Plotting Iceland – with the GPS Visualizer & Volcanic Riddles

Interactive map of volcano monitoring stations in Iceland.

Interactive map of volcano monitoring stations in Iceland.

Storm Ivar damaged power-lines in Sweden leaving 55000 homes without electricity. While we wait for Carl to get back online, here are some snacks for the Friday evening party for you! Update: Carl is fine and not affected by Ivar.

Recently I got a bit frustrated by the fact that even after two years of participating in the Volcanocafé I still often have no clue where the heck these Icelandic seismic (SIL) stations are. With the exception of maybe HEK  (Hekla) or ASK (Askja) the acronyms are mostly not self-explanatory (at least to me), and hence I was looking for a good map. There is the excellent new CGPS network homepage operated by the Icelandic Met Office (IMO), but unfortunately the map does not provide links to seismic data yet. The old IMO map has a clickable Seismograph map, but the station markers only appear on mouse over and the map is not zoomable so it is cumbersome to find your way around. While searching for something that offers the benefit of both sites, I found the GPS Visualizer, where one can create interactive maps online for free.

From the homepage: “GPS Visualizer is an online utility that creates maps and profiles from geographic data. It is free and easy-to-use, yet powerful and extremely customizable. Input can be in the form of GPS data (tracks and waypoints), driving routes, street addresses, or simple coordinates. Use it to see where you’ve been, plan where you’re going, or simply visualize geographic data (scientific observations, events, business locations, customers, real estate, geotagged photos, etc.).”

The website creates all kind of maps, from a simple JPG to a fully interactive google or google Earth maps with your own placemarkers, with links to data, websites or webcams for example. As an example for combining and visualizing data sources, I created a map of Iceland with all SIL, GPS, strainmeters, infrasound arrays and some webcams, which you can download below.


Making your own map is as simple as shown in this screenshot (changes highlighted).

The interface for data input is very flexible and requires only minimum standards, which is nicely described in these tutorials. You need no programming skills at all!
In principal you just have to copy-paste three columns from an Excel sheet or text editor with “name”, “latitude” and “longitude” as headers. You can extend that list with all kind of information, e.g. descriptive text, altitude, velocity, what kind of symbols to use, the color, and more. GPS Visualizer can also create a color scale based on a specified parameter, for example earthquake depth.

Very much to my disappointment we cannot embed these map here on Volcanocafé, because WordPress does not allow to embed scripts out of security concerns. Instead, I uploaded the html code for the google map, which you may download here and start in your browser locally. If you want to create your own map including the above links, here is the Excel file with all locations I assembled so far. This direct link  will only work temporarily.


SIL station coordinates are from the International Registry of Seismograph Stations.

GPS station coordinates and links to timeseries plots are from IMO, the Institute of Earth Sciences and the CGPS website.

Finding webcam coordinates was quite a bit of detective work, but this website helped a lot:

For place names in Iceland this is the map:

With Christmas arriving soon, here is one of Spica´s favourite cookie recipies:
Linzer Augen (Linzer Eyes)

Resemble a very flat volcano with a lava lake 😉

1 cup slivered almonds, blanched or toasted
8 tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp. finely grated orange or lemon zest
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 to 1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Beat the butter until fluffy and pale yellow. Add the sugar and continue beating. Add the egg yolk, orange zest, vanilla and almond extract and beat until blended.

Sift together the flour, cinnamon and salt into another bowl. Add the ground almonds and stir to blend. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat on low speed or stir with a wooden spoon until blended. The dough should be soft.

Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface. Divide the dough into four equal portions and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 180°C. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets or line with parchment paper.

Remove 1 portion of the dough at a time from the refrigerator. Place dough between 2 sheets of waxed paper and roll out 1/4 inch thick. Or roll it out with a rolling pin on a surface with a thin layer of flour. Using a cookie cutter about 2 1/2 inches in diameter, cut out the cookies. Using a 1 1/4-inch cutter, cut a hole in the center of only half of the cookies. (If you don’t have a cookie cutter use a glass which you dip into four, For the wholes you can use a thimble) Repeat with the remaining portions of dough. If the dough becomes sticky, wrap it in plastic wrap and freeze for 10 minutes before rolling out.

Carefully transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheets. Bake until the cookies are firm to the touch, about 12 minutes. Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks. Loosen the cookies with the spatula, but leave the cookies on the sheets until thoroughly cooled. To assemble, spread the solid cookies with a thin layer (about 1 tsp.) of raspberry jam to within about 1/4 inch of the edges. Dust the cutout cookies generously with confectioners’ sugar. Top the solid cookies with the cutout cookies and fill the hole with more jam.
Recipe taken from to save me the trouble of translating.

Some more english versions of Linzer Augen:

Linz is my hometown and I do bake these traditional cookies every year.

And of course the riddles: 

1) Adding, sound &  image  —–> KarenZ 2 points Mount Sumbing
ahem 2) Two female relatives close together. Hint: a simple translation of 2 female relatives. Evan Chugg 1 point Tiatia.
3) A cultural show is held on a character from an old German song .CARL  1 point for Hagen volcano PNG and bonus point for Nibelungenlied.
4) Against  an arabic place. Alison 2 points. Antisana. Sana being a spelling of Sana’a the capital of Yemen
5) Carved into Euro Disney. Hint: a Euro Disney person, translation necessary here. And it has some “carvings” GeoLurking 1 point Maderas. Carl Holz is/was a CEO of Euro Disney and Maderas has some petroglyphs.

Score board
16 Sissel
14 Evan Chugg
8 Diana Barnes
8 Harrie
7 KarenZ
7 Shérine France
6 Henrik
5 Talla
4 Alison
4 Arjanemm
4 Cryphia
4 Graniya
4 Kelda
4 Matt
4 Stephanie Alice Halford
3 Michael Ross
3 Sa’Ke
2 Dorkviking
2 Lughduniense
2 Lurking
2 Maggiemom
2 Spica´s mate, St. Ananas
1 Bobbi
1 Bruce Stout
1 Edward
1 Irpsit

Spica & chryphia

374 thoughts on “Plotting Iceland – with the GPS Visualizer & Volcanic Riddles

  1. GCHQ, the British
    counterpart and facilitator to the NSA, has forced a privacy focused email service to shut down because it could not effectively spy on the encrypted emails people were sending.

    As the blog IT Security Guru reports, a beta version of the PrivateSky service from London-based web security firm CertiVox was shut down early in 2013 following a government order.

    • Yeah… The UKians are sadly moving down a very dangerous road. I feel sorry for them.
      We have one of those agencies too, and we know that they have always listened in. But, it is our right to do anything we can to try to stop them if we wish.

      In a rather ot quirk our version of NSA (FRA) are the only agency allowed to do electronic surveilance. So if the police wants someone to be bugged they have to go to a prosecutor, get an order, go to the FRA, and they may or might not actually do a tap. They are not required to do it even with a police order. And even if they do the tap in the end they will most often classify the outcome of the tap unless it would yield a prisson sentence of more than two years.

    • It’s not so much the tap that pisses me off, it’s the idea of farming it for all that it is worth.

      If they have a clearly defined suspect with evidence to warrant suspicion, unrelated to a tap, I can see them getting a Judges approval for a tap and monitoring. Leaving the warrant and tap open long after that particular case is closed, just so they can farm the tap for more info, no, that is bullshit. Overzealous prosecutors and law enforcement can make up any sort of story they want about “codewords” and such, when all they may be monitoring is a cake recipe or a set of game tactics.

      Anytime someones promotion or pay increase is dependent on them producing a “result” such as prosecutions or lengthy sentences. they are going to do everything in their power to make it stick… even if they have to slide the truth a bit. With the advent of privately operated prisons here in the US, and the formation of companies that use cheap prison labor, it is in their self interest to push and lobby for harsher sentences, stricter laws, and lower requirements for convictions.

      I found out recently that what I had long suspected is true… they even monitor online games for indications of what they deem suspicious activity. There, they look for codewords in the player chat system. I imagine that they were freaking the “F” out when Crazyeddie crashed the production economy of Jumpgate for the Quants and Octs. “Matterconverters” and “Conflux Biomass” probably had them scratching their heads quite a bit. The Biomass bit was mainly my doing. One of the GMs had abusively chewed out a fellow squad mate in a role play event he was in for bringing biomass to Amaranth station. So, I organized a clan wide transport of all biomass in the gamespace to that station, just to shit on the GM’s little power trip. When the other players saw the convoy of cargo ships moving biomass there, they joined in, thinking it was some sort of Mattfarm event. (McPlowed was the king of matterfarming, when he wasn’t out running down players in a jeep in Battlefield.) Note: Mattfarming was technically a sort of exploit of the game economy. But when you have 20 million in game currency tied up in a load of MatterConverters, pushing as hard as you can to get to the selling station before the price drops too low, it gets quite entertaining. Something akin to a cross county rally race with tractor trailer rigs. The economics of the farm were to load one station with and excess of inventory, driving the price down, and starving another station of that same item so that they price would slowly increase. Once you reached a predetermined difference, the race was on to move them back as fast as possible in order to maximize profit. Yeah, it was artificial and you had all these heavy haulers waiting around to run the farm, but we enjoyed the banter of the ingame chat while we waited. Some of us then used our in game wealth to attack a particularly nasty game faction that delighted in sitting around tube camping our stations, killing pilots as soon as they launched. Our payback? We killed off their weapon and engine production system by starving their production stations.

      It was fighting on a completely different level than the standard twitch kiddie buzz around in virtual space shooting at each other thing. Why did it work? Because they took it for granted that there would always be gear to re-equip, and re-launch. One of the twitch kiddies kept running around lamenting that “death had no meaning” until NetDevil modified the game engine and eliminated the ability to run mattfarms and such. Well, twitch kiddie got his wish. As with most of the other players, we grew disgusted and left the game. I don’t even think they have had more than 10 players online at any one time in the last year or so. The game effectively died. Hows that for “having meaning” eh asshat?

      Now, imagine some intel spook trying to untangle all the discussions and coordinations that were going back and forth in that game. For a while, I was cordinating and funding an in game pirate clan that had originally declared war on us since they figured that we were just simple cargo haulers. One thing they didn’t expect was for us to be willing to pony up to the bar. The skirmish wound up podding their entire group. (player kills) in about 10 minutes time. I later hired their squad leader to do nefarious in game tasks… such as taking out key cargo movement in game by hostile players. One of our group had mad coding skills and was able to use the game generated online stats to project what cargo a specific player was hauling by watching player net worth changes and station inventory changes, then running a comparison routine to estimate what the cargo was.

      The whole purpose of online gaming is so that people can gather and have an enjoyable social interaction withing the game environment. When the game operators started trying to eliminate that, they lost their customer base. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted. On to other pastimes.

      (No, I never played Eve Online… I couldn’t make the switch to point and click flying. Throttle/stick was my preferred interface.)

  2. Etna’s activity is only very, very slowly increasing, and continues to be typical Strombolian activity with a little lava flow about 1 km long toward southeast. She’s reeeeeaaaalyyy taking her time this time, even allowing me to take a few hours of sleep 😀

    • Dear Dr. Boris Behncke.
      Almost (or already?) there
      You had some images showing how the new southeast crater was growing almost as high as the old one. With the last paroxysms the top should be almost or even just as high as the old crater. Could you please do some images in the next days and compare them as you did before. Thank you.

    • Hmm .That is one amazing picture. Showed this to my wife
      Who spent some four months there. She had no idea it could snow in Egypt..

      • I was talking to a person from Jordan today who was freaking out over the snow in Israel and thereabouts. I said I saw a pic in the news of the Sphinx and pyramids covered in snow. He yelled, “WHAT??? EGYPT??? It NEVER snows in Egypt!!!!” He was funny. He wasn’t concerned with the 8 inches of snow I had to twirl through to get to his gas station. 4WD is wonderful.

        • In Iceland, sometimes it gets pretty hard to drive even with a jeep in 4WD. Snow accumulation gets really thick and if there is no cleaning of the roads, then roads might become very difficult.

    • Hi Carl, thanks for all the pics for us who have the annoying habit of sleeping at night… I suggest keeping this beauty under our section “Remarkable Webcam Screenshots” in the Dragon’s Hoard.

  3. It’s still the weekend. Saturday night here. I am about finished un horking the stepdaughter’s laptop. We have rain and another cold front coming in tonight. *though most of you would consider it a “cool front,” we just don’t get much cold weather here… at least not in the scale and scope of what ‘yall would consider cold.

    Either way, it can make a pretty good cold, as in making you wish you were dead from and aches and pains.

    My wife has a simple concoction that she learned from her mom. One of the few home tactics that I find quite handy. Ginger Tea. I asked her to make a cup for me before she turned in, leaving me to mind the dogs and the ailing laptop. One thing I had been wanting to try in the tea, was a shot of whiskey. Definitely a winner combo now that I’ve tried it. See, short of beer, whiskey is my drink of choice when it comes to alcohol. Fair warning to any who read this. Whiskey can get you in trouble fast if you don’t pay attention to it’s effects, (I wound up in a girlfriend’s sisters bed a few decades ago1, never mix your own drinks when you are drunk.) and I highly recommend that you don’t make it a habitual sort of thing. Even the smoothest nicest whiskey can kill you if you get carried away.

    That being said, here is some Skynyrd on the subject.

    1 The relationship didn’t last. When an ex-girlfriend ran across me at a ZZ Top concert with her things went downhill fast.

    • There still appears to be some minor activity going on at the CENSECSV ( Carl’s even newer south east crater side vent) with occasional ash emissions.

  4. The ash emissions are nearly continous since the uptick in tremor, continuing even when the tremor is going back down. They appear to shoot out side ways from the new proposed side vent towards the south east.
    That new vent is official now, Boris added a new contribution to his flickr account whit a nice disciption of what whent on last night.
    Scenes from an ordinary night in a life on an active volcano

    • The beautifull picture was ofcourse taken from the SKWTDNASWCFUTGA, short for SicilianKitchenWindowThatDesperatelyNeedsAStreamingWebcamForUsToGazeAt.
      Maybe i have a talent for the swedish language 😛

  5. So, I’m back after a sleepless night watching Etna. Have seen a lot and taken many screenshots, most of them the from the Etna trekking cam nr.1: (almost every minute). Do not know yet how to share this load of pictures. Also having a lot of questions what really happened. The strangest thing was probably how the tremor dropped very fast from the moment when the biggest lava flow started. Before that, the tremor suddenly started rising (up to 150, not more visible on the “Etnameter” graph).

  6. Oh my… awake again after Etna night. It was as you might have understood a rather spectacular night, especially when the side of the cone opened up.
    What I did not expect was to find Etna still going at it. It looks exactly like it did at sunset, ash column, lava flowing… Seems like Etna is going with an effusive eruption this time.

    • Boris, where exactly would the line go between a Paroxysm and a small effusive eruption? I mean, this doesn’t exactly look like the ordinary paroxysms.

    • And half an hour after this the paroxysm is back in full swing again with vivid strombolian activity.

      Paroxysm20: The candy that never ends.

  7. Activity at Etna’s New Southeast Crater goes on, invisibly due to bad weather (which is why there are no webcam views), but it’s very, very loud, with frequent detonations shaking doors and windows and triggering car and anti-burglary alarm systems up to several tens of kilometers away. This is causing a lot of apprehension in the population, although it’s not dangerous, it’s just rather loud, and particularly audible in the most densely populated sector of Etna, on the southeast side of the mountain. Continuing strongly as I am writing this post, one bang every 5-10 seconds.

  8. Boris has already published his spectacular video of the first part (until this morning) of the 20st Etna paroxysm of this year:

    “This video shows a few of the more spectacular moments during the main phase of activity, in the early morning hours of 15 December. There were huge bursting magma bubbles (which also made windows rattle in towns and villages tens of kilometers away from the volcano), then a new vent burst open high on the southeast flank of the cone. This happened at exactly 05h10 GMT (=local time -1), and the moment is seen at 01:40 in this video.”

    Read the whole story the youtube page!

      • During the past three years, there have been many of these new little vents that opened on the flanks of the New Southeast Crater cone at the peak of a paroxysm, some of them quite a bit further downslope than those shown in my video; nearly all of them were quite short-lived. The principal source of the activity is always the New Southeast Crater itself, and the powerful explosions this evening are occuring right there 😀

        • I have always admired the intelligence of crows. In your video the crow used something it found for having fun snowboarding; I think in my video one of the crows has fun pinching one cat in its tail to make it think that was an attack from her adversary. The crow pinches – the cat turns round and starts a “counter attack” against the other cat. However, I am not so sure if crows eat dead cats?

  9. The booms and bangs are coming from pretty deep!!

    2013-12-15 05:34:46.0 37.75 N 14.65 E 37 2.4 SICILY, ITALY
    1 F 2013-12-15 03:57:34.0 36.72 N 15.07 E 10 4.1 SICILY, ITALY
    2013-12-15 02:11:25.0 37.78 N 14.76 E 32 2.4 SICILY, ITALY
    2013-12-15 01:30:42.0 37.78 N 14.76 E 32 2.3 SICILY, ITALY

    It looks like there is more on the way…

    • Alyson, those are real earthquakes, with a tectonic origin, which are not related to the ongoing eruptive activity at Etna’s summit. The energy of the powerful explosions, which generates those loud bangs is entirely dissipated through the air, which is what makes them so noisy. Activity at Etna’s summit craters is never preceded and/or accompanied by earthquakes: the central conduit leading to the summit craters is wide open and thus offers no resistance to ascending magma.

        • All I can say is that each paroxysm has its own “personality”, they are never the same, and this time I think it’s also due to the fact that last night nearly everybody said “well but that was pretty dull, can we call that really a paroxysm?”, and maybe also because it’s number 20 this year and number 45 since the series of paroxysms started in 2011 😀

          • Well… I found last fairly fun so it was not my fault 😉
            I guess than we know that the answer is “anyones guess” 🙂

      • Thank you, Boris. I wondered whether the 4.1 at 10km depth might be tectonic, though pretty alarming as it was felt nearby, but I wasn’t sure if the 30km deep ones were magma on the move. Another, shallower quake has just occurred further south-west near Palermo:

        Magnitude ML 2.9
        Region SICILY, ITALY
        Date time 2013-12-15 21:37:54.0 UTC
        Location 38.29 N ; 13.28 E
        Depth 7 km
        Distances 287 km N of Valletta, Malta / pop: 6,794 / local time: 22:37:54.0 2013-12-15
        21 km N of Palermo, Italy / pop: 672,175 / local time: 22:37:54.0 2013-12-15

        Thank you for keeping us advised of the situation – and I hope Etna keeps up the amazing fireworks display, without causing damage to anyone.

        • Crete appears to be similarly under pressure from the African plate today with some strong shallow quakes, including a 3.5 at 2km and a 4.2 at 5km:

          IV 2013-12-15 20:40:21.01hr 38min ago 34.97 N 25.61 E 5 4.2 CRETE, GREECE
          2013-12-15 16:55:17.05hr 23min ago 34.77 N 25.42 E 2 2.1 CRETE, GREECE
          2013-12-15 15:36:55.06hr 42min ago 35.55 N 25.83 E 8 3.7 CRETE, GREECE
          2013-12-15 15:20:03.06hr 59min ago 34.88 N 25.67 E 10 3.2 CRETE, GREECE
          F 2013-12-15 14:01:28.08hr 17min ago 34.95 N 25.69 E 2 3.5 CRETE, GREECE
          2013-12-15 06:03:09.8 34.63 N 25.27 E 3 2.1 CRETE, GREECE
          2013-12-15 05:30:19.0 34.85 N 24.50 E 15 3.2 CRETE, GREECE

  10. I had just been pondering for how long Sakurajima has been quiet and checking the webcams – when she let loose! Here is an animation, but it doesn’t give half of the sense you get watching the blast unfold:

  11. LAVE cam is showing nicely:

    (The captcha for this was “Helping Hand” 😀 )

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic

    and from Villa Ducale cam (cropped & enlarged):

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic

  12. From the looks of it, that “paroxysm” was some strombolian activity and an effusive eruption. I think that there isn’t a lot of gas-rich magma left.

    The most notable part of this eruption is the flank vent in my opinion.

    • I love this video. In under ten minutes he goes through the scientific principle in a way no other person has ever done, and in a very funny way. Much can be said on the subject of Feynmaniana, but he was undoubtedly one of the brightest cookies ever around. Also, one should have in the back of the mind while listening to the lecture that he is the father of one of the two (2) things that we physicists believe might be true. No true in the temporary fashion, no true in the absolute fashion.
      I will not tell you what those two things are, it is much more fun if you find out on your own.

      • Hmm…

        and to think I was momentarily concerned about the lizard under my bed… until I recognized that the tail I saw darting under there was the cord for my phone charger as I was fishing it out of a stack of books.

      • If anyone has an urge to be see the master at work explaining the basic principle of quantum electro dynamics, here is a lecture from the Feynman Lectures Series. They can seem simple, but the audience is mainly consisting of other physics professors doggedly trying to follow him.
        This is part one of his QED lecture, in part two he goes far far off into his own interpretation of QED. And that weird view on it has given us SEM-microscopes and a number of other cool gadgets that fill our days. That really bizare idea is the other thing we think is true, The Feynman Path-Integral Solution of Quantum Electro Dynamics.

  13. Good morning! If Etna continues like this we´ll soon hear small seismic signals from all over the world…. from crazy bleary-eyed VCers dropping to the floor insta-sleeping. 😉
    Current live-stream:

  14. Somewhat spooky. The most agressive data mining groups, outside of the NSA, bought one of the most advanced robotic companies.

    What are they planning? (Google gobbled up Boston Dynamics)

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