Volcanoes of Peru 1: El Misti – The Gentleman

Seismic activity in Peru is caused by subduction of the oceanic Nazca plate beneath the South American continental plate, generating the Central Volcanic Zone (CVZ) as part of the Andean Volcanic Belt. However, active volcanoes are found only in southern Peru, at the beginning of the CVZ which extends south into northern Chile. The rest of the country’s cordillera belongs to a volcanically inactive gap, where the Nazca plate slides down at such a shallow angle that magma is not generated.
Some 400 volcanoes have been determined in Peru, but most of them are no longer active. The 12 most active volcanoes are:

Southern Peru map

Map of southern Peru. Click on it for complete map.

Misti, Ubinas, Huaynaputina, Ticsani, Sara Sara, Sabancaya, Coropuna, Ampato, Tutupaca, Yucamane, Purupuruni and Casiri. There are more volcanoes which are thought to be active but no signs of activity has been recorded in recent times. Volcanic eruptions during the last 500 years have caused enormous damage to villages, farmland and infrastructure (roads, waterways, etc.). In historic times, the most tragic events occurred in southern Peru: the explosive eruption of Huaynaputina volcano in 1600 AD, during which over 1,500 people were killed and more than 10 smaller villages located in the vicinity were destroyed (Thouret et al., 2002).

Today, volcanologists expect mild to moderate explosive eruptions of any of the seven active volcanoes of southern Peru, which can cause serious damage in surrounding villages and infrastructure, but mainly affecting the health of people by polluting the air with ash and toxic gases.

El Misti – The Gentleman

Misti and Arequipa

Foto: Vulkan Misti, by Sven Born – http://fc-foto.de/28690035

El Misti (5822 m) is a symmetrical andesitic stratovolcano in southern Peru near the city of Arequipa. It is also known as Putina or Wawa Putina (Guagua Putina), and El Misti translates as The Gentleman. The volcano with its distinctive conical shape dominates the cityscape and is considered landmark of Arequipa. It is not the only volcano around Arequipa, but the most famous and elegant, and in the middle of two smaller volcanoes, the “Chachani” (the Beloved) and the steep “Picchu Picchu” (the Top Top). An Andean legend says that when the Earth was created, El Misti was a man and Chachani a woman. Another man, called Picchu Picchu fell in love with Chachani, but she chose to live with Misti forever. The legend tells us that Picchu Picchu cried a lot, and his tears became the lagoon which is at the top of the mountain. Today, it is possible to see the two lovers together, while Picchu Picchu seems to observe them from a certain distance.

El Misti has three concentric nested summit craters with active fumaroles, the mineralogy of which is essentially sulfur, anhydrite, gypsum and ralstonite which are precipitated by acid vapors at 100°C–125°C. The inner crater is a sulphurous yellow cavity with bubbling mud and volcanic fumaroles hissing gas. Misti’s biggest eruption, a Plinian VEI 4, occured ca. 2070 years ago. Since that time numerous small confirmed and unconfirmed eruptions were reported, some of which may just have been increased fumarolic activity. El Misti’s most recent activity has been dominantly pyroclastic, and strong winds have formed a parabolic dune field of volcanic ash extending up to 20 km downwind. A report in 1984 indicates the presence of a dome about 150m in diameter within the summit crater, while a report in 1985 mentions that the crater had a “flat-floor” (McLelland et al., 1989). On August 7 and 8, 1985 fumarolic activity sent steam noisily up from 6 vents within the summit inner crater (Dominique, 1985).

Misti crater

El Misti crater, with low dome clearly visible. Photo: R.D. Hoogendoorn, 2005, Wikimedia Commons

Mummies in the Crater…
Near the inner crater six Inca mummies and rare Inca artifacts were found in 1998 during archaeological excavations. A short article in ABC News from Oct. 1, 1998, sais: “Archaeologists found six frozen mummies of people sacrificed to Inca gods more than 500 years ago on a snow-capped volcano in Peru’s southern Andes. The well-preserved mummies were found in two graves buried with ceremonial pots, gold and silver statues, along with cloth blankets burned by volcanic ash, […]. The find was made in mid-September near the crater of the 19,100-foot El Misti volcano, 465 miles southeast of Lima. ‘This is an important find because it shows that El Misti is the mountain with the greatest number of human offerings in the world,’ said Salas, coordinator of the archaeological team. The same team […] in 1995 found a mummy known as ‘The Ice Princess’ atop a nearby mountain, thought to be the best preserved mummy from the pre- Columbian era. The Incas, whose empire covered most of the Andes along South America’s western coast before the Spanish arrived in the 16th century, practiced human sacrifice to appease their gods. Many mummies from Peru’s pre-Columbian Indian cultures have been found, but few have been frozen. Frozen mummies are better preserved and can reveal more information, scientists say. Copyright 1998 Associated Press.” However, the mummy in the Misti crater can not have been preserved frozen, as a study on glaciation and permafrost on El Misti states that there is no permafrost on this volcano unlike on some neighboring extinct volcanoes.

Volcanic Risks to the city of Arequipa
The city of Arequipa, the second largest in Peru, is located on the south and southwest flanks of Misti volcano. While the city center is at a distance of only 17 km from the crater, new settlements are now only 13 km from the crater, which in turn is at a height of 3597 m above the city. The population of the city of Arequipa is currently estimated at 1.5 million inhabitants (2010).

El_Misti_comm-kl

El Misti, outskirts of Arequipa. Note the ashy ground. Photo: Carlosz, Wiki Commons

Geological studies (e.g. Thouret et al, 2001) indicate the possibility of deposits of ash fall on the city of Arequipa ranging from 1-50 cm, and, in the case of major eruptions, pyroclastic flows and lahars that could reach and possibly inundate the city. As the city has spread outwards along the Quebrada El Guarangal on the western flanks of the volcano, this quebrada would be a major channel for lahars or pyroclastic flows during future eruptions. Mudflows and/or landslides from the loosely consolidated upper slopes would also utilize this channel. While the absence of extensive permanent ice on the volcano reduces the mudflow risk, a considerable hazard to Arequipa remains. Arequipa is built directly on ash and lahar deposits from the eruption of El Misti ~2000 years ago.

The latest plinian events produced about 15-m thick andesitic scoria deposits on the volcano summit. The deposit blanket NE of the volcano. indicate a NE downwind direction. From satetellite data LANDSAT-TM based on reflection intensity ( Garcia Zuniga F.F., 1998), two partially superimposed fan-shaped deposits were identified where lower intensity can be followed up to 35 km awav from the vent and higher intensity can be followed up to 25 km. Comparing existing models of tephra falls dispersion with that of Misti, it could have been produced from eruptive columns about 20 km high and 10 to 20 m/s wind velocities. These data define the range of plinian events that have occurred at Misti and could help mitigate volcanic hazards in Arequipa region in the case of volcanic reactivation and change of wind directions.

The district has grown at an accelerated rate over the last 20 years, with little planning and without consideration of risk-management criteria, evidenced by the fact that settlements now occupy high-risk areas located in the streams along the sides of the volcano. Since 2005 the Misti volcano is permanently monitored by the volcano observatory of the Geophysical Institute of Peru (IGP), and first small disaster mitigation exercises have been carried out, if only with few residents of the city.

Landsat 5 image of the area

Landsat 5 satellite TM image of Arequipa and surroundings (NASA)

On October 5, 2011 the TM sensor onboard the Landsat 5 satellite captured this image of the city of Arequipa and surroundings. The captured area displays the volcano El Misti, and other volcanic cones, as Chachani north of the city, and Pichu Pichu to the east.It allows one to appreciate the closeness of Arequipa to El Misti volcano – the summit is 17 km from the city center, and also the course of the Chilli River, which runs north-east from the center of the city and flows through a canyon between El Misti and Chachani northbound, thus being a very probable path for lahars and PFs. South of the city the Cerro Verde mining can be observed where molybdenum and copper is mined in opencast.

Conclusion
Although El Misti has not had a deadly eruption for over 2000 years and might be seen as “dormant” at present, that does not mean that he is not able to wake up with a sobering puff-crack-bang any time. Given the proximity to the second largest city of Peru, the convenient pathways for flowing volcanic materials into the town and the long repose time since the last eruption, there is all reason to be vigilant and plan for possible disaster. I hope the authorities of the region will not “be seen as ‘dormant’ at present”, the same as the volcano, but keep in mind how many lives would be at stake if the volcano decides to go for a more serious eruption.

Aaand Another Conclusion…
While working on this article, looking at those great mountain pictures, colourful markets, flowers, strange animals, and reading reports about it all, one rambling idea began to take shape in the back of my mind: what if… could I… pull out a big chunk of my old age reserve money from under the mattress… and book a flight package to Peru… 10 days or two weeks… wouldn’t that be great? Hm, I might just do that, I’m well known for fast (and sometimes irrational) decisions! 😀 Who wants to join me?

GRANYIA

Andean Music video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Pv85HRmqh0

WEBCAM, SEISMOGRAMS, REPORTS
http://ovi.ingemmet.gob.pe/portal_volcan/index.php
http://vulcanologia.igp.gob.pe/monitoreo
http://vulcanologia.igp.gob.pe/sismogramas-tiempo-real/misti
http://volcams.malinpebbles.com/pubweb/Peru.htm#PE

SOURCES
http://ovi.ingemmet.gob.pe/portal_volcan/index.php/conociendo-volcanes/volcanes-peru http://vulcanologia.igp.gob.pe/http://www.sveurop.org/gb/articles/articles/Misti%20volcanic%20hazards.html http://www.volcanodiscovery.com/peru.html http://www.volcano.si.edu/volcano.cfm?vn=354010 http://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EGU2009/EGU2009-8014-2.pdf (permafrost) http://volcano.oregonstate.edu/oldroot/CVZ/elmisti/index.html https://2mp.conae.gov.ar/index.php/materialeseducativos/imagenesdestacadas/390-arequipa-peru-landsat-5-tm-5-de-octubre-de-2011 Maps: http://www.zonu.com/

FURTHER READING
http://www.peakware.com/index.html (Climbing)
The geochemistry of El Misti volcano, Peru, fumaroles (paywalled) http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF02597797
The c.2030 yr BP Plinian eruption of El Misti volcano, Peru: Eruption dynamics and hazard implications (paywalled) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0377027312001667 http://www.comunidadandina.org/ingles/tourism/greatest/i_arequipa.htm#Anchor-39030
Zoned Plagioclase in Lavas From El Misti Volcano (S. Peru): Implications for Changing Regimes in the Magma Chamber http://depts.washington.edu/physpet/Ruprecht/THESIS_Ruprecht.pdf
http://ovi.ingemmet.gob.pe/portal_volcan/index.php/volcan-misti/publicaciones (more stuff)

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1,154 thoughts on “Volcanoes of Peru 1: El Misti – The Gentleman

        • I think the Raunch Sauce is bad.


          Which reminds me…

          During a particularly long General Quarters Drill, the command conducted “Battle Messing” in order to give the Messdecks staff a chance to feed the crew under material condition Zebra. (All water tight doors and fittings secured). What you get is essentially a box lunch consisting of something like a sandwich, fruit, and some sort of beverage. About 15 minutes into the meal, a somewhat frantic anouncement comes over the 1MC General announcing circuit → “DO NOT EAT THE MAYONNAISE, I SAY AGAIN, DO NOT EAT THE MAYONNAISE!”

          Evidently, they had a bad batch of mayonnaise packets and had to alert the crew. I about died laughing and continued to inject signals into the scenario. (I provided sensor data to combat for the simulation.)

          • Sounds much like the dreaded USFS sack lunch.There was a Tanker Base Manager in the NW region-6 who is famous for his treatment of tanker pilots.
            (He’s still around but booted up into upper levels.) We were stuck at this Tanker base managed by this klown, who hated the above mentioned Tanker Pilots . Now Tanker pilots are not known for their ability to play well with others. Especially when the “other’ is messing about with them- they are not called “FIrepirates ” for nothing. Ok what happened was the fire we were working was “smoked in” meaning no wind and the smoke was too heavy to \
            work the fire safely. Well, by contract, we had to be fed. But instead of Ordering at the local Sonic or Micky “D’s , this jerk went to the fire Cache
            warehouse and opened a box of week old sack lunches. Similar to your
            description of that “meal” . He placed the mouldering mess on the counter of the lunch room. Well the first Captain who was an owner-operator stood
            in the door of the operations shack and said; “what the h#ll are you trying to do poison us!!? As of 1300 hours we WILL use the courtesy car and take turns to go to town! ” “We will use the USFS account.” “Any questions?We ate on the USFS Nickel at MickeyD’s…

            • Surreptitious meals can be hazardous. A good friend of mine and I were both stuck on duty when the ship was in drydock. The crew had been moved off to a berthing barge, but duty personnel had to stay on the ship in order to provide a ready fire crew able to do a quick response from one of the repair lockers if something caught on fire. (a pretty common occurrence on a ship with yard-workers wandering about with cutting torches) Anyway, due to schedules and tasking, we had both missed the evening meal. “Wheels” (it’s what we called him) had a pack of hot-dogs squirreled away in the battery refrigerator back in the ET shop. He had a tried true method of cooking them. He had taken a power cord and cut one end off, affixing a nail to each leads. He would stick one nail in each end of the hot-dog, lay it on a napkin, then plug the other end into the power receptacle. The hot-dog would then start to sizzle as it was slowly electrocuted. When done, unplug it and you have a nice hot meal when you slap it on a piece of bread with some mustard. In a momentary lapse of reason, “Wheels” reached over and grabbed the hot-dog to see how hot it was and became part of the circuit, quickly dancing around the shop until he slung the dog out of his hand. Other than bashing his fingers as he tried to get rid of the electrified hot-dog, he was okay. The object lesson? Think before you grab. “Wheels” was quite innovative, if a bit nuts. I’ve even seen him cook a sausage patty on a SPA-25 glass plate with a propane torch. (It was a tough, annealed circle of glass made to protect the SPA-25 crt. It had essentially the qualities of Pyrex. In normal use, the operations specialists write on it with grease pencil to mark the contacts they are watching directly on the scope. (This is part of the “old school” method of doing it. Now it is quite automated and done via computer.)

              For all, mustard is the spread of choice since it almost never goes bad, and can mask almost any “off” flavor. With Mayonnaise, you have to keep it refrigerated and even with that, you can never be sure of how well it has kept in it’s little packet.

  1. Looking again at the ALI picture from the 4th November

    Going right to the southern edge, I notice that the river seems to have two sources, one from Kverkfjoll, [Which I assume, originates from the area of the vents sometimes visible on the MOGT cam on Kverkfjoll that points SW(?)] and one from the west side of the Dyngjujokull glacier. I seem to remember that someone found a below glacier topographic map, that indicated the existence of an area of lower ground in this region. They suggested that any melt water from the vicinity of Bardabunga might find it’s way into this area of lower ground.
    If this has been the case, could this stream emerging from the glacier (the only one currently visible), be the start of possible BB melt water showing itself?

  2. GeoLurking’s choice of strange weapons reminded me of my godmother (81 at the time) and confronted in the passage of her house with a gunman, demanding her to stand still. She still had her large rye bread from her shopping in her hand, hit him with it and ran out through the garage whence she had come and shouted from across the street for help from the neighbour. The intruder fled over the back wall. Pistol and all. Nobody crosses my godmother.

  3. Miss Barda says….. “Good Morn’in VC”

    08.11.2014 08:30:42 64.680 -17.430 1.1 km M3.8 50.5 6.4 km NE of Bárðarbunga
    08.11.2014 08:31:31 64.679 -17.449 1.1 km M2.3 90.01 5.7 km NE of Bárðarbunga
    08.11.2014 08:34:06 64.687 -17.419 1.1 km M1.3 90.04 7.3 km NE of Bárðarbunga
    08.11.2014 08:36:34 64.676 -17.401 0.7 km M1.8 90.02 7.2 km ENE of Bárðarbunga

  4. Reposted as got overlooked on last page….. comments invited on what it shows Yes you can draw fault lines on it & re post :-)……..I don’t bite 😉
    Bárðarbunga Time Depth Distance Earthquake Plot
    M3.5+ quakes are listed in accending sizes
    From 18 August -Time is colour coded in ~2week intervals (or after a BIG EQ)
    Last 3 days quakes (upto an hour ago) are in red but not accending sized
    Distance to each EQ is individually calculated from a 64.64 baseline Northwards ^^^^^^^^^^^^
    Width is ~2km -17.5 -17.43 (the swam area)

    You can follow the progression of quakes upwards,
    the progression of hot magma rising from deep down
    magma being injected from the magma chamber in the upper levels.

    The 2014 eruption will be next to Skal, on the “old” upward propogating ring falt at ~4km from the centre of Bárðarbunga

  5. Manually processed earthquakes since 16 August 2014:

    The bar on the right is counting days since the onset of events, 16.09.2014, and it gives a colour code indicative of the time passed. The dark blue colour implies the oldest earthquakes whereas the red colour implies the youngest earthquakes. Slowly, a thorough picture builds up of these prolonged seismic events

    IF as the official line says…..we have 200m3-300m3 a second leaving the BB magma chamber at ~1.5km below sealevel & speeding down a channel to the eruption site where ~1.25km3 has erupted.
    How did the magma travel throu solid rock?
    Why are the quakes absent along the rift route since day 4?
    Why would the old BB boyant magma travel down 10km?
    Why would the old BB boyant magma have more pressure than magma down 10km?
    If the the old BB boyant magma did have enough pressure to make the rift, why did it not erupt at the surface at BB?
    If the magma is still draining from the top of BB, why is it 200deg hotter than most magma?
    When as there is so much new mantle magma erupting, why none moving into & upwards in BB?

    • This is what I was rabbiting on about a a few pages ago. Look at the eq evidence for a feed from BB to holuhraun, which everyone accepts as fact. Now look at the eq evidence between BB and Tungnafellsjokul, there is something there which is why I don’t think it should be completely ruled out that Tung gets involved.

      • off the cuff …..Tungnafellsjokul,could also have gotten a small pulse of new magma, is likely suffering a simular MAR compression as Bardarbunga, and the quakes betweeen each are radial dike related to each…….& their playing handies 🙂

        • I think Tungnafellsjoull has a weak point. And that is further north of it. That’s where magma has erupted in the Holocene, and quakes have happened in previous decades, I think that’s the only spot likely to erupt (art a very small scale) in years ahead, if it does.

          I am more curious to see other eruptions in unexpected spots like near Herdubreid, Kverfjoll, near Thordarhyma, and near Geysir. Well, not unexpected for me. Because the quakes on those spots tell me something otherwise.

    • You have a fascinating theory/hypothesis and kudos for sticking your chin out with a prediction! If one accepts your pre-suppositions, it’s neat, elegant and seemingly inevitable. I am not saying that you are wrong, but I think some of your pre-suppositions as evidenced by your questions above may not be correct:

      How did the magma travel throu solid rock? – It forced its way out along the fissure first towards Kverkfjöll, then north to Holuhraun where it erupted.

      Why are the quakes absent along the rift route since day 4? – Because the route is open and magma flowing freely. No need to crack more rock.

      Why would the old BB boyant magma travel down 10km? – It does not. Bardarbunga’s magma reservoir is not one single entity but several of differing sizes, ages and magma composition. What is believed to have happened is that the new magma from the mantle forced its way into a more recent and huge basaltic chamber to the south at depth and the increase in pressure caused the chamber to crack to the east. In effect, new magma is forcing older magma out into the fissure that leads to Holuhraun.

      Why would the old BB boyant magma have more pressure than magma down 10km? – Not sure what you mean by this? If new, hot magma intrudes into a pocket of older and more evolved magma, the reheating and remobilisation of the older, fractionated magma may cause the pressure to increase dramatically depending upon the amount and type of volcanic gases present in the older, evolved magma.

      If the the old BB boyant magma did have enough pressure to make the rift, why did it not erupt at the surface at BB? – Because it always follows the path of least resistance which may not always be in the up- direction. Remember, we are on the MAR between two diverging continental plates after all and we do have a humongous, thick glacier on top of it!

      If the magma is still draining from the top of BB, why is it 200deg hotter than most magma? – This statement you will have to qualify! The temperature of the magma erupted at Holuhraun is lower by at least 150C or more than fresh basaltic magma from the mantle.

      When as there is so much new mantle magma erupting, why none moving into & upwards in BB? – Because it follows the path of least resistance.

      Good questions! 🙂

      • “If the magma is still draining from the top of BB, why is it 200deg hotter than most magma? – This statement you will have to qualify! The temperature of the magma erupted at Holuhraun is lower by at least 150C or more than fresh basaltic magma from the mantle.”

        Armann H. has said that the Holuhraun magma is 200C hotter than the typical Icelandic basalt, and he infers a hot spot / mantle source for the material.

        I’ve met Armann H, at Holuhraun. I trust Armann H.

            • How did you ask for the press permission: did you just went to IMO office or to Almannavarnir office?
              Did you pay the 200000 kr to travel there with a guide? maybe you can reply email if you prefer.

              It’s getting quite winterish now, to travel there. With a superjeep is fine, but still care with sudden snowstorms and gales, or too thick snow, even for a superjeep. But currently, snow is still little.

            • Here’s the deal.

              To get the pass, you need some kind of press ID card, AND a letter from the people you are working for saying you’re on assignment for them. In other words, you can’t just go in as a freelance, hoping to sell your pictures to someone some day; you have to be working for someone. You go see Einar, who is the Almannavarnir media contact in Reykjavik, he deals with all that.

              Once you have the pass, if you’re Icelandic, you can just go straight in.

              If you’re NOT Icelandic, you must have an Icelandic guide with you. Easiest way is just to hire a super jeep with a driver; they want to know there is someone who knows the highland roads, knows how to drive, has emergency equipment etc. etc. – I think that’s fair and reasonable.

              When we go back, in winter conditions, we will take TWO super jeeps, in case one breaks down or gets stuck; this is the rule of the guy who is our guide, and it makes sense to me! The big plus is we can drive off-road in winter legally, so we can get to all kinds of places we couldn’t get to in summer.

      • DT, I also agree pretty much with Pyrire replies.

        “If the the old BB boyant magma did have enough pressure to make the rift, why did it not erupt at the surface at BB?” – Because it always follows the path of least resistance which may not always be in the up- direction. Remember, we are on the MAR between two diverging continental plates after all and we do have a humongous, thick glacier on top of it!

        Yup, In Iceland the ice cap plays a factor and a big one. Rifting seems much more likely to occur outside of the ice cap rather beneath it. The pressure of the ice has a significant factor. Most rifting occurs outside of the ice caps. And when ice caps melts, as isostatic pressure relieves, then large eruption seem to suddently start. As it happened a lot during the early Holocene everywhere across Iceland!

        And yes, we are on MAR. The most likely thing to happen is for it to rip open. And it often does so, so magma follows those lines of least resistance:
        1) from mantle into central volcano, an established path (deep feeder)
        2) from deep within the central volcano laterally into fissure swarm, but only if tectonic rifting occurs, to create a void.

        That’s why Bardargunga fissure swarm is only erupting now.

      • welcome into the ring spinner…..;-)
        How did the magma travel throu solid rock?
        – It forced its way out along the fissure first towards Kverkfjöll, then north to Holuhraun where it erupted
        – it had to move throu a km+ of unbroken rock…. look at the picy

        Why are the quakes absent along the rift route since day 4?
        – Because the route is open and magma flowing freely. No need to crack more rock
        -do we have any evidence that BB magma is flowing at all along the rift?
        -its cracking plenty of rocks at Holuhraun though, why is this so?

        Why would the old BB boyant magma travel down 10km?
        – It does not. Bardarbunga’s magma reservoir is not one single entity but several of differing sizes, ages and magma composition.
        -do we have any evidence or proof that it is so?
        IMO says…… What is believed to have happened……..is that the new magma from the mantle forced its way into a more recent and huge basaltic chamber to the south at depth and the increase in pressure caused the chamber to crack to the east.
        -do we have any proof that it is so?
        – this chamber crack could also be from compession of the MAR & rift
        In effect, new magma is forcing older magma out into the fissure that leads to Holuhraun
        -do we have any evidence proof that it is so?
        – there could have been pockets of old magma in the rift or at Holuhraun were there is evidence of old small eruptions

        Why would the old BB boyant magma at 2km be under more pressure than magma down 10km?

        If the the old BB boyant magma did have enough pressure to make the rift, why did it not erupt at the surface at BB?
        – Because it always follows the path of least resistance which may not always be in the up- direction. Remember, we are on the MAR between two diverging continental plates after all and we do have a humongous, thick glacier on top of it!
        -do we have any evidence proof that it is so?
        – the forces to make the rift were HUGE, & are certianly more than pushing upwards

        If the magma is still draining from the top of BB, why is it 200deg hotter than most magma?
        – This statement you will have to qualify! The temperature of the magma erupted at Holuhraun is lower by at least 150C or more than fresh basaltic magma from the mantle.
        -a volcanologist said it was 200deg hotter than most erupted magma, why is this so?

        When as there is so much new mantle magma erupting, why is none moving into & upwards in BB?
        – Because it follows the path of least resistance.
        – why is there a quake void of 500km3 in BB?

        -either this void is solid steel or its magma which is it?

        • “How did the magma travel throu solid rock?
          – It forced its way out along the fissure first towards Kverkfjöll, then north to Holuhraun where it erupted
          – it had to move throu a km+ of unbroken rock…. look at the picy”

          Are you referring to the ‘seismic gap’ between the edge of the caldera and the start of the dike?

          Free clue: in a situation like this, an area entirely free of quakes very likely means an area where the ‘rock’ is too hot and ductile to build up the stress needed for seismicity to happen.

          In other words, the quakes end where the magma reservoir (or perhaps the connection to the ‘hot deep feeder’) begins.

          • “-a volcanologist said it was 200deg hotter than most erupted magma, why is this so?”

            Yes, fresher magma at Holuhraun than the normal Icelandic eruption.

            But it seems quite apparent that magma came from a deep magma reservoir under BB. Not straight fresh from mantle, like Fimmvorduhals did in 2010.

            MgO content seems to show that. Not that high at Holuhraun.

            But maybe this did change as the eruption is ongoing and we have no access to new data.

            Also pretty astonishing that we do not have a way of performing a ice penetrating radar to map how the caldera floor is subsiding. Thanks Islander for clarifying the issue. We could be much more informed if we would have two data clearly MISSING:
            – an ice penetrating radar measuring how the caldera floor is subsiding
            – a magma analysis of Holuhraun of recent weeks, to follow how MgO content is changing.

        • How did the magma travel throu solid rock?
          – It forced its way out along the fissure first towards Kverkfjöll, then north to Holuhraun where it erupted
          – it had to move throu a km+ of unbroken rock…. look at the picy

          DT, the region fissure swarm of Bardarbunga is not only a line of least resistance, but it’s not unbroken rock, it is ductile rock, or even old cooling magma. See post by Geolurking on cooling magma at the dead zone.

          Holuhraun has erupted a few times between 1700 and 1874. So most likely it was responding to rifting occuring at that region. And rifting is YES, a HUGE force. The entire tectonic plate is very big. We always seem to forget that. So, if 40km of a tectonic plate edge, along the MAR, rifts, yes it’s a HUGE thing. And it happens quite often big style every 130 years or so in Iceland.

          So, as magma is still cooling along the MAR, it is very easy for magma just to travel 40km laterally in a few days, without causing much of a stir, only a few initial earthquakes, but just a few. That’s what we saw.

          Earthquakes at Holuhraun? Well, the place is erupting right into crust surface, there is colder rock there. But more interesting is why there are still ocasional quakes at Dyngjokull? That is possibly magma moving there, up to the surface.

          The caldera collapse: caused by rifting stressing the caldera. But yes, rifting is the primary driving force. But I also think ultimately might be a plume pulse driving the tectonic cycle. And we have seen new plume magma in Grimsvotn in 2011. But this is so deep (deeper than the 40km crust), we have no way of “seeing”.

          But let’s be clear. Solid rock under Iceland? Outside of the MAR yes, but not along the MAR.

          I mean there are countless places along the MAR that you can dig a few dozen meters and it will be boiling hot. Dig a few kms and you hit magma or very hot ductile rock. Along the MAR.

    • How did the magma travel throu solid rock? It travels along rifting line zone of least resistance. As rift opens, magma fills the void. That rifting region swarm is always partiall ductile to recurrrent rifting events every 1 or 2 centuries.

      If the magma is still draining from the top of BB, why is it 200deg hotter than most magma?
      It’s rather settled by IMO that this magma comes from a deep chamber under Bardarbunga, not top. That’s why all the quakes go way down. So magma is nearly from mantle source but passed through a chamber after, therefore slightly evolved. Remember crust at BB is down to 40km deep.

      DT: I love your graphs, andn your prediction of an eruption. But perhaps it’s not 2014. Could be 2015. And could be much later too. Certainly that NW spot is a spot to look at.

    • How did the magma travel throu solid rock?

      It didn’t. We don’t know the exact source of the magma or the entry point or points into the system.

      Why are the quakes absent along the rift route since day 4?

      Better question which leads to the answer: why is there STILL occasional seismic activity further down the rift? Why haven’t quakes been absent from the entire dike/rift since it formed?

      Why would the old BB boyant magma travel down 10km?

      I don’t believe it did or would.

      Why would the old BB boyant magma have more pressure than magma down 10km?

      We don’t know IF there’s ‘old BB buoyant magma’ in the system, or WHERE it is exactly; various models postulating various magma chambers have been advanced, but they’re conjectures; we don’t AFAIK have good data on exactly what lies under BB.

      If the the old BB boyant magma did have enough pressure to make the rift, why did it not erupt at the surface at BB?

      It didn’t. You confuse cause and effect. Again, people are forgetting the scale of events. Remember how the GPS stations in the whole are were running away in all directions… this a *regional* dike, a *regional* tectonic event. Magma didn’t ‘make’ the rift.

      If the magma is still draining from the top of BB, why is it 200deg hotter than most magma?

      What magma are you talking about? Everything I’ve read indicates this stuff is sourced from the mantle. There IS no magma draining from the ‘top’ of BB.

      When as there is so much new mantle magma erupting, why none moving into & upwards in BB?

      Ahhh now there’s an interesting question. If the entire system was pressurizing, you would expect inflation in BB. That confirms to my mind that this is primarily a tectonic event. Rifting has caused and directed the dike and the Holuhraun eruption. Those same regional tectonic forces have affected the BB caldera, and the quakes and subsidence there are a response to the regional stress field, according to the paper that came out a few weeks ago.

      • Mike is all on spot when we says the following: (I must repost it, because this is really important for everyone to realize)

        “Again, people are forgetting the scale of events. Remember how the GPS stations in the whole are were running away in all directions… this a *regional* dike, a *regional* tectonic event. Magma didn’t ‘make’ the rift.”

        “When as there is so much new mantle magma erupting, why none moving into & upwards in BB?
        Ahhh now there’s an interesting question. If the entire system was pressurizing, you would expect inflation in BB. That confirms to my mind that this is primarily a tectonic event. Rifting has caused and directed the dike and the Holuhraun eruption. Those same regional tectonic forces have affected the BB caldera, and the quakes and subsidence there are a response to the regional stress field, according to the paper that came out a few weeks ago.”

        THis is a regional rifting event. Maybe we should repeat it, so we distinguish this from all other “normal” Icelandic eruptions: “a regional rifting event”!

        Check also my post in the cyclical behavior of these regional rifting events.

        Me, Carl, and a few other people here, were talking already about the upcoming regional rifting event back years ago. No, we are NOT prophets, the cycle is quite mathematical, it peaks every 130 years roughly. But accordingly to our calculations to all thought it was coming more in 2020 or 2030, and not so early.

        Well, it came earlier than we thought but the evidence is all here. Grimsvotn in 2011 was a reminder of the fresh new magma coming upwards already. We should expect more rifting in years ahead. Possibly in other regions of Iceland.

      • As far as the fissure goes to me it looks like the crack and many area of hot magma in the crack existed all along the path. It travelled way to fast to be busting a new path, speeds up, slows down and opens up way in front of the nose of the quake squall, watch the IMO video and note this.

        Then remember it pauses for a few days right were the glacier ends, there are two cauldrons (Which are getting deeper) there right now in the picture of the lava field just posted. If you look back to find cross sections or old dfm videos, the quakes go really deep there and the quakes are still ongoing in that spot.

        It is at this spot I believe it is connected to another magma source and this is what is doing out of the fissure now

        • Has someone made a graphic showing the EQ paths from above, with time info (like the “Manually processed earthquakes since 16 August 2014” posted by Deep Thought, above), with the cauldrons super-imposed? If so, can a link be posted? If not, is anyone willing to make one? Thanks 🙂

    • Hah. Most of these questions have been in my head for a while too. I guessed at a possible eruption point a little more to the west. Looking at the historic earthquakes in years gone by on the rifts as well – the lines I see meeting up with historic earthquakes all over Iceland make sense to me and Bárðarbunga’s dance. But I know nothing about earth geology and have to work with macaronis. Asking stupid questions could cause me to suddenly lose all my feathers. 🙂 So happy that you put those questions down in black and white.

  6. Contionuation of disccuss, about the MAR/ rifting.
    DT: this is important to see the BIG picture, for the years ahead in Iceland.

    Rifting occurs in cycles in Iceland. Every 130 years or so. And every 260 years or so, there is a larger event.

    So, there are more changes now (than in the past 100 years) for large rifting events to occur somewhere across Iceland. Caveat: not want to scare people, but this is a known fact.

    Thus, we can expect Holuhraun to be but one of a series of major events that will occur in the next two decades. That’s how long a rifting peak usually takes.

    Previous MAJOR rifting events, back each 260 years or so, occurred in Laki 1783 (and Hengill 1789), Veidivotn 1477, Framruni 1250, Edlgjá and Vatnaoldur years 934 and 780. Roughly an average period of 260 years. Which takes us to NOW as the new rifting peak.

    But every 130 years there seems to be a peak in activity too, with some rifting events occurring. Last peak occurred in late 19th century, with major rifting events like Askja 1875, Trollahraun 1862, Thordarhyma 1902, a former small eruption at Holuhraun circa 1874, and the large eruption of Grimsvotn before 2011 in 1883. Before that, there was a peak in volcanic activity with many eruptions in tjhe 1720s (including rifting in Myvatn, Kverfjoll, Oraefajokull, Holuhraun). And so on, back each 130 years or so…

    Quite exciting times to watch Iceland!

    • forgot to add that in the 1250 peak, there were too many volcanic eruptions in Reykjanes peninsula. And in the year 900 peak, there were eruptions in Snaefellsnes peninsula and a shield volcano forming in the west side of the Langjokull glacier.

      SISZ large quakes seem to occur also around these peaks. But large quakes in SISZ already took place in year 2000 and 2008.

      The current peak in volcanic activity in Iceland should last between 2010 and 2040.

      • I am pleased to hear that Irpsit. That gives me 26 years of watching Icelandic volcanoes and by the time it quietens down I will be in my nineties and probably in a nursing home! Hope they allow unlimited access to broadband! 🙂

  7. Just what I expected – dragons ahoy; other points to ponder and some more brain stretching to DT’s questions. Thank you all.

    • WOW that post certainly set off a squall of comments…. got them brain cella a workin
      I reposted a reply with more questions to Isprit above

      • also thanks for all the answers
        can you all please explain your reasons for the patterns of timed quakes in the …….Bárðarbunga Time Depth Distance Earthquake Plot ……

        • “can you all please explain your reasons for the patterns of timed quakes in the …….Bárðarbunga Time Depth Distance Earthquake Plot”

          If you think of the subsidence as voltage across a circuit and magma pressure resisting it as a capacitor within that circuit, I think one ends up with a pretty good answer to that particular question. 🙂

      • Eheheh, you want to give me a hard Saturday morning 🙂

        Well, I think the main point that we should realize is that this is indeed a big event. I even joked with a few friends, that now Iceland is a few meters wider now, and that you can’t trust a car GPS anymore.

        I even face the consequences myself. I have been with cold symptons for unusually long period now. I start to suspect that this might have been long outdoor exposures to gasmengun (volcanic smog), which happens where I live every few days, when the wind turns direction.

        • actually Irpist it was a reply to Pyrite & yes I know its not just a localised event …
          what if BB caldera sits directly over the MAR and its subsiding as a whole? that would also explain the other GPS movments
          what is causing the ice cap to move up & down & presumably the caldera floor as well before some of the quakes hit?

  8. Good Morning

    This video got me thinking

    I do not think it is correct but the visualization is very cool and helps me understand the mechanism a little better.

    What I do not think is correct is the rift that opens to the NE and the gap and rift to the SW. I do like the way the North and south kind of slide past each other.

    What I could picture happening is more of a rotating thing happening on the American plate so the west side stays glued to the west side and does not open and this would also mean the east side is also shoved sideways. I like his little hook idea but do not think this is the reason it is pulled sideways. I cannot forget Irpsit’s rotation idea and I think DT’s? BB hinge idea, these fit.

    The reason I think that because none of these gaps have opened up or the would be spewing as we speak. This explains the pattern of quakes.

    [video src="http://mummij.blog.is/users/3a/mummij/files/bbglidnar101.mp4" /]

    credit to the blog writer mummij.blog.is

    Would love to dive into the discussion above but find that I can defend or refute both sides at this time 🙂

    I will say however, that in the last week or so, the quake line in the North is moving slowly North, look at my last plot, the concentration is away from the rim itself

    • if you look at my plot above the quakes are moving deeper into BB chamber wall & north from an above looking plot

      • Yes, noticed that on your plot first.

        Also, as dfm pointed out, the “dead Zone” is filling in.

        But, why are we not seeing any inflation at VON if there is magma intruding at this location, I would expect it is close enough to show something?

    • I’ve been thinking also about the dike, and more specifically about the Tungnafellsjokul and northerly directions from Bardarbunga. Back before the rift began heading east and then north to Holuhraun, right at the very start of the event, it appeared that a dike was trying to head north and another one was trying to re-open toward Tungnafellsjokul. While the northern route has been dead quiet for the past almost three months, the Tungnafellsjokul route continues to experience periodic quakes.

      I do wonder if Tungnafellsjokul is not an independent volcano, but rather, like Holuhraun a purely dike outlet from Bardarbunga.

      As for route of least resistance, ergo the Holuhraun dike, the resistance could very well have been lower, that we were not breaking rock that much along that route, as in a rifting event was occurring at the same time, and that rifting was helping break the rock, reducing the magma pressure needed to do the breaking. Would have reduced the energy of the magma needed to move that way over a direct vertical route.

      Hmm, things to think about.

      I think the idea of DT’s potential eruption at Bardarbunga is likely. The quake rate has remained steady, though the caldera drop has decreased from 0.5m/day to 0.33m/day (approximate) over the past month or so, and I would expect it to continue to drop. This indicates that the quakes are not directly associated with the caldera drop (rather, the quakes are not caused by the negative pressure at the caldera causing rock to be hung up resulting in a quake to get the drop moving again, but rather the quakes are occurring mostly (though not entirely) independent of the caldera drop. While we do have some quakes that are directly correlated to the drop, we would have seen a similar reduction in quakes to 2/3rds the number if they were related to the caldera drop reducing by 2/3rds over the same period if they were purely connected to the caldera movement. This makes me believe we are not just seeing quakes related to the caldera, but rather many of the quakes are related to magma breaking rock under Bardarbunga, as DT has hypothesized, and that the residual vibrations from these quakes helps lubricate the movement of the caldera.

      Thoughts?

      • The newer calderas on the north flank of Tungnafellsjokul are basaltic and appear connected to BB. The cross section of the connecting dikes seems to be the only impediment to an eruption under the ice there. That limits the amount of fluid force transmitted the tip.

      • DeepThought’s orange ellipse is at the center of the big quakes, so is the likely location for a major eruption. This likelihood is completely independent of any other theories or assumptions.

        The rock is being fractured to smithereens below. Whether the ground or the caldera is moving up or down, cracked rock opens up a channel for hot, fluid magma movement.

  9. Hi

    this is the summary since the last video on the 21st of october.

    There seems to be some more activity in the last days in the “silent zone” around 5 km deep.
    the activity seems also to be more in the uppe regions

    I’ll prepare a summary nearly from the beginning but for larger quakes (over mag 2). This will take some time, I will probably be ready tomorrow.

  10. I tabled DT’s various questions with their relevant answers and recross answers alongside. Much easier reading. 🙂 So far, I am on track with the various views. Much to learn and reconfirm in such open discussion. Easier to make up one’s own mind without completely losing the plot on the way. .

  11. @ Hen
    Real life has been seriously interfering with my volcano watching. I’ve been trying to keep up with comments but I have obviously missed something. What are these macaronis you are talking about?

    • Ditto, I think I’ve missed something with the macaronis but maybe she’s just being mysterious/coy, like me with my egg-timer theory…………………….

    • A tangled web of fissures. I was astonished to see how relatively small a vent going to the top of a volcano can be. So I think in such an old volcano there must be more than one, ones that didn’t quite make it, ones with their own little magma chambers of jelly lying around, and then all the ones of many thousands of years ago connecting between the very first volcanoes that made it to the top, the ring faults and the spaces between them, old ones solidified into very hard rock, and other weaker ones that may be blasted open by hot magma on a hurry to get somewhere. Sort of. The surprising roots. 🙂 Crazy, but still.

  12. Boy, many interesting contributions today! What I learned … never consider a discussion to be closed.
    It makes sense to reconsider, ask and sometimes kick against presuppositioned facts (that eventually are not that well presuppositioned after all 🙂 )

    My humble contribution to list major quakes.
    5 M4+ yesterday, amongst them one M5+.

    1 M3.0 – 3.9 only.

    Friday07.11.2014 22:04:24 64.676 -17.475 1.9 km 4.0 99.0 4.7 km NNE of Bárðarbunga
    Friday07.11.2014 18:33:05 64.674 -17.469 4.5 km 4.1 99.0 4.6 km NE of Bárðarbunga
    Friday07.11.2014 14:40:51 64.667 -17.411 5.5 km 4.4 99.0 6.3 km ENE of Bárðarbunga
    Friday07.11.2014 14:21:57 64.683 -17.462 7.4 km 4.2 99.0 5.7 km NNE of Bárðarbunga
    Friday07.11.2014 07:11:23 64.658 -17.514 5.6 km 5.4 99.0 2.1 km NNE of Bárðarbunga

    Two checked larger quakes today untill now:

    Saturday08.11.2014 08:30:42 64.676 -17.471 7.0 km 4.4 99.0 4.8 km NE of Bárðarbunga
    Saturday08.11.2014 00:56:30 64.673 -17.440 0.1 km 4.5 99.0 5.5 km NE of Bárðarbunga

  13. Interesting discussions this morning (7:53 am my time). IMHO I don’t think we will ever have all the answers in our life times. BB will keep some of its secrets.

  14. Hi All,

    This is the timelapse from the 3rd to 6th of November 2014.
    The order of the images is chronological, but many disconnections happened so there are a many jumps.
    (And made it a challenging one to make as well)

    Music by
    Peter Gabriel: Slow Water….
    Biosphere: Startoucher
    Sigur Rós: Valtari (someone here once requested Sigur Rós, here you go)

  15. How solid is a “solid” rock? Maybe not so solid at all.

    There are some experiments of deep hole drilling that reveals a different story. These links are from always so reliable wikipedia but I am sure there are a lot of more scientific articles. Kola borehole: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kola_Superdeep_Borehole and KTB borehole: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kola_Superdeep_Borehole.

    Both of those experiments are showing that presumes weren’t right. Temperature gradient was much higher than expected and rock in depths revealed to be surprisingly fractured, gas-rich and wet. In Kola has been reported mud from the hole been “boiling with hydrogen”. Of course nowadays geologists know this all(at least I hope), but the place of these events make that ever harder. Those boreholes weren’t over any rifting zone nor over a volcanic area.

    We know so little of what happens under ground and what are conditions in depth.

    And of course there must be some hoax in internet about everything:

  16. Another big pair incoming from 18:58. Meantime, I’m wondering why IMO have not manually processed the quake at 08:31:31 which was bigger than the 08:30:42? I guess they’ll get to it eventually. I wonder if they’ll manually process both of these or just one of them?

    • I also wondered what was going on with that quake Mopshell. They seem to be bypassing many quakes that appear quite large on the drumplots but as they are given low numbers on the automatic check then they seem to be ignored. I am sure so many 3+ quakes are being ignored this way which is a shame as we no longer seem to get a true picture of quake activity. I have noticed this happening for a couple of weeks at least and they don’t seem to get back to them unless it happens once they have gone of the 48 hour screen but I doubt it. They must be very overworked for this to happen or perhaps no longer have the money to pay for a lot of overtime working.

  17. Thinking about Tungnafellsjökull and the Hreppar microplate, I came across this: http://skemman.is/stream/get/1946/11137/27366/1/The_Fissure_Swarm_of_Tungnafellsjokull.pdf.
    “Abstract – The volcanic system of Tungnafellsjökull in central Iceland has
    been considered to be only slightly active. The volcanic system lies in the Central
    Iceland volcanic zone near the center of the hot spot and the triple junction where the
    Eurasian plate, the North-American plate and the Hreppar Microplate meet. Activity
    has been very low in the Holocene, only two small lavas are associated with the
    system. Earthquakes are not common, with usually fewer than 10 being registered per
    year. Due to these facts, it came as a surprise when InSAR measurements detected
    movements on faults in the fissure swarm of Tungnafellsjökull during the Gjálp
    eruption in Vatnajökull in 1996 at a distance of around 37 km. Ground check in 2009
    and 2010 revealed evidence of recent movements on faults in the area in the form of
    fresh sinkholes and fractures. It was obvious from the ground check that some of the
    sinkholes and fractures had moved as recently as the spring of 2010. By looking at
    earthquake data from the area and InSAR images from the Gjálp eruption, two or
    three tectonic events can be identified that may be associated with these movements.
    The first event occurred in October 1996 during the Gjálp eruption, the second in
    August of 2008 and the third in November of 2009. These events are expressed by
    increased seismicity in the Tungnafelljökull area, both in terms of the number of
    earthquakes as well as rate of seismic moment release.”

  18. Pingback: Volcanoes of Peru 3: Huaynaputina – Catastrophe in 1600 | VOLCANO HOTSPOT

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