Lakí deconstructed – Grimsvötn and Beyond

Grimsvötn 2011 eruption seen from afar.

Grimsvötn 2011 eruption seen from afar.

Serendipity is one of those words that sometimes seem to rule my world. Pure oddity and fluke would be others. As Erik Klemetti pointed out, Saturday was the two hundred and thirtieth anniversary of the onset of the Skaftár Fires. I do not really feel that bright that I missed that, even though I just wrote the dates down as I started the Lakí series.

As you will notice if you have read the previous part(s) I have changed the order from part 2 to part 3 in the series. It was just more logical to do the central volcanoes on the Grimsvötn Fissure before the compiled timeline of the events. So, unless you have recently read part 1 and the prequel, I suggest that you do so first.

Prequel –

Part 1 –

Grimsvötn Fissure System

The Grimsvötn fissure system is foremost a magmatic production system. It produces magma at the boundary between the crust and the mantle, quite often in pulses that seem to be dictated by heightened activity from the hotspot and mantle plume residing under Iceland.

It is also governed by the strain as the MAR is driven apart. As we saw in part one the strain will sometimes be released during a rifting fissure eruption as the Skaftár Fires. Normally it will though mainly produce mild to medium sized volcanism in the central volcanoes that lays en echelon down the fissure system.

The correct way to understand the fissure system is that the central volcanoes are a part of the fissure swarm that have permanent magmatic systems that gives them capacity to erupt without rifting occurring. A normal eruption will not facilitate any rifting along the fissure system. And as a rifting fissure eruption of the Skaftár Fires type happens they may erupt at the same time due to them being permanent weaknesses on the fissure swarm. They will though not be the driving force behind the rifting fissure eruption in and of themselves, instead they will be a part of the larger picture.

Map showing the volcanoes on the Grimsvötn Fissure System.

Map showing the volcanoes on the Grimsvötn Fissure System.

Grimsvötn Central Volcano

Grimsvötn is a highly active volcano with a magmatic system of limited capacity. It has 3 adjacent calderas forming a larger caldera system. Inside of the calderas lie a large lake filled with glacial water permanently heated by internal hydrothermal activity.

The hydrothermal activity is fairly steady and gives off more heat than is necessary to maintain status quo. In another word, more water is melted so the water level slowly rises until the water lifts the glacial ice above it and a river is formed under the ice. The phenomenon is called a Jökulhlaup and often occurs without any eruption taking place, but they do often occur in or slightly after an eruption at Grimsvötn.

The sub glacial lake has an immediate effect on the eruptive pattern of Grimsvötn. Any eruption taking place inside the caldera will be quenched by the water if it is not of a sufficient size to actually blast the water aside. That is the reason why few eruptions from Grimsvötn take place inside the caldera. Most eruption takes place along the edges or in short local fissures like the 1996 Gjálp eruption.

Grimsvötn have had 3 caldera formation events. The last one of them occurred 10 200 years ago during the end of the last glacial. It formed due to a large eruption next to the sub glacial lake erupting sufficiently large amounts of magma to weaken the roof over the magmatic chamber. As the roof over the chamber collapsed the sub glacial lake fell down into the remaining magma and a very large steam explosion occurred. It is in a way a variant on the Krakatau scenario.

During the eruption the magma chamber was destroyed and it took quite some time for a new chamber to start forming. Most likely it took several hundred years or more before Grimsvötn once again had a magmatic system sufficient enough to form an eruption. And for the next 10 000 years Grimsvötn had predominantly small eruptions ranging from VEI-0 to VEI-2.

Global Volcanism Program erroneously attributes all known ash and explosive activity from the Skaftár Fires eruption to Grimsvötn. That is though not true. Yes, Grimsvötn erupted before, during, and after the Skaftár Fires eruption, but those where mainly VEI-0 to VEI-2 eruptions.

In reality the first larger eruption of Grimsvötn occurred in the year 1873 when it had its first VEI-4 eruption. And after that the VEI-4s started to come more often, a sure sign of a maturing magma chamber that is starting to enlarge at a more rapid pace. From 1873 to now Grimsvötn has had VEI-4 eruptions in 1902 and 2011. Notable is that each of those have been bigger than the previous VEI-4 eruption. Also notable is that the eruptions of 1996, 1998 and 2004 was rated as VEI-3s. A considerable increase in eruptive power if one takes the 2011 VEI-4 into account.

In short, the Grimsvötn that we know is much more powerful than the Grimsvötn around the time of the Skaftár Fires.

Photograph from The photograph is taken from the top of Thordharhyrna towards Sidujökull.

Photograph from
The photograph is taken from the top of Thordharhyrna towards Sidujökull.

Grimsvötn during the Skaftár Fires

First we need to kill off a very persistant error. There are no distinguishable tephra from the period around the Skaftár Fires, so we know that the eruptions were small from Grimsvötn.

As I have written this series I have used the general timeline in the Thordarson & Self (1993) groundbreaking paper on the Skaftár Fires together with the diary of Jón Steingrímsson. There are though a couple of things in the Thordarson & Self paper that in retrospect has shown to not fully stand up to the test of time. To the defense of Thordarson & Self they did not have the data that we have today. I deviated a bit from their paper in the previous post, and that was mainly in regards of adding the gas as driving force for the explosive power at the onset of the fissure openings.

What I do take a bit of amiss is how they treat the written documentation from the steadfast priest Jón Steingrímsson. During the eruption he wrote about the East-northeastern fires. Thordarson & Self makes a rather haphazard correction of the direction to make it fit into the direction of Grimsvötn who was known to erupt before the onset of the eruption of the Skaftár Fires. Steingrímsson thought there was an additional row of fissures, something we know that there was not. But, I would be hard pressed to believe that he did not fully well know in what direction he was seeing an eruption. If we just draw a line in Thorgrímssons given direction we happen in exactly the spot of another large central volcano on the Grimsvötn Fissure System, Thordharhyrna.

After that, let us now get back to the Grimsvötn eruption that we can prove the location of. And that is the already ongoing eruption that was duly noted in the log book by the captain on a brig visiting the port of Höfn on the 15th of May 1783.

Previous records and papers state that Grimsvötn erupted five times during 1783, two times in 1784, and once in 1785. But, the only two we can without the shadow of a doubt attribute is the one witnessed by the ship crew in Höfn, and the last one in 1785. The others could as well have been the result of eruptions from either of Háabunga, Thordharhyrna, East Geirvörtur, Hágöngur and Eldgigur.

It is though likely that Grimsvötn had several eruptions during the Skaftár Fires.


Not much is known of the volcano of Háabunga, it is alternatively marked as a cone of Grimsvötn, and respectively as a dome volcano of its own. I chose to mark it up as a separate volcano here due to lack of proper petrochemical analysis. The volcano is not known to have erupted in modern times, and if it has done so it has been mixed up with the Grimsvötn central volcano. There is no evidence that it should have erupted during the Skaftár Fires period.


Thordharhyrna is an active central volcano on the Grimsvötn Fissure System that has erupted several times during settlement. If we take Jón Steingrímssons written record accord into account we can assume that Thordharhyrna had at least one eruption during the time of the Skaftár Fires. There is though no evidence in the form of tephra, and no drilling has been done down into the volcano to test the lavas.

East Geirvörtur

Photopgraph by Bolli Valgarðsson showing the magnificent Geirvörtur of Iceland.

Photopgraph by Bolli Valgarðsson showing the magnificent Geirvörtur of Iceland.

4 tested samples show consistency with late stage Skaftár Fires lava. The Ur/Th ratio is slightly higher than from the Skaftár Fires, this is a result of the volcano being further “upstream” of the fissure system in regards of the Hotspot/Mantle plume.


Hágöngur volcano samples are inconclusive, due to a high degree of “pollution” from the glacier. It has clearly erupted fairly recently, and the rock samples show that it has erupted more than once. Only surface sampling exists due to the geographical impossibility to drive a drill rig up the mountain. There is though an interesting layer of blast debris from an eruption from Hágöngur inside the adjacent glacier, but there is no way to correctly date the debris.


The Eldgigur volcano erupted a small amount of lava on top of what is considered to be older material. The lava is consistent with the Skaftár Fires late stage (heavily vesicularised tholeiitic olivine).


Sadly a lot of data have been destroyed by the glacier, or is simply not available due to the glacier covering up any possibility to take samples. We though know what there is not and that is a large layer of ashes and tephras from Grimsvötn. Instead the ash and tephras found in Vatnajökull are from the Skaftár Fires.

We also see that the East-northeastern fires of Jón Steingrímsson existed after examining geochemical evidence, but not in the form Jón thought. Instead we find a series of en echelon eruptions among the central volcanoes of the Grimsvötn Fissure System. There is also a bit of evidence that the fissure of the Skaftár Fires could have continued in under the ice, but that I will return to in the next installment.


164 thoughts on “Lakí deconstructed – Grimsvötn and Beyond

  1. Interesting post, Carl. Thank you 🙂

    Do you have a map which shows the locations of Háabunga, Thordharhyrna, East Geirvörtur, Hágöngur and Eldgigur in respect of the Laki fissures and also Grimsvotn?

  2. Sitting here with two cups of coffee since I forgot that I had already poured one, watching the rain and trying to get the motivation to go out into it. At the other end of my journey is a purebred asshole and a cantankerous piece of equipment. Never a good mix. On the plus side, my issue is not as bad as a friend of mine who, through fate, is stuck with a micro-managing building owner who delights in messing with peoples heads. Listening to some of the stunts this idiot has pulled, I know his type quite well. They are the sort of person that give me no end of entertainment when their little power based world comes crashing down around them.

    So far, my Monday has bad omens. These little rat dogs do not like thunder, or rain. The hairy one is freaking out since he needs to go outside so badly, but its wet out there, and distant thunder. Let him out, he comes back in, whines to go out again. Rince-repeat. Then the bugger drops a nascent coprolite right there on the floor in front of me, runs,and hides. Carl has managed to save that dogs arse by giving me something to think about rather than the high level of “pissed” that is rolling around in my brain.

    Since he will eat almost anything, I am thinking about feeding him some Jalapeno poppers and making him into a rocket dog… with fire shooting out of his arse. But that would be cruel, and I’m not into cruel.

    • On a linguistic humor front…

      Skeidararjokull… “skeeter” glacier?

      *yeah, I know its not correct, but where I live, “skeeters” are a nuisance, and I know that there are some northern regions where the little devils are much worse.

  3. Interesting post. I hadn’t known that Grimsvotn was in a process of “growing”. How large was the caldera forming eruption 10,000 years back?

    • The pattern of Grimsvötn would have been more clear if the Laki eruption had not been attributed to Grimsvötn as a VEI-4.

      Almost all serial caldera volcanoes follow the growth, desintegration, regrowth pattern.
      The regrowth is often exponential with a period of dormancy for hundreds or thousand of years untill small eruptions start again that go on for quite some time. Santorini is a good example of this behaviour. It is though highly individual at what pace the regrowth goes, Krakatau started to rebuild much more rapidly.
      At the end the volcano often have larger eruptions as a sign of the maturing chamber.

      Here comes though a problem for some volcanoes, as you all know some volcanoes erupt very rarely, and then erupts very violently after a long repose. All of them though have had numerous magmatic intrusions that have kept the system sufficiently hot for the magmatic system to evolve. This is what has created the myth that it requires a long period of dormancy before a large caldera formation will occur.
      Comparing the frequent erupters with the dormancy erupters are though a fallacy, they are sufficiently different to void any comparisons, but the driving force behind the evolving magmatic system is though the same, fresh magma entering the system. Instead one should look at the number of intrusions for how a magmatic system is evolving, but that is much harder to do. Especially for pre-technology times and for unmonitored volcanoes.

      Some though change their behaviour. Hekla for instance probably had two or more inflation periods before its large 1947 eruption. And the next eruption was smaller, but since then the eruptive force has increased for every new eruption, and we now know that Hekla has inflated with twice as much magma as before the 2000 eruption. Hekla is though less likely to go Caldera since it lacks enough water and other combustibles.

      One should though remember that the driving force behind a truly explosive caldera formation is readily available water, that is why some volcanoes can grow really large without going caldera, and some go boom frequently. Remember that Krakatau and Santorini are Islands, and the slightly less brutal Grimsvötn has a large lake ontop.
      That is why I am often suspicious about volcanoes that have fissures running in under lakes, take Hengill for instance. Just because Hengill has not had an explosive caldera formation, it does not lack the abillity, quite the opposite.

      • Let us not forget that the lake itself is also often a caldera, which further helps in the formation of a future caldera. Hengill is, as you say, next to a large lake (Thingvallavatn) and it could be that the lake is itself a caldera. At least, there is subsidation at the caldera and many large lava shields around it. So the caldera was formed by large eruptions, question is, was any of those very violent? Apparently, there is no sign of that, but we never know what happened during the Pleistocene.

        Another note: Hekla does have water readily available nearby. The region has river Tjorsá, which was the biggest in Iceland. It just runs next to Hekla.

        Also Laki and Veidivotn are in a region of many lakes and high water table. That’s why eruptions are not only large lava fountains, but also very ashy and rather violent at the start. Laki was violent and ashy at the start as you also stated. However I found it interesting that Grimsvotn was erupting 1 month before Laki, seen from Hofn. That could have been at least a VEI2, but never a VEI4 as it would have been seen from afar and would have been much more cited,

        On the evolution of their chambers and going caldera. Bardarbunga should have then a quite recent caldera formation, likely around 10.000 years ago. Because, it rarely erupts. Grimsvotn is clearly erupting more and more often, towards a new large caldera event. As is Katla, Hekla (even if not caldera, at least a VEI5-6 like Hekla 3). What about Askja?

        • To me, modeling caldera growth and regrowth speeds all comes down to magmatic input.

          As is seen with Grimsvotn and Krakatau, the magmatic input is prolific, with Grimsvotn directly over the hotspot, and Krakatau at a unique pinch point on the subduction zone (as well as also sitting in the ocean on a highly active volcanic arc).

          It IS true that long repose time has a corrolation with caldera formation, but that’s all relative to how quick magma is being emplaced into a magma chamber, and how much pressure said magma chamber can hold. As is seen with Grimsvotn, the magmatic input is prolific, but the chamber can’t hold a ton, so you get frequent mid-sized eruptions that eventually lead up to a larger eruption. I can think of a few instances where caldera formation occurred directly after a series of mid sized or smaller eruptions. Crater lake went caldera only 2-300 years after pulling off a VEI 6 eruption, but it’s seemed to be almost extinct since then.

          From research I’ve done, I feel like most larger stratovolcanoes undergo the same process that you see at Krakatau, but just in slower motion due to less prolific magmatic input.

          On the other hand, many volcanoes simply don’t reach that potential since they don’t have enough magmatic input to develop a large magma chamber, or the magma erupts too easily due to either being too mafic, or the magma chamber being too weak.

          Now, predicting which volcanoes will go caldera in the geologic near future is a more interesting though process. Volcanoes such as Merapi in Indonesia and Fuego in guatemala are scary to me, and have the “look” of a future caldera volcano, but that’s all very non-scientific speculation on my behalf.

          • Another interesting quirk that comes into the equation is bimodal volcanism, which seems to be more common than I had initially thought. For those who aren’t familiar, bimodal volcanoes are volcanoes that are typically mafic, and erupt basaltic style magma, but also form explosive rhyolitc eruptions. They’re more common in areas where you see downfaulting, rifting, or crustal extension. Some are smaller, but you can also get massive bimodal volcanoes that can create truly astonishing eruptions. Okataina is a good example of a volcano of this nature.

            I’ve always wondered where volcanoes like Etna fit into the picture here, but not everything fits into an established paradigm.

    • Forgot half of the answer.
      The caldera formation is tallied up as a VEI-6, but how large a VEI-6 it was is probably not as well calculated as one might think.

      • Grimsvotn has likely a VEI6 in early Holocene. See Saksunarvatn ash around 8000 BC. There is not so much information in that ash or possible large eruption.

        • Good Lord! Some of that tephra is 21 meters thick! (MD99-2269 site, Húnaflóadjúp, Iceland.) And 29 to 30 meters thick down at the Faroe Islands! (Dugmore, A.J. and Newton, A.J. (1997) Holocene tephra layers in the Faroe Islands. Frodskaparrit 45, 141-154..)

          TAS diagram for three of the sites… seems a bit like Basalt…

          This begs the question… what the @#$ was going on? That is a lot of tephra at a significant distance… and it was basaltic? (not as sticky as rhyolite, degasses much more easily) So… what lofted it in such large quantities?

          • Lava and water / ice don’t mix well?

            Local weather systems could convey the tephra from Iceland to the Faroe Islands – did the ash make it to Scotland or Ireland?

          • The Saksunarvatn tephra (and also L 3574) is only very deep in one site. Saksun, in the Faroes. Glaciation may have affected the distribution / deposition of the ash on the ground. Sites close to Saksun don’t have a record of this tephra.

            Not an expert, just ruminating.

            • * that’s very deep in one site on the Faroe Islands. Also noted that only one of the Iceland sites had a very deep layer for this; the others looked more in line with e.g some of the Hekla layers.

          • You are going to love part four Lurking…
            Do not have a dog around when reading it, you will just scare them as you are rolling around the floor beating your knees while laughing.

      • I’ll take a stab at it… ,

        A 6 x 8 km caldera comes up in the 63 km³ ballpark. Provided my formula, which is derived over published ejecta values vs the size of the remnant caldera is half ass accurate. (rough guess at a factor of 2 or so accuracy, but no analytical correlation factor, just pulling it out of thin air.)

  4. For those who missed it or could not view it because of programming rights. Here is a link to Rise of the continents.

    It is the first time I have heard a grown man pronounce whale as huhwhahihlheh, I thnk he gets paid per letter H. Really good series 🙂

    • Thank you, Carl for posting this link. I really enjoyed learning more about this amazing country. Beautiful photography. I really enjoyed part 2 of Laki Decontructed, too. I think Iceland will never give up ALL of her secrets.

    • Just finished watching that – definitely an interesting special. One thing caught my attention, which I’m not sure if it’s correct. The host mentioned that the African rift plume was punching through the Tanzanian craton. This doesn’t seem right to me. First off, the reason the african rift splits off to the left heading towards the congo is that it hit the Tanzanian craton and couldn’t continue splitting north south, so went around the craton before continuing the rifting episode.

      Also, as Carl mentioned when discussing his coreplume theory, one doesn’t simply punch through a craton with mantle material.

      I think it’s quite likely that the Carbonatite lava DOES in fact come from near the bottom of the craton, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s splitting the craton in two, just that the volcano is on the edge of the craton, and the mantle plume is bringing some of that material up as it wells upward.

      • I would say that you are basically correct. There is even a bit of evidence for it. The ultra-weird (even Erik K. calls it that, so it is a scientific term for Ol’Donyo Lengai) lava is rather cool as it erupts, that does not send a signal that we are dealing with the very hot lava of the mantleplume.

        But, the Kenya plume is absurdly hot and large. I would not be surprised if it is containing mantle/core material, so it could potentially after a time punch a hole through the craton.

      • This is part one of a four-part series. I’m glad Carl found some way of sharing it with the rest of the world. It’s being shown in Britain on Sunday nights.

  5. North of Iceland is a small island that is the northern most part of Norway. It’s called Svalbard.

    About 140 million years ago, it was part of the seafloor. Øyvind Hammer did some research there and found that an entire layer of the Jurassic era ecosystem, seemed to be missing. There were virtually no fish remains whatsoever. They could find evidence of apex predators, Ichthyosaur and Plesiosaurs… but no fish.

    Yeah, it’s OT, but this was a fascinating video.

    Spoiler alert: One of the researchers sets off a Polar bear warning tripwire while venturing off to take a… well, “bio-break.” No one died, and no Polar Bears were shot… at least that would be admitted to in the video. Though the security guy did a kill a tin can while taking a practice shot.

  6. While we’re on the topic of mid ocean ridges, rifting, and fissure eruptions, I thought I’d pose a chicken vs. egg question.

    Which comes first: Rifting & spreading, or mantle plume upwelling?

    It’s well known that they’re related and dependent, but it’s a question of push vs. pull, or whether it could work either way around. The idea is that when a plume starts to rise, it starts to split crust material until it either forms a hotspot, or forms a spreading center. With that said, it works the other way around, where the crust spreading causes decreased pressure in the spreading center, resulting in the creation of a plume.

    I kind of tend to think it can work either way around depending on certain dynamics, but that’s just my guess / rumination.

    • I guess that, in an early stage, gravity was the only responsible for the subduction of cratons + surrounding lithosphere and later for them cratons coming together, Then, mantle upwelling begun.

      • At school, I learned that the (currents of the) Aesthenesphere plays an important factor in the plate tectonics.Like this
        Gravity is a very weak force, alone it will never be enough to let the plates move.

        And a second though un the pull/push principal. Carl described that with Laki you had first a gasbubble forcing it way up and then the magma. Is it possible that trough this forcing of the gas, you get a ‘vacuüm’ underneath the gasbubble which then sucked the magma up? If yes, this maybe explaines how magma could rise very fast to the surface.

        • No, a pressurised gas bubble creates an equal pressure in all directions, so there will be the opposite of vacuum below it since the gas excerts pressure in equal amount downwards as upwards (and to the sides).
          Also, the gas bubble would have been a liquid soup containing sulphuric gasses, fluorine gasses, CO2 and supercritical steam at a temperature between 1300 and 1800 degrees C. Yepp, liquid steam… That is an odd one.
          I will get back to it in parts 4 and 5.

        • Note for transients.

          Above the supercritical point, steam and water are indistinguishable. Once it crosses below the supercritical pressure, it will instantaneously flash to the vapor stage.

          A good example is one of Tongariro’s last Hobbit launching episodes where material was thrown about 6.5 km straight up from the steam explosion alone.

          • And if anyone who is not a regular thinks that “water can’t be that bad…” Here is Mythbusters to convince you otherwise. Thise is just slightly pressurized steam exploding, nothing supercritical here. The water would be about 108 degrees C when it goes “boom” in this video. Now imagine it being much more compressed and at let us say 1700 degrees C. You do the math 🙂

        • I have read that a lot of the rifting is caused by gravitational forces causing passive sinking of the heavier edge of subducting oceanic crust, opposite to the rift. But I don’t know how it all started.

    • In the end I have a theory about how the tectonics got started, but it is a bit of hairy-arsed theorizing. But it would explain how the cratons got moving to begin with. I have though been reticent about writing a post about it since it would be fairly impossible to prove or disprove the theory, and as you know that is just sloppy science.

  7. Nice post, I’m looking forward to the others.
    O/T- yesterday evening (at nightfall/twilight) I went on “safari” in the middle of Leuven city. Basically it was just look out for beavers on a 15m bridge over the Dijle. It was a huge succes, we saw three beavers (two adult, one 1 year old) eating and swimming just a few meters from us away. But we also saw a Falco peregrino, a freshwater crab (I didn’t know they live here) and a lot of bats outside the normal city animals (cats, ducks, pigeons …). You actually can find a lot of animals in the city if you know where to look.

    • I am every morning watching a Golden Eagle pair doing fairly horrendous things to the urban wildlife. This morning I went to bed fairly late, about as the sun came up. So, to get sleepy I sat out on the balcony drinking a cup of hot chocolate to wind down.
      To cut it short, I do not think that the pink poodle was as impressed with the view as I was seeing the apparantly happy Golden Eagle swooping past with the poodle in its claws on the way to feed the litter.

      Golden Eagles are lovely, they are teaching a full generation of animal lovers that the most revered flying animals tend to do rather nasty things with spoiled pets. Natures new rule, if you want to keep your spoiled pets, keep them on a leash or indoors.

      Here is a Golden Eagle prepairing to munch on a fox.

      Image and video hosting by TinyPic

      • No Golden Eagles here. But the Dijle valley south of Leuven is the only area in Flanders where Fish Eagles can be seen the whole year (unless the ponds are frozen) and in winter sometimes a Sea Eagle take a break in the area.The only time I heard of spoilted pets being eaten was when an Eurasian Eagle owl ( Oehoe in Dutch, I love that name, you can’t have a clearer example of an onomatopoeia) decided that chiwawa’s are a tasty meal.

      • I wonder what if that eagle is not timid at all towards humans best friend when will a toddler be on it´s menu? Perhaps it is time start with negative reinforcement?

        Nice post, btw!

        • It happens now and then that they try to take a child, but as far as I know it has never been a completed act. My mother was attacked when small, but that was a sea eagle, and not even close to a city.
          Not to sound to horrible, but “affirmative action” on an endangered species is not a good idea. There are 9 000 000 000 people, and about 500 Golden Eagle pairs. In reallity it is better that we humans remember that the wildlife is “wild” and not to be cuddled with.

          Edit: And to be honest, any child big enough to be left alone by the parents is a to big pray.

      • food chain in action, I like watching the Wedgetail- eagles we have here, it is beautiful as the rise in the thermals and with off spring in spring and yes they do have to feed, to keep my animals safe, I have designed their runs a certain way next to trees which will not keep there weight and to short a run off for a lunch pick, chooks I have are partially wild and can look after themselves, farmers are not found of them, because lambs and calves are at risk, but that is life

  8. Fascinating post Carl. Gradually all the jigsaw pieces in my brain are fitting together. Thank you.
    OT Lurking appears to have a love/ hate relationship with the canines in his care. 🙂 Dog ownership is often stressful 😀 ! It is not a good morning here so far. Meg (lurcher dog) is suffering a phantom pregnancy and right now as I type, she is frantically scratching up bedding, clutching her squeaky toy and whining incessantly. From an animal behaviourist point of view it’s fascinating and raises many truly scientific questions. From a personal point of view it’s driving my husband and me nuts!! Poor thing she looks so bewildered and cannot understand her apparently irrational behaviour and her drive to nudge and pull the bedding round and round. Her squeaky toy is now a puppy and she cannot leave it. (No use hiding it as this sends her mothering instincts to explosive level) only deep gentle massaging strokes and gentle talking to will slow her heart rate and breathing.
    At last my husband has agreed that spaying would be kinder than leaving her to mother nature . I will admit, now I am beyond it, I certainly do not miss the hormonal mood swings and discomfort of my reproductive years.
    There is a reason for all animal behaviours (us included)
    As part of a dog pack in the wild, she would be taking care of all pups in the pack( if not hers, the alpha female’s would be nursed and cared for) If she been fertilised 69 days ago she would be giving birth about now. Interestingly, most female dogs in a pack come on heat about the same time. Only the alpha female would mate. This leaves lots of “Aunts” who are programmed to lactate and nest at about the same time as the alpha female gives birth. So ensuring that the pups have a higher chance of survival if mother is absent for any reason. This behaviour would be satisfying for her. Since we will not be breeding from her and she has no real puppies to look after, I feel it is stressful for her to go through this torment a couple of times a year. She is not happy at the moment and she appears to have very strong maternal drive(Her hormone levels appear to be very high, not all female dogs have these phantom pregnancies) so it’s a case of cruel to be kind and a phone call to the vet is on my today’s list.

      • The problem with doing things to mosquitos is that we then get reproductive altering pesticides out into nature like the neonikotinoids. And you never ever know what other species will be affected, like for instance the humble little bee.
        I think we best leave the mosquitos as untouched as possible.
        And while on the subject. There are no studies regarding human reproduction and neonikotinoids.

    • Hi Diana, interesting to read about Meg, never having had a bitch but only dogs I have never seen that behaviour. Poor thing! We had our dog neutered as it was required by the rescue centre when we got him. Now he appears to hate any other dog, even most females too. Strange behaviour, maybe he thinks he isn’t a dog but a human now as he is much better with people than he was before. Sadly he was badly treated before we had him but after 18 months he is finally settling down and at last enjoys playing. He is still only 3 years old so has plenty of good times left.
      Glad to hear the wedding went well, it is great when they do.

      • Now a more on topic comment.

        Saw this beautiful picture of submarine basalt column off Tenerife, Part of a photo competition apparently but I loved it, hope you all do too.

        • Hi Newby

          Here is a video of Tenerife I posted earlier, la Rapadura. Note the basaltic columns (there are plenty in Tenerife)….

          the one you showsis quite impressive and apparently not very deep. Any idea of its location (in case I return to TFS)?

          On another topic the windowed videos for El Hierro are nearly done, I just want to try different window sizes to find the most relevant. For the time being I have tried from 500 to 2500 and 3000 is being done right now. I think the best results will be between 1000 and 2000 events.

          • Thanks a lot dfm, that was so lovely. I once visited Fingal’s cave on the Isle of Staffa in Scotland. That was where I first became fascinated by geology and volcanology, those geometric basalt columns I find so very fascinating. Here is a video of the columns above water, and set to music of Mendelssohn’s Overture Fingal’s Cave. Hope you like it.

      • Hi Newby. Its dreadful what some people do to animals. They aren’t too good at treating their own species well either! Hope you are feeling better. XXX

        • Hi Diana, thanks and yes feeling fully back to normal now, a few days away staying with my brother and family worked wonders!!! Plus the medication that I didn’t want to take but is sometimes necessary. Hey Ho, such is life. 😉

    • from experience the best time to desex a bitch is about 2 month into a new cycle, to ease on her behavior, less food and plenty of water will help, as a rule it doesn’t last long, the way she behaves sounds like the first days after pups, so in a weeks time she will be over it, unless there is a bitch which needs help in nursing pups, your vet might know and it would help her as well

      • Just come back from the vet’s. She is in for the op. on the 24th. and by then should be back to her normal self..Thanks Ursh. Hope you are well now and ready for winter!

        • ready for winter, nope this is the first year I am feeling the cold, there has been frost for most mornings for about a month now, but today no sun and heavy rain, will not get to 10deg by the looks of it, brrrr, the house I am living in is great for summer, winter it is an ice box, but things in fridge so not to freeze overnight, got a few more of my Bichons to keep me warm inside, they love sitting on my feet under the table, no complains there. I had to slow down a bid with getting things done, run out of steam

    • One thing I always watch for when chastising the dogs is Omega behavior. I don’t know why, but most packs have an omega. The omega is the outcast. Part of the pack, but every bodies whipping boy. Omegas are the perpetually cowed. Omegas tend to have short life spans, so if the dog starts to act like that I try to console it and bring it back into a more beta state, part of the pack and accepted.

      When the wife gets upset with one of her daughters on the phone and raises her voice, the dog doesn’t know who shes talking to and sometimes assumes it is him and flees, tail down, seeking shelter from what it perceives as hostility from the alpha. (family’s become the dogs “pack” and the hierarchy) Catching the dog and petting it sooth it’s nerves. It also forms a bond with the dog. The down side is that when there is thunder you could wind up with a dog in your lap in short order.

      • Our dog is somewhat strange. If it hears people shouting, or screaming outside or children crying it will start whining and get upset, yet fireworks or thunderstorms don’t bother it at all. I think the poor thing once lived in a very dysfunctional household and in the first few days we had him he bit myself, and my daughter for different reasons. Daughter was bitten the first day because she tried to take away a squeeky toy she had given it because it was chewing it to pieces and she was scared it would swallow the squeeker. I had told her to leave it alone as the dog had twice given a small warning growl. I was bitten 2 days later because I moved my hand too fast and the dog thought he was going to be hit! The first 3 months with this poor dog were a steep learning curve for all of us. Now he is a lovely family pet but I would NEVER leave him with a child just in case. Poor thing obviously has too many bad memories as he often cries or growls in his sleep. Now we can take things from the dog but it must be slowly and sometimes it will only give up some things to the Alpha male, my husband. I appear to be second rank and my diffident son gets treated as an equal only.

      • I had an American Eskimo that eventually became “our” dog after the daughter decided to move out. He and I went round and round on the “boss” issue, and he eventually became a family fixture. The one thing about that dog’s death that tore me up was having to leap across the bed room and tackly it in the dark when it had seisures. As the seisure was onsetting, the dog, frightened beyond belief would try to flee. Usually the grand mal style event would set in while the dog was running and it would go crashing into furniture and begin flailing about. The vet prescribed diazepam to lessen the occurrences. Having the vet put him down was extremely troubling, but being able to clutch the dog to your chest while avoiding the teeth so that it wouldn’t injure itself was becoming problematic.

        This isn’t him. It’s a representative photo of the breed.

        R.I.P. “Sparky”

        One thing that I am happy about. While in Jersey, we had snow. He had a blast playing in it. It was the only time in his life that he actually blended in and didn’t stick out like a sore thumb.

      • I got one on my lap during a strong earthquake in Jamaica. It was part Rhodesian Ridgeback so quite large and so was not encouraged to repeat the performance!!

      • a lot of times, if there is to much picking, there is a sick animal under way, not always visible at first to us humans

  9. since I started living and learning with VC, I look at landscapes in a different way, sometimes I wonder, what if…I cam across a News article about a new canal like Panama is close to being signed off on, the only thing in my book is, part of the journey will be through Lake Nicaragua or Cocibolca or Granada or (Spanish: Lago de Nicaragua, Lago Cocibolca, Mar Dulce, Gran Lago, Gran Lago Dulce, or Lago de Granada) is a vast freshwater lake in Nicaragua of tectonic origin, as Wikipedia put it

    • Everything I have read (which isn’t much) points to them setting up a shallow draft channel using barges to do the transit. However, according the Panama Canal article on WickerPeekAtYa, the Chinese plan for nicaragua is a 22 meter deep passage through the lake, probably with locks on each end. Other chinese plans are to build a rail link in Columbia.

      Ongoing at Panama is the “Third Lock Scheme” that will increase it’s capacity.

      I’ve been through it two or three times. It was an impressive feat. I wasn’t particularly fond of the jerk-wad on a smaller vessel traveling in the opposite direction mooning us, but it’s his ass and his mosquito bites. (literally a Sailor Moon)

  10. Breaking news from Iceland!

    Nothing at all is happening for the first time in the history of the country:

  11. Ah lovely… friken criminals just cost the taxpayers more @#$$!@# money. They broke into a county admin office over in Santa Rosa county and stole some voting equipment… and two 400 lb safes. While they were at it they took the time to slice the fiber optic lines to the building. I say slice because based on the picture in the paper, it appears that they used a high speed rotary blade, typically used for making clean cuts in asphalt. The cable way looked to be a clean slice.

    They may think that they were smart in disabling any potential video feeds… but I know for a fact that some of those video systems record locally. I also know that the site has copious amounts of storage space for the video, it’s one of the SAN nodes for the county. I’m pretty sure that the Sheriffs department has the video now. Their IT guy (whom I have worked with) is fully capable of retrieving the recorded data. He knows his stuff.

    This is not the first time that county buildings have been hit in Santa Rosa county. I was there on a call last year and they had large standing fans set up in the lobby. It seems that someone had stolen the AC units off of the roof.

    If you think that’s bold, I know of one group that was busted up in Mississippi years ago. They were in the habit of stealing entire engines out of parked cars. (open the hood, cut the mounts and snatch the motor out with a tow truck) After such brutal treatment, the car isn’t even repairable.

    • {grin}

      Spoke with their IT guy, and as I surmised, the video is stored locally. He spent half the morning retrieving it for the investigators.

      Dunno if they need a tip… but if they are trying to reconstruct a timeline, they need to get a hold of the state help-desk to find out when communications with the servers were cut. I know that they are monitored during the day time, and am pretty sure they are logged after hours.

  12. Hi

    First, congratulations to Carl for this series of high quality articles which continue to bring some welcomed light to the Icelandic situation. It is especially useful for people like me who have not been following Icelandic volcanism for that long. Thanks again.

    Then I finished the windowing on El Hierro and all the results are visible on YT.

    I will only put the 2000 events video, but the other settings are also interesting in their own way.

    To explain how this was done, I used all the data from IGN since June 2011 and set a definite number of quakes to be seen. It’s a day by day animation with the last 2000 events “only” are shown (in that case). I found this setting to be the most informative, without losing too much information by having too many quakes shown but keeping a sufficient event “backlog” to get to see the evolution.

    So if you want to see the other videos, go directly on YT to get them in HD and because I don’t want to put 4 videos on the present post.

    I have made the videos with “windows” from 500 to 2500 quakes with an increment of 500 events. The 3000 event is still in the making and will get online this evening.

    The dates shown on the left of the colorbar are more detailed this time (I finally found the trick to set the scale as wanted 😀 ).

    • In the phrasing that would have been used by all the dogs mentioned in here today…

      It was as informative as I supposed it would be, seeing how the classical dyke opened up towards Bob, the first intrusion, the second and third intrusions, and the new one that could erupt any day.
      Especially seeing the dyke/sill opening up towards Bob was something that I have never seen before, it was hidden in all the old data, but here it was clear as glass that the eruption would happen there.

      It was, if I may paraphraze a teen I heard a couple of days ago, “plottylicious”.

      • You’re right.
        Also just for the very first part (3”), the 39° angle is well visible. There are also some other patterns, with some reactivation of previously active parts. I do not despair to be able to do some isosurfaces one day (Octave can do that) coupled with density plotting in action….

        I think for the near future to do some fixed views to try to see the dyke/sill intrusion and then move to another view but it needs some thinking over to get the viewing angles right.
        Another possibility would be to do some subplots, I’m open to any suggestion. Octave is pretty nimble now that I’ve been working with it for some time.

        • Perhaps a sub plot that is slower and just covers the initial quake swarm and the dyke going up to Bob?

          • I think I’ll try to get a view from above and another one from the side. I still need to get the angle right. So you mean the period of the start of the eruption or the start of unrest (06-07/2011) and the eruption (10/10/2011)? Getting it slower is absolutely no problem, as the plots are generated one by one then assembled by the video maker. So we can do what we want there.

      • Am I the only one who have contemplated becoming a geneticist so I could make a Graboid?
        Just imagine how hard it would be to make a species that first are graboids, who then evolve into a Shrieker (dying in the process as the Shriekers hatch through the Graboids, and then evolves into an assblaster who subsequently spawns new graboids.

        The Assblaster is by the way mimicking the Bombardier Beetle who also shakes its ass to mix two different chemicals to blast away up into the air.

  13. So the last eruption of grimsvotyn was not full strength?

    We have seen the full strength of Eyah, I guess?

    • Based on what I have read here and elsewhere, no.

      Grimsvotn seems to have retained most of it’s inflation. All it is waiting on is a reason to erupt.

    • No, or perhaps I should answer it differently. It was probably the full strength possible at the time. But, in due course and after more intrusion/eruption cycles, it will erupt in an even grander scale, rinse/repeat, untill one day the eruption is to big for the shallow chamber roof, and then we have a Icelandic Krakatoa on our hands. It will though be likely to take a few hundred more years at the current pace.

      Eyja was most likely though going at its maximum.

    • No. I do not think Eyjo went “full strength” and it may have some in store yet. The “new crater” (crack) influenced only 10-15% of the old existing crater, leaving a lots of glacer.
      And Eyjo was only small eruption, last Grimsvötn was 10x larger.

      • EYjafjallajokull cannot be much larger than the 2010 eruption. Probably it could make a powerful VEI5 (and make that larger crater) but I doubt that it would go caldera. I say this because Eyjafjallajokull is one of the oldest active volcanoes in Iceland, something like 1 M years, and it still has the shape of a stratovolcano.

        Compared to Grimsvotn, Grimsvotn has much more water available, and also its shape of several calderas within calderas tell us that Grimsvotn goes caldera every once in a while (few thousand of years or more), with some powerful VEI5+ or VEI6 eruptions.

        Hekla also has had its very large VEI5+ eruptions, but it never went caldera. It does not have so much water available, though the largest river in Iceland is just next door. Still it is much less water than under Vatnajokull.

        Oraefajokull has had powerful eruptions of VEI5+ but apparently there is only a very large crater at its top. Because it has such a massive dimension, I think its a volcano that sooner or later could blast itself in a St Helens like eruption. This has happened with Tindfjalljokull, some 50.000 years ago, but it does not seem to be a very common event in Iceland (not like in Indonesia or New Zealand).

        Katla and Bardarbunga also have calderas, but I am unsure whether they were caused by subsidation of large volumes of lava erupted or by violent activity.

        • Keep in mind, water does help greatly in the “going caldera” process, but it’s just a catalyst, not a requirement. There is very little water in the high Andes, yet there are tons of calderas there.

          Heck, of the most recent caldera forming eruptions, the only one that has noticeably had water as a driving force behind caldera formation is Krakatau.

          Of Pinatubo, Novarupta, Santa Maria, St. Helens, and Tambora, none had access to a large reservoir of water to crash into. Now, there may have been a lot of vapor in the subducted crust, but that’s different than the Krakatau or Santorini style eruptions where water enters the magma chamber causing a massive explosion.

          • Sorry but most of those did not go Caldera, and the one that did had water.
            Pinatuba only created a large crater. Not a caldera since the eruption did not breach the magma chamber.
            Novarupta had subsiding caldera formation quite aways from the eruption, not a type that requires water. On the other hand the area is a bog-lovers paradise so there was water there.
            Neither Santa Maria, nor St Helens formed calderas, they had explosive lateral flank eruptions.
            Tambora is an Island in the middle of the water. It had loads of water readily available.

            • Fair point, maybe those were bad examples, although whether it’s subsistence or explosive caldera formation, it’s still an explosive process. I guess that my point is, water isn’t a requirement for caldera formation, but it does make it much much easier, and does make an already explosive process much more explosive.

              There are plenty of examples of calderas that don’t have tons of readily available water.

            • Yes, for instance the Andean ones.
              But one should remember that they carry a lot of their own volatiles up with them from the subducting plate making them more explosive then the hotspot/mantleplume volcanoes.

      • This photo explains, seems Eyjo eruption affected maximal of about 25% of Crater area, including lava flow, but it only “used” 10%-15% of the crater floor for the initioal crack / fissure. So this is why I think it needs five to ten time more explosive force to make those crater rims (excluding the crawling glacier, i.e. Gígjökull)

    • At least some of them might have been whacked by the eruption. The others got boinked into oblivion and became part of your garden variety european.
      Sometimes I wish that scientists from different sciences at least read the more famous papers and reports of each other… 🙂

      If others missed it, about 2 years ago they did a DNA matching against the Neanderthal and western europeans and discovered that we are in fact the descendants of Neanderthal and Cro Magnon bed activities.

        • no large body, possibly streams (melt only) as I think its up “a mountain”
          *be back with map of its location*

        • I presume its same location of GPS and SIL at FED (Ísl. Fedgar ~ “Father & Sohn”)
          Thinkmit may possibly be showing more that normal background noise, and besides another quake out in Vatnafjöll systems yeaterday, this says me its “not all that quiet on that front”

          • Vatnafjöll is interesting in many ways, it has not erupted for a very long time, and before that it was among Icelands most prolific basalt floders.

          • navigating over these huge flows, one only wonders if these are over or not
            *these are larger in total area than Laki .. err .. Skaftár-fires but formed in many eruptions them last 8000 years (post glaciation mostly?!)*

            • And not to forget the Vatnafjöll itself. It is after all fairly big covering a lot of cubic kilometers.

          • I do not like it. Fancy idea but not practical. Them propellers are too short, where are the (tuboprop-engines) located? Payload with these props likely zero or less. No control surfaces? Steering by front whels? Na, do not think this will ever fly practically or at all.

            • Talking about flying: where’s Mr McCoy? I know he went to Alaska to re-train – has he started his new flying job and is to busy to comment? Anyone know?

            • not been aware of him for some time. Maybe too much fun milling around in a DC-7 and looking at all them mountains in America West, and pondering which one is active (so he can put it out with that red stick goo retardant) 😉

            • ah “waterbombers” moment. True for some but not all.


              “”””Fire retardant
              Borate salts used in the past to fight wildfires have been found to sterilize the soil and be toxic to animals so are now prohibited.[17] Newer retardants use ammonium sulfate or ammonium polyphosphate with attapulgite clay thickener or diammonium phosphate with a guar gum derivative thickener. These are not only less toxic but act as fertilizers to help the regrowth of plants after the fire. Fire retardants often contain wetting agents, preservatives and rust inhibitors and are colored red with ferric oxide or fugitive color to mark where they have been dropped. Brand names of fire retardants for aerial application include Fire-Trol and Phos-Chek. Some water-dropping aircraft carry tanks of a guar gum derivative to thicken the water and reduce runoff.””””

  14. OFF TOPIC: Gregor Peter‏@L0gg0l35 min
    RT @nchrysoloras: Greeks lose access to @BBCWorld & @DeutscheWelle. Both were transmitted via now-dead ERT @ISNJH

    • Mjaha, and what is interesting in the now defunct Ellinikí Radiofonía Tileórasi (ERT) and the transmission of foreign channels in Greece if I may be so bold to ask?

      And the hashtag leads to a rather run of the mill military loon doomsdayer named Nathan J Hunt… I am rather curious about why we need to desperately know this?

        • What a cute little dip 🙂
          There has been a couple of quakes in the area that does not show. But they where not in the Hekla area.

          • Yes, there was one in Torfajökull area about 19:48 utc

            And as I am doing nothing tonight for a change.
            Here is one training quiz for rapid, unwanted and unneeded NtL & Location
            (its me training, to see if am clever enought compose them)
            “Two Hollywood movies, name the patriotic one”
            “Volcanic Island in Pacific”
            “Future film delayed by actual Floods”
            “Standing on Europa”

        • Christ, its their State TV station. Them Greeks likely are overdoing the shutdown of their country. Likely the military go next? That will invite neighbours come over, for example the Turks across the channel. So serious indeed!

      • Yup. indeed. Pity it costs so much travel to active volcano.
        Therefore I wait here and get one on 3 years average.

        • You know that we want to slap you when you say it like that 🙂

          And to make things even worse, the ones you get for free are awesome. Me? I just miss every volcano erupting on the planet. I have even stoped going since they stop erupting a few hours before I arrive. And/or restart the day after me leaving again. Etna has done that twice to me…

            • Nowadays I have stopped occupying islands… I mainly go there to sail. And they tend to make quite a buck on me. And how otherwise would Boris be able to plan his vacation? I go there, he goes on vacations since he knows there will be not even the smallest paroxysm.
              I have been there 11 times (if memory serves) and the only thing I have seen is one of the smokerings. If I tally up the time I have been there almost a year… *sad sigh*

            • Poor you, now I understand. *Pats Schwe very gently on edge of sholder*
              Feel sorry for you and Etna. That be romance simply not happening. And not Hekla either it seems. Its not doing its ten year thing, but then we whould have had three in one year, 2010. So it knows the math = one every three or four years 😉

            • No… but “Garth” has the “shwing” thing down. “Wayne” was played by a Mike Myers, from Canadia. “Garth” was Dana Carvey, Amer-Rican from Montanner.

              (deliberate mangling of place of origin to spread the hate equally)

      • The Corinth is waiting for a large one. And they are of the least nice variant of them. I guess the ship would just flip lengthwise and get stuck semisubmerged whille stones pummeled it from above.
        The Corinth is awesome to go through though with a boat…

            • After checking what an Immelmann is, yes I have done an inverted Immelmann…
              After surfing a wave for two hours in Floyd (1999 category 4) I broached over the foc’slee, and then flipped around ending upside down before the boat righted itself.
              The only good thing about the experience was that I got my pants washed, something they needed since they had become suspiciously brown…
              Then I surfed a new wave out of the mess a good way towards the Florida Straits.

              On that day I learned something important, do not be around Hurricanes. September 13 to 15 was the worst two days I have had. But… In a very weird way the two best. During a lot of the time I laughed and berated the storm… and I saw things most people will never see. Going insane seemed like a good idea at the time, I still think I survived because of it, since no sane man would fight a hurricane of that magnitude alone.

    • They have been known to happen from time to time..the biggest that i recall is a 7.2 in Western Australia back in the 40’s

      All the big ones happen in the middle of now where ….which actually makes up ~90% of australia, so i guess thats not so unusual

      The Largest to have caused significant damage was Newcastle …i cant recall if that was late 80’s or early 90’s…just checked Wikipedia it states 1989..infact there have been a few in Newcastle ~mid 5’s in size

      This most recent quake..if you look on google maps is so far from the nearest marked “road” which is probably only a dirt track i wonder if it was actually felt by anybody

    • Hey!
      You are well I hope?
      We had a lot of links a post or two downstream about that earthquake. Among them a list of all the larger earthquakes in Australia.

  15. I think I found what happened to Carl’s Thingmuli 😀 😀
    It was invaded by Hollywood back in 1950. It was attacked by a species of Homo Sapiens that was immune to all Volcanic gasses. It got so upset it just exploded with frustration and is now an almost non-existent caldera

    Can acting get any worse than this?

    • Nice shorts !
      I wonder at the volcano pictures. Looks like an andesitic dome to me. The special effects seems to be too real not to be true. They probalby used some news or scientific footage.
      For the gases I have the explanation – it’s mainly water vapor 😉

          • Awwwwww! Ursh. Try opening YouTube and search for “Lost Volcano 1950” then for “Marilyn Monroe Skirt Blown Sky high”. Sometimes YouTube clips are not allowed in some countries. I get that quite often with USA clips.

        • I always laugh at the Marilyn Monroe clip. 😀 So obviously staged! No normal woman would just stand there trying to smooth down skirts rather than step away from the vent. Or perhaps it is me that isn’t the normal woman, I don’t enjoy attention.

    • Oops! before any Biologist lynches me.. it should read “A species of Hominid.” Homo Sapiens is a species. I suppose this could be a subspecies of Homo Sapiens.

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