above, one should never trust GVP entirely.
    When I took a second look at the image I used in this article I noticed that to the SW there is what looks like a rather nice flanking eruption (righthand side of the volcano).

  4. Carl, No prob. 180 Deg error had one person get famous, namey “Wrong Way Corrigan”, when he planned fly from New York to California, but ending up in Ireland instead. 😉
    Slightly other topic, namely Hekla. There was this surprize news at RUV at 12:20 (repeat from last night). Apparently there are no signs (you know, like roadsigns) near Hekla warning tourists or hikers of, that Hekla can erupt without warning. Also the GSM (mobile) warning system is not yet in place, but said ready this summer.
    But there is in preparation an “reaction plan” on Hekla. That (like happened in morning Eyjo blew its top) probably involves stopping reporters go there to report. Doh!!!

      • Carl, the only mistake you can be accused of is to trust what someone, who ought know better, wrote. Yours is by far the lesser of the two and doesn’t detract one iota from what you say.

  5. I have to change my opinion – if you look at http://cs-001.123.is/DeliverFile.aspx?id=c66c6878-31b4-4c57-900b-66b8f78456e4 again and jack up the magnification as far as it will go (Ctrl and +), it’s clear there’s been at least two stages.

    During the first stage, a miniature startovolcano was built.

    The second stage includes an explosive eruption that blew out the crater.

    Proof? Look at the peak above the crater. It would have been impossible to build this after the crater-gouging eruption, especially the flows visible right up to the current peak. This could of course have happened during the same eruptive episode, but then why didn’t the still very hot lava just slide back? It must have had time to cool and solidify which suggests a period measured in years between the building phaze and the explosion.

    Caveat – I’m just an amateur speculating on what my eyes tell me.

    • Very similar to the Pico Viejo in Tenerife, most cones are even on both sides, there is a peak on the cone. This suggest perhaps a smaller crater that may have been gouged out by a large Hydrothermal explosion.

    • I think that you have a point, either two eruption, or a slightly elongated eruption erupting sticky lava that had time to cool down before it blew. But it still says a lot about the emerging volcano.
      Odd to find a caldera candidate stratovolcano this close to the EISZ if you are correct.

      • Thanks! If that is purely seismic in nature, it must surely be one of the strangest faults as it only fails on the Z-axis.

        • It seems possible intrusion comes from 15 km deep and perhaps already up to 5 km depth in 28 hrs. *Tinypic has maintanace and can not upload screenshot*

          • Guys!!
            I think this was only a renewed intrusion.

            I think there is already a lot of magma below both Herdubreid and some at least undr Askja )(which caused the lake to melt).

            But here we can clearly see that the feeder to Herdubreid comes from a deep source, on its own. And it seems somewhere at 10km or so, the magma also divides in a feeder into Askja. Not sure, if there is another independent feeder to Askja, or both share a common source.

            Anyways, I think they share a common deep source, and do some other pairs of icelandic volcanoes.

            This looks more pressure below Herdubreid and Askja. I think they are getting close to an eruption. But this can keep going for some years, like it happened in Eyjaf.

          • There is a separate feeder to Askja, come think about it is logical that an intrusion would never cross that warren of old NS-ranging fiissures that is the EISZ. Why on godabungas green earth would Askja as the only volcano in the region have a fissure swarm going across OVER the MAR?

    • Say hello to a new volcano opening a conduit.
      Back in 2010 Lurking did a plot for me during the then largest quake-swarm, it showed the same tendency.
      Back then when I said that Herdubreid was closing in on an eruption I got a lot of crap for that, then when Rhymer publshed her paper in 2011 I followed the band-waggoon and that it was Askja.
      But it seems I was right all along.
      Seems like this is either a pre-emptive infiltration, or a run-up.
      I like being right, I do not like that I second guessed myself.

      • If one discards the 1.1km earthquakes, and give the uncorrect ones above 2.2km (highest confirmed quake) then this is a picture perfect conduit from the MOHO up to the chamber that starts at about 8 km and ends at about 5km. And the scary thing is that it just keep on going up towards the surface. Currently it is confirmed up to 2.2km.

        • One thing though – with one, possibly two eruptions in the last 6-8,000 years or so, what does the magma system look like? Will it have had time to form a large magma chamber? I doubt it. I’d guess it’d be a system of sills, similar to Eyjafjallajökull but not as evolved.

          Then again, knowing that one place you don’t have earthquakes is inside a magma chamber and that the quakes tell you where there isn’t magma, the quakes listed over the years could tell you the dimmensions of the magma system, sills or chambers. Judging from that, it could be much larger than you might think… 😉

          • Henrik, this is the first swarm at this place, the usual swarms are at Herdubreidartögl.
            So, using your pointer we are talking about a chamber/reservoir that is 3 km high or more, and at least 10 km…

          • I forgot that one, I should have said that this is the first swarm here that I have seen…
            It is though a nice paper.

  6. It is a good day when you find proof on not only one volcano, but two volcanoes.
    Todays count:
    Iceland has two new volcanoes and I got the proof 😉

    • Just speculating freely – suppose you are right and there is a large, rhyolitic eruption or even a caldera-forming one at Herðubreið (if so, a very small one please), whither then the Central Vocano concept?

      • In my eyes we would then have a new central volcano.
        For me a central volcano is a volcano that has the full package. A reservoir (or several) a feeder from the MOHO, at large edifice ontop of it all. That one can have fissures, flanking eruptions, parasitic cones, the whole non-central shebang. Etna is a stunning example of a central volcano come to think of it.
        Askja is also a nice central volcano, it has the works. Only problem is that people seem to overextend the central volcanoes into encompassing to much, instead of accepting the simple fact that you can have several volcanoes close to each other. Something that seems to be common in Iceland (both the overextending, and different volcanoes close to each other).

        • Yesterday I said Herðubreið was not “a volcano” per se. Did not know any better, thought it had been built up in (single fissure) eruption before deglaciation. If it is Central Volcano or not I can not comment, how many eruption does it take to make one?

          Looking at Dutch plot again it indeed seems making a conduit (blue quakes are newest) and then possible swing towards Askja? So, what happens then, considering the Water Table (groundwater) in this area, or did that only apply to Askja proper. http://i45.tinypic.com/16hmalj.jpg

        • Ok, let’s continue. Exactly when in our hypothetical example did Herðubreið become a Central Volcano? Once it satisfied our human criteria by having a rhyolitic eruption or once it acquired a system capable of producing a rhyolitic eruption? When does a piece of land become a dump? Does it require the local council to designate one or is it when people start dumping rubbish somewhere?

          • I think we should take the “central volcano” definition very lightly.

            I think Carl is correct, there the central volcano got divided in two: Herdubreid and Askja. There is a single source that divides into two feeders into both mountains. It can produce eruption at each of the 2 mountains, or even between them. But I still regard them as one system.

          • Henrik, what in gods name did rhyolites have to do with it being a central volcano?
            I am quite happy with the basaltic theistareykjarbunga being the central volcano of that system.

          • Carl, the definition used says:

            A volcano is defined as a central volcano when it fulfills several criteria‟s [Johnson, 1989; Walker, 1993]. Central volcanoes are shield volcanoes or stratovolcanoes. They have a significant amount of silicic volcanic rocks in addition to basalts, while rocks intermediate in composition are scarce or absent. Central volcanoes often have one or more calderas that have resulted from subsidence after large silicic eruptions [Walker, 1993]. The concept of volcanic systems is used to acknowledge that the visible edifice of a volcano is only a part of a bigger entity. This concept includes the magma chambers, conduits, magma source, intrusions, geothermal fields as well as the volcano itself [Walker, 1993]. It also includes the associated rift zone.
            (Hjartardóttir 2008, p. 52)

            The criteria about lava/magma (in bold) is one of the reasons I reject the Central Volcano concept as pseudo-scientific bs.

          • Henrik, try to get this.
            Some definitions are just not correct.
            This one that you keep going on about is most likely some persons definition of a central volcano at a specific location.
            I refered to my definition of it, and let me make this clear, I use and intend to use my definition.
            If you want to argue the other definition, do so with the author of it, not me.

  7. Hello Henri
    Those photos – difficult as you appreciate to identify 100% from a small picture but probable basaltic material, trouble is without a fresh surface weathering can have many effects epecially with leaching of Fe minerals resulting in false oxidised surfaces
    The general appearance of the other pictures gives the impression of basaltic lavas/palagonites

    Click to access AnneSch%F6pa.pdf

    reference the Herdubreid late-stage ?cone
    It does look like a sub-aerial feature, if the conduit was restricted by an ice-field and here I know nothing of hte glacial geography of the area, and if the conduit + contents rose to an elevation above the ice, I see no reason why a sub-aerial cone shouldn’t develop

    Click to access AnneSch%F6pa.pdf

    about 1/2 way down

    Are there any pictures of Ejaf’s surface features to show if there is any subaerial development perchance?

    Doubt I’ll be back today – domestic problems (M-in-law)

  8. Er…. while poking around for data, I ran across this. It might be of interest.

    “Influence of surface load variations on eruption likelihood: application to two Icelandic subglacial volcanoes, Grımsvotn and Katla”

    Albino,1Pinel and Sigmundsson

    Click to access Albinoetal10.pdf

  9. Carl: great post. After reading it all, I also agree and support your idea that both Herdubreid and Askja are part of a same volcanic system which was rippen apart as the rift spreads to both sides.
    Mostly, they are as one.

    The question now is where will magma open up. I think in 1875, the initial fissure of Askja erupted at several places, many kms spaced apart, outside of the caldera. With the last episode being the caldera-forming episode.

    I don’t think Herbubreid is an independent system, but a part of Askja, as you now support.
    And I also dont think that Herdubreid is part of Kverfjoll, even though magma from it, can in theory intrude into Herdubreid (just like Veidivotn can possibly be intruded both Torfajokull and Bardarbunga, and thirdly probably also by an independent deep source below itself)

    • In 1875 the actual eruption started 1874 in the fissur swarm to the north, it also erupted to the SE in 1875.
      My point is that Askja and Herdubreid never was the same volcano, but that it once originated from the same weak spot in the EISZ. On the west side Askja was created, and on the east side Herdubreid. And the second point is that they today are totally separate volcanoes.

  10. If you apply your reasoning of Herdubreid and Askja being drifted apart over time (after having had a common origin, as one single system), if we apply this into other volcanoes, then we can say that likely Burfell and Hekla (and possibly even Vatnsfell) are also part of a same system that was ripped apart, with Hekla now as the center of activity. We also have watched magma travelled within Hekla towards both Burfell and Vatnsfell in the past.

    Possibly even Eyjafjallajokull and Tindfjallajokull were part of a common system. Many thousands years ago, the ignimbrite caldera forming eruption of Tindfjallajokull was centered half way between both systems.

    Now, going even more berserk, even Grimsvotn and Bardarbunga could have been the same system. Their magma is similar, and often we also see lateral movements of magma between Bardarbunga or Hamarinn and Grimsvotn.

    Actually there is geological evidence to support your notion Carl. If you watch the lateral neighbourhood of Hengill and north of it, you find many parellel old rifting hyaloclastites both to the east and to the west of the main rift valley in Thingsvellir. Also, in Langjokull you can find old volcanic rifts to the east and west. And there is a very long and old/extinct rift east of Askja and Krafla. These old rifts are visible coming roughly from Kverfjoll going all the way northwards to the east of Theistjarreykjarbunga, near Langanes.

    • No, and no again.

      You missed the point here. Askja and Herdubreid are on to different sides of the EISZ (MAR), whereas Burfell and Hekla are on the same platelet.

      Eyja and Tindfjallajökull is on the same platelet too and can not drift from each other.

      And no on Grimsvötn and Bardarbunga, they are both right ontop of EISZ, and EISZ spreads east-west, not north-south.
      Bardarbunga and Hamarinn are the same thing as B and G.

      Hengill is though the same, there you have rifting going on.

      The extinct rift system you are refering to is actually Fremrinamurs fissure swarm. It has even a rather large old circular graben feature (Horst?) that was mistaken once for an old caldera.

  11. Closeup screenshot taken from IMO “Skjálttvefsjá 1.0” All quakes seem concentrated on about area 1 km wide and 2-3 km long. http://i45.tinypic.com/19r2h5.jpg
    Im my view this could take days or weeks untill final resault. Anyone whishing to guess when (if) it will become Icelands newest volcano? Anyone like guess how high plume it will make? How long a fissure? How a high cone there will be? But I already have a suggestion for a name … “Broskarl” like this 🙂 or just “Carl” (Ísl. Karl)

    • If Carl is right about the caldera-forming potential of Herðubreið, it will of course be known as the Herðubreið Carldera. 😳

      • Naaaa… Can a volcano create two caldera eruptions within a 150 year span?

        I think this will be a flanking eruption SW of Herdubreid, probably starting a bit explosively and quickly becoming Krafla-like. I think a VEI3 at max. But I do not know if Askja caldera will have some sort of eruption at the same time.

        This look an eruption likely within 5 years.

        • Yes and no. If you have two separate magma chambers of the appropriate composition, yes. No if you have a single magma chamber which emptied and/or was destroyed.

          Furthermore – what about Katla with some 20-odd VEI 3-4-5 eruptions over the past 1090 years? You don’t get that on basalt alone…

        • I think this one has a separate magma-chamber, ie that it is totally separate from Askja, and since it has not erupted for a very long time it could very well have had numerous magmatic injections and contain highly fractionalized magmas by now. Say the word rhyolite…

    • Dunno ………….. in the paper Peter Cobbold linked to yesterday, this is also close to where there is a tectonic fissure. It will be interesting to see what develops next.

      • I said earlier that if it was tectonic, it must be the strangest fault ever as the slip is not much wider than a km and goes straight down from 0.6 to 22.1 km and spread in time over 30+ hours.

    • How can there be a ‘new’ volcano, when this is already a volcano on site of the tremors?
      Let’s remember, volcanoes can enter a long periods of repose. Boris Behncke said a hour ago about a volcano in Japan called On-Take, which erupted 1976 after a (magmatic) repose of over 28,000 years.

  12. Hekla update. Today visibility of Hekla was excellent.

    The moutain has now two large snowless patch areas.
    One at the very top (visible from a west angle), another in its southwest flank (visible from a southwest angle). The southwest patch was already snowless a couple of weeks ago. But the summit is now snowless, while it was covered in snow just some days ago.

    Also, the weather has been very cold. So, this new snowless patch is clearly from increased heat at the Hekla summit.

    Hekla was snowless at top at some ocasions in past 2 years, but not as dramatic as now.

    • Interesting observation!

      PS. The one on the southwest flank was snow-covered as Hekla emerged from the clouds some days ago but became uncovered over the course of a few hours.

  13. The deepest events in the Herdubried swarm are 10-12km, which is nowhere near the crust/mantle boundary at 30km:

    • Remember that this is pretty much ontop of the MAR, and where the MAR divides it is a bit less deep. 15km is pretty much close to the MOHO.
      Think of MAR cleaving Iceland from down below.

      • Curse you…..

        In document that you linked to, are hard data points that were used in the analysis to determine the overall crust thickness.

        Importing these into Dplot and then pushing a poly gridding function across them, yields a familiar shape, but inaccurate. Going with a planar grid shows a better shape, in that it’s more accurate, but it just as artificial as the poly, though with out unintended (and artificial) contour changes.

        The only way to resolve this… is to use a bona-fide Krigging function… a hoop that I don’t think I can make I can make Excel or Dplot jump though. It can probably be done in “R”, but I never bothered to actually learn it yet… even though I have it installed.


        HPGL can do several varieties of Krigging, but requires a Python Environment… so far, I have gone through IronPython, Python 2.5, and Python 2.7… but each and every one doesn’t place a registry entry in the spot where NumPy or SciPy can find them… let alone HPGL.

        This is not a Linux issure… it’s trying to force a Windoze system to play Python. (And the appropriate Windoze versions of those per-requisite packages)

        And here is the really hilarious part. Python is a handy programing environment. EA’s Battlefield 2 switched to it in order to do a lot of their in game configuration and object programing. Included in that, is an embeded Python runtime environment… so Python is not some new fangled thing that Windoze has never heard ot…. its’ just a pain in the arse doing the manual dependency checking.


  14. BBFN everyone just finishing packing and flying in the morning getting a little bit giddy now .

    Will look in from time to time and will let you know if anything happens xx

    • A three hour gap between the swarm and new mini swarm, now further hour of nothing. Is that generally signs of end for now or normal for swarms to be erratic. Can someone explain likely way magma moves up and how swarms may stop for a while. Is it continuous flow, meets resistance / blockage, pressure builds up causes quake, blockage releases. Then no quakes as no resistance. Maybe filling a cavity, then as resistance builds another quake. Thats my amateur thoughts can someone educate me if thats right track or wrong.

      • Simple explanation.
        Might take days, or weeks, if at all. Time and scale of intrusion unkown at present.
        Swarms can stop and then continiue later, there have been other swarms in near area in last years. This can be continuation of older swarms.
        Of interest is how dense it is in location and not much is going elsewhere in Iceland.
        The Eyjafallajökull swarm took months for anything to come out. As Carl points out, crust there at Herðubreið is “only” about 15 km thick, and we are seeing quakes all thrugh. Likely little or no “voids” to fill so hot and liquid magma and gas has to pentrate existing semi-cracked rock-matrix via very narrow cracks or sills at first (heating the surrounding rock and this also causes more quaks), and then “burn” (melt) its way forming larger conduits (like a cutting torch of sorts). Pressure is driving force.

        • Ah, now I’ve been meaning to ask about “voids”.

          Aside from lava tubes drained by gravity and chambers drained out through flank eruptions, are magma chamber/conduit systems of non erupting volcanoes considered to have significant voids or cavities? Hydraulically I don’t understand why magma would retreat back down to create empty chambers –unless perhaps there’s a significant shift in density due to the eruption.

          Would gas dissolve from evolving magma in a sealed system to create significant voids prior to the pressure release of an eruption?

          I recall discussion/speculation of seismic signals due to “collapsing” conduits/chambers at depth. I don’t understand this unless there are voids down there.

          • A depressurizing system should enable the draining of magma. As for what depressurizes it, that could be a lot of different things, just as many as caused it to pressurize in the first place. Tectonic changes, eddy flow in the mantle, an easier route to another location, you pick.

            You do raise an interesting point. Degassing is a function of the chemical makeup, temperature, and pressure. I suppose you could have a scenario where gas exsolves from a retreating magma… at depth. Dunno what it would look like.

          • Ok, I can accept retreating magma. Is it possible to detect or deduct chambers when they are voided? That density difference must be worth something seismo-sonically or whatever the proper term for that is.

          • Well, it depends on how big it is and what sort of detection gear you have.

            Seismic tomography is good, but all it is measuring (actually, calculating) is the speed of wave travel. Generally this comes out as a “faster” region, or a “slower” region with really diffuse boundaries and gradients.

            If a cavity is formed, it should make a discontinuity that would show up on seismic survey arrays, much like they use in the oil and gas industry. But that is going to depend on depth and how well the area is modeled.

      • It looks good but I’m mildly confused (no surprises there)
        it says “colours denote depth” and then you also have 3D arrows
        Is red shallowest or deepest?
        And I wasn’t sure which way was North, in the rotating plot.
        And finally is it ok to presume that the scale is the same in each direction 1km = 1km = 1km in each of the axis ?
        Hope those are useful questions 🙂

        • Actually, it is not correct to assume a 1:1:1 scaling.

          At 63.150°N, the approximate center Latitude of her plot, one degree of latitude is 111,464 meters. For her plot, that would be about 2006.4 meters per latitude increment.

          Longitude in this area is 50413 meters per degree, so the Longitude increment would be 1764.4 meters.

          (Note: the latitude and longitude increments are noted on the top portion of her scales)

          When ever you are dealing with plotting quakes, the Z-axis for depth, it usually greatly exaggerated in order to resolve the relationship with the quakes. In this case, the depth is noted in km, as usually appears in the quake lists.

          I’m not sure what program she is using, but generally getting the scale notations on a moving plot with out them getting in the way can be a pain in the arse. (been there done that)

          With the rather sizable quantity of plots that I have generated, I feel perfectly justified in noting this as a very good plot. Like all plots, there is always room for improvement, in this case, probably noting what the axis are in the post that presents it would have helped with someone unfamiliar with the scaling and how lat-lon gets into it’s weird ratios at higher latitudes.

          • Given the software I am using, it would probably be best to include the 2D plots (see the *corrected* ones above in the video along with the 3D one. I can’t rescale the cube.

          • @KarenZ and GeoLurking

            Just so you know no insult intended – but I’ve only just found the words lat, long and depth when I viewed the image and dialed up the contrast on my machine.

            Until then they were invisible and now that I’ve seen them (and the numbers that are on the scales) I’ll take that previous comment all back.

            Sorry 🙂

  15. Good morning/evening everyone.
    @Karen. WoW! That is a great plot. Thank you.. It looks as though there is quite a large “Chamber” under there.

    Burfell and Hekla strain meters have got furry, fuzzy coats on again. It can’t be due to wind this morning. The wind speed has abated greatly from a couple of days ago.
    If this isn’t due to Volcanic or magmatic tremors. Then there must still be a great deal of variation in the atmospheric pressures.
    Can anyone please explain the fuzzy-wuzzy behaviour. Thanks

    • The sun is out….off to dig another veggie plot.
      @Alan……. Rhubarb! I planted 3 new roots bought from Wilkinsons. You know the sort, in a packet. All showed signs of vitality. However after a couple of weeks outside they all looked “Dead” I left them thinking they might recover. After 2 months I dug them up ready to throw away. All had minuscule signs of regrowth. It’s been so cold and wet they are struggling. I also had some plants grown from seed. After the frost they collapsed and looked like gonners. Two weeks in the greenhouse and they are putting forth small leaves.
      It is really hard to kill rhubarb.If they do not recover you may have crown rot that is a deadly disease and the only answer is to throw away. The only other thing that will kill rhubarb is Honey Fungus.

      Because of the strange growing conditions this year I would hang on until July when absolutely no frost is likely and see if they recover.

      • Diana, I had a lovely rhubarb that i moved from the previous house. Grew well and very tasty but was in a dark and shady area so perhaps what killed it a few years later was crown rot. I then bought a root in a packet and planted in a sunny place but it refused to grow and died. Any idea of the best position for rhubarb in the garden?
        Everyone else. Sorry this is OT but Diana is a good gardener. 🙂

        • They don’t mind dappled shade for part of the day but do best in a sheltered sunny position. make sure the soil is not too wet or too dry. I learned my lesson and now plant bare rooted (packet) plants in pots and good multi purpose compost until they have produced a good root system. . I have had problems with some cheaper all purpose compost over the last couple of years. These composts are made from finely shredded bark and can be very acidic and prone to fungal growths resulting in damping off of cuttings, plants and seedlings. I now buy only a good quality peat free….If it feels “Knobbly , over fibrous and hardish” through the polythene bagging, don’t buy. It should feel nice and soft and “spongy”.

          Most importantly talk to you plants and touch them gently. 🙂 Seriously I blow on my seedlings in the greenhouse as they come through. This gentle “Breeze” encourages strong stem growth which in the wild would happen as the wind shakes the plants.
          Do not however cosset tomatoes… they hate being fiddled with and do best almost ignored.

          I also use lots of volcanic products, perlite and vermiculite… There! Back on Topic 😀

      • I am surprised to read that anyone has a problem growing rhubarb. Around here they have gone ferral. Kind of like Lurkings favourite the Kudzu-beans. Only way to kill a rhubarb is to blast the bulk of it out of the ground, Dig out the earth, burn the earth, and then put it back. Then you have a 1 in 4 shot of actually getting rid of it.
        Personally I try to kill ’em by eating ’em. Worst I’ve seen is a rhubarb sticking out of a concrete wall 3 meters up. The roots had gone up inside of the wall. A couple of years later the house was a gonner.

    • Not sure what is there – magma chamber or multiple small faults (or both). You would need to do more testing on site to be sure.

    • Rhubarb is a plant very well adapted to very cold and wet climates, like Iceland. It thrives under a cool spring and summer, and certainly does not like warm summers. I have several plants, and they grow in a compacted soil, I just grab a piece, plant it and forget about it. It grows always.

  16. Nice plot Karenz !
    I looked up some extra info about the scale of the plot.
    Z axis (depth) is about 5 km/division.
    x axis about 0.035 degree/div At 65.5NL that’s about 2 km/div
    y axis about 0,18 degrees/div That also works out around 2 km/div.


    • So in other words, the outline of the quakes is 2.5 times slimmer then what the plot suggests.
      I always find it hard to compare depth with longitude and latide. Hence the info 🙂

      • i generally try to throw a reference land mark in the plots…. but you have to make do with what you have in the software. Then you have to have one that is familiar to people… and this area doesn’t have a lot of features that are recognizable to non Icelanders.

  17. Geolurking beat me to it by 10 min. What are the ods, especially since i never saw edwards question about the matter 😛

  18. So we have identified that there could be a possible eruption at that volcano. So now, the question is what sort of eruption will it be?. There seems to be to suggestions at the moment. 1. A fissure eruption; 2. A large caldera forming eruption.

    • I would be a little more reticent with the ‘possible eruption’. This is no unique event at this location, at all. In 2007-2009 there were massive earthquake swarms which in all means (size, quantity & duration) were multiple times larger than this one. It didn’t happen back than, so I would say it will not happen this time. Also, swarms compareable in size have occured several times last year. This is just a highly active seismic zone, with possible volcanic causes.

      For a graph on historical earthquake activity:

      Credits/source: ijsland-enzo.nl

        • Geolurking once did a 3D plot of all historic icelandic quakes, I just went to the Gems section to try to find the link (I added it in a comment several weeks/months ago – before Spica took on the role of collating all the tasty links) but there has been tidying up so I can’t find it (I assumed it would be in wonder what’s going on in Iceland?).

          Anyway I wondered if GeoLurking still had all those quakes stored in some data bins and if we could see a zoomed in section of what it had looked like before these freshest quakes, or if there is any evidence for/against Carl’s split magma sources for Askja and Herðubreið idea.

          • Looks like I need to spend some more time with a map of Iceland, then perhaps I can put a name to each of the big blobs of quakes, and put the various major volcanos above their prospective magma sources.

      • Oh, eventually there will be an eruption in the area, the only question is “when”? Within our lifetimes or within the next 10,000 years? The odds are heavily against the former…

      • Yes, but before a couple of years it was relatively quiet in that area, plus there has been significant inflation. That nothing happened “back then” does not imply nothing will happen this time around – nor does it imply something will happen this time around. What can be said is that something is stirring. What cannot be said is “when, how, what” and most important, “if”.

    • First of all I would say that it is a bit soso to say that it is going to erupt.
      I just said that the likelyhood has increased that it will erupt in the future. When is the future going to happen? Don’t ask…
      Second of all, I would like to go on record stating that Herdubreid has about a 1 percent chance of making a caldera at any given eruption. So do not hope for it.
      Current uplift and other signs would give a maximum of a weak VEI-4. It would probably be a rhyolitically heavy eruption so expect a medium explosive event, that starts explosively and then lingers off into basaltic. Nothing special for being in Iceland that is.
      But, the thing is that I would say there is about a 10 percent chance of it erupting this year. Or even less. Guesstimates here.

  19. (Good Afternoon!)

    In order to get a better idea of what may be going on, a rotating 3D-plot of all quakes registered in the area (per Pieter’s comment) would identify any crustal fault planes and also if there are any quake-free areas enclosed by quakes present. Such “dead zones” are indicative, but not 100% proof of bodies of magma.

    Currently, there aren’t enough data points in KarenZ’ excellent plot.

      • Well my very amateur interpretation says not much going on between the two volcanoes Askja and Herdubreid and that since 1995 the ground beneath volcano H looks to have been much more active. There are a few other clusters that I wonder may be connected to H (but not to A?) and I see a few diagonal stacks as the plots turn around, but those may be just my eyes going funny.

        I don’t know if colour over time or for magnitude makes anything stand out ? But thanks very much for the plot 🙂

        • Near the end of the sequence I pan back and forth. The diagonal trending that I was looking at is probably caused by tectonic stretching.

          Figure 7.2 of “Global Tectonics 3rd ed” Kearey, Klepeis, Vine

          Note the red circled area. The major fault trends are what I think I have identified in the rotating plot.

          • The direction in plan of the three/four structures seen during your panning matches the SSW-NNE tectonic fractures depicted in green on p34 of Ms Hjartadottir’s thesis. But she does not report fractures in the position of the linear swarms. How are these ‘tectonic fractures’ identified- anyone?

          • Yes, I could see that, I failed to communicate properly that last but one sentence of mine should have said “I wonder if changing the plot slightly to show colour over time or for magnitude would make anything stand out ?”

            Also interesting to see that the diagonal structures make be tectonic stretching, that’s something I had not considered, but it makes lots of sense.

      • Gracias Don Lurking! It is very, very hard to tell but there may be a zone SW of Herðubreið, about 1½ km wide and at a depth of 5 – 9 km that could possibly house one or more bodies of magma. Even in the unlikely case that it should be so, I very much doubt that there is enough magma for even a non-caldera-forming VEI 5 eruption. At best or worst, depending upon one’s point of view, there could be enough for a small VEI 4 of the “Eyjafjallajökull” kind.

        But you’d need to get much closer to discern if there is such a “hollow zone”.

        • And trust the original data to have nailed the position down to at least +/- 100 m in X, Y and Z.

      • And there was the proof that they do not have anything to do with each other.
        It is rather blank in between.

  20. Evenin’ All,
    Thanks for the plots Karenz n’ Lurking, very interesting…
    IGN doesn’t seem to have updated since early this morning, does anyone have any idea why?

      • Yeah, I saw that, they’ve been big on lectures, which is all to the good…
        The cynical part of me wonders if this is more PR, spin and propaganda…
        Tell the kids your side of the story, then send them home to their parents who (hopefully) will ask “what did you learn at school today?”
        There still seems to be something lacking in the information that’s being given out, there’s been no statement along the lines of “this is definately over and here’s why…” or this is ongoing but in a steady state for the following reasons…” or “the continued degassing, low harmonic tremor and occasional EQ is to be expected because…”
        I wish Carlos B was here he’d know how to say it!!! 🙂

  21. Looks like the end of the earthquake swarm is near. The quakes seem to be getting smaller.

    • Magma (Tetonic) quakes have looong calendar, we just see if it picks up or dies. Other areas might get active, or activity shift towards Askja.

      • I just wonder why IMO has stopped updating main eq charts. From 20:15 to 23:53 I see eight (8) events in vicinity of Herðubreið. All small, true, but they also show on tremour charts as small spikes. Hummmm….

  22. ”entrance in to herdubreid” google images search show lava tube on slope of bigshoulder. unless I forgot basic geology it points towardthe tuyfa being a volcano
    the crater lake on the top of the tuyfa is also a giveaway really
    its a volcano…duh.
    with a fair amount of overburden.
    if it erupts the ash should be of the heavier type
    far less ice or water around to cause superheatedexpanded rock
    But given the springs that surround the mountain that is not so certain. so we could see fluffy ash as per eyafj.

    Is it erupting…yes but atmospherically not yet.


    question is does it feed askja too?
    also is it true sheepydalek wants to have a barbeque on a tuyfa next to hekla?

    • Good morning Brettio. 🙂
      I believe it is accepted that Herdubreid is a dormant volcano,
      The relationship between Askja and Herdubreid is under discussion. Carl suggested in this post there might be a shared deep root, but this IS only speculation.

      Yes it is true about the BBQ but on Burfell. I am not sure that Burfell is a Tuyfa it looks the right shape on the photo. Maybe Irpsit or someone who knows this mountain well can answer this. but there is a good view of Hekla. . All details for the party are listed here and the more the merrier

  23. re the ‘does Herdubreid have a cinder cone or not’ question
    Google Map to Grimsvotn – new images since last years eruption
    If it’s not a cone in the bottom c250m across, crater c100m what is it?
    I know it’s not Herdubreid, but……
    New Ejaf images shown too

  24. Carl, what I mean to say is that the rift spreads laterally and as it does, it leaves many parallel volcanic mountains to both sides. If you are in SISZ, you can see many parallel hyaloclastites and tuyas on both sides of Hengill-Langjokull region. The old ridges become extinct as new spreading occurs in the middle. This is very easy to spot at Thingvellir. You have there many old volcanic rifts to the east and to the west. My point is, the “central volcano” or the spreading fissures remains at the same spot, but there are remains of eruptions to both spreading sides. In Hengill, you find other volcanic mountains to the northwest of it, and also to the southeast of it. And also in Langjokull, or parallel to Hekla north and south. And also in the whole EISZ, east and west. I mean, I am not 100% sure on this, but I think this is what happens over a long time. Furthermore, there is not one center of MAR, but the MAR can spread parallely at different locations, as it still happens in the dead zone (Veidivotn and Laki). A similar situation might be occuring in Askja and Herdubreid.

    And now, why are so many pairs of these volcanoes in perpendidular locations of the spreading MAR? Because when it spreads laterally, the center of activity often divides in two or several regions around the MAR, like it happens in the dead zone, or in South Iceland volcanoes, or under Vatnajokull.

    You might argue about this forever, but none of us is probably sure about what is really the truth happening under there. I do spend plenty of time watching these mountains, always amazed at their parallel alignment with the active region in the middle (and often more than one active fissure system). You know at Askja, you also have N-S aligned old rifts to the west of Askja. If you see there activity, we could speculate that that new volcano also has a chamber and is independent on its own. If you continue eastwards of Askja passing after Herdubreid you are a small step from Snaefells, another probably still active volcanic system. I think this close pairs they are interconnected and have a common deep source and a common origin (became split apart over time, due to MAR).

  25. And a cross section view of Herðubreið quakes from 1995 to Feb 2012, looking at equal sections either side of the believed rift axis (USGS line from Google Earth). Lat range 65.17 to 65.18, or about one kilometer. Think of it as a geophysical scale thin section.

    And for KarenZ, a tip if you feel like wrestling data.


    Details how to feed the Google API with a set of coordinates and have it return the elevation for that point, or path. This is what I used to extract the elevation data used in the plot.

    There is a limitation of how much data you can pull in a day (2,500 requests per day or 25,000 total locations) so as long as you stay below that you can use it all you want.

    The specific call I used (with numbers removed) is

    maps.googleapis.com/maps/api/elevation/json?path=[Lat goes here],[Lon goes here]|[Lon goes here]&samples=1000&sensor=false

    Note, don’t click on that if it shows up as a link, it should return an error if you do. The Lat and Lon data have to be put in.

    “json” is a java based output format, I parsed it into a csv file and pulled it into Excel, then removed the textual artifacts from around the numbers. You could just as easily use “xml” as the output format.

    “&samples=” is the number of points that you want the path sliced into. There is some interpolation involved for path data, but for this purpose that was fine.

    “&sensor=false” is required unless it’s used for an actual personal locating device, like a GPS unit.


    • maybe, five (5) events, three shown on chart. It has been so quet lately, all can be cosidered a swarm ! 🙂

      • And now 3 more quakes at Herðubreið.

        17.05.2012 01:50:05 65.139 -16.452 5.4 km 1.5 69.2 6.2 km SW of Herðubreið
        17.05.2012 01:38:45 65.155 -16.348 9.8 km 1.3 37.23 2.1 km S of Herðubreið
        17.05.2012 01:01:00 65.151 -16.410 5.0 km 1.2 32.31 3.8 km SW of Herðubreið

        • Something happened between 02:00 and rising steady to 02:30 at Askja SIL. It appears now as constant (but low) tremour on 2-4 Hz band from that time (02:30) onwards,,,, ???? Hummmm.. has the magma reached the Water Table ??

          • Yess, crawling about in the Graben, no doupt. Probably their hatching season every 5,000 years has started. Can they swim too? Then also solves mystery of missing person in Askja lake long time ago, does it not. Do the movie series say what can kill them. Bacteria like in some Tom Cruise film. Oh, now I get it why movie “Oblivion” takes place in the interiour this summer. *ROFL*

          • I don’t think they can swim, but the Islandic sub-species has obviously evolved to live in a wetter environment than the American/Mexican Graboid and the Mongolian Death Worm which are related species. They may therefore be able to swim. Their eggs can lie dormant for hundreds of years but are made viable by heat – so the rise in magma might have set them off. Hence the tremors. Diana will know more about their life-cycle I expect. 🙂

          • Ah, and they might have Nessie relatives in Scotland, and the Polymer Ormurinn in Lagarfljót in east-Iceland (seen on youandmetube some time back) and this be hatching season (co-inciding with hightened volcanic activity every 140 years). Magma indeed can provide warm environment for Graben Graboids. 😉

  26. Lurking you may have hit on something here. Grabboids prefer arid land that is scantily populated. Lack of human activity around Askja may have made it yet another area where this highly endangered species live. In which case this small cell of Grabboid population may not have been discovered. There are plenty of reindeer, foxes and other prey that could sustain this small population.

    • However there is the problem of permafrost. Maybe this population has adapted in some way. Maybe it hibernates. Certainly the desert-like terrain surrounded by mountains either side of the rift is a preferred habitat.

      • @Diana: As a biologist I think you’ve missed out something here – what does Iceland have that other northern habitats do not have? Volcanoes! From videos I’ve seen some of the ground under Iceland is quite hot – the grabboids are fairly intelligent and adaptable, they could easily make their way to areas near magma which would keep them warm without broiling them. They could even utilise long dormant magma tubes. I think the introduction of sheep, and the occasional tourist, means that their numbers may have risen with more food about.

        • OMG! How could I not have factored volcanoes into my reasoning. Talla! You are pure genius! 😀 The answer is of course Volcanoes not 42 💡

  27. Short update, it seems like Herdubreid is getting closer to something.
    Continous quake swarm, and now increase in tremor.
    Gve this a couple of weeks and we shall see.

    Or… Graboids.

    • Not Graboids this time:D Look at the tremors in ASK!

      Katla, not wishing to be ignored is also trying her best, but so far only small but deep quakes.

        • MOK beeing on other side of some cracks thus not showing same level of tremour. Dyn may refelect other (paralell) action in Bárðarbunga.

  28. Good morning Carl
    Which SIL stations should I look at for Herdubreid? VAT and ASK?
    Sorry for seemingly obvious question!

  29. I dont get an image with the 2 Katla and 2 Hekla cams, does any of you have the same problem? (( I am using and have always been using firefox with those cams, while i am normally using Safari))
    And i am almost always around when i am not at work, which i wont be for a few days, just in a lurking mode because i leave the field to experts, just so you know, the dragon is on the watch…

    • I’m getting Hekla on the Mila cam. This is usually the only one I can get during the day.

      Incidentally – looks like another little swarm starting at Herdubreid.

    • I have this Katla cam OK
      This Hekla cam is not responding. It keeps telling me to install WMP (Windows media player) As the RUV Katla cam uses WMP then I presume there is a problem with the Cam streaming.
      The Mila Cam of Katla and Eyaf have both not been working for me for some time.
      The Mila Hekla cam is OK for me
      She looks beautiful this morning…..A “proper” Volcano with snow on top.

      Have a good relaxing few days off work. You underestimate yourself little watchful Dragon. You appear to be expert with Volcanic ash!

  30. Does anyone knows anything about Askja lake? In 1.5 months, the road will probably be open there. How awesome that will be. Updates will be easier.I wish to travel there this summer, but its at least 10 hours driving from where I am.

      • It has been cold. Very cold in the highlands, so I expected the lake to have frozen again.

        So, the lake is still having warm water coming from its bottom. The subground is still hot in Askja caldera.

    • @ Irpsit
      Is that 10 hrs driving each way or total for the visit? Just speculating……..
      and for Herdubreid ….please?

    • 10 hours?!
      Curious to know the distance and the road conditions, if you could please tell us.
      Thanks. 🙂

      • Yes it takes 7-10 hours each way only. 10 Hours is about the time that the bus takes. With a jeep you can perhaps do it in 8 hours, but you can never drive it too fast on it. The roads are the worse you can imagine. I only went there with others driving, because it requires experience.

        Basically Sprengisandur, goes from Hekla to Myvatn (Krafla) passing in between Hofsjokull and Vatnajokull. It is a long track, first some 70km of normal road, then 250km of a gravel track full of rocks, some big and sharp, and crossing plenty of sand dunes, streams and some major rivers. Those 250km are totally isolated (no gas station of food shop anywhere), except for a small hut half way on the track. It is a giant desert, you see rocks and rocks, only, and also some distant views to both giant glaciers. The weather can also often change dramatically there, snowing often in July and August, the only two months that the road is open.

        Then, from Myvatn to Askja, the road there is a even worse one. It crosses through terrain which is pure sand, so it often spells trouble to small jeeps. And crosses major rivers as well. No drinkable water anywhere on the way, except near Herdubreid. In peak of the season, there is perhaps a total 5-6 jeeps travelling there the entire day! If you get stuck, its a huge trouble.

        Besides that, there is a short-cut, that cuts from near Tungnafellsjokull directly to Askja, but that road (which I never did) is what people told me the worse of all in Iceland. It is total sand and crosses snow fields, and a flooding terrain north of Vatnajokull.

        Watch it on youtube, F910 road to Askja

        No wonder why so little people travel to Askja. Most Icelanders have never been there. When I went there in July 2010, it was snowing.

      • Renato, the roads in Iceland are really tought! I so often see people getting into trouble. I also got in trouble (stuck) a few times, and had to call for rescue.

        That is one factor. The other is weather. Can be extreme, quite often. And that is another often cause of trouble. Since I live here (2 years), I have heard about 6 stories of people dying while on the mountains. It is not a joke, its really hard sometimes and people underestimate that. And many times I have heard on the news of people being rescued, already suffering from cold.

        One time, near a glacier, I was surprised by a storm and felt really struggling and start thinking for my life (as sleep was blowing hard with harsh wind and I was slipping down a mountain). However I was in a small group, so you always feel safer then. That day, a couple of tourists disappeared and were never found. That was in July.

        • Ok. Ok. You couldn’t depict a better (or worse) picture.
          I forgot that we are near the Pole here. Just thought it wasn’t far enough to take that long, but of course, this is Iceland, man!
          Irpsit, it would be really nice if you gathered all the information you have about Iceland in a blog post. I leave the suggestion for the Dungeon’s guardians to decide. It would be cool!
          Thanks for the feedback!

    • Possibly 6-7 hours one way, about 4-6 from Hekla area I guess. Not bee up that road (only part way) but likely takes a lot of time, due highland roads are only gravel, lots of bends, sands, streams etc.

      • Islander, it takes me 30 min to get to Sprendisandur road. Then perhaps 5-6 hours on Sprengisandur road to Myvatn. You can do it faster but not much less than this. Then 2-3 hours from Myvatn to Askja. This is the best track, which “everyone” does (only 4WD of course). At best I guess you can do it in 7 hours, but not much less than it.

        There is a short-cut. But, no way I would do that short-cut near the north of Vatnajokull, passing by north of Bardarbunga, I would certainly drawn my jeep there since that’s one of the hardest tracks in Iceland (its not even maintained) as it is the flooding terrain near the glacier. Of course, going through that area you can shorten the total time to perhaps 5-6 hours. But these are roads you always want to drive slowly and make frequent stops. Not counting with trouble that often happens.

          • Alan,
            There might well be a 2 week geology focussed bus trip going from UK next year with those routes on the agenda – we all want to do Sprengisandur and the Kolar routes again, and to get to Askja again. Most of us well past our prime too.

        • Ok. No prob. Done about 400.000+ km on Icelandic roads, all seasons, nothing really surprizes when driving rural roads and in the highlands (but not big tires-snow-driving on Glaciers, only on foot there). Do all repairs and maintenace myself so lots experiance on most things. That includes engine and drivetrain repairs.

  31. From route1 to the north we took 3 hours by 4WD bus with one 20min stop. 4WD car will be slower (and non-4DW illegal?). Once off route 1 its all single-track temporary roads, the choice depends upon state of river crossings – on;y one route has bridge IIRC.
    The camp site/hut is at Drekgil Canyon – the top of the cinder cone there gives terrific dawn view of Herdubreid ( weather permitting).

    • You are probably talking of Kjolur road. That is 3-4 hours, from Selfoss. And no river crossings. But Sprengisandur is much longer and harder.

      But yes, you are telling me a nice advice. I haven’t though of that, how stupid I am! Taking Kjolur road is actually the fastest/easiest way to get to Askja, from south Iceland. Even if is not a direct path, it is a much nicer jeep track. I still have to add 2 hours in rind road after leaving Kjolur and reaching Myvatn, and then an extra 2-3 hours to Askja. So a total 7 hours, and easier than going through Sprengisandur, and only 5 hours being F-roads.

    • If you travek from Reykjavik in ring road to Myvatn then it is much faster, because it is a normal road. Kjolur, Sprengisandur and Askja road, are much worse 4WD tracks.

      Non-4WD is not illegal (illegal for tourists according to their car rental). But its your own responsability. You can do a car in Kjolur but not on the other two, you would certainly destroy your car. Lol 🙂

  32. This conversation is putting the distances and conditions of Icelandic roads in perspective for me. It’s most interesting.A trip to the centre of Iceland sounds maybe more of a real adventure than a safari in Africa these days.

    • Yes, Diana, it is an adventure, but in most places in more like travelling in a semi-desert. What we have the idea of tundra, grassy landscapes with moss, no trees, far away reaching vision, and glaciers. Introduce strange shaped mountains, volcanoes, and black ash. Yes, that’s it. You have pictured Iceland. The roads are of course difficult: rocky, sandy, ashy, and icy during winter. I forgot lots of holes in the tracks as well, blind heads, and big slopes sometimes.

      • I would love to Peter. Unfortunately for medical reasons it is not possible for me. So I make adventures here on my PC 😀

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