Grimstone vs Yellowvötn: Battle of the Giants

West Thumb Geyser Basin, Yellowstone lake (Yellowvötn). Photograph by unknown.

West Thumb Geyser Basin, Yellowstone lake (Yellowvötn). Photograph by unknown.

In the west corner of the ring you find Yellowstone wearing blue, red and white striped trunks and in the east corner you find Grimsvötn wearing Fire & Ice colored trunks. Welcome to a spectacular fight about who is the largest, meanest volcano on the block. As the fighters are squaring off we eagerly await for the first blow from this formidable match, and there it came, it is a stunning early knock and we have a countdown to ten. The new world champion is surprisingly Grimsvötn…

Yellowstone

Steamboat_Geyser_Yellowstone_md

Steamboat Geyser in Yellowstone National Park. Photograph from www.yellowstoneparknet.com

I read everything that Erik Klemetti writes and have been a big fan of his since he started the concept of volcano blogging. This week he wrote a splendid article on Yellowstone (link below) based on a paper by Jamie Farrel et al (link below) who used the earthquake data from 1984 up until 2011 to make the best mapping of the innards of Yellowstone so far. The technical part of it is described by Erik so I do not have to plow that ground here (read his piece instead).

What is interesting is that Yellowstone’s magma reservoir is now deemed to be larger than previously believed. It is now rated at between 200 to 600 cubic kilometers. Problem is just that most of it is not in the form of melt, between 85 to 95 percent is solid. Only 5 to 15 percent is now believed to be molten. This means that Yellowstone can’t erupt in its current state.

And if we assume a maximum intrusion rate of 1 cubic kilometer per year it would still take between 68 years and 228 years at best until Yellowstone reached the presumed barrier for when an eruption can occur. On top of that there is no evidence at all that magma is intruding into the magma reservoir at that speed. If it had done that Yellowstone would erupt quite often (every few years or so). In reality the magma influx seems to be miniscule at Yellowstone, if it is even influxing at all.

Steamboat Geyser in between water bursts. Photograph by unknown.

Steamboat Geyser in between water bursts. Photograph by unknown.

This is really bad news for Yellowstone, but I guess that the Bison’s will be happy to know that they will not be blown off the face of the planet.

Now, let us look at a volcano that has a comparative magma reservoir and a proven influx of magma rated at the astonishing speed of 0.1 cubic kilometer per year and compare how that volcano behaves. Remember, this volcano is de facto more active and is today a far larger and more dangerous volcanic system than Yellowstone, so let us travel to the land of Ice and Fire.

Grimsvötn

Close up of the 20 kilometer high ash column during the 2011 eruption. Photograph by unknown.

Close up of the 20 kilometer high ash column during the 2011 eruption. Photograph by unknown.

First of all let us start with what Grimsvötn is not, and that is a Supervolcano. It has never suffered a VEI-8 eruption, nor will it ever. But it is a supererupting volcano none the less. In 8230BC the volcano suffered the VEI-6 Saksunarvatn tephra, in an explosive caldera forming eruption. It was the third known caldera forming eruption of Grimsvötn.

In that eruption large parts of the magmatic reservoir was destroyed, but the deep feeder system was still intact. And during the last 10 000 years the reservoir has built up to a prodigious size. The volume above the Curie-point is 400 cubic kilometers.

Now, the Curie-point is where a material becomes too hot to be magnetic. That does not in and of itself state that it is a melt. But it says something about the temperature the magnetic elements are in. Let us dwell a bit on temperatures.

volcano-shulman_photoblog900

Ash column from the 2011 eruption of Grimsvötn. Photograph by Jon Magnusson/Getty Images.

For instance we know that artificial Yttrium Iron Garnet has the lowest known Curie-point at 287 degrees Celsius, but that one does not exist in Grimsvötn or any other volcano. The lowest temperature compound that could be found in Grimsvötn is Fe2O3 (hematite) with a Curie-point of 675 degrees Celsius. At that temperature some of the magma would be solid but melt would most likely be higher than at Yellowstone.

We do though know that the heat influx is great and that the volcano has ready access to nicely melted material in abundance. In fact, we know that the volcano is well above the required 40 percent melt for buoyancy driven eruptions. In most likelihood the Curie-point is the same as, or even above, that of pure iron (770C).

Now, how come that a non-supervolcano can have more eruptible magma than a VEI-8 brute like Yellowstone? Well, that answer is trickier to give. Basically it all boils down to the amount of energy entering the system, and that energy arrives in the form of heat carried by arriving magma from the mantleplumes residing under Yellowstone and Grimsvötn.

In Grimsvötns case that is 0.1 cubic kilometer of basalt at a temperature of 1 150 degrees Celsius per year and that is quite a lot of energy. If we compare that to Yellowstone it seems like almost no new heat is arriving, or a very tiny amount of it.

The evidence of this is that there is very little evidence of Yellowstone suffering from a resurging dome (inflation of the center of the caldera). In all likelihood Yellowstone has not received any new magma in the last 70 000 years. Remember that it takes quite a while to cool down a very large magma reservoir until it is almost all solid.

If we compare that to Grimsvötn who has received in the neighborhood of 800 cubic kilometers of fresh hot magma in the last 10 000 years you can understand the difference in energy input into that volcanic system. Those of you who are into math will now be collecting your jaws from the floor. Yes, Grimsvötn has erupted in the order of 400 cubic kilometers in 10 000 years, or on average 0.04 cubic kilometers per year (as Tephra and lava).

But, the figures grow even more stumping if we look at the amount erupted in the last 250 years. Without counting the Skaftár Fires (Lakí eruption) Grimsvötn has had 28 confirmed eruptions ranging from VEI-2s to the large VEI-4 2011 eruption. Together with the 3 cubic kilometer Dense Rock Equivalent and 15 cubic kilometer flood basalt of Lakí we get a volcano that has erupted as much or even more lava than the received magma influx.

The eruption column from Grimsvötn 2011 seen towering above a small village. Photograph by unknown.

This is of course not Grimsvötn 2011 as I wrote. I can only blame mounting senility. It is Eyjafjallajökull 2010 seen from farm Ormskot in Fljótshlíð. Thanks to commenter Jonbragi for setting me straight.

The 2011 eruption caught most scientists with their pants down since they did not believe that the eruption would be so big, but in hindsight it is easy to see that a magmatic system of that caliber can erupt a large volume without a long repose time.

This tells us that the magma reservoir is now at its limit of what it can hold, everything that goes in comes out as quickly, and as time goes by the risk of another caldera forming event increases, and most likely Grimsvötn is already teetering on the brink for one. The other risk is obviously a repeat of the Lakí-event, and that is not such a small risk. After all Iceland regularly suffer those at a rough 270 year interval (sometimes Iceland skips a cycle, remember that, nothing is ever certain around volcanoes).

Of course a caldera forming explosive eruption or a large scale flood basalt would impact global weather, especially in the northern hemisphere. But for those who Dream Dark Dreams of Destruction, it will be a large nuisance and not a catastrophe.

I am terribly sorry that I once again spanked the Doomsayers favorite volcano. Those people should understand that there is no cover-up, nor am I and every other scientist on the planet trying to fool them. It is nature herself that is against their Dark Dreams; Yellowstone is for all points and purposes no longer a volcano. End of discussion.

Riddles

As usual there is one fault line, one volcanologist and three volcanoes. Two points per answer before I add clues, and one point after that.Riddles8

  1. Sliding horseshoe of + image – Avachinsky, USSR (Inannamoon667, 2pt), a horseshoe shaped caldera and mentioned in Ledyards ‘Journal of Capt Cooks Last Voyage.’
  2. Salty desert mosquito – Waw an Namus, Libya (Inannamoon667, 2pt), meaning field of volcanoes, or Oasis of Mosquitos
  3. Fantail of Chief Washington – Nabukelevu, Kadavu Island, Fiji (Dinojura44, 2pt), it is also known as Mount Washington. The Kadavu Fantail is a bird found on the island
  4. Have a coffee-break – Mocha Fracture Zone, Chile (Kelda, 2pt & 1 bonuspoint to Edward for Fika Shale, Fika = Coffee-break in Swedish), next to the Valdivia Faultline, home of the largest ever recorded earthquake
  5. Harrowed French baronial economy of considerations – George Julius Poulett Scrope (Shérine France, 2pt) Scrope went to Harrow were he became an economist, he married a Baroness and he wrote Consideration on Volcanoes
Score board
10 Sissel
5 KarenZ
5 Kelda
4 Inannamoon667
4 Shérine France
2 Alison
2 Dinojura44
2 Evan Chugg
1 Diana Barnes

CARL

http://www.wired.com/2014/05/yellowstone-caldera-more-magma-less-eruptible/

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2014GL059588/abstract

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188 thoughts on “Grimstone vs Yellowvötn: Battle of the Giants

  1. If I remember correctly (sometimes a rarity), this was off of an SNL or SNL like skit. It epitomizes the reception that the volcano’s name gave non-native speakers.

    • I find it amusing on so many levels… I think it might be the funniest thing ever. I found two levels where I could laugh at myself and my own preconceptions.
      It is rare with such brilliant humor and at the same time it could just as well be true, could there have been a better question for the 1 million dollar question?

  2. This mornings musing. I like people who know exactly their worth in society and how useful it is, or not. We all have different skill sets, some skills are better than others in various situations. Still we “are worth” according to the amount of crap we have amased. Especially we are worth the amount of cash we have.
    Most people who have a lot of cash are inordinately proud of having a lot of cash.
    So, how proud then is one of the top 3 richest men on the planet? He should really be petting himself on the back. But in the end it turns out that he doesn’t give a toss about it. Instead he just liked working with cash, not the cash itself. There is a big difference. He also knows quite well how useless his skillset is if things would go to poop on a grand scale.

    “I happen to have a talent for allocating capital. But my ability to use that talent is completely dependent on the society I was born into. If I’d been born into a tribe of hunters, this talent of mine would be pretty worthless. I can’t run very fast. I’m not particularly strong. I’d probably end up as some wild animal’s dinner.”
    Warren Buffett

    In the end it comes quite clear that other skills are far more important, for exemple how we are as a person. Also, it becomes quite clear that as a single individual you can’t have every skill set and that you will need the collected skills of quite a few people to survive whilst chipping in your own skill set.

    • Very true – the various hominids and early humans didn’t start to dominate until they specialised. Just being a hunter-gatherer was fine, but when one person realised that he was better at making arrowheads than his neighbour – and that neighbour agreed that he was rubbish at arrowheads but good at hunting – then that’s when specialisation began and so did trade and supply and demand. We all depend on one-another.

  3. Another large-enough-to-be-felt tremor on Iceland – just showing up across the various monitors.

      • Stations VAT and SKR has the largest amplitude, so somewhere along that line it should be. I am surprised about the time it takes for the system to process it.

        • Who stole a large earthquake?
          Seems like this one really confused the system. 20 minutes and there is no solution from the automatic system. It must be some kind of record.
          Sofar my best guess is somewhere in the dead zone and maybe in the direction of Hofsjökull. Problem is that the amplitude is so large that it maxed out the SILs so I can’t get a clear largest signal peak on the 5 stations closest to the quake.

          I would put it in the range of M2.6 to M3.3

          • I was a bit off, it was in Langjökull at the Eiriksjökull volcano. Sizewise I was not that off. The time delay was due to someone snagging it directly for a manual correction. IMO on the ball again 🙂
            Saturday
            10.05.2014 10:42:47 64.630 -20.321 7.2 km 3.2 99.0 16.1 km SSE of Eiríksjökull

            • I was busy trying to find it on the map! Another volcano I didn’t know about! 🙂

          • The alert map now says Eiriksjokul – which is in west iceland – maybe not enough monitoring instruments in that area?

            • It was delayed due to Duty Officer at IMO doing the work properly and manually correcting the earthquake.
              Interesting quake. A purely tectonic earthquake in the midle of a volcano. Seems that Eiriksjökull is truly dormant on the brink of comatose.
              Remember that Bárdarbunga had a large earthquake in 1996 that was a unique double-couple earthquake due to the magma sloshing about. No sloshing here. 🙂

  4. Lately Iceland have made me think about this band… The name would make it evident what I am thinking about. Look at the guy playing counter-bass, that would be Florian Schneider from Kraftwerk.

  5. Above I wrote that there was no sloshing at Eiriksjökull. I should really have shut up.
    No weird double-couple of course, but the next quake at M1.2 has a very interesting signature indeed. Long and wet without a clean break.

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic

    • Well, there certainly hasn’t been any shortage of interesting earthquakes in Iceland recently. Hasn’t the Langjokull area been super inactive in modern times?

      • From the GVP: http://www.volcano.si.edu/volcano.cfm?vn=371080
        ” One of the most prominent of these is a small shield volcano that was formed at the site of the massive Hallmundahraun lava flow, which covers about 240 sq km and was erupted about 950 CE. “
        According to the above paper activity is on the decline, but I would not say “super inactive”. 😉

        • Me neither. There will probably be a couple of more eruptions before the permanent shutdown occurs.
          The interesting part is that is seems like the SIFZ will take over for a while with the activity running via Hekla. But, in the end the most likely thing to happen is that the entire MAR will shift its entry point into Iceland and go via the Vestmannaeyar into Iceland. And that would drastically alter the shape of the island.

  6. After having cleaned the apartment, done the dishes, washed my shirts I am now suffering from enormous Developed World-problems… Ie, what should I eat for dinner, what beer should I drink to the dinner, what fragrance of aroma ball should I put in the bathtub, what shirt shall I wear and the most pressing of my Gargantuan Problems… What pub should I start with this evening?
    I just had a feeling that I should forever shut up about having problems. In comparisons my problems are tiny and minute. No, instead I should enjoy my life and recognise that I am in so many ways blessed. I have a good job, I eat well, I have wonderful friends, I have the best hobby ever and I can afford to have a bit of fun. Wishing for anything more than that is just plain silly and anybody who wishes for more should get a cod in his face. And not a fresh and nice cod at that. :mrgreen:

    The part about the cod comes from a Fisherman’s Friend advertisement. In the end a guy gets hit by a cod in the face by an old bearded fisherman. And the words “Oddly refreshing” fills the screen. This is a new version of it… With the end title, “It is invigorating”, but the cod-hit is still there.

      • Dissolve it in 100 proof alcohol and you have a shot that will put hair on the chest of a marble statue… We nicknamed it the “The All-galactic Gargleblaster” since the effect is pretty much exactly as Douglas Adams described it.

  7. Interesting: the latest green stars follow the old western path of the MAR. Read somewhere recently (sorry don’t have the link as not at my computer) that the western rift zone was a very slow moving rift.

  8. Started the morning off with a bang this morning – a 5.5 M earthquake about 110 mi SW Anchorage 0609 L. No damage that I know of. As usual, UAF Seismology lab site is getting banged pretty hard. Link is to the Tsunami Warning Center. Cheers –

    http://wcatwc.arh.noaa.gov/

  9. Sloshing Eiríksjökull. “whips up wet Cod and sends airmail ” ….
    Quake was in Langjökull, and likely in largest volcano area there.
    Eiríksjökull is true independent tuya (just like Herðubreið) to west of Langjökull
    its north west of main Langjökull on map below, that shows quake was “bulleye”.
    Left eye or Right eye, your pick 😉

    http://www.vedur.is/skjalftar-og-eldgos/jardskjalftar/langjokull/

  10. I have a small challenge/thought exercise.

    How could the geology of north/south america be changed with a degree of plausibility?

    It is trivial, but I am bored and I need to stop looking at alternate history.

      • Absolutely – now, try the exercise again with a singer who isn’t a bloke called Tom with a beard wearing a dress. Netherlands are the moral victors!

  11. Hello all!
    I have watched Ubinas (Peru) a while ago:
    http://oi62.tinypic.com/2v1vsyo.jpg (animation)

    and a few minutes later… interesting how the ash column falls back down quickly:
    Image and video hosting by TinyPic
    http://oi57.tinypic.com/oucopg.jpg (animation)

    Both cams refresh every 30 sec., but the screenshots in the second one are approx. one min. apart.

    from
    http://ovi.ingemmet.gob.pe/portal_volcan/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=156%3Amonitoreo-visual&catid=38%3Aupbanner&Itemid=105
    http://vulcanologia.igp.gob.pe/fotos-tiempo-real/

  12. This is definitely among my top five moments of being wet from rain. Once in Sahara, once sailing from Gothenburg to Firth of Forth, a hurricane off Leeward Island, today, and the fifth I have probably forgotten.
    The word torrential rain has a new meaning for me. I started to walk home for a twenty minute walk. Small pitter patter when I left the friendly Kebab-place where I had my after beer snack. After 20 meters the rain changed into a shower. Not a rain-shower. An actual shower. Walking for twenty minutes in it was an experience, and if there was a cab anywhere it was hidden in the rain. In the end I had to go by GPS since I did not see anything.
    Well, a cup of tea and dry socks will fix it, then bed.

    • Hehe, my friend: I can say we shared a similar experience albeit living so far apart. Yet, ten degrees Celsius makes a lot of difference. I am still soaking in the bones and sneezing as if my nose will jump out from my face. I would add some cognac into that tea if I were you. We will both be a mess tomorrow morning! 😉

    • Heh… rain. Of all here, I think Renato may come closest to understanding my concept of hard rain. You don’t get 5 inches per hour from pitter-patter. The only problem is that around here, those sort of rains occasionally have hail stones in them… and occasionally tornadoes.

      If you’ve done a tropical storm you know what I am talking about.

      BTW… “Ting!” Nothing like creaky pipes eh?

      Saturday
      10.05.2014 10:42:47 64.630 -20.321 7.2 km 3.2 99.0 16.1 km SSE of Eiríksjökull

      • Heaviest rains I have experienced were in Monsoon in India. With water on my knees within several mins. Made the European monsoon look like a walk in the park.

        Second after were tropical storms, but I have never experienced anything bigger than a cat 1 hurricane.

        Curiously the most recent very heavy rain event was in Iceland in a freak thunderstorm last summer (end of July), which to my 15 years interest in metereological science, I never thought it would be possible to occur here. That day was a record 26ºC and the thunderstorm formed above Hofsjokull glacier and amidst some Grimsvotn ash blowing in the air, so a considerate difference in temperature, because of the glacier, and the ash, allowed a severe event to form, that could never be possible otherwise in Iceland. Icelanders around me were shocked when they saw it.

        • I had experienced Cat-1 ashore, and ridden out Cat-2’s at sea. But when Ivan hit, a declining previous Cat-5 that had spun down to Cat-3, I was quite shocked. It was about the same as the Cat-1, but the winds were stronger and lasted forever. Though a Cat-3, it still had a wind field as expansive as a Cat-5. That 3 hour stint as the Eastern Eyewall passed over was not fun.

          As for water… well, as previously mentioned, my sidewalk is a de-facto holding basin because of the monkey grass that borders my driveway. At about 4″ per hour, it accumulates a lot of standing water. I did not get a pond at my front door during Ivan.

          Downtown Pensacola reeked of fish and feces for three months afterwards. They have since moved the sewage treatment plant further up the bay next to the power station. (which was also flooded out along the shoreline.) They have also raised the Interstate Bridge so that the sloshing in the bay doesn’t take out some of the span slabs.


          View of the old bridge from roughly the location of the Dairy Queen™ up on the bluff. The view of the new bridge is equally as picturesque. Less than a month after the new bridge opened, they had their first flaming traffic accident on the Eastbound side just after the hump. You can still see the repaired concrete where the roadbed had spalled from the heat.

          Why he was driving across the bridge during Ivan is beyond me. No load is worth your life.

          • My personal nemesis was named Floyd (1999).
            I was out sailing the Caribbies and was en route from the Leeward Islands to Miami as I got news about Floyd coming. According to the initial projections it was supposed to take a northerly path out in the Atlantic, but instead it turned straight west and hit me square in the ass as a cat-4. My own barometer logged lower figures than the official so I am fairly certain that it was a 5 as it passed me. Be that as it may. On that day I learned that A) You can surf a wave with a 52 fot yawl, B) the only way to survive something like that is to go completely insane and C) it is okay to poop in your pants in a hurricane, the pants will be washed before you are through anyways…
            Even though I would never in a million years wish to do it again I am still happy to have seen what I saw then. Hurricanes from the inside is insanely beautifull as the bans of rain, wind, lightning, hail, and moments of insanely clear air mixes in a cacaphony of raw and shear power.
            I am though not sure how I survived, I think going crazy helped.

            I will never forget the looks on the US Coast Guard as they found me slowly drifting outside of Florida to tired to do anything… My face had quite literaly stuck in rictus with a madmans half laugh/half smile. That I was crying blood probably did not help either. They did not say anything, they just towed me in to port.
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Floyd

          • My point about the rain was more that after a while you just can’t become wetter than you allready are. In regards of wet fastest Saharas rain is in a league of its own since the drops was the size of golf balls. Most hurtfull rain was obviously from Floyd. Rain coming at you in speeds well above 200km/h together with salt spray hurts… a lot.

            • I took a moment on the way to watch to open the hatch to the walkway from the Captain’s passageway to the Stbd bridgewing while we were pulling out of the channel at Pearl Harbor, trying to get out of port before Hurricane Iwa hit in 1982. It wasn’t of that speed, but 80 knt rain driven by wind hurts quite well. I didn’t watch for long and retreated back to CIC. We were hitting some pretty hard swells as we were headed out the channel. By the time we got to 1PH they were probably about 30 foot.

              It got worse from there on out. The USS Goldsborough was behind us and also running for it, and wound up with a fatality. Anecdotally, three were on the F’ocsle when the swell hit. (Sea and anchor detail). Two washed over the side, one wound up washed ashore, and the other was found clinging to a buoy of some sort the next day. The Fatality was from being slammed into the bulkhead. Dunno if it was them, but one ship suffered a partial bulkhead collapse. Not that hard to believe considering that we kept having greenwater OVER the 5″ 38 mount. (link is to the ship’s article on Wiki, interestingly, “She was expended as a target 15 June 2000 in 2700 fathoms (16,200 ft) north of Hawaii at 23 53 N — 159 35 W.”)

              Bummer dude…


              On a plus side, had this been real, I would have been instantly dead. The impact was right about where I sat watch at. Nothing like a 400 pound shaped charge to ruin your day. Oddly, the guys on the weapons consoles would have taken it directly in the face. That was where their station was at.

              After we cleared the channel, we rendezvoused with our group to find a navigable sector and ride it out. The idea of navigable sectors is a bit of a farce… it just means that you won’t get beat up as bad there… but it’s far from clear sailing. I never in my life thought that you could fully loose sight of a large deck amphib that was only a mile away due to the size of the waves… but it happened… all, night, long.

              A few of us took precautions so that we could try to sleep. One sailor I knew stuffed his boots, toes in, under his mattress. (std mil issue, 3 inches thick foam on a coffin locker → everything you own fits inside of it) We took a hard Stbd roll and his boots acted as a ski ramp and left him in a hover, four feet above deck, riding his matress. I wish I could have had a picture of the look on his face as he realized where he was at and that a fall to the deck was the next thing on his agenda. If you have ever seen the wide staring eyes of the coyote in a similar situation on the Road Runner cartoons… that was it.

              I didn’t fare much better. I had a top rack and put a few straps from my locker to the overhead so that I would not be forcibly expelled from my rack while sleeping. Little did I realized that falling out of the back of the rack was possible. There were two vertical structural members that I thought would keep that from happening. I forgot that people fold quite easily. Another roll, I folded at the waist and went out the back of the rack, ass first. I landed on a set of transformers next to the middle rack and wound up being ejected out of that rack when the ship lurched to the other direction. Essentially, I wound up on the deck via pin-ball action.

              All I can say is it was one hell of a ride.

              After a couple of days, things settled down and we were able to pull back into Pearl Harbor so that I could get my lighter stolen.

          • And for no reason at all… Just found a video from the first time this song was ever played, with a hitherto unknown story about how the song came about.

      • You are right Lurking, I would not have expected it here. But, if you think about it, The southern tip of Sweden is a small land tongue sticking out into the water, it is surrounded by water on 3 sides.
        The Baltic Sea, The Öresund and a sub-part of the Atlantic on the other. The weather can get pretty interesting in that setting.

      • I know what you mean by hard rain – having lived a lot of my life in tropical Africa. It can rain so hard that it physically hurts and visibility goes down to nearly zero. The noise is extraordinary. Usually it blows over after a few hours but I remember one Cyclone blowing in from the Indian Ocean that gave us 4 days of non-stop rain – that’s at an inch an hour. I remember feeling that the whole country was drowning. A friend summed it up: “Jeez! We might as well be in a submarine!” Lots of flash floods, whole villages washed away, damaged infrastructure. The floods in UK this year were really small in comparison. Another year we had a single storm that gave us at least 15 inches of rain in 12 hours and a major river changed course by a mile or so, as far as I know it never went back to its old course.

  13. OK quick thought experiment, if all the plates reversed their current motion how long would it take for the mid atlantic ridge to either subduct or to reach a point where it’s all out of the water ? and what do you think would happen ?

    • That would mean the forces driving them would have to reverse as well. So cold would rise, warm would sink. Light stuff would fall and heavy stuff float EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEKKKK! <- sound of my brain sinking to the core of the planet as all the molten iron passes it going the other way.

    • About 200 Ma i guess. I’ts spreading now around 2,5 cm a year. Width in the spreading direction is around 5000 kilometer or so.

  14. Came back from my trip around the two days ago earthquake in SISZ. We camped on the mountain and we just talked what would have been if another earthquake would have happened. Then, this summer I have hikes planned to Herdubreid and Hekla. Guess people chose for me really shaky locations. I will probably go to Hekla this time. This is a test of our atheistic or spiritual beliefs.

    If we believe things are meaningless and random, then hell with probability, because we will die of anything random it eventually comes on the way (no one avoid that). If we believe things have a meaning and there are no coincidences, then I feel like testing God, the universe or whatever. If I am meant to die now, then hell with it. Do you now understand why people in Iceland still hike Hekla? We can die of so many factors, an eruption is not my greatest worry, in fact there are more changes of dieing of rockfall or sliding down a slope or a glacier cravesse, than from an eruption.

    But it does happen to some few unlucky people. Story here http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/307161/news/regions/at-least-5-climbers-dead-7-hurt-as-mayon-volcano-spews-ash

  15. Interesting these last days activity in Iceland. A few M3-M4 unlocated earthquakes well southwest of Iceland. Continuation of Reykjanes off-coast swarm. Continuation of Herdubreid swarm, now day 7 or 8.

    In SISZ, a few microquakes in Hestfjall seem to show there is stress building along some parts of SISZ. Activity now is higher than before the M4.3 quake last week.

    And a few quakes around Langjokull. After the M3 in the caldera, a small earthquake occurred to the southwest, on a location where swarms have happened on the past. I don’t underestimate Langjokull as many here. It is an active volcanic system, with very large lava eruptions (same size of Laki) during the Holocene. How can people call it nearly dead? Yes, rifting there is dieing and it is transferring to the south Iceland volcanic zone (Hekla, Katla, dead zone..), but still it occurs. And circa year 1000, a massive lava field formed from a single eruption. The size is almost on the Laki scale in terms of area, albeit smaller, probably by half. And with a ice cap, potential for an explosive event is possible. Furthermore, the ice cap is quikly melting and ground relief can trigger an eruption in the future centuries.

    • I recanted on it being almost dead… If a M3 happens in Bárdarbunga or Grimsvötn volcanic systems the signal is very different, this was a pure tectonic quake. And since there was no “sloshing” I thought that we had proof of sorts that there is very little eruptible magma down there. But the later earthquake to the WSW had a clear magmatic component. So, my guess is that the magma chamber is off center, or that there is a small chamber there.
      Thing is that I think it is very unlikely to erupt now, but I also believe that it will erupt again at some later point.

  16. Reblogged this on dorkviking's Blog and commented:
    The importance of perspective. There’s only hope that one day nihil-hubrists will fully realize their fully of declaring impending doom after every minute geologic event in Yellowstone

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