Bárdarbunga Eruption has Started

Image by Icelandic Met Office. Notice that Elvis (blue Hz) had left the building.

Image by Icelandic Met Office. Notice that Elvis (blue Hz) had left the building.

Update: Aviation Colour Code Red has been declared for the Volcano Bárdarbunga and the surrounding area.

Icelandic Met Office helicopter observation confirms ongoing eruption that appears to be small at this time. Keep up with the updates as they come.

And an urgent call: Please keep traffic on IMO sites as low as possible. If you have saved a siginficant webcam or IMO screenshot you can gain good karma by uploading it to image service like tinipic, imgur etc and post a link here. This way the traffic to the important sites can be reduced. Thank you! 

This is just a brief update due to the current violent activity at Bárdarbunga. In the last hour the recorded levels of tremor at Bárdarbunga has set a new record. There is as far as I know no recorded dataset that has shown this much tremor, not even during the large 2010 Eyjafjallajökull or the 2011 even larger VEI4 eruption of Grimsvötn. There is still no sign of an actual eruption taking place, but there is an intriguing development.

The magmatic intrusion that left Bárdarbunga central volcano and meandered off to due east of Kistufell has now rapidly in an hour formed a fissure extending from 20km depth all the way up to 2.5km from the surface. This means that if an eruption starts the eruption could draw more material directly from the mantle as decompression melt sets in. This would follow the formula from the Lakí eruption pretty well.

Image taken from Baering Github. In red you see the rapidly evolving fissure.

Image taken from Baering Github. In red you see the rapidly evolving fissure.

If an eruptions starts I expect the beginning to be pretty violent since it would contain evolved magma (explosive) from Bárdarbunga and it would happen 13km due east of Kistufell under the glacial ice. I do though expect that it would calm down after a few hours into a fissure eruption. The steam column would though stay high due to heat convection as the pristine mantle magma (very hot) would continue to melt the ice and boil off water for quite some time. If it will be a rifting fissure eruption it could go on for a while.

It has been suggested by commenter Irpsit that the area is prone for shield volcano building instead of basalt floods. I tend to agree with him that we are more likely to see a small shield volcano being born if the eruption has a long duration.

Image by Icelandic Met Office showing the new intrusion trajectory.

Image by Icelandic Met Office showing the new intrusion trajectory.

Now it is clear that the trajectory of the initial intrusion has changed direction again. It seems like it found more fertile ground after standing still in the same spot for the last 24 hours.

I repeat once again, I am not sure an eruption has started. But it seems likely to start sooner rather than later.


Updated by a passing dragon.

This is general overview of all Bárðarbunga north side face, involved in todays eruption alert is area in top center and towards Kverkfjöll in distance. Bárðarbunga Volcano is so HUGE it can not be caught in one photo unless its is wide angle (24 mm here). Shot from motorglider aircraft TF-SAA by Eggert Norðdahl, especially for VC, courtesy of pilot Dr. Ásgeir Bjarnason (Icelandic Gliding Club) steering.


For your normal friday entertainment-> The riddles by riddle master Matt

This week the answers to Matt´s riddles there are three volcanoes, one volcanic feature, and one volcanic term. 2 points are awarded for each correct answer, 1 point after a clue was given.

#1 Riddle: Hot rocks + image
Clue It has everything to do with domes, ash, and pyroclastic flows, but nothing to do with cars.

#2 In the country where coffee got one of its names, this was the only one to erupt during the 20th century.  2 points Espadrille Harras of Dhamar in Yemen. With Saana’s harbour Mocha as the name for coffee

#3 2 points inannamoon667 Soufriere Hills The volcano came between Margaritaville and Pyroclasticville.

#4 Agave and communists? It’s pretty cool! Clue: Clue: It took a nuclear reactor to find it. 1 point LDP Gakkel Ridge, surveyed by. Arctic Gakkel Vents Expedition.

#5 This volcano of water once destroyed a capital. 2 points Sissel Volcan del Aqua
pop Score board

26 Sissel
8 Inannamoon667
7 KarenZ
7 Bobbi
5 Dinojura44
4 Dorkviking
2 Frances
2 Irpsit
1 RenatoRio
1 Talla



1,022 thoughts on “Bárdarbunga Eruption has Started

    • Carls prophecy has come true.
      He is older and viser! 😎
      *and Hotel Bunga got its first “Five Point Star”*

  1. Many of us have been watching these quakes popping here and there. Some are naturally driven by tectonic forces, others are magmatic in nature.

    Whether this dike intrusion is driven by an over pressurized magma chamber, or from the draining of a pressurized chamber by tectonically weakened faults has yet to be seen. At some time in the future, a volcanologist will figure that out. It’s probably going to be a bit of both, as most things are.

    When a normal mode fault occurs, the two sides of the fault line move apart. The area that is fractured becomes the two separated halves with presumably a void left between. In oblique faulting, this probably will not be a full void, but for the sake of argument, lets presume that it is. That empty space becomes available for being filled by a fluid, be it water, or magma. By extending our thinking a bit, we can get a rough estimate of how much extra space is at play.

    Wells-Coppersmith did a really cool paper that allows you to get a handle on some of the physical manifestations of various sized earthquakes, of varying geometry. (Normal, Reverse, and Strike-Slip.) As you know, normal mode faulting is where the two sides move away from each other… pretty much a “mode 1” fracture. This is the sort of thing you would expect to see in a magma intrusion or dike propagation. One of the things that you can calculate from Wells-Coppersmith, is the size of the fault area, and the Max and Average displacement. Working off of that, and the formulas for the area of a cone, you can roughly estimate the additional volume that becomes available after a normal mode quake. Generally, if you work out the area using the other calculated values (rupture length and down-dip rupture width) and assume an elliptical fault face, you will get a larger area than the equations of Wells-Coppersmith. I hate adding to the confusion, so I just used what their formulas say.

    Note that the area of the base of the cone is Pi x R². Dropping this term and using Wells-Coppersmith formula result, you can then walk down the quake magnitudes and the Max displacement (for the cone height) and get an approximate value of how much additional volume is added from a quake of a given size.

    KEEP IN MIND that this in no way points towards what caused the quake, just what sort of volume may be in play vs quake size. If it is due to magma intrusion, that lessens the overall pressure on the system. If that pressure drops below the threshold to fracture the rock, the intrusion stops dead until other forces act upon it.

    Caveat: Not a geophysicist, volcanologist, guru, or shaman. Just bored witless on a Saturday as my wife tortures me noting stuff that I am no longer allowed to eat.

    The concept behind this comment was blessed by Carl, since I was reticent to post it due to the possibility that it might be too far out in la la land.

  2. 00:09:50 64.656 -17.493 1.1 km 3.0 90.21 2.4 km NE of Bárðarbunga

    and a different take on it

    Magnitude M 5.3
    Region ICELAND
    Date time 2014-08-24 00:09:56.7 UTC
    Location 64.68 N ; 16.63 W
    Depth 2 km
    Distances 261 km E of Reykjavík, Iceland / pop: 113,906 / local time: 00:09:56.7 2014-08-24
    124 km SW of Egilsstaðir, Iceland / pop: 2,265 / local time: 00:09:56.7 2014-08-24
    83 km NW of Höfn, Iceland / pop: 1,695 / local time: 00:09:56.7 2014-08-24

  3. From IMO: A magnitude 5.3 earthquake occurred at Bardarbunga caldera at 00:09 on 24 AUgust 2014. This is the largest eathquake so far within the Bardarbunga caldera so far.

  4. Happy Birthday Frances. I do hope you have a lovely time :)………

    I have to go to the veggie patch and pick the beans, gather remaining courgettes/zucchini or as they probably are by now marrows! & should be digging potatoes main crop but the latter will have to wait until a couple of day of dry weather can be certain.
    Planting winter leeks too but it looks like rain on the way.
    I’ll be back later (sigh) Things will probably happen about 10mins from now when I am on my way out.

    Keep watching folks and lots of screen shots please. Remember IMO still on alert and busy so don’t swamp their sites .

  5. Presume that this has already been spotted and discussed – but massive increase in M3.0+ earthquakes mostly at the fissure (total now 45), and a corresponding rise in tremor.

    • Hi Fish, this is an old post – click on one of the ‘recent comments’ top right to get on to the new post. 🙂

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