Great Auk, is that a Volcano?

Eldey, I would have prefered to publish a picture of the Geirfuglasker island, but there was none to be had. If anyone could find the Reykjanes Ridge Geirfuglasker on an image please tell us so in a comment. Do not confuse this Geirfuglasker with the Geirfuglasker next to Surtsey.

Eldey, I would have prefered to publish a picture of the Geirfuglasker island, but there was none to be had. If anyone could find the Reykjanes Ridge Geirfuglasker on an image please tell us so in a comment. Do not confuse this Geirfuglasker with the Geirfuglasker next to Surtsey.

Iceland is filled with active volcanoes and normally we gawk like Auks at the volcanoes that are driven by the combination of hotspot-volcanism and MAR spreading. Especially we “Ooh” and “Aah” at those tormented spots that are hotspot, continental-spread and triple-junction driven at the same time. There is after all a good reason for that, they are stupendously spectacular when they erupt.

By being that narrow-minded we though miss a lot of volcanic candy on Iceland. After all, half of Iceland’s volcanoes are barely or not at all amplified by the hotspot, and they still erupt frequently. To the north the boundary of the hotspot/mantle plume volcanism is at the triple-junction volcano of Theistareykjarbunga, and in the south the boundary is also a triple junction volcano named Hengill. Both of these volcanoes are formidable beasts and have suffered among the largest eruptions in Iceland’s history. We know that they are at the boundary of the effects of the mantle plume since they are the last volcanoes whose lavas contain traces of deep mantle origin, as we go further north of Theistareykjarbunga and south/west of Hengill the traces are rapidly diminish or are completely gone.

One could now say that why bother to look further? North of Theistareykjarbunga there is no land to have volcanoes on, but that is to make it easy for oneself. There are at least 4 submarine volcanoes off the coast to the north, and it gets even more complicated south and west of Hengill.

Map showing Reykjanes, Eldey, Geirfuglasker and Eldeyarbodi volcanoes. Image by Icelandic Met Office.

Map showing Reykjanes, Eldey, Geirfuglasker and Eldeyarbodi volcanoes. Image by Icelandic Met Office.

As we move away from Hengill we find Brennisteinsfjöll, Krísúvik, Svartsengi and Reykjanes volcanoes. The last one is a fissure volcano that is partially sub-aerial and sub-marine as the volcanic fissure zone straddles the SW tip of Iceland.

If we then move out into the water we find a staggering 11 known volcanoes that is counted as part of the mighty Reykjanes Ridge volcanic system. All of these are driven by plate tectonics. As the continental crusts are pulled apart fresh magma is created due to decompression melt and rushes up to fill the void. This is not a continuous process, instead years can go between earthquakes indicating plate separation, and now and then earthquake swarms take place.

These earthquake swarms are always caused by tectonics, but often have at least partial volcanic repercussions. As the plates are pulled apart during an earthquake swarm it is ever so slightly thinned and that causes decompression down at the boundary between the crust and the mantle (the MOHO boundary). When the decompression occurs the melting point is lowered of the semi-solid mantle material, sometimes beyond the solidus (melting) point.

As the thinning of the crust continuous points will form that are thinner than others, and there molten magma will pool together. That pool of magma will then start to work as a permanent weakness in the crust and slowly it widens the part above it more than at other points and sooner or later an earthquake swarm will weaken the layer on top sufficiently to allow magma to push upwards and a magmatic emplacement is formed. Normally you have about 10 emplacements that go nowhere and the magma stays down below the surface. But in the tenth it will break through and you have a volcanic eruption. And during an eruption only ten percent on average will erupt above surface, the rest stays down below inside the crust. So, we humans only ever see 1 percent of all magma that goes up into the crust.


Image by the Icelandic Met Office showing the latest earthquake swarm.

Image by the Icelandic Met Office showing the latest earthquake swarm.

Geirfuglasker Volcano

If we move on from Reykjanes Volcano we just have to go a few kilometers and we find Eldey Volcano. And as we pass that barren Gannet-ridden rock and continue another 10 kilometers to the SSW we find the currently recalcitrant volcano of Geirfuglasker.

Not much research has been done on these submarine volcanoes out on the Reykjanes Ridge. There have though been a few scientific expeditions to them, in fact one is underway as I write this. And local fisherman and mariners have reported on any activity seen out there.

There are two recorded volcanic eruptions at Geirfuglasker, the first one happened in 1830 and caused the small rock island of Geirfuglasker to disappear. The second eruption caused the island to reappear, but for some reason nobody seems to have written down which year that happened. One would think that somebody would have written down the year an entire Island surfaced, but no… Probably this is hidden somewhere in an Icelandic paper source that I do not have access to where I write this piece. If you know the year, please tell me in the comment field. There was also a probable eruption somewhere in the eighties since one of the scientific expeditions found a fresh looking lava field.

During all of this commotion a part of the Geirfuglasker volcano remained above the ocean. That was a rock pillar named Geirfugladrangur. It stood about 10 meters above the ocean surface, and the Icelandic government had planned to put a lighthouse on top of it since it was the southernmost sub aerial point of Iceland. In the end it was good that they procrastinated on the decision. On the 22nd of March 1972 the rock pillar crashed into the ocean creating a very hazardous reef.

Howering above the former rock pillar of Geirfugladrangur.

Howering above the former rock pillar of Geirfugladrangur.

The volcano suffers more than yearly from persistant earthquake swarms that can contain hundreds of earthquakes per day, and some of the earthquakes can reach amplitudes beyond 4M.  Normally these earthquakes are between 9 and 0 kilometers of depth and have purely tectonic signatures. The swarms normally take place under either Geirfuglasker island or under Geirfugladrangur reef.

About one week ago a brief small earthquake swarm took place under Geirfugladrangur; it was unusually short for the location and it also had earthquakes that were deeper than normal. The boundary between the crust and the mantle here is close to the surface, it is believed to be situated at between 9 and 12 kilometers depth, and the earthquake signatures seems to prove a depth of around 10 kilometers here.

On Tuesday this week a larger and more persistant earthquake swarm started consisting of about 100 earthquakes during the initial 6 hours. The most powerful earthquake reached 3.1M. What makes this earthquake swarm stand out is neither the size of the earthquakes nor the duration. It was both small in scale and in duration for being at this locality. No, what makes it stand out is that about 1/3 of the earthquakes (30 to be precise) was deeper than 12 kilometers. Two of those earthquakes was at 22 and 22.4 kilometers respectively and are as such far below the crustal rock layer.

Even though IMO has not given out a report the depth makes it clear that those 30 earthquakes are magmatectonic in nature and that they are a sign of magma production. This does not in and of itself mean that we have an upcoming eruption there. Just that the potential is increasing. It could end up as a magmatic emplacement as a conduit upwards opens up, or that might already have happened.

If an eruption occurs it could be so small, or occur at such depth, that nobody will ever notice when it happens. But, if we are lucky enough we might get a Surtsey like event and an ephemeral island might surface from the ocean floor.

Brief history of the Geirfugl (Great Auk)

This Geirfugl is one of the two last. It was sold by John Wolley to the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, it is known as Brussels Specimen No 3.

This Geirfugl was one of the two last. It was sold by John Wolley to the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, it is known as Brussels Specimen No 3.

The Geirfugl lived at the previous Geirfuglasker, but as the island disappeared in the 1830 eruption most of the poor birds died, only about 30 pairs survived and moved to the Island of Eldey. Sadly Eldey was much easier to climb for humans. Since the Geirfugl was so rare by then the museums of old decided that they should conserve the Geirfugl by having them slaughtered and stuffed for their collections.

On 3rd of July 1844 Jón Brandsson, Sigurður Ísleifsson together with Ketill Ketilsson climbed the rocks of Eldey (on commission by the British Naturalist John Wolley). They only found one grown pair; these were strangled by Jón Brandsson and Sigurður Ísleifsson while Ketill Ketilsson crushed the eggs under his boot. Sigurður Ísleifsson reported to a happy John Wolley:

“The rocks were covered with blackbirds and there were the Geirfugles … They walked slowly. Jón Brandsson crept up with his arms open. The bird that Jón got went into a corner but mine was going to the edge of the cliff. I caught it close to the edge – a precipice many fathoms deep. The black birds were flying off. I took him by the neck and he flapped his wings. He made no cry. I strangled him.”

I find it befitting that the memory of the sad Geirfugl is surviving for eternity as the name of a volcano, the greatest sign of nature’s supreme power.


P.S. And on a personal note, in the future I will be writing considerably less than I have done. The reason is that I am going to become a student once more at the ripe old age of 42. For those who for some unfathomable reason enjoy reading my musings, Wednesdays will be the day I write on in the future. For the rest, fear not, there are as you know many more writers who will fill the pages with quality material. D.S.

153 thoughts on “Great Auk, is that a Volcano?

      • No, sorry. (I only have Eldey, if I look deep in my files)
        Althou I know Geirfuglasker suffered some collateral damage from Warships and SubHunting aircraft during W.W.2. It was used as target for shelling (as was Eldey) and bombed on occations in believ it was a U.Boat. Them blowing Whales also suffered.

    • Amazing post, very well written.

      And also quite sad to read that description of the last great auk.

      Volcanic-wise: by some strange reason, eruptions at the MAR off-coast in the Reykjanes ridge are much more frequent (historically) than eruption in the mainland, between Reykjanes and Hengill or Langjokull. And maybe, as you said, are probably unnoticed because they occur underwater and at depth.

      I have a strong feeling that within the next decade or so, we will have another eruption there, and it will be rightly picked by us, even if it occurs underwater. It could even surface. And this area off-coast has been having large swarms already for many years, sooner or later it will happen. It is just like Askja and Bardarbunga, two other volcanoes that for years have been having swarms and walk toward their next eruption.

      So, you say, 100 emplacements until an eruption? 😉 If two emplacements occur per year, that gives an eruption every 50 years, roughly speaking. That clearly works for most Icelandic volcanoes (Katla, Askja, Reykjanes group, etc). Others rarely have emplacements like Theista, Krafla, etc, and therefore erupt much more rarely.

      By this estimate, Askja and Bardarbunga as well as something near Reykjanes, will have an eruption within 50 years, probably even less, so often are their emplacements. I say within the next 30 years.

  1. I hope that a new Surtsey-like volcano will be born very soon whether on the Reykjaness Ridge or in the Vestmannaeyjar Argipelago. And will Surtsey itself erupt again? Surtsey is rapidly washed away by the sea, very pity. A new eruptive episode of Surtsey is desparately needed and it will strengthen and enlarge the island. How big would Surtsey have become if the eruptions which started in November 1963 had been continuing untill today?

    • Based on the daily rate from the 1963 eruption, had it continued until today, about 3.8 km³ of magma and would have been added, and 9.05 km³ of unconsolidated tephra would have been emitted.

      • The tephra rate would have been much smaller since the water disappeared from the mixture. The end of the eruption was mainly basalt flows.

        An eruption in the Vestmannaeyar is today deemed to be unlikely, and if one occurs it will not be at the same spots as the previous 3, Eldfell at Heimey, Surtsey and the miniscule island off Surtsey that disappeared under the surface. Sofar the same spot has never erupted again in that volcanic system.

        An eruption taking place somewhere along the Reykjanes Ridge is highly likely to take place in a not to far future, when it will happen is though written in the stars. My bet would be for Geirfuglasker or Eldeyarbodi.
        The chance for an Island appearing is greatest at Geirfuglasker or Eldey, so you should put your hopes up there.

        • Why would a new eruption in the Vestmannaeyar not be very likely in the near future? And does Surtsey have a magma chamber under the island? If that’s true, Surtsey would have more opportunity to erupt again than without any magma chamber. I know that Heimaey has a magma chamber below.

          • According to the researchers the rift that causes the Vestmannaeyar volcanism goes in cycles, and the eruptive cycle that caused the Surtsey and Heimey eruptions was enough to relieve the pressure and thusly ended the cycle.

            • Err.. One assuption is wrong. The new Eldfell (on main island of Heimaey), is beside the older Helgafell Volcano, the last volcanic event, some thousands of years ago.
              The new crack runs just on one side of that Volcano, so thats at least the Second Eruption at that location. So In my opinion, Surtrey can of course erupt again in same spot.
              *do not give a damn for expert advice here. Period.

            • Haha, well.. I knew that, but it did not erupt out of the same vent, fissure, rift or crater as the previous eruption. Next door is still next door.
              I would not be surprised though if there was an eruption next door from Surtsey, but I sadly have to admit that the likelihood is quite low that another eruption will happen there during our lifetime. The volcanism in the area have been rather far apart and cyclical.

            • One extremely old photo of Vestmann Islands Village and Helgafell, left. Note typilcal cone and lava coverted areas around it. *possibly in very early 1900’s

            • If memory serves there is 1200 meters between the doors.
              Since the eruptions happen so far apart the conduit is gone, or even more to the point, the conduit is harder then the surrounding rock so it is easier for the lava to go up next door.

            • I was in 2010 living for 2 weeks in the Westman Islands. I observed well the geology there. The island is way older than most of us have the impression. It is perhaps something like 100.000 years old. Just northwest of Helgafell or Edlfell you find some large mountains, well eroded, but result of a very old volcanic edifice. Further southwest of Helgafell, just aloing the line Helgafell-Eldfell, we can find a Camp-Flegrei-like small caldera/crater, about 2km wide, half underwater, half above water, but heavily eroded. This is something like 5km away from the other two newer vents. So, at least 4 eruptions have occured as part of the formation of the main island of the Westman Islands. But there are other older mountains in the island, so count more eruptions.

              Surtsey will one day have another eruption nearby and it will be probably not in the same spot but nearby and that will create either a double island, or a much larger island, if the eruption is large enough.

              Eyjafjallajokull just next door is almost up to 1M old, perhaps at least several hundred thousand years old, from what I heard. Tindfjallajokull is at least 50.000 years old.

              However I would like to point that the TREND is for the rift to propagate further southwest. So expect one day a new island further out in the sea, and eventually the whole thing will start forming a Reykjanes-like peninsula. As that progresses, the SISZ willprobably shift southwards and occur where the sea is now, between Krisuvik and Surtsey. This is far future Icelandic geology.

              Perhaps it can an idea for a future post, and an exciting one.

  2. Thank you Carl for another very readable and informative Post. I shall be googling for pictures of Geirfuglasker and Geirfugladrangur.
    Good luck with your studies. I loved being a student. I still love learning.

    • I loved it too. And as you know I needed a change in life…
      So, I am out to do something completely different.

  3. I for one am looking foward to a surtseyan eruption. I can see Eldey great from my bedroom window. It would be nice to watch a new island form out there. An eruption on the Reykjanes pennensula I am not looking foward to. My house is down hill from that.

        • I guess that would put you ontop of either Reykjanes volcano, or Svartsengi. And Reykjanes would give you a splendid view if there was an eruption just off the coast since it runs from the tip of the Peninsula out into the water.

          • Reykjanes would be it. I can see the steam from the Blue Lagoon from my kitchen window, but a small hill would block my veiw of a Svartsengi eruption.

            • Jamie, if I would be you I would fear also a underwater eruption a bit more. That would be more explosive and ashy. Svartsengi would be more like a lava fountain show. Of course, a few weeks later, the lava would start getting near your house, and you would have to fight the lava like they did in the Westman Islands in 73.

              Window-wise, we both share a similar view from our windows. I have Katla, Eyjafjallajokull, Tindfjallajokull, Vatnsfjoll and Hekla towards one side (but Hekla is sadly hidden behind a small nearby mountain). However this line of volcanoes is about 50-80km away. Towards other side, I see Hengill, Langjokull and the entire ridges in between. This volcanic belt is much near my house and it forms a quite impressive line of mountains, that I see everyday about 20km away. Towards the north I see Hofsjokull and Kerlingarfjoll in the far distance., about 100km away.

              In 2011 I had something unexpected on my window view: the great Grimsvotn ash cloud, something I never dreamt or thought possible to see.

            • Jealously-wise: everyone is invited to share this view in case you come for a visit to Iceland 🙂

  4. I always feel a deep & ineffable sadness when reading about the unnecessary fate of creatures like the Geirfugl / Great Auk. I can only hope that our post human (and probably post-biological) successors name a beautiful volcanic place after our ephemeral species.

    Sorry, feeling most morbid today. I found out yesterday that my father – a 15 year survivor of colorectal cancer – has been diagnosed with secondary tumours on both lungs. The next few months are going to be very hard – hopefully there will be a nice (but harmless) eruption somewhere to provide a distraction.

    • Sorry to hear that. Hope things work out.

      Recommended name for a post human geological feature. “Mount Twit,” or “The Great Hominid Radioactive Salt Flats.” (translated into whatever Earthican language exists in the future)

    • Grumpybear- Sorry to hear that.
      My Cowboy/Indian Pop was always aware and taught me to be aware of nature and our own limitations.If he’d been around, the Auks wouldn’t have been the ones stomped. Always had a sense of sporting chance.He even resisted shooting a Wolverine that
      challenged him-let it go. sometimes what we did(and do) in the name of “Science” wasn’t
      so scientific.
      Carl -good luck on your new adventure. I got my US Flight/Instrument Instructor’s rating renewed after 26 year hiatus..So I’m going to teach again-at 60…

      • Either way, you be damned careful.

        I was at UPS picking up parts today. The girls at the front counter were a bit forlorn. It seems that one of the UPS pilots that crashed in Birmingham was based out of Pensacola. (their statement, though I haven’t seen an actual news release on it)

        And, the only good news in something like this.

        in an open field that used to be a neighborhood. That field is now owned by the airport.

        That’s something that I have always worried about down in Panama City. Tyndall AFB has a drone runway whose takeoff and approach path crosses 98. These aren’t your standard NSA/CIA spooky drones… these are modified F-4 Fantoms. They fly them out into the Gulf for target practice. I mention this because an F-4 can have a rather large effect on the ground when they crash. I know of at least two that have gone awry and missed the runway, or never made it into the air. (though I don’t know if they actually try to land them)

        • If that is ever about to happen you need this guy:
          Image and video hosting by TinyPic

          On the more serious side, Grumpybear, I really wish that one day cancer will be a disease of the past. And I hope we can cheer you up a little by covering eruptions!

          As a not so serious side note, I wish we don´t have to transform into naked mole rats to escape the cursed cancer.

          • I have heard that naked mole rats only do 3 things, sleep, eat and procreate. If you just add a bit of beer I could live as a naked mole rat.

            Yes that is GeoLoco. I have seen him so I know.

        • Actually, Lurk they do land them. China Lake and Edwards have drone F-4 activities too.
          I was at the Albuquerque/Kirkland AFB/USFS/BLM Tanker Base (1996) when the Luftwaffe
          visited with their F-4’s Gave a tour to a few of them who were interested in our DC-7.
          Which was a contemporary of the F-4 -our plane was built in late 1958…
          Oh these guys were with “Staffel Richthofen”.
          I was impressed..

      • 60 is about when I am going to be finnished with my studies… Would be me to find something that take that long to finnish.

        • Is it too indiscrete to ask what you are going to study? I am about to enrol at OU for a BSc as a first step to a Geosciences degree. Just for the hell of it. It’s great being able to study when you don’t have any financial / career worries hanging over you so I am going to relish it.

          • The advantage of having a midlife crisis is that you can actually ponder where the hell you went wrong in life. Back when I was chosing what to become I chose between two things, and in the end I chose wrong. And to confound it I did follow up choices that carried me further and further unto the path that leads to walking in the shadow of the valley of death.
            Suffice it to say that I have during the course of my life accumulated a lot of bad Karma.

            My other choice when I was young was medicine, so on monday I am starting pre-med for a year before 6 years of medicine studies.

            • Nah, I am just bereft of my senses according to most who know me.
              And I know myself, if it is not hard I will loose interest.

            • Hey Carl, I already did my account of big shifts in my life. I did a PhD 6 years back in my life before, curiously in medicine research and then decide that my most promising career was not for me. How sadly, I lost the promising career, a confortable salary, lots of travel to choose the “I just know I must do something new and different, but I do not know exactly what to do, therefore I just quit and start wandering around”. However, 3 years down the road, I regained a sense of direction, a nice paid job, happiness, but still however I know that this path will again shift one of these days. It always does, because that is my restless nature.

              Carl, I congratulate you for having arrived here and wish you good luck for these next steps. Do not think of the past, look ahead! The past, even if it was what we think of a wrong choice, in my opinnion it was always something worth: you have experiences, learning, personal growth. It is just that change is one of nature laws, and for us, nature is sometimes something we do not take lightly.

            • Me.. I’m worried… somewhat. For twenty years, every four years I would relocate to a new command, which means a new place and new this and new that. It satisfied the wanderlust craving quite well. Now, I’ve been in the same area for 13 years, and doing the same job for 6. As an independent contractor, you only make money by successfully completing jobs on time.

              Really hard to do a vacation under that sort of tasking. Technically, my last vacation was in 2001. Though I have had chunks of time with no job tickets. Then the focus wasn’t on how to spend the free time, it was on “Well, what do I do if the job tickets don’t come back?”

              So.. I loose myself in data when I have free time. Too bad the wife doesn’t appreciate the nirvana of rummaging around in obscure data.

    • I suggest that our posthuman species name a volcano into Mount Sillypuffs, would be fitting.

      Hope that all works out, and I agree that we could have a distracting eruption soon.

      • Thanks all for the encouragement & kind words. Dad is a tough old coot, and I’m sure he’ll fight this one just as hard as he did first time around.

        Anyway, enough of that. Great article Carl, and nice to read about one of the more obscure aspects of Icelandic volcanism.

        • I will try to write a bit more about odder volcanoes in Iceland. But this time I wanted to write about the volcano before we have an eruption there, and also, soon we will get new data on the Reykjanes Ridge since there is an ongoing expedition there.

          Iceland is getting more and more interesting by the week in my opinion, it is very interesting to follow the changes that we now see occuring in several of Icelands volcanoes.

    • I have two close friends with similar …it takes its toll also on those around them, take care of yourself otherwise you won’t be any good to anybody else who needs you

    • The colour looks right for a nice ashy rhyolite eruption and those blocks look like breccia, so it could be some proximal deposit to a past vent or pyroclastic flow deposit. Can’t see any zoning or anything but that might be due to the quality of the photo.
      .. totally amateur take from an aging armchair, maybe it’s just an Inca landfill.

  5. The Box.

    I, have cable Internet, TV, and phone service. (yeah, I’m a glutton for punishment) I’m also fairly well experienced in electronics. In fact, it’s what I did before this whole personal computer thing came along. The other day, my phone service went out. I made some preliminary checks and couldn’t quickly clear the fault, so I called the cable company who sent a person out to look at it. I had trouble tickets of my own to attend to, and I pay them good money for their service, so let them deal with it.

    Turns out, it was corrosion on a connector that was not plugged into anything. In my particular installation, the box that terminates on the side of the house has an RJ connector that goes to the house, and a terminal block that goes to the normal phone circuit off the pole. This is known as a “demarcation point.” Everything on my side of the terminal is my responsibility, everything on the other side of the terminal is the phone companies responsibility. Sure, they will work on the circuit on my side of the demarc point, but only for a fee.

    In my case, I have cable phone service. The way this works, is that the cable companies phone interface unit is plugged into a phone wall jack and the plug to the telcos circuit (in the demarc box) is unplugged. What had happened, is that this being Florida, corrosion of the terminals on the plug had caused them to develop a short, taking the internal phone service down. The service tech put a new connector on it, and the system came right back up.

    In retrospect, I feel silly for having to have someone come out and fiddle with it. But like I said, I had stuff to attend to myself.

    Side note for the more advanced among you. In a T-1 feed, the demarc point is usually at the pairgain unit hanging on the wall. This is the item that plugs into your CSU/DSU, which can be either a separate unit that then plugs into your router, or is a separate card in your router. (I’m talking Cisco units, not the residential D-Link and Cable Modem set-up. If you are ever involved in taking a sytsm down, always remember that the pairgain unit is most likely Telco property. No touchy.

    What is fun is when you are trying to troubleshoot a network and find that the building has several pairgains scattered throughout the building, and no diagram to tell which one is the circuit feeding the network. Lots of hand over hand of tracing out cables there.

    Note: For T-1 provisioning, the digital channel is provided directly to the CSU/DSU. In this case, the circuit is provisioned into a backbone carrier. Normally a T-1 circuit can support up to about 24 voice circuits. The voice traffic is sliced up and interlaced together. That traffic is provisioned into the telco switch.

    With cable Internet… they have lots of magic powder that they sprinkle on the line in order to route the carrier signals to and from their interface system. Eventually, if drops into a fiber optic feed and the traffic magically appears at an interconnect. 😀

    • Me have cable phone & TV…. me no touchy anything for I am small blonde and females and at times of no service provision or wheel changes on the car when I am all dressed up , I play on my natural gifts to save time and hassle… you gents are always to gallant and ready to help a damsel in distress. 🙂 it is seriously appreciated 🙂
      PS I am sorry for not being politically correct, sexist, blondist whatever. I don’t care………I am sad that the days of male chivalry are ending. I love the politeness of raising hats, helping ladies to sit at table, have doors opened for you , it reminds me that even at nearly 70 I am being considered and so to act in a gentle and ladylike manner.

      • Eh… it’s a passing thing. A time of a different age.

        At 50+, with virtually no hair, (I keep it cropped really short due to it falling out anyway) and a nearly white, salt and pepper goatee, (since I can’t grow hair where it should be) I tend to get odd stares from ladies when I open or hold the door for them. For me, it’s a three fold reason. Where I come from ‘mam and ‘sir are the propper way to reference anyone older than you, or that is in some official capacity. So it’s natural. Second, it shakes their reality, and three, it makes their male companion look like a full on pile of feces.

        I take solace in that. And if they don’t like it? F’em. I was polite, deal with it.

        I get the check out clerks every time I make a purchase, They say “thank you,” I say “Yes ‘mam,” even if they are 17 or 18. My other response is “Aye,” but not a whole lot of people understand the context of that. “Roger that” just leaves them dumbfounded.

        One thing I don’t think that some of them realize… depending on context and the nature of the exchange… when I say “You have a nice day” it could very well mean “Go @#$@# yourself.” I use that quite a bit on Telemarketers. “I am hanging up now, you have a nice day

        The intonation is the clue to the actual meaning.

        Anyone whom I do not know, that calls me and then immediately puts me on hold is hung up on automatically. I figure that it gives them a chance to think about what it is that they want to say. That way when they call back they can speak their piece.

        • I remember that “you have a nice day” when I was working in a cappuccino bar in San Francisco about (let me check) 30 years ago. My boss and one regular had this whole sub-text thing going where they would only speak to each other in platitudes and really polite language but all the while they were taking the piss out of each other. Invariably they ended up with “you have a nice day”. Both enjoyed it immensely but anyone who was not privy to it must have thought, “wtf is going on between those two?” or not realized anything at all. For my boss I think it was a cathartic release from having to be polite to everybody else all day.

        • Ah, here is one of those cultural thingies that always make me jump.
          For me a Sir is Knighted person. And your average police officer will not be that, so I always snigger a bit when listening to an american movie.
          On the other hand, to just confuse things we use the same word for Lord and Mister… If you go about and say Herr Lurking it would be Lord Lurking, but with a herr Lurking it would be mister Lurking. The difference is to actually pronounce Capital H as capital H…

          And, to confound things even more a Swede will be on first name basis with everyone except the King and will only use titles if the King is about. It is actually a big foopah to use last name or title to a Swede. This little oddity make us look rather rude when we go abroad.
          Something tells me that Henrik misses the olden days of Herr Lastname in Sweden.
          Over to Henrik. 🙂

          • That’s what we anitpodeans have in common with you Scandinavians. Maybe it’s a seafaring thing. Something about being collectively scared shitless in a huge storm at sea bonds you on a first-name basis. Either that or just the sheer respect for each other of surviving in a hostile environment. Whatever, we would never use titles either. In fact I imagine even our prime minister would only want to be addressed by his first name. Putting yourself above the others is a sure-fire of tempting the hammer of fate to descend upon your head and knock you back to size.

            • There’s another reason we get along so well without titles. Back in the good, old days when social differences were recognised, most of Europe got along with three castes (nobility, priests and burgers) and the riff-raff. Not so Scandinavia, we had a fourth – farmers which goes back to our Viking ancestors. Unlike Medieval and Renaissance Europe, we had free farmers who owned the land they were tilling and they were recognised as free men with a say in all public matters. The people beholden to them weren’t thralls “for ever and ever”. A good man who began life could marry a farmer’s daughter and take over the farm. He could also strike out for himself. Women traditionally have always had strong positions in Scandinavian societies as they would have to run the households while the menfolk were away trading through Kiew with Miklagaard (Byzantion) or raiding the coasts of France and England. The daughter of a beholden man could always hope to marry a farm provided she was a good worker and of strong character.

              To generalise – in Europe, 5% were “people” and the rest indentured riff-raff little better than animals whereas in Scandinavia perhaps as many as 20% were Free Men (generic, includes both males and females of the species) and the rest, even thrall, were seen as having the potential of becoming Free Men. Yes, we are more egalitarian but that does not equate to lacking in respect.

            • Irpsit-that is a true scary tale. In my area the freeway goes over the Blue Mtns. and the pass
              descending into the Columbia basin/Pendleton are is called “Deadman’s Pass” and not without good reason. I have crossed that thing at night in the winter, and would rather take on
              a full blown Forest Fire in my old job as a Tanker Pilot.Any time. winter storms are not to be
              trifled with. Glad for all involved that you made it…

          • Probably why we get along so well.

            I guess for us it was more our weather. Take away central heating and electricity and a regular swedish winter can kill you in a split second. So, you needed to be on good and sociable terms with neighbours et cetera.

            For those who have not been in the wild in real winter, at the best of times you are in mortal danger if you do not know what the hell you are doing. And if you add a snowstorm to it you’d better have your testament in order.

            • Maybe where the phrase “freeze the balls of a brass monkey” comes from.. oh, you said testament.

            • Totally true.

              Last winter I got stuck in a bliding blizzard, and it was insane. Luckly of course I was inside a car (and had food, water, communication…). But the worst that night were the extreme winds outside. I would go out of the car and the wind would pull me 10 meters unforgivingly, and I had always to crawle in order to get back to the car. Winds 30m/s, gusts even more.

              That storm taught me a lesson. Even if I am an educated weather-guy, I did not foresaw that coming and got into trouble. Death can be quick, and having shelter and also thick clothes at any time in a car is a good idea.

      • I am with you on that one, being 70 have no problem even with younger ones, actually one of my granddaughters has that ability as well

    • Good morning and thanks for that Jamie. It sounds lovely where you live. Sea views and all. I guess so heavy battering in winter gales though.

      • Yes it can get quite rough. The house is a framed house not concrete so it “flexes” with the winds. Bedrooms on the second floor so you could be rocked to sleep. And nothing beats falling to sleep in the summer to the sound of sea birds, or watching the northern lights in the winter.

    • And a challenge for them that occasionally peek at Nautical or Admiralty Charts….

      half-mile southwest of the Great Auk cut.

      I assume that the Great Auk cut indicates a location on the island. Once erosion has done it’s thing, there usually tends to be some left over that hasn’t eroded away, somewhere below where the wave action can get to it.

      If I am correct… there should be a bank or shoal water where this island used to be at. If ya find it… how about a lat and lon?

  6. knock Knock! Who’s there?
    Nobody at my front door despite being woken in these early hours and rushing (well as fast as I could without actually going Bottom over Bust to the bottom….) down thinking Sis in law (next door or a neighbour in trouble.
    Zilch and not even wet footprints to show it was a case of ” knock a door Run”
    I must have been dreaming or it was Mrs Bowie, a deceased previous owner who tends to slam doors or call your name. This would be the first time she’s knocked and I am mildly concerned.
    Seriously! We do get noisy doors and so many times even, with contractors in who know nothing, people hear and respond to their name being called. We jokingly put it down To that venerable old lady who was evidently THE most particular, neat and tidy housekeeper ever. I have always said that three kids, multitudinous dogs and me being the most laid back housewife ever has made her more than turn in her grave. 😀
    Why am I now concerned about the ghostly knock on the door? I had better spend the rest of the day doing cleaning and tidying big style or who knows what she may do next! 😀

    OR… it could have been Lady Hekla and I am psychically tuned in to her tremors!!!!!
    15.08.2013 02:46:40 63.910 -19.786 10.1 km 0.4 42.55 10.8 km SSW of Hekla
    rather deep!

      • Good lord what a horrible thought.

        That was one of my reasons for taking such a close interest in the geology around here.

        Diana this is something you should probably look into. At the very least, it should quell any worries about whether the area is prone to subsidence.

        As a kid growing up, I have clear memories of what the rafters sound like as the load shifts on a structure, and it can sound like a “knock.” (lived in an area prone to ground shifting from yazoo clay)

        • Chryphia and Lurking… How to make my day get worser!..We have a problem with a sinking kitchen floor. There is a void beneath concrete floor laid back in the 19 th C According to the insurance inspector who came to look, so of course no payment! it’s not subsidence . Evidently this is because the walls have not cracked. Yes there were many small coal mines back in the 18th & 19th centuries. They used to send 6 year old boys down the narrow tunnels to hack out the coal and get it back up to the surface as adults couldn’t fit down there! Sadly the boys were given potatoes and gruel to eat the men got bacon! However there are none I could find recorded under our house. Just settlement of foundation infill that is being shaken and settled by the 21st century heavy traffic on the main road at the bottom of the lane.
          Mrs Bowie’s restless soul would be a happier explanation… I did hoover and clean very well today just to be on the safe side 😀

  7. HAH!

    Unscented Raid smells like a kerosene spill in a nerve gas factory. Lemon Scent Raid smells like a kerosene spill in a nerve gas factory with a hint of lemon.

    Raid kicks the @#$ out of insects,.,, mostly due to the neurotoxin in it. Pyrethrin and Pyrethroids

    pyrethroids are just synthetic pyrethrin. While both are especially toxic to insects (alas, even bees) they are supposed to be among the least deadly pesticides to mammals. Still, keep Raid away from kitty: Cats’ livers can’t process pyrethrin fast enough to keep from, you know, dying.

    I remember as a kid… my cousins and I used to negotiate who would hit the wasps nest with the Raid. Whoever it was has best be especially fleet of foot, because your gonna be running for a while.

    Years later, while bush hogging, I hit a ground wasps nest. I killed the power and gave them the tractor. I managed to get to the pond but those bastidges kept orbiting where I had last come up for air. Took about 10- to 15 minutes of gulping a lungful of air, then diving back down and away from where I had been so that I could come back up for a fresh breath. Snakes be damned. It’s my pond now! (I went in with as much splash as I could make in order to spook them away, no time to grab a stick and beat the surface)

  8. Here is a link to Homann Heirs Map of Iceland from 1761 actually showing three rocks named after the “Geier fugle”:

  9. Inspired by ukviggens “Watching volcanoes from space” this is my first successful brand-new satellite image overlay!
    The EO-1 ALI (the too-good-to-kill-off Advanced Land Imager sensor on NASA’s Earth Observing-1 satellite) image downloaded from (courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey) and overlayed on Google Earth was taken on 13th of August 2013 over Paluweh island. You can view image overlays right away, but in order to download data you got to create an account. Usage is not restricted for non-commercial purposes.

    But what a disappointment, 100% cloud cover!

    • It was more getting rid of things. I finally got rid of my house, that is why I went.

      Now I just need to get rid of a boat. Then I practically only own my cloathes and the smaller boat. New life, less crap. 🙂

      Regarding Hekla, I could not see any quakes there, but quite a lot of them at Godabunga, both registered and unregistered.

      • New life, cool. 🙂

        No problem with that, as long as a few volcanoes and your passion for them gets carried on. Hope you get to travel more. Visit Ireland again and I will buy you a drink or 5. 🙂

  10. Carl ! , Good to know we’ll have a physician (with a physics Phd (and a true musical ear, of course among many other things), imagine that, the combination is scarce !) in a few years. In french we say “Docteur”.

    From now on you’ve earned yourself the nickname Toubib from me. (” Le terme toubib, qui désigne un médecin dans le langage courant voire familier dans une partie de la francophonie, vient pour sa part de l’arabe طبيب tabīb, « médecin ».” from wiki).

    For the apprentice in medecine the name is Carabin (you will need to learn by heart a lot of bawdy songs, wear a ridicoulous hat like an oversized Beret ( a Faluche, which is also a sandwich name) and apparently it is compusolry to have sex with a lot of willing nurses plus drawing epic obscene frescoes on the walls of your refectories). Let’s say that I’m happy to be just a engineer….much more quiet.

    Anyway here’s the update for El Hierro with a special treat on the 2.9 of today.
    IMHO, this 2.9 means something is pushing up. We’ll see that in a few days in the new cluster zone. Not fearmongering and all that of course, you know me, let’s stay cool. My feeling is that we have some Slow reactivation, but I have not calculated the released energy and I feel this is only some remaining sparks. Let’s say that if I’m wrong I’ll be punished ( : grin: ) by being sent to El Hierro at the Pozo de la Salud.

  11. Thank you DFM. There are some relatively shallow quakes occurring now ndd placed Under the landmass too. 😦

  12. Geirfuglasker: another bad name for a future Icelandic eruption. I imagine again TV news trying to spell that, across the world 🙂

  13. I just spent (no, wasted) 3 hours of my life doing a motherboard transplant on a ruggidized laptop.

    “ruggidized” is code speak for “hey, we got a special on screws, what can we put them in?”

    The design engineers went friken berserk with that tasking.

    So, hunched over this critter in a room with an equipment fan roaring along in the corner in their communications rack. The space doubles as an office and occasionally someone will walk in, startled that there is a laptop fillet on the table with some stranger poking at its innards. (me). I got it back together, and running, but there is still a problem that needs to be looked at, I don’t have time to tear it down again, so I haul it back here… 124 miles away. At least here I can get up and go get something to drink if I start stressing when I go back inside the damned thing.

    Get home, wife is watching a baseball game. The lackluster “Blue Wahoos” (pensacola) vs the Mississippi “Braves.” Okay… I’m from Mississippi and am conflicted about who I want to see loose. I watch a few minutes of it. The batter, guy by the name of “Chang” is up. The pitcher, for Mississippi team puts one across the plate, right in the strike zone… if Chang were 12 feet tall. Chang ducked and the catcher literally had to leap up to catch it. My guess is that the ball got away from the pitcher and had an early release… that or the pitcher was trying to rattle Chang’s concentration. He would have shit bricks if Chang had lifted and let the ball clip the top of his helmet. But.. the ball was so damn high that he would have had to jump to get to it also.

    What a freaking wild pitch.

    • At my work we build genuinely ruggedized equipment, which goes on diesel locomotives amongst other things. It involves a heck of a lot more than just “lots of screws”, as we have to keep dust, moister, etc., out, tolerate a whopping great disesel engine running next to us, and still be able to start up when the ambient temperature is over 70 degrees C (as can happen when a loco has been sitting around in the sun out near Mount Isa, Queensland).

      • Argh typo – “moister” -> “moisture”. Fingers go faster than my brain a lot of the time – yes I’m a code monkey.

      • Code Monkey → Way Cool.

        I’ve blown out a few neurons chasing bugs myself, but never at a paid level. Mosly scripting to assign username and temporary passwords to web applicants. Rather than use the embedded Linux user management system, I created each user as a separate file separate from the linux system. Queries for stuff they had signed up for was served up via Pearl with no direct access. I got the idea for doing it that way from talking to a Novell admin about the way Novell handled access.

        Later, I built a web based forms server for a local Realtor. The version of the document that was availible for the various offices was control from the main office. The whole idea was to keep the sub-offices on the same version of form. Three weeks worth of fighting it into life and it turns out had decided to get out of Realty, and didn’t’ need the server any more.

        I have to wonder about that one. No payout to me, and shortly after he bails on Realty… the housing market tanks hard. How did he know?

        • I’m a complete novice when it comes to web stuff – beyond some basic HTML I honestly wouldn’t know what to do if someone wanted me to do web oriented programming.

          My entire career has been built around embedded real-time systems, most recently safety critical onboard systems that stop trains from smacking into each other. Current major project is full automation of a metro in China – i.e. unmanned operation. All this grew out of my parents buying me a cheap TRS-80 clone in 1982, on which I taught myself BASIC and then Z80 assembly language. The funny thing is that most of the classic computer science stuff I learnt at uni – languages like FORTRAN, COBOL, Pascal, I have never touched again except for a brief period as a FORTRAN 77 programmer. For the most part its been C, C++, assembly language, and more recently a whole lot of Ada. But right now I’m right down in the weeds again in assembly language & C, helping out on a digital train radio project. That project is fun, not the least of which because all the development environment is Linux based, and it feels so good to get away from M$ junk into an operating system I understand properly.

        • Pearl isn’t really a “web language,” It serves well as such though, it’s strength is dealing with strings and parsing. Many of the conventions in it come from C. As for the WEB web stuff, it mostly deals with reading environment variables from the web hit, (the client talking to the server) and using them as well as what comes in from form action on the client. Once you grab all that, the Pearl does what ever it is coded to do, then serves the result back to the client. The most important part is what is being sent back… (the mine type)

          For example, Volcano Cafe serves up it’s responce with

          (braces have been removed to keep browsers from trying to process this)

          !DOCTYPE html
          html lang=”en”

          And then the rest of the web page is written to the client’s browser.

          Once you get the knack of CGI part of it, the rest is up to the imagination of the code writer.

          PHP, on the other hand, is more specialized for web stuff. You can get pretty fancy with it, even writing a program that will go out on the web to another server and pull down entire web pages… which you can then process. I had, at one time, been kicking around the idea of using PHP on a local machine to go out and grab IMO’s quake data and then writing that to a database automatically. Then I found out that entire weeks at a time can be pulled that are already reviewed and in an easy to use format. It was easy enough to do it by hand that I never got around to writing the applet to do it automatically.

          Pearl can be easily used in BASH scripts for log file processing. PHP could… but it is optimized for web work… both draw off of the overall structure of C. (command syntax and such)

          Java… same thing, also a child of C. Much of Java that we encounter runs on the clients PC rather than the server.

          My point is (as if I have one) that if you do fiddle around with it, your C experience will make it quite easy to understand what’s going on.

          • I looked at Java and half learnt it a while ago. As I was already very strong in C++, it was a “no brainer”, except for the vast reams of libraries to learn. Then the project I needed it for went away and I didn’t ever have cause to use it again.

            As far as languages go, my own personal aesthetic is strongly for the “European” family of languages deriving from Algol-68, Simula and the works of Niklaus Wirth – Pascal, Modula-2, Oberon, and of course Ada. C/C++ I am utterly comfortable in – indeed spent years working for a company that produces C compilers – but I find them to be ugly languages with poor type safety, and far too terse to write maintainable code without a lot of extra effort by the programmers. Not to mention that many seem to struggle to write a coherent English sentence 🙂

    • A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to do a plot of quakes for the Cool Strait using the provided quake data.

      Here is the plot. The area of these quakes are NE of the current batch of NZ quakes

      • Interesting that the fault is so vertical. I would have expected a bit of dip as you have the Kaikoura mountain range (our youngest) just to the south, but I guess it makes sense.
        Pardon my ignorance, but what is the C-plot telling us? It looks really intriguing.

    • strike slip, similar region to the recent large quake but it looks like it’s on an adjacent fault and further south.

  14. The deadly 2011 Christchurch earthquake is being used as a case study for China, the United States and Australia, who are all taking part in a unique military training exercise outside Christchurch this week.

    Military officials from each country have teamed up with the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) to work through how they would respond if the South Island’s Alpine Fault generated a large-scale tremor.

    About 45 military personnel from the Australian Defence Force, the US Army, the Peoples Liberation Army and NZDF took a tour of the rubble-reduced Christchurch central business district yesterday.

    Today, and for the rest of the week, they are at Burnham Military Camp on the outskirts of town talking about how each country would react to a similar humanitarian disaster as the February 22, 2011 quake, which claimed 185 lives.

    The NZDF deployed more than 1700 personnel at the height of the tragedy, while Australia, the US, and China were among many nations who sent crack Urban Search and Rescue teams.

    It’s the first time China has taken part in a defence exercise on New Zealand soil, and the Chinese delegation is keen to learn lessons from the Christchurch disaster, which killed 23 Chinese citizens.

    “People just help each other,” said Senior Colonel (Eds: correct rank) Zhou Bo, who is heading the Chinese contingent.

    He said China often faces large-scale disasters including floods, landslides, and earthquakes, and multinational events like Exercise Phoenix Spirit are important to learn lessons and build relationships.

    His American counterpart, Colonel Christopher Patton said they had already learned a lot after being talked through the extensively damaged CBD by Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority officials yesterday.

    “They were able to tell us the significant challenges they faced in the first few days to the challenges they still face today,” he said.

    “And certainly those lessons are something we can bring back if there is an event that happens like that for us.”

    Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman visited the parties at Burnham today. Given the Christchurch earthquake, as well as the recent large Wellington jolt, the operation was “very important” for New Zealand, he said.

    “This stuff is very real for New Zealanders,” Dr Coleman told the 45-strong contingent at a round table discussion.

    “We knew we were the Shaky Isles but everything that’s happened since the Christchurch earthquakes has made this something that is top of the mind for the public as well as our military people.”

    The recent Canterbury earthquake sequence makes the region an “ideal place” to run such an exercise, he said.

    All four nations have a “very real interest” in what goes on in the Asia-Pacific region.

    The plan, he said, is for all four countries to work together to develop humanitarian disaster plans, and in the eventuality that such a disaster occurs again, they can “put those skills to real use”.

    “Sharing experiences helps to ensure that in the event of a regional disaster, New Zealand remains ready to provide an effective response alongside its international partners,” said Dr Coleman. How come every time there is a trill/exercise things go……coincidence, not

    • The Pacaya volcano (Guatemala) activity has increased in the last hours leading to the displacement of 32 people at the moment.

      The volcano ejected ash at a distance of five miles west and southwest

      • 32 people is not a lot. The area is pretty populated.
        I will see if I can get a fresh picture from Pacaya as the sun goes up there.

  15. Can we force a volcanic eruption by drilling through the thin oceanic crust on the Reykjaness Ridge or Vestmannaeyjar Archipelago? Drilling untill the magma below is reached. The drill hole must be widened by detonating bombs so that magma will easily erupt. A man-made eruption.

    • No, to cause an eruption is almost impossible.
      First of all, the conditions must be right. Readily available magma and the tectonic strain would need to be at breaking point. If these conditions was at the tipping point it would still take several nukes just to reach the point where natural tectoniics would take over.
      Let us say that at best we could cause an eruption a day or so before it would have happened before anyhow.

      People tend to forget the shear awesomeness of the power involved in the onset of an eruption, especially at a tectonic rift volcano. A nuke is fairly puny compared to that.

  16. Regarding the upcoming Jöökulhlaup:
    There has been a 2.8M earthquake at Lokatindur. It has not yet been confirmed by IMO, but it shows on internal data.

    • This is irritating, that quake is clearly much larger than the previous 2.1M at Hamarinn, it shows clearly on all SILs Katla to Askja, and still not even a flinch at putting the quake into the official list… *hrumpf*
      Internally it is very oddly located, the computer put it at 26km west northwest of Lokatindur. I would put it southeast of Hamarinn…. Curiouser and curiouser… I guess if I was a cat I would be in trouble.

      • And here it was. Two earthquakes at Hamarinn, one of them slightly on the deep side.
        16.08.2013 11:03:55 64.486 -17.756 9.1 km 1.9 99.0 2.6 km E of Hamarinn
        16.08.2013 11:03:43 64.484 -17.782 11.1 km 1.9 99.0 1.4 km ESE of Hamarinn

    • First we had invisible eruptions… Now we have invisible Jökulhlaups…

      What is the difference between a Jökulhlaup during the summer reaching summer water levels and the summer reaching summer water levels? None.

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