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

  1. As night falls over Bardarbunga Mila webcam The dust has settled. I feel calm and my common sense is kicking in. It was an amazingly peculiar sight to see that curtain of dust looking like a wall of gassy eruption or something. If that was going to be the location of a wall of fiery ,explosive, rifting, magma – hurling volcano tantrum then that web cam wouldn’t have lasted five minutes. Mila wouldn’t have gone to all the expense of sending their technicians to a dangerous situation to install an expensive camera in a location where all would be BBQed before a good collection of possible customers had gathered. No! Mila has placed the webcam at a safe distance to gain maximum coverage and show off their expertise. Thank you irpsit for getting us back on sensible tracks. Your help with giving us accurate information is appreciated.
    Brilliant photos islander. Thank you so much. You are appreciated too 🙂

    • And not just that! The Icelanders know how to do their PR. They know they can attract tourists by putting up a few cams so people can watch their volcanoes erupt. After this crisis is over there will be loads of people wanting to visit. What a difference with El Hierro…

  2. Bárdarbunga as I drove near it last Tuesday, about 60km away near Jokulheimar and Hamarinn.

    It’s a giant white dome, some 15km wide. 2000m altitude.

    • Oh That is lovely 🙂 It also puts the size into perspective, I have just been on Google earth and I think the Mila Bardy #2 webcam is near Track/road 910 looking down on the river that flows out of the glacier below Bardabunga. As the cam swung round there was a large Volcano to the North? Is that Askja?

      • That’s Kverkjoll,at the far left (N-NE). To the right we see Dyngjokull and its rivers and then further right (SW), Kistufell (the small blackish mt) and Bardar behind (the big white dome).

        • So, the screenshot above (from Mila Bardar2, posted by Innit at 20:38) must be Dyngjokull, is that right? The one with the gap?

  3. Just to get things straight, am I right in assuming that the only evidence that there has been of an ‘eruption’ are some tremor figures in a certain frequency band that is associated with lava meeting glacial ice?

  4. At 11:20 UTC today, seismic tremor measurements gave a strong indication that an eruption beneath Dyngjujökull was occurring. Tremor levels decreased during the afternoon, although intense earthquake activity continues. An over-flight was made to Bárðarbunga and the north-western region of the Vatnajökull ice-cap in clear conditions. Both visual observations and radar measurements confirmed no significant changes on the surface of Vatnajökull. Likewise, there were no signs of floodwater draining from the ice margin. In light of the intense, ongoing earthquake activity and crustal deformation at Bárðarbunga, the Icelandic Meteorological Office has decided that the aviation colour-code should remain ‘red’. The situation will be reassessed tomorrow morning.

    source: IMO page

  5. That swarm seems to be extending well down onto the lower areas now. I wonder how much further is has moved?

  6. I just want to say to everybody and especially the regular contributors how much I appreciate your knowledge, your experience and most of all your sharing it with us, not just on Bardarbunga but all volcanos. I have been a true lurker for many years but like so many lurkers here when an event that stirs the soul comes into play we truly realize what this place brings to our souls. Thank you all.


    • What a lovely Comment Bill. 🙂 I am glad you have come out of the lurking mode 🙂 Have a drink on me 🙂 In fact drinks all round after a very “emotional” day 😀 Even if all goes quiet again (at least we have two more Icelandic views to watch and contemplate:)

      • have a drink for me, it is to early in the day, I better get moving, got heaps to do, it is a bid warmer and sunny today, making hay while the sun shines, just had a look this morning and got stuck with all the hapening, I am off for now

    • Hi Bill, its been a long road but maybe soon it may get really exciting , only just started posting here myself. interesting times.

  7. Ohhhhhhh! What a superb ending to a very Icelandic day 😀 I thought Jokulsarlon looked busy today. I know there was a festival In Reykjavik. Lots of people there and good weather for them.

  8. I left the party for a while now to follow this volcanic situation. (It was to high sound on the music in the party tent now as it’s live music.) This new event in Iceland is to exiting to miss anything of. And I will not miss any of the funny comments that can be in here.

    I have to much wine and beer left. If someone want some, let me know and you will get some 🙂

  9. Perhaps Bardarbunga exploding will be the finale? 🙂 More seriously, I shall tune in to watch via web cam. I see they already have lights out on the ice. Should be a fascinating show! Thank you for the heads up, Illona!

    • Outstanding pics and hike Stefan!

      That area is amazing beautiful and it just now that I realized the beauty of that area, especially of Urdarháls.

      To reply previous comments: yes, I think that this intrusion is definitively progressing towards outside the glacier. It is about 3km away from its edge, now just 200m thick ice there. If it progresses at this rate, on Monday it will be located in ice-free land. Think my shield volcano theory of yesterday.

      Also I can’t stop thinking of the following possibility. That the intrusion might eventually reach so far north that it touches our other old-time intrusion near Herdubreid and Askja. But I think it is getting quickly to the surface. Today it is just 3km from surface. Just a few days ago it was mostly below 10km. Ever nearer surface and ever closer to ice-free region. At this rate it will erupt shortly outside Dyngjujokull, in ice-free location, in about 1 to 3 days.

    • thanks for sharing, those might be a record of the present, who knows what this area will look like in the future

  10. To the dragons: Since the blog clearly has other things to focus on, perhaps the unanswered riddles should be put off until the next week. Old Bárðarbunga has been a riddle enough herself!

    • They will keep, there is no time limit. In the past, we have just let the riddle roll on in the background. Eventually, hints will be dropped as deemed necessary. Meanwhile, if someone gets lost in the data flow, they can just go chew on a riddle for a bit.

  11. Mila’s Bardarbunga Web Cam 2 is definitely a motorised one. I popped on there to take a look to find they were panning it left, the view still zoomed onto the icecap. So if we get some volcanic fireworks the added cam should be a real asset! Well done IMO / Mila!

  12. I took this image showing the inside flanks of Caldera de Taburiente La Palma today. Thought i d share it so people can see what a dyke ( or a sill) looks like. Can you see the lines with differently colored rock. Earthquakes opened fissures and those were filled with magma. Erosion worked differently on rocks with different density. Now some of the lines stand out and are clearly visible
    This shows what is happening deep under the glacier right now. ( Not the erosion, the intrusion 😉 )

  13. I have a feeling that since every day the dike seems nearer the surface (10km a few days ago, 3km today), that a fissure eruption is going to start in just a couple of days from now.

    Also I also see that every passing day the intrusion progresses northeastwards. Today the dike was just 3km away from the edge of the ice cap. At this rate, it will erupt partially outside of the ice cap, in ice-free land.

    So my guess now is for a 10km long fissure eruption occuring in 2 days, part explosive/ash, part just lava fountains. Eventually, the tip of the fissure becomes a small shield volcano eruption, around 0.1-0.5 km3. Either that, or we will see this build-up for months and the episode is going to involve much larger volumes of magma, 1-10km3.

  14. I wonder if it ever has a chance of cracking al the way up to Askja? One heck of a distance but, recalling the Laki event, who knows. Will be interesting to see the outcome.

    • Possible of course but still more likely to see a minor fissure.

      So far, we have seen a dike around 30km max. In Laki it was a dike around 70km or even more. We could get there of course, if this activity persists for weeks.

      Still I think the region is more prone to a large shield eruption than a large Laki-like eruption. Just check the area and you find the historical/geological evidence.

  15. Does anyone know what this means?

    Update on http://www.vedur.is/skjalftar-og-eldgos/jardskjalftar/vatnajokull/#view=table

    but still no info on the English page

    Um gögnin og gæði þeirra: Athugið að 30-95% gæði gefa upplýsingar um áreiðanleika sjálfvirku úrvinnslunnar hvað varðar staðsetningu, dýpi og stærð. Athugið að 99% gæði þýðir að lausnin er yfirfarin en samt verður að gera ráð fyrir óvissu, sér í lagi í dýptarákvörðunum. Ef afritað, vinsamlegast takið fram að gögnin koma frá Veðurstofu Íslands, sjá

    • You can use translate.google.com or the chrome browser to translate Icelandic with pretty good (and sometimes hilarious) results.

      On the data and their quality: Note that 30-95% quality provider authenticity automatic processing organism in terms of location, depth and size. Note that 99% quality means that the solution is checked but still have to allow for uncertainty, particularly in depth decisions. If copy, please indicate the data comes from the Icelandic Meteorological Office, see

  16. I have been thinking whether IM claimed the eruption in impulsive grounds. I mean, there has just been tremor spike, but not water runoff. To be scientific, I would have claimed the red alert but while not confirming the eruption. Perhaps they act like this, just because it was better to err in the side of caution.

    This is a bit weird news update. Without removing merit to IM, this is a bit like trying to justify their grant and their hard work. Perhaps someone behind the scenes has accused them of something. Don’t know. Just a feeling. Probably conflicts between different authorities. Anyways, its probably everything just behind the scenes. Or mild wild speculation.

    Now, on the scientific side of it; I doubt that an eruption really happened today. I think an eruption was more likely in 2011 in Katla and Hamarinn than now, since no flood occurred and the site was quite near the ice cap edge.

    I think most HTremor peaks are due to magma reaching a new pathway towards the surface and towards north. I think we are getting really close to an eruption. Probably we need to wait one or two more days. But volcanoes are of course extremelt unpredictable and I think I can only congratulate what every authority is doing so far. Always better to err on side of caution. And anyways I still think we are almost there. So the large evacuation today and previous days, was really a good thing.

    • Yet the plume is not scientific consensus. I already believed more on the plume on the past. Now, after these last days events, I am tending to discard the plume hypothesis in favour of pure tectonics and continental slab fragments.

  17. whilst watching the new cam earlier i noticed they stopped it and then preset 1 came up, then cont up to at least preset 4 . So they are setting areas of possible interest on a motorised camera. So where ever any action may appear they will be able to move straight to it. Presets also allow stills to be taken and compared. Probably going to be our best cam if they keep it open for us.

    • The down side of presets is that as soon as you are seeing something interesting and want to have a closer look at it, the cam moves away to the next view.

  18. Just refreshed the Vatnajokull page and it looks like there’s been another large quake (M4?) at 21.56. Has this already been commented on & I missed it?

    23.08.2014 21:56:50 64.613 -17.480 0.6 km 4.0 99.0 3.8 km SE of Bárðarbunga

    • Its confirmed as checked, its also the only one above 2.0 at that depth. so maybe its rather significant. The first quake above 1km over 2.0 and rather strong at 4.0

  19. OT…… i tried a new cream…………. now i have old shiny skin………… 😉 from motsfo who is just staring at the computer waiting for someone to post.

    • Lol Motsfo. 😀 … I Love the Tv ads for anti wrinkle cream… it works on wrinkles only if you are between 19-25 years of age 😀 The dialogue goes something along the line of “It helps to improve your wrinkles”. I don’t want mine improved. They are perfectly good wrinkles. It’s taken years to get them like this 😀 I think even industrial strength cream would have a job to remove mine.

      • Diana, you say “it works on wrinkles only if you are between 19-25 years of age” but as you and I know no-one has wrinkles at that age so basically it doesn’t work for anyone.

        A young lady in a department store once accosted me with a jar of new type anti-wrinkle cream. Hubby said in a loud voice, “Why do you think she picked on you?” Oh I could have killed him!!!

    • Hi motsfo. I will post just for you so that I can say “Hi motsfo”.
      What is worse motsfo, old shiny skin or old wrinkly skin? And just to have a volcanic connection, can you remember the name of the lava that goes wrinkly as it flows?

      As for your question, I am afraid I don’t have an answer. Now this ‘old wrinkly’ is off to bed. Eruption will start precisely 5 minutes after I fall asleep.

  20. Down to m3.8 now. Just realised now that the last one at 18:33 was also at only 1.3km. It’s nearly there…

  21. Hello, guys! I’m from Brazil and I’ve been following your comment all day long. Thanks a lot for the info provided! I’m writing here because I’m really worried. On September 3rd I’ll travel to London. Do you think there is any possibility that this event can be similar as 2010’s catastroph? Do I have any reasons to be worried about problems with air space being closed and having my trip canceled? Please, give me some hope! :))))) Thanks a lot!

    • (repeat reply from other thread)

      Bom dia! Probably the worst that can happen is that you will be travelling on TAM rather than BA 😉 I suffered that misfortune last week returning from SP.
      As of right now (and things can change very quickly) there is nothing to suggest that flights from the south might be affected by an eruption that might not happen. If it does, and you absolutely have to get to UK, you should at least be able to get to Europe (Spain, Portugal) without bother (**my opinion**) and then use the train from there

  22. Lurker here, no intelligence on such matters but observation. Thanks for such insight to the whole unfolding event.

    If you look at the trend of the dyke extension (image linked below) since last night and the older first part of it, overlay that on the MAR path noted on google, the dyke is following the bend in the MAR exactly. Looks like the MAR is undoing like a zipper.
    I tried to make a photoshop transparency to demonstrate but failed miserably, sorry.
    Some whiz about here will have to do it for me.


    • My take on things now, is we are seeing for first time (via high-tech gadgets) what Gelogists have never seen before either, therefore they do not act (it appears) rational. But likely we know no better, only speculate. Therefore (I think) they are not smarter than us, only have more info and can consult each other in meetings (and order specific checks in detectinon signals). State Police Commisioner can not make mistakes now, therefore continiues in Emergency Phase (but were are still in uncertainty phase untill eruption is visual). A flash flood is one proof of maga on surface.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s