Lago Ilopango – an El Salvador Caldera & the Friday Night Riddles

One of the things that tends to grab my interest is large natural catastrophic events, insults to the earth that cause large geologic and population changes over a wide area. Volcanoes fit that bill via massive eruptions and even more massive Large Igneous Provinces. These have been linked to global extinction events and abrupt shifts in climate. The Deccan Traps or the Siberian Traps would be examples of the long-lived events. A single eruption of Yellowstone, Tambora, Baitoushan, Katmai – Novarupta, would be examples of short term large scale events.

Another way to change the geology, climate and distribution of living things is via large impact event, and it doesn’t matter if it is comet or asteroid in nature, just as long as it is big enough. If a sufficiently large impact were to coincide with a large volcanic event, man, many species will at best be at risk. At worst, extinct. One example of this is the Chicxulub impact and the Deccan Traps of India which both date in the 65 million year ago range.


Ice Core Data for Temperature Record -

Ice Core Data for Temperature Record –

One much more recent event took place around 535 AD, at or perhaps triggering the fall of the Roman Empire and the start of the Dark Ages. Researchers have for years been trying to figure out what happened and in turn what caused the climate disruption.

Whatever happened in 535 AD made the climate in the settled parts of the world, particularly Europe, China and Japan noticeably nastier, colder, and contributed to crop failures which ended up taking down governments. There were a lot of reasons the Barbarians came south for the winter. One reason was that their crops had failed. Similar crop failures hit India, China and Japan. There were reports that the sun did not shine as brightly nor was nearly as capable of warming the ground during these few years. And it got a lot colder with a series of late springs and early frosts.

Data supporting this change in global climate comes primarily from two sources. The first is an analysis of ice cores taken from glaciers, primarily in Greenland and Antarctica where we know the ice sheets have been relatively stable for at least a couple millennia.  The researchers look for layering in the ice and attempt to analyze what is in the layers. An injection of volcanic ash into the upper stratosphere from a particularly large volcanic eruption shows up as a layer in the ice. The ice is analyzed for ash composition, chemical makeup, thickness, persistence (how many years has it fallen?) among other things.

More recent volcanic eruptions like Pinatubo, Katmai-Novarupta (1912), Krakatau (1883) and Tambora (1815) have all left significant layers of ash in glacial ice. Using these as a model, researchers then look for similar layers to analyze earlier (and sometimes later) eruptions then go looking for sources of the ash worldwide.


How Dendrochronologists Build a Chronology -

How Dendrochronologists Build a Chronology –

The other technique is based on a scientific discipline called dendrochronology. This compares tree ring distributions. Using primarily oak trees from Germany, England and Ireland, these people have what they believe to be an accurate chronology back 9,000 years. Oaks end up at the bottom of cold bogs where they last a very long time without deteriorating.  Sections are overlapped and the chronologies are built backwards over the years.

The nicer the weather, good temperatures, lots of moisture, generally the wider the rings are. Cold, inclement weather, dry weather, early falls or late springs show up as areas of narrower than normal rings.  Groupings of rings are matched to build a chronology.

The climate change of 535 AD shows up in both the ice cores and the tree ring chronologies. And the question becomes what caused it?


Lake Ilopango looking west toward San Salvador volcanic complex -

Lake Ilopango looking west toward San Salvador volcanic complex –

One known eruption near this time was thought to Krakatau around 416 AD, which is about a century too early. As I have said elsewhere, volcanic eruptions producing significant tephra and pyroclastic flows are difficult to date, as the dating relies on plants that were buried and incinerated during the eruption. In tropical areas, erosion quickly removes significant amounts of this soft material. It does not appear that Krakatau’s ash is all that similar chemically with what is found in the ice cores. Note that there are other ash layers that have yet to be matched to any known eruption.

Researchers took a close look at possible impact events around that time and made some progress in their attempt to tie this to impact events. The problem is that they never found an impact site. Worse, ice cores from Greenland and elsewhere did not show the expected markers of nanodiamonds or carbon spherules which would have been injected into the atmosphere as dust following a large impact.


Lake Ilopango and San Salvador Volcanic complex -

Lake Ilopango and San Salvador Volcanic complex –

Why Ilopango?

In 2010, researchers decided that Ilopango was the source of what they call Tierra Blanca Joven – essentially Young White Earth, which is found throughout the region. There is a lot of this stuff around, with early estimates of some 25 km3 in volume. In some more recent estimates which include offshore, submerged deposits, that total sits at some 85 km3, or 85% that of Tambora’s eruption in 1813. At the upper end of estimates, this eruption grades out at a VEI 6.9.


Lake Ilopango.  Photo courtesy Flickr -

Lake Ilopango. Photo courtesy Flickr –

The oddity of this eruption is the variation in the dating of the Tierra Blanca Joven at 260 AD, nearly 300 years earlier than the 535 AD event. Over the years, dating has improved to the point where the eruption and emplacement was moved to the 406 – 536 AD range. A paper presented in 2010 by Dull, Southron, et all dated it at 535 AD. You can find the paper at the following link.

The ash from this eruption is relatively unique, having a pretty high silica content, at around 69% does match nicely with ash found in the ice cores, leading to its adoption as one (or the only) cause for this climate downturn.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at the geology of El Salvador.

Geology of El Salvador


Central American volcanism is driven by the collision of the Cocos and Caribbean plates. Cocos is moving generally NNE while the Caribbean is moving roughly NW. The collision is a subduction zone generally south of Central America in the Pacific Ocean, complete with trench and a line of typical back-arc, subduction volcanoes onshore in the Central American nations. Eruptions are typically violent, grey, with significant pyroclastic flows and caldera creation. There are at least eight known calderas in Central America.

The body of the Cocos Plate also contains the East Pacific Rise, with active black smoker vents on the ocean bottom.


For its part, El Salvador packs at least 22 volcanoes in a line some 300 km. Most of them have been active during the Holocene.


Ilopango Caldera and Lake

Ilopango Caldera and Lake

Ilopango itself is a caldera measuring some 8 x 11 km in diameter. It sits some 450 m above sea level and the lake filling it is some 230 m deep. It sits some 15 km from the capital of El Salvador, San Salvador, a city of some 570,000 people.


There have been four major dacitic – rhyolitic eruptions known from Ilopango during the last 20,000 years or so. The most recent major one produced the previously mentioned 85 km3 of pyroclastic flows and ash.

Ilopango Iles Quemadas Eruption of 1880 -

Ilopango Iles Quemadas Eruption of 1880 –

The most recent eruption lasted some three months from the end of 1879 through March 1880, ending with the production of a lava dome and a new island in the lake. That eruption was a VEI 3. The island has mostly subsided back below the surface of the lake.


Lake Ilopango and Ilopango caldera from space, LANDSAT -

Lake Ilopango and Ilopango caldera from space, LANDSAT –

The 1880 eruption produced a dacitic lava dome. Basaltic andesite represents a few percent of the dome. This lava had the same high silica composition as the most recent large eruption. Researchers believe that an injection of mafic magma into the base of a crystal mush triggered this eruption and may also have been the trigger for the earlier one.


Ilopango, San Salvador and San Salvador Volcano from Space -

Ilopango, San Salvador and San Salvador Volcano from Space –

The thing that the 535 AD eruption is thought to have done was chase a thriving Mayan agricultural civilization out of the Salvador highlands east to the lowlands of present-day Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and Honduras. Remains of several substantial communities, agricultural fields and other man-made locales have been discovered under tens of meters of tephra and pyroclastic flows from the eruption. The natives at the time appear to have decided that living among the volcanoes was simply too dangerous and those not buried in multiple eruptions moved north and east to the lowlands.


San Salvador Volcanic Complex and San Salvador city -

San Salvador Volcanic Complex and San Salvador city –

Much of the information on volcanic impact on the Maya in Central America came from anthropologists looking at the impact of vigorous eruptions on ancient agrarian societies. One researcher named Payson Sheets researched Ilopango extensively and described the 535 AD eruption as one that proceeded in three phases. The first was a Plinian or super Plinian plume that put a relatively coarse tephra to a 30 km radius from the vent. It was followed by a pair of pyroclastic flows, one to the north and the other to the west. In one location, this ash is over a half meter thick some 77 km from the vent. One of the flows is measured some 45 km from the volcano. In all, there were over 10,000 km2 covered with ash to a depth deeper than 50 cm.

Later researchers determined that the winds during the eruption moved the majority of airborne ash south and SE of the volcano where it had a significant impact on local farming, leading to abandonment of the Pacific coast of El Salvador by the Maya.  In the drawing above, the inset describing regional ashfall is measured in centimeters.  The larger map measures pyroclastic flow depths in meters.


Dr. Sheets estimates that some 320,000 Maya would have been killed or displaced by this single eruption. The estimate is based on a 40 / km2 population density in San Salvador at the time of the eruption. Note also that the eruption put some 10 m of tephra and pyroclastic flows over the area now occupied by the capital city San Salvador.


Sequence of eruptive events at San Salvador volcanic complex for the last 3,000 years.  Tierra Blanca Joven (Ilopango 535 AD) highlighted in yellow -

Sequence of eruptive events at San Salvador volcanic complex for the last 3,000 years. Tierra Blanca Joven (Ilopango 535 AD) highlighted in yellow –

Central El Salvador was hit with at least three more recent massive eruptions since Ilopango.  One of them buried the village of Ceren under 5 meters of volcanic debris. This village did not get touched by the Ilopango pyroclastic flows due to its proximity to the San Salvador volcano.


Excavation of Mayan settlement of Ceren.  Dr. Sheets pictured.  Note layered ash, pumice and pyroclastic flows in the background -

Excavation of Mayan settlement of Ceren. Dr. Sheets pictured. Note layered ash, pumice and pyroclastic flows in the background –

The Loma Caldera cooked off some 40 years after Ilopango, burying Ceren under some 5 m of volcanic stuff comprised of 14 layers of wet ash, mud, and pyroclastic flows from lateral blasts. It took a while for geologists to determine which of these two eruption finally buried Ceren. As it was the second one, this makes Ceren’s survival following Ilopango all the more impressive, because it appears that the Ilopango eruption led to abandonment of most of the region by the Maya. Interestingly enough, the Loma Caldera eruption appears to be very localized in its effect, covering a few tens of km2 with its debris.


Excavation of Mayan settlement of Ceren.  Note layered volcanic debris in the background -

Excavation of Mayan settlement of Ceren. Note layered volcanic debris in the background –

Dull, et all estimate that the erupted magma volume of the Ilopango eruption was at least 20% larger than Tambora but were unable to constrain the amount of SO2 ejected during the eruption. They conclude that Ilopango was large enough to cause the 535 AD dust veil but not sufficient to explain the entire 14 yearlong cold period in the northern hemisphere starting then.


This detective story continues, as the argument over which volcano triggered this climate shift remains unsettled. If Ilopango was so poorly dated right up until publication only four years ago, might the Krakatau eruption a millennia and a half ago have the same problem? Answer to that is: absolutely. Researchers believe they know one of the volcanic participants. They do not know how many more if any there are.

The other thing interesting to me is the difficulty of dating even relatively recent massive volcanic events. If you think about it, Ilopango eruptive products ought to be terrible to sort out and date, with some 22 other vents including seven other calderas within 150 km of its location. The only thing that makes it relatively straightforward is a significant chemical composition of the ash and the massive amount of it close to the volcano.


San Salvador city from space.  Ilopango is at right. San Salvador at center.  San Salvador volcanic complex to the left.  Loma Caldera is at far left.  -

San Salvador city from space. Ilopango is at right. San Salvador at center. San Salvador volcanic complex to the left. Loma Caldera is at far left. –

Additional Reading

360 thoughts on “Lago Ilopango – an El Salvador Caldera & the Friday Night Riddles

    • And, in reply to your edit, I think most people contribute what they can afford. I actually didn’t think that we would reach the figure required for us to get going (about 5k sterling)….but we did, just. It was important that myself, Carl, Islander and Junior met up in Iceland, apart from anything else, so that we could get a handle on each other as future partners in the project….and for me to get a handle on the landscape/logistics and Hekla herself. Carl and I stayed in the cheapest hotel in Reykjavik, because, as he pointed out, we were using other people’s money. It was pretty basic….but fun, in a Faulty Towers way.
      It was a very useful trip. I found the So2 uncomfortable at times but it was “unpleasant” at worst. We were able to refund Islanders expenses (at least most of them) that he incurred shooting stills and video in the early days of the eruption. We also paid for all his petrol. We met his charming family,who I consider now to be friends, whatever happens.
      I explained to everyone around the table when we met that VC was never going to be able to fund the whole film production. I told Carl that we would require £100,000 sterling at least to film the project/commission graphics etc. Other post production might require more. He vowed to look at ways to raise the money required. Things were never going to happen quickly….as it transpires, certainly not quickly enough for some of our crew….but, well, I never say never and know that there is a long game.

      • The investors were told the money was being put into a Swedish company, formed by Carl, and that under Swedish Law their investment was therefore protected. Can we have the registration details please.

      • Why has Eggert/Islander not been paid all he is owed and is now close to having to sell his photographic equipment as a result.

      • Thank you for this information. Several requests have been posted for updates but none have been received until now. I too invested what I could afford but it’s important to know that the money was spent trying to get the “The Movie” into production. I hope a more detailed summary will be forthcoming.

  1. Quite a bumpy day today.

    Driving in a snowy very bumpy road, visibility and weather were clear, straight road, but sun glare and road bad, was driving slowly at 30kmh, and halting to a stop, and already with my emergency lights on, the car on the back was doing likewise, same low speed but tailgating on us, however third on the back was racing (probably around 80kmh) and suddently crashed into the one in the back of ours as she skidded and went off road. The woman was in shock and with airbag but seeminly uninjuted and walking, and was carried to the hospital. We only suffered very minor damage to car, and nothing else, except our worry about the poor lady. The car behind us was somewhat damaged and the man in a small degree of shock. Just a few hours later, a bus went offroad a few kms on same road in south Iceland (blowing snow, slippery road and probably high speed were culprit).

    Conclusion and my point to all of you: never drive fast in snowy icy roads. It can get ugly. Increase in speed exponentially increases human injury, car damage and trauma.

    Also really be very careful with overtaking in wintry roads. I also learny my own lesson, to remember when driving slowing on a snowy road, others might still crash into you, from behind, because they might be coming too fast (even if you have all blinking lights on), and if someone tailgates on you, expect the risk of a collision from behind. Finally, don’t forget wearing sunglasses in icy roads at low sun angle, the poor lady didn’t.

  2. Kilgharrah, the Swedish Company is Noni AB. I have nothing to do with them. Carl works for them. I can tell you that we were not allowed to set up the pre-production meeting until the funds required by Swedish law were in the account. I can also tell you that the funds that were withdrawn paid for my flight, my hotel, Carl’s flight, Carl’s hotel, a few burgers for Carl, Islander and myself, Islander’s fuel, and Islander’s expenses that he incurred shooting in the early stages of the eruption (by far the biggest spend). I know this because much of it had to pass through my paypal account so that I could give Islander cash with my Paypal Mastercard.
    It’s a bit unfair to blame Islander’s woes on Carl or anyone else. I don’t really want to discuss that on here but I will say that there’s more to it. I personally have spent a good deal of time trying to keep him on board so that he can do well next year. To no avail I am afraid.
    Lastl;y, I have spent a good deal of time on this project and have not, as yet, taken a single penny for myself.

    • I appreciate your position and thank you for your response. Perhaps you could use your influence on Carl to honour his committment to produce transparent accounting for each month since the investors started to contribute funds. This would go along way to allay any fears we have that the funds may have been misappropriated.

      Expectations were set and need to be met.

      • Its friday (hic)

        You all are all old and grizzled enough to know how the world works/


        It was never going to be a success except for the starry-eyed.

        I do NOT think there is any fraud involved, I DO think a wave of over-enthusiasm is involved.

        I doubt anyone did well out of this, although a few flights were maybe had for free.#


        Get over it.

        What has happened was entirely as predictable.

        Oz (who didn’t invest a penny, its true).

        • FarmerOz is wise, drunk or not. I concur on all points, warned of problems at the outset (with this kind of result in mind), and have nothing but sympathy for all participants.

          I also thank FarmerOz for letting me succumb to the temptation to say “I told you so” while imagining that I”m being helpful.


  3. Well, when I go to recce or film places, I am not usually expected to pay for my flight (I am not wealthy). This will normally come form a production budget or, in this case, a pre-production budget. As it happens, it was a fairly costly trip for me as I like a beer or two and beers, in Iceland, are not cheap. Still, I wasn’t thinking about that. I was thinking “How the hell do we (VC) as a community, make this bloody film?”

    I haven’t been on here lately and Carl is away being wed. I can see that folks want transparency….fair enough. That is what I am trying to give, belatedly, now. I had no idea that people were so vexed.

    • Could you give us a rough estimation please of the total cost to the investment fund of your recce and were you given any idea of the total raised at that point?

    • Hi Nick! What do you mean by “people were vexed”? If you donate money, maybe a big amount for your budget, would you not have been worried if you don’t see and hear of it for three months, after you have been promised monthly details? The more if someone has not been paid his due who should have been?

    • And just as a suggestion… next time you spend your valuable time waiting for questions (no irony!) it might be a good idea to announce that a few days in advance, so that the people who are concerned can be online. And perhaps repeat that at about 3 am for the Americans (irony 🙂 )

      • Sorry, I only became aware that there was an issue tonight. I am scarcely on here at the moment. I will check back in tomorrow morning. Frankly I have nothing to keep from anyone and, as the producer of the film, I am happy to keep people informed as best I can. I can only tell you what I know though and I will endeavour to do just that.

  4. Kilgarrah, I will do that. Can you not ask him to post those accounts on here himself? When he gets back from his wedding of course. They won’t be very exciting though. 2 return flights, a few hotel nights and a chuink of Islander’s expenses.

    The truth is often a lot more boring that what you might imagine.

  5. It will take me a few days to get all that together but if you look up the cheapest deals on Easyjet from Manchester to Reykjavik and then check out the Metropolitan Hotel Reykjavik on Tripadvisor (it’s right at the bottom of the rankings) you’ll get the idea that we were scrupulously avoiding extravagance at other people’s expense. I might point out that it was Carl who insisted that we did things as cheaply as possible for that reason…..not me. I don’t mind telling you that I am used to a bit more comfort….and that’s when I’m camping.

    • I get that you were taking the trip on a tight budget … it would just be reassuring to know how the account stands right now .. given that we have only reached ‘pre production’.

      And as you can gather, we have no idea!

  6. I should also ad Kilgarrah that I didn’t know your ID before we went to Iceland. I thought you were a bloke. Carl put me right when he insisted to me, that you had experience as a presenter and that, given we are trying to make the film as a VC film, you should be a primary candidate to ba a presenter of Hekla:the Movie.

    • “I get that you were taking the trip on a tight budget … it would just be reassuring to know how the account stands right now .. given that we have only reached ‘pre production’.

      And as you can gather, we have no idea!”

      As I understand it (I might be wrong), the account shows 100,000 or so, mostly Carl’s money. The funds raised by VC members was, I believe, about 5,000. I suspect Carl is in a quandry whether or not to get outside investors in (there are good and bad points for this). I am not talking to Carl about any of this at the moment because I know that the man is busy enjoying his new married life and actually spending a bit of time not dealing with the kind of inbox that would make me cry….and I am a hard nut.

  7. We have sent copies to all his email accounts that we know of … I assumed it was him who asked you to come here tonight and answer our questions … was I wrong?

  8. Thanks for your time Nick.
    I need to entertain my friends who have been looking after themselves for the last hour.

  9. And the man is getting married to the woman he loves, who he has been too busy to even speak to on the phone for the last several months…. he doesn’t answer many of my emails either. Can’t say I blame him. I’ve seen what his inbox looks like.

  10. “Hi Nick! What do you mean by “people were vexed”? If you donate money, maybe a big amount for your budget, would you not have been worried if you don’t see and hear of it for three months, after you have been promised monthly details? The more if someone has not been paid his due who should have been?”

    Sorry it has taken me so long to find this. Yep, I understand it….and yes, I probably would. Unfortunately for me it’s a regular thing but, hey ho. As for the person who hasn’t been paid his dues, I think you might be referring to the only person who has actually had cash in hand from the fund. I’m not going to say any more on a public forum but you might only be getting a one eyed view of things.

    • Thank you, Nick. So, for a detailed statement we need to wait for Carl coming back. Have you got any idea when abouts that will be? Well, we’ll see.Thanks again!

      • Well, I suspect it will be after Christmas. I haven’t discussed that or anything other than his happy day with him recently. I will post the details that I know of over the coming days but 1) please bear in mind that, like most people, I am trying to get Christmas together for me and mine. 2) it will be really dull. My part of it was 190 EUROS hotel. Return flight £308GBP. On top of that a few quid airport parking. I believe Islander’s BB trip expenses (taken before the fund was set up….but we decided we should try to help him) came to just under £1000….though I would need to check that. I think Carl got his booking at the hotel cheaper than I did and I don’t know, yet, what his flight cost.
        My job started when we got out there and that was to start to asses (as per the original posting on here) what the budget would need to be and what kind of schedule we could work to. I did not scharge for my time in Iceland (as I should have done).

    • Whilst I cannot answer for Carl, I can say that we only returned from Iceland at the beginning of November. I know that Carl was insanely busy at work….to the point that he was becoming ill…and that he was putting his mind to his wedding which, quite rightly in my opinion, was his top priority once we had got that trip out of the way.
      I don’t even know whether or not he is able to come on here and speak for himself at the moment. As it happens, I am rather relieved that this project went on his back burner because I can now see quite clearly that to progress in the form that we had in mind at the time (a limited company set up with myself and Islander as main stakeholders) would have been folly. In my opinion, Carl’s delay has actually protected the interests of the fund contributors. I may elaborate upon this privately with one or two of you…but here is not the place for that.

  11. I invested a little bit in the production fund, what I could afford. I never thought that this would be a fast project—in fact I was not sure it would even be possible. Myself, I am certainly happy to wait until Carl has his honeymoon to hear his accounting. In the meantime, Happy Chanukah, Happy Solstice, and Merry Christmas to all! I am delighted to have found this group and enjoy reading teh blog very much.

    • Glad you enjoy it, but some of the stuff I think up scares the crap out of me, from a Black Swan perspective. Humans may be getting long in the tooth and just don’t realize it yet.

      • Truth is not necessarily comforting., that’s why it’s so unpopular. Our species has been lucky to pass through many bottlenecks in our evolution, but we will not be here forever. Many things could wipe us out, including a major change in Earth’s climate and atmosphere—whether it was at least partly anthropogenic would make little difference to our survival. Plus in my view at least, we are living in perilous times, socially and economically. I hesitate to spell out much, as I don’t want to make any statements that upset anyone of different views. I will just say: I am a first-generation American, and find that most Americans have little to no historical, economic, or cultural perspective on their own country, and are almost completely ignorant of other countries. Most seem to have morphed from being citizens to being consumers (but let me not get started on that). I also come of pioneer stock, just a couple generations back, and grew up with skills that are rare in this society. I am constantly shocked at how few skills the people around me have in dealing with the environment. Just to start with, they have no concept of how to dress for the weather. I view them as very vulnerable and fragile. If the electrical power goes out for long, they’re in trouble.

        • That’s one of the things I really appreciate about this site – the opportunity to talk with people from other countries. I’ve learned so much in the four short months I have been here and, as an added pleasure, become very fond of my new friends too.

          You may find this short video interesting, Simi. It was made by student reporters at Texas Tech who decided to conduct a survey of fellow students. I could accurately answer all the questions in the first batch but hadn’t as clue about those in the second batch which tells you a lot about my interests!

          To watch it, just copy this URL: and paste it into a new tab/window.

          • I did the same with that video. I have no clue who Brad Pitt was married to, and I’m not even sure I could pick him out of a lineup. As for world history, I probably wouldn’t do well, but I’d kick the butts of virtually any other American.

          • Nice find! . Luckily Texas Tech is not the obvious place for training future political leaders. But why so many psychology students at a technic? And no technology students? Perhaps a tad biassed sample. Psychology students should know their future clientele – and they obviously do.

        • The truth? There are many truths, depending on where you stand, what you observe, when you enter the space / situation, etc. They may differ and yet all fit into a greater puzzle. If we hop up and down on our own bit of puzzle, demanding its truth as the only truth… people get upset. Often with reason.:) I think. But hens have a remarkably small brain.

          • But our hen is a remarkably sagacious bird. 🙂

            This is why it’s important to to make a distinction between truth and facts. Facts do not change whether you believe them or not. Truth, on the other hand, may truthfully be my truth or your truth or his truth or her truth – in addition to the realm it inhabits with facts, it also has a subjective realm which is just as valid.

            Years ago my mother bought me a book (cannot remember the name of it now and it got lost in one of my many moves) written by a futurist and modern philosopher. I recall one thing from this book, the one thing that made the greatest impact – truth is like all good things, it should be used in moderation. That’s certainly true for subjective truths and is very wise advice all round.

        • I had a loss of electrical power for about 5 weeks a few years ago. I essentially lived off of a sack of potatoes and a fire.

          Even more years ago than that, a SciFi author stated that civilization is only three missed meals from anarchy.

        • *Biting tongue* not most Americans. Some Americans yes. Depends what part of the USA you are in. I’m sure you can say the same about others in other countries too.

          • On youtube, I knew all the answers asked. Even tho I don’t watch Jersey Shore I knew who Snookie was. 🙂 As for history I love it. Around here students I know do know the answers to these questions. It is sad tho when the youth & some older adults do not think it’s important to know current events and history. I do hope anyone who has the lack of knowledge stays away from the voting booth until they educate themselves. 🙂

    • I did not invest as not having sufficient personal funds. I don’t know what was promised but suggest that an interim progress statement is given to investors on Carl’s return. The directors of limited companies do have legal obligations in terms of safeguarding companies assets, audit and accounting. But three months is early days for that, unless other promises were made to investors.

      In the meantime, wishing you all greetings of the season and Carl a happy honeymoon.

  12. Hello Folks,
    It seems that there are only some tens of metres before the previous furthest extent of lava flow is passed.

    However I would not like to bet on how long that will take in the current sub zero temperatures

    • The difference in air temperature between summer and winter I would think does not play a big role in cooling the lava. The molten lava is between 800° and 1200°C. Right now the air temperature near the eruption is -13°C (IMO map), I assume in the heat of summer it might get to 30°C tops, and probably not anywhere near that. So you are looking at a difference of 40°C versus lava temperatures, in the flowing areas over 800°C. Radiative cooling goes as the 4th power of the temperature (K) but even that is a moderate difference. (1073^4-260^4)/(1073^4-300^4) = 1.003 or about .3 percent. There are much bigger differences in the cooling rates depending on the wind velocity and snow and rain amounts. However, my Heat Transfer course were way too long ago for me to estimate those effects. Lava temps from article on lava cooling by Thorbjörn Sigurgeirsson

  13. From IMO ( update 19-dec-2014):

    “Yesterday, 18 December, scientists flew over Bárðarbunga. The data collected in the flight show that the subsidence of the caldera continues with similar rate as before and amounts to about 56 m in total from the onset of the unrest. The total volume of the caldera subsidence is estimated to be about 1.7 km³. ”

    Total caldera subsidence estimated at 1.7 cubic km.
    Holuhraun has just passed the 1 cubic km mark ( basalt flood), that leaves 0.7 cubic km of volume unaccounted for.
    Surely there must be some of that volume in the dike, but 0.7 cubic km seems like to much volume to me.

    Anybody who can make an estimate of the probable dike volume?

    Assuming that doesn’t account for the entire 0.7 cubic km, where did the rest of the subsided volume go?
    Melted glacier? Where did the water go?
    Does molten rock behave like molten ice? Does it inhabit less volume than in a solid state?
    Did some open cravesses inside the caldera or surrounding rock collapse ( seems hardly plausible to me that there would be any open spaces inside the volcano, due to the immense pressure of the calderaweight and glacier weight on top of that. Then again, what do I know ;))

    According to the IMO statement, the subsidence of the caldera is about 1.7 cubic km, does any of you have a possible theory to explain the missing volume?

    Happy days!!

    • Is there any missing volume?, need to know the uncertainties in the estimates. The missing material could be in bad estimates, some of it is in the dikes. Minerals in general do not get more dense as the temperature increases, even water though more dense at 3°C compared to 0°C is not more dense at 30°C. Density 0°C 0.999842 g/cc, 3°C 0.999967, 30°C 0.99565 g/cc. Some rocks do undergo phase transformations that can change the density but I am not familiar enough with volcanic rocks to discuss those in particular.

      • I’m not sure if there’s volume missing. But if I try to add up the volumes that has been estimated here on VC in the past and compare that to the volume of the caldera subsidence mentioned in IMO’s update on the 19th of dec, it seems to me as quite a large difference.

        I can’t recall the estimated volume of the dyke exactly, but I think I’ve read something in the range of 0.3 cubic km.
        Does anyone know how much the volume is of the estimated lavafield at Holuhraun?
        On the previous page I read that Holihraun just received the official status of a Flood Basalt ( if that is an “official status”), meaning it passed the 1 cubic km mark. Ref:

        Because this article is dated dec 19th, I ( falsely ?) assumed that the Holuhraun volume is not much over 1 cubic km.
        Roughly that would leave approximately 0,4 cubic km of volume unaccounted for.
        Maybe I’m misinformed about the figures and is my question not legit.
        But if the figures are valid, I was wondering where that 0,4 cubic km of volume has gone.
        Could it be gas?
        Does anyone have an idea on this?

        • If we take a dyke length of 45km and depth 10km, and a dyke width of 1m, we get 0.45cubic kilometer, 1meter is approximately the measured surface displacement. The syke is probably wider deeper down (magma in narrow dykes cools and solidifies quite fast, about 1 week for 1 meter width). For a 2 meter dyke we get 0.9 cubic kilometer. On the other hand, the depth of the dyke is j an overestimate.: it is more like 5km away from the mountain. I’d say 0.5 cubic kilometer in the dyke, within a factor of two.

          Last week’s Nature article by Freysteinn Sigmundsson states a more accurate number:
          “The total volume intruded into the dyke by 28 August was 0.48–0.51 km3 .”

          So lava volume plus the dyke intrusion is very similar to the caldera subsidence

          • Looking over the article by Freysteinn Sigmundsson and his team. The volume calculations for the dyke assumes the SIL stations are picking up everything that is happening in the area. Nothing is done to clarify i why that should be the case. So one must assume that 0,5 km^3 is the part of the dyke that resides in solid whole rock, capable of producing measurable earthquakes. So this is more like minimum size.

          • I believe I can account for the missing volume. Given that Nornahraun is estimated to be over 1 km³ and the volume in the main dyke as 0.5 km³, that adds up to approximately 1.5 km³ so there is only 0.1-0.2 km³ to account for.

            In the first two weeks after the onset of this unrest (16th August), there was evidence of a dyke striking towards Kistufell (Kistufell was not interested though and remained soundly asleep) and another striking towards Hamarinn (which came to a dead end long before it reached Hamarinn). Just over a month ago, there was evidence that another dike was striking in the direction of Tungnafellsjökull. In addition to these, it was also estimated that the main dyke had passed the current eruption point by about 2 km before an offbranch found the old crater field at Holuhraun and erupted to the surface.

            I would imagine that the missing volume may well be contained within these dykes and their extensions.

            • Mmm maybe but I’m not sure they’re connected – metaphorically or literally.

              I seem to remember from my review of the data at the time that the Hamarinn dyke at least may have been a radial dyke intruded from a shallow magma body in the caldera, and unrelated (except in ultimate regional stress cause, of course) to the deep Holuhraun-feeding activity.

            • Hi Mike! 🙂

              I don’t mean to imply these other dykes are in any way related to the activity at Holuhraun, just that these dykes were, like the main dyke to Holuhraun, a means of taking magma out of Bárðarbunga. If 1.7 km³ of volume has left Bárðarbunga and 1.5 km³ of that volume can be accounted for in the Nornahraun lava field and the magma volume in the main dyke, then whatever magma lies in the lesser dykes would surely account for the other 0.2 km³ of volume missing from Bárðarbunga.

            • Hi Mike

              According to last week’s Nature paper, the current dyke was also fed originally from a shallow reservoir (1-3km), and only after a few weeks moved to deeper reservoir (9km). So it is not inconsistent.

              The 1km3 in the eruption must be a lower limit, and the most likely amount somewhat larger. There may not be any missing volume.

      • I think it HAS to be over 1km3, since 80km2 x 12.5 meters avg thickness is 1km3. Early on, the avg thickness was said by IMO to be ~14 meters, and that was before many weeks went by of continued effusion with little expansion of the field. It took a long time to go from 70km2 to 80km2, when it didn’t take much time at all to get to that original 70km2. I assumed that the field was thickening all that time, and I am of the belief that the avg thickness of the field is indeed much more than 12.5 meters.

    • It still looks a tad circumstancial… but no harm done, people are having fun…
      Though circumstantial evidence might not be quite enough to build “scientific” theory…

  14. With regard to the whole movie thing: I invested what I could (I don’t have much money) and I may be prepared to invest more in future (though I still don’t have much). I have had some experience with potential film-makers in the past and know it can take many years to come to fruition, if it ever gets off the ground. It’s a very high-risk enterprise and the main reason for investing is to be along for the ride. I’m happy to let the experts do their thing and give us an update as and when they can.

    • Thank you Talla, you are right. It is a long and fraught process. I think I said as much when I first came on board. There are no guarantees other than I/we will try to make it happen. I/we also fully appreciate the generosity of those that invested. I have been with VC from day one. It has always been a place characterised by good will. I hope it stays that way.

      • “I did not invest as not having sufficient personal funds. I don’t know what was promised but suggest that an interim progress statement is given to investors on Carl’s return. The directors of limited companies do have legal obligations in terms of safeguarding companies assets, audit and accounting. But three months is early days for that, unless other promises were made to investors.

        In the meantime, wishing you all greetings of the season and Carl a happy honeymoon.”

        Karen, it is indeed early days and when we were making use of the money in the fund we made sure that what we did was visible. We also shot a fair few bits and pieces which would have ended up on here in the form of updates but Islander’s decision to bow out of the process made that impossible. At this stage there was not much else to add. I have been busy earning a crust and getting things in place for another film I’m shooting in January. Carl has been getting married. As soon as I got wind that people were concerned, I came on here.

        • Thanks for the info manofthemoors, look forward to hearing more and seeing Carls return. Miss his comments when we get in a muddle on volcano discussions.

      • All participants should treat the investment as a hobby expected to result in terminal wealth = 0.
        Instead of financial return satisfaction should be derived from the fact that anything has been achieved at all if indeed such should be the case.

        It is just not very likely that such a movie will be a box office hit making millions and this shoulld have been clear from the beginning.

      • Mike – be satisfied with the amazing footage you did get and posted here. Nature is not going to
        give you everything in one go! Thanks by the way for sharing it with us. I have viewed it about
        3 times and each time find it awesome.

    • Congratulations on spotting our Deliberate mistake 🙂 Your prize? a great big Volcanic HUG from me (The VC resident Biologist) and an on line kiss under the Mistletoe 😀 😀

      • The funny thing is that brings back memories of home. Used to be, we would shoot mistletoe out of the pecan trees. Ya see, mistletoe is a parasitic plant that uses the nutrients from the tree that it attaches to. While driving along, you can spot it as green lumps of foliage up in trees that have gone dormant for the winter. The down side is that it was pretty much useless to us… unless you are into violating consanguinity restrictions.

  15. ……..and now a Winter rumination before I toddle off for my second cup of coffee……
    Today is the Winter Solstice.
    For all of us in the Northern hemisphere who are suffering the depression of cold dark mornings and early sunsets. Grey days of defrosting the car before leaving for work and wrestling with thermal underwear stretch before us.
    So you think the days will get longer now? You really think the weather will get better? You really believe that global warming will improve this depressing, soggy greyness?
    Just read this really scientific article, then snuggle back into bed, Ignore the retail hype of this manic shopping season and listen to your body telling you to hibernate for the next few months. Yes! The lack of daylight does make you want to sleep…………..

    😀 😀

  16. I missed this upthread

    “FarmerOz is wise, drunk or not. I concur on all points, warned of problems at the outset (with this kind of result in mind), and have nothing but sympathy for all participants.

    I also thank FarmerOz for letting me succumb to the temptation to say “I told you so” while imagining that I”m being helpful.


    Farmer Oz was right to a point. You might want to wait before cashing in your “I told you so” though. I can tell you that the project is not finished. It has not even really started. As it happens, the scope of VC Productions is likely to expand rather than disappear in a puff of smoke. Things have to be done properly though. Due process needs to be followed, which takes time….. clearly more time than one of our team was prepared to wait.

    • Personally, and with no deep insight, I basically trust carl et al.

      But do not expect wonders (yet anyway).

      The guys involved are not crooks (In my opinion) but that doesn’t mean everything will work out perfectly.

      Heck, Friday night at 12.21 and once again pissed as a newt, thank gods for spelckekkars…..

      ( reakllly BIG HIC!!!!)

      This was a difficult post, trust em.

  17. For me the most interesting revelation of Holuhraun is that the flow rate is greater than the mean flow rate of the Deccan traps and other large igneous provinces. Nobody believes that a Holuhraun size event can wipe out the dinosaurs.

    For that we would expect flows at least hundreds of times bigger. Such a deviation from the mean is possible but not very llikely under ordinary circumstances.

    • Hmmm, not so sure about the mean flow rate being that high? The Deccan Traps took around 30,000 yrs (possibly less) to erupt the estimated 512,000 km3, or about 17 km3 per year on average. At Holuhraun, we’ve had ~ 1km3 erupt in around 3 months which extrapolates to ~ 4km3 / yr flow rate. Always sobering when looking at the sheer magnitudes of these past volcanic episodes and what our Mother earth is capable of.

      • You know more than me, I have used this source
        where an emplacement of 1-2 milllion years is posited.
        I would be interested if you could point me to sources indicating such a much lower time.

        But even if your estimate is correct, still a very large excursion from the mean for some sustained period of time would be needed to kill off the dinosours from small to large in every corner of the world.

        • The yield of Holhraun is actually about 2km3 in 3 months, as some several weeks ago it was already by the IMO confirmed to have past the 1km3 mark and the rate kept going on. The rate is near 0.7km3 per month, or 8km3/year.

          Some shield eruptions in Iceland erupted 40km3 in one single way, but lasting several years to decades. Holuhraun might be just another example. Please note that some large shield volcanoes in Iceland can be monogenic volcanoes (one time eruption, no independent magma chamber, feeder dike came from central volcano along rifting zone).

          • What argues against more than a lava field developing at Holuhraun is the lack of evidence for any new upwelling, past what’s already there, from a mantle source. Though, that could change any time in response to the unrest above.

            What favors further development is that the dike system is filled with magma, so that almost all magma will now erupt instead of filling gaps due to rifting. At the eruption sites, the lava is degassing to a good extent, abd is producing scoria which is expanded in volume due to all those of gas/air pockets. Now 1 km cu-km3 of magma will make 2-3 cu-km of rock.

      • That’s okay, I just realized why cold damp weather causes great unease to me. It’s great “stepping on a nail” weather. As a kid, I did that. Hurt like a mo-fo. The tetanus shot wasn’t any fun either. Weather? Exactly like it is now. Cold and damp.

        Note: “Cold” is relative. I mean cold for this climate. Some of ‘yall would consider this quite balmy. (13°C)

      • The antipodal graphics in the first link is very nice.
        However I think that much energy must be dissipated along the way and the focal mechanism must be imperfect so that I would expect weaker effects at the target than at the source.

      • Antipodal impactor theories are fun to imagine because at first blush they’re plausible.

        The best way to start to test the idea is on a planetary body that is both subject to huge impacts and is free from continental drifts that mess up the historical record. For this purpose, we have the Moon to look at. While the lava seas are on the Earth facing side, many impact sites are on the far side. Is there, not a statistical correlation subject to uncertainties, but at least some exact correspondence of impact craters and antipodal lava terrains?

        • One interesting facet of impacts that not many people think about is concurrent volcanism that takes place at the place of the impact.

          Think about it – if you could plausibly get enough energy to cause a trap event on the other side of the world, this should be enough to cause highly significant volcanism at the spot of the impact. Turns out, this does happen, but it’s not known to what extent. Also, this brings in a question of whether there could be a potential impact site beneath other major trap events (part of the problem with flood basalts is they tend to cover a lot of stuff). A major flood basalt would be a perfect candidate to destroy any evidence of a comet / asteroid impact site.

  18. I had my neighbours from Swedish Lapland over last year. They are used to -30 or – 40 celcius. However, they moaned like hell all the time they were here (in Yorkshire) that it was freezing….despite the fact that it was 2 or 3 degrees above. It wasn’t the cold that got ’em, it was the damp.

    • Yeah, in the summer and the heat, the humidity acts to lower the efficiency of the human cooling mechanism (sweat) but in the winter, the high humidity acts to sap the heat from you. It increases the thermal mass of a given quantity of air. Right now we are holding at 93% relative humidity. This is from the onshore flow as moisture is being drawn up into the winter storm forming in the northern States.

        • Here in NE Oregon we are in the throes of a “Pineapple clipper” which originates off Hawaii and brings subtropical moisture to California and Oregon. My Wife has not experienced one in NE Oregon, On the southern
          Oregon Coast, yes. There is a Nez Peirce word for this and it is called a
          “Snow Eater” don’t have my Nez Peirce friend handy, so I won’t even attempt spelling. Frezzing level is heading up to 2500m and is going to stay there for few days,… it is 9C outside..
          But. Humdidty is 96% and wife is sitting by the roaring fire. “Coastal”..
          is all she says…

      • Come to Iceland to check what is a cold sensation. Often it is 100% at around -2ºC, and still sometimes full humidity even at -6ºC. Sometimes it is even snowing and fog when it is down to -15ºC, and other times moist and very windy! It certainly feels very cold. Obviously, in Greenland, Siberia or Canada, one can have even lower temps and moisture, and sometimes dry weather and temps of -50ºC.

        • I never threw that out as a challenge. The day before I left for Boot Camp, we were out dove hunting in a Soybean field at 95% humididy and 98°F. The next day, I was in Chicago in a snowstorm. That night, 2″ of ice formed on the inside of the Barracks windows. Though it was quite itchy, I came to appreciate the concept of wool. (Military issue blankets tend to have the general construction of a horseblanket)

        • I set my temp at 60°F for the winter. I dress warmly, which sometimes includes wearing a hat in the house. Gas is expensive! plus, I haven’t managed to insulate the place yet.

          • Is the price of gas going up as the price of oil comes down or will it also go down eventually? When insulating, look into the price of wool insulation. It’s very popular here in Australia not only for its natural insulation properties but because it is fire resistant.

    • Yep, I lived for quite a while in Alberta Canada with frequent temperatures about that of your neighbours. But the humidity was very low and air in a heated house would have such low humidity one would get cracked lips and bloody noses.

      I used to hunt rabbits at temperatures below – 10 C and not notice the cold. BTW snow would not melt most of the winter but in direct sun the snow would sublime and slowly disappear. This was easy to see next to a board fence where the snow was always deeper in the shadows of the boards.

      Ask your friends about the ice fogs. At these low temperatures you do not get water droplet fogs instead you experience fogs of ice crystals. The crystals are sharp and would sting your nose inside when inhaling.

  19. I saw an interesting video on frazil ice, with is a LOT like a lava flow! Now let’s see if I can actually link it correctly…


  20. Gone midnight but all is quiet and I have time to relax with hot cocoa and catch up in here.
    @ Manofthe moors thank you for your update.
    Like Talla I had little money to invest but I chipped in like many others here.
    Like Talla I understand that production in movie making of any kind is usually a slow business and inclined to have risks. (Even Hollywood gets it wrong!).
    My contribution was not so much invested as given to help fund the initial investigation into the feasibility of VC producing a professional film. I am sure that there will be a summary of the financial activities as soon as Carl gets back into routine.
    I am sad to hear that Islander has bowed out. I can understand his pressing need to earn money to live. Film making is an expensive and slow undertaking that normally takes time especially in the planning stage. and I am sure that there was not enough money raised to keep all concerned professionals in paid work for any length of time. My understanding was that the initial amount raised, which included a substantial amount invested personally by Carl, would cover the expenses of the initial planning and legal set up prior to location planning, hiring of equipment and the other 101 other expenses to be planned for.
    I am quite happy at your explanation and description of the initial meeting in Iceland.
    I understand that you of course have other production work to attend to as you say “to earn a crust”. It’s incredibly hard work being freelance! Your unpaid and voluntary work here to date is appreciated. Thank you.
    I can also understand why Carl has not been here. He’s been over the other side of the world on personal business….getting married.
    In the three years of Volcanocafe’s existence I have watched as Carl and many other people have juggled their working lives and their dedication to VC. I know he and others have incredibly heavy work or domestic schedules yet still they manage to give their time.
    I am sure that, as the owner of this successful site, Carl will come back in the New Year refreshed from his much needed break.
    Time for bed….
    But not before I watch that brilliant video of Holuhraun one more time…… Thanks Mike 🙂

    • I did not invest in the movie as transferring money from South Africa is just too complicated. But I would have happily contributed, without expecting any returns, had I been in Europe at the time.
      The pleasure derived from this site would easily justify what I would have considered as a donation.
      Having worked in the movie industry in LA and been on the production side I can assure you that things move incredibly slowly and that there is absolutely no guarantee of success. Many projects never get beyond the pre-production stage, which is also an expensive and indispensable step in making any movie. Unless Hekla the Movie is made into a sensational script with lots of drama it will never be a blockbuster – but there is a less lucrative market in documentaries and even getting them distributed requires a heck of a lot of work and expense is involved. I would love for Carl to see this project through and have every confidence in him from a financial aspect. Anyone working in M&A
      lives an incredibly stressful life (my son was involved for two years and threw it up to run a street
      football project in Lima where he became human again!) I am certain that in the New Year we will be hearing lots from Carl.
      On an extremely happy note – Bardy has behaved, there are no air travel restrictions, and my children take off today to arrive in Cape Town for Christmas – they are coming from LA, Montreal and London and this is one happy mother!
      To everyone, have a wonderful Christmas and thanks for contributing to this absolutely fabulous site.

      • Oh Monique. What a wonderful Christmas for you.:)
        That is truly what the Christmas spirit is about. Families and friends being together in love and harmony.
        Hopefully Skype will bring some of my family to our home on Christmas day. It will be strange just two of us and a very small piece of roast beef. …….
        Now before I get all tearful and maudlin here…….
        A quick festive rumination…..
        As there are only two of us this year I started thinking about THE TURKEY I will not be cooking….this is an imported tradition from our cousins in the USA…..Then we have just had Black Friday……imported from our cousins in the USA…….Candy Canes…….Disney Films…….Then I got to thinking…….Do you Volcanocafe people in the USA know what a traditional English …well British….. Christmas is like?
        We have some traditions that go back thousands of years…..for instance hanging up mistletoe to ensure fertility in the house. Eating mince pies. Those go back to the days before sugar was imported from the Americas…..King Henry the Eighth liked them. Small pastry cases shaped like a baby’s cradle and filled with minced meat, honey and dried fruits. These days the pastry cases are round and the only hint of actual animal flesh is the beef suet, a hard fatty tissue found round the kidney’s of cattle. The dried fruit and apples are still the same though…Mmmmmmm Yummy……..

        It’s time for coffee # 2 so I’ll leave you with some more very British Christmas traditions. Enjoy your last three days of preparations………:D

        • This is part of my Christmas traditions. My Pop did his fair share of calling the dances at the local Grange hall in Summerville (the most inappropriately named town in Oregon -it is at the North end of the Grande Ronde valley
          famous for its south winds.-think multiple meters of snow..

        • I may have grown up in the US (and later in Canada) and currently live in the US, but my Canadian mother made a very English Christmas for us when I was young. The live tree went up Christmas Eve and the first sight of it we children had was on Christmas morning. Homemade mincemeat, made with suet (the birds got cakes of suet as well, hung up in trees), and homemade lemon curd, baked in tarts . . . roast beef and Yorkshire pudding . . . fruitcake made back in October according to my great grandmother’s recipe, and wrapped in old linen tea towels soaked in whiskey, which was replenished every couple of weeks (and which we all considered a delicious treat, as opposed to the current American attitude that fruitcake is a joke, good only as a doorstop) . . . stockings with oranges and nuts and a chocolate or two . . . homemade decorations on the tree, including lacy snowflakes cut from paper, and long ropes of popcorn and cranberries that we children strung using darning needles. We weren’t rich, and we recycled all our ribbon and wrapping paper from year to year—no ripping open presents, we carefully unwrapped each one. We didn’t have a television or go to the movies or the mall (in fact, I’m old enough that there weren’t any malls till I was in my teens). We children dug tunnels and caves in the snow and went skating on the lake, and my mum would build a little fire on the beach to warm our hands, and pour from the thermos of hot cocoa. People complain a great deal these days about the commercialization of Christmas, but if people will only get rid of the TV and don’t go to the malls, they can excise 98% of the commercialization from their lives.

    • Well, said Diana.
      I, too, appreciate Nick taking the time to give an update – thanks, Nick!
      No issues for me on the speed of progress – I occasionally work in the film industry and am well aware of the vagaries of pre- and post-production delays, funding issues and a host of other variables that none of us are conscious of as we settle down to watch a finished product. If it is meant to be – it will be.

      • It’s no bother at all Kathryn. If I were to draw an analogy with a marathon, we haven’t even reached the start line yet….but we have laced our shoes and can start warming up. The Iceland meeting was only over three days but it was incredibly useful. I have a much better grasp of the geography of the place, distances etc Previously I hadn’t appreciated quite how hostile the environment is up around Hekla either. I know now. Aside from the cold and the barren nature of the landscape, you are surrounded by reminders (in the shape of tephra and lava bombs) that it’s not a place to ever feel comfortable/easy or complacent. I realise that production insurance and risk assessments aren’t going to be straight forward that’s for sure.

  21. Off topic, but may be of interest to others here – there are reports of lots of nacreous Polar Stratospheric Clouds around the arctic at the moment. Saw a photo from Norway earlier today on Fbook, then Spaceweather dot com have just added an article. One for my wish list.

  22. Something strange happened. I’m suddenly logged out of WordPress and my username and Email are not in their Db anymore.
    I’ll be lurking now under the name of tlfkathetsunami ( the lurker formerly known as TheTsunami), upercase letters are prohibited apparently 🙂

    Anyone else facing the same problem?
    IanF2, Talla Hopper?

  23. Agree with similkimeen about Christmas and am happy for Monique to have her children at home. Due to our family background, we celebrate with close family on Christmas Eve (and Christmas Day). The tree was always a surprise for the children; the gifts left after ringing the bell on the doorstep by Santa or the Christmas Angel – we were never quite sure which. This year my little niece was allowed to decorate the tree (will not be here for Christmas) a week ago. This Christmas is one of heartache and joy. One of our two children lost his wife (30) this year; the other is expecting a first baby every day now after losing one on Christmas day last year. Some friends are having a tough Christmas too, yet still there is gratitude for learning yet again that there is always room in one’s heart for more people… like these list members and the great joy of learning new things about our incredible planet and universe. Thank you all and may you have a safe and good Christmas, no matter whether you are with loved ones or not, you will be right there 🙂 below the Christmas tree as special gift for me this year. Take care out there and please touch the snow for me if you are up north, or stay cool if you are down south, and if you are in between, 🙂 just stay.
    hen, who has been declared a non-person by wordpress

    GL Edit: Dunno what “Werd”press is up to. But I can do temp fixes on posts. So far it seems to think I yam who I yam. (and dat’s all dat I yam)

    • 🙂 being yam is better than being jam – and thank you for restoring me

      GL Edit: It’s not a restore, just an edit. (as you have probably noticed by now)

          • Hi Hen and the former Tsunami! Bad news always seems worse at Christmas somehow. I’ve had enough Christmasses to not bother how they are celebrated now. My best times were in very hot countries so I’m not that keen on the snow and holly versions, also I don’t like the ‘traditional’ food that much (being a bit veggie). All-in-all I guess I’m a natural “Bah! Humbug!” person but I do wish everyone a peaceful, safe and happy time, however they celebrate.

            I’m now on my work computer and still not able to get back my old self. Last night I attempted to register with WordPress and was told a password would be sent to me – but it’s not appeared yet. Very odd. Do you think the North Koreans are after us? 😉 😀

  24. Another Off Topic Rumination……. Well not actually Volcanic but on Topic for the time of year. Also a little more about Engish traditions.. but this one for me is not pleasant…..

    Every Boxing Day my father and friends went on a shoot. This is a tradition with many upper Class Englishmen including Royalty.
    Dad wanted a male heir…he got me. Not only was I called after his first Air Rifle (The Diana) but he taught me to go Huntin’, Shootin’ and fishin’. I trained the gun dogs. I led the beaters. I had my own boat and escaped for hours out to sea with non of the safety requirements you would use on today’s children such as mobile phones or life jackets.
    Every Boxing day I would see and hear the massacre of the most beautiful birds, pheasants, assorted ducks, delicate little snipes. I can still hear the cries of wounded hares and rabbits
    As a result I am now passionate about protecting our wildlife. Even this year, sixty years on , I fought a local planning application that I know will hurt the bat colony near us and destroy yet more trees in the area. Sadly we lost as expected. Too many people with agendas, mostly financially or power driven, that certainly do not consider the benefits of protecting things of beauty and serenity. The tiny last vestige of an ancient track way with indigenous plants and animals is now flanked by building sites. Hundreds more little houses already showing flaws. Already sinking because of bad building construction and unsuitable land for building..
    My garden and the tiny oasis of other private gardens are the only way these a slim chance of regenerating and hopefully adapting.
    I can’t attract the snipe and curlew but I do have the smaller more adaptable birds such as reed buntings and thrushes.
    So here I am with little power to stop “progress”. I am locally called “The Bird lady” due to my taking in of injured birds, mostly feral pigeons.
    It’s sad that people only act when faced with the unpleasantness of blood and possible death and even then pass the problem to someone else.
    Me? I follow my heart. I try in my own small way to protect things I hold dear. Things that are threatened.
    Sending money to save animals in other parts of the world is good. Those charities do well. The money collected pays for experts and administrators who may or may not be successful in their protection.
    I though believe in spending my money on bird food where I can see the resulting survival of animals and birds less exotic yet equally, if not more ,endangered.
    So spare a thought for your little Christmas robins, the blackbird’s song that cheers us in spring time.
    Find out more about your local birds and wildlife and support them as best you can.
    When they have gone…..they have gone!

    • I agree, Diana. I too loathe the senseless destruction of wildlife in the name of ‘sport’ or ‘hunting’. Great swathes of moorland are now dedicated to killing fields of purposely bred birds. The natural predators are exterminated to allow the human exterminators free rein to kill. I’m sickened by photographs of children with their first kills. Why not teach them those same hunting skills but arm them with a camera and notebook? I’ve read that many of the African ‘Great White Hunters’ became sickened by the slaughter they were forced to perform by their wealthy clients, it was often these hunters-turned-conservationists who set up Game Reserves in order to preserve the last of the herds and their environment. Now others demand their ivory, Rhino horn and skins and feathers for their ‘traditional medicines’. They do not mind that the elephant might be made extinct as that would make their ivory more expensive! (I actually heard this said in an interview with a Chinese ivory dealer).

      Here in England the planning departments make vague gestures towards ‘conservation’. I’ve said before here that the water meadows, with their orchids,water vole, heron, deer, foxes, badgers and other birds and animals, are to be surrounded by ticky-tacky boxes and made into a ‘recreational and wildlife resource area’ by the developers. In other words they will be destroyed.

      I used to feed the local birds but got a new neighbour who immediately got two cats who killed the blackbird fledglings and I haven’t the heart to lure more birds in, just for them to be killed. I hope when I retire and move to a wilder place, I’ll be able to feed the local bords once more.

  25. Interesting news, which I don’t think has been mentioned on here, from RUV’s report on 19/12 of the Almannavarna meeting: “Askja Bárðarbungu hefur sigið um fjóra til fimm metra síðustu tvær vikurnar.”

    My Icelandic is extremely elementary but Giggle seems accurate enough: “Carton Bárðarbunga has sunk about four to five meters in the last two weeks.”

      • Dunno if I would lay the blame there. According to the news today, something serious happened to knock out several North Korean websites for several hours. This might be an artifact of that attack. No one is claiming responsibility, not even the US government. (but that would be “bad form” if they did it. So the longer they stay silent, the more likely it is that they are culpable. Either way, they will just use it as a means of pushing for greater control over the Net in the US.)

        To me, this seems similar to that outright on-line war that happened a few years ago. It never got much press, but it was essentially two separate continent’s hackers going at each other like mad. It lasted until one side capitulated. Which side one depends on who you talk to.

        I’m guessing, but it is possible that username/password data within WordPress may have been part of what this stuff is all about.

        • Mmm… I think I know where the main hacking after the one on Sony came from. Time will tell, or not, whether I am right. Was right once before… not that it means anything much.

      • Yes, indeed. Thanks for reminding me of that.

        Interesting the difference made by how and where we read things: I’d read the official report but it didn’t register particularly with me until I read it in the media.

        And btw, here in the UK, I don’t seem to be experiencing any WordPress glitches. Maybe it’s our spooks who’re playing…

  26. Oh man was that a good sleep. Storm rolled in about an hour after I went to bed and I slept like a literal log. I was down hard. A few times I was rousted half awake as the dogs were going nuts over the lightning. The Pekinese’s definitely does not like lightning. His yips of fear set the other dogs off, I tell them to settle down and doze back off. My wife, who is just as fearful of storms as the pekingese, stayed up to watch the weather clowns on TV so see if a tornado was coming by. Several years ago she rode out a tornado strike in South Central Mississippi with me and has been ultra spooked by storms ever since. My point of view is that her fear is unfounded. If it’s gonna getcha, it’s gonna getcha no matter what you do. All you can do is keep an eye on the weather and take shelter when appropriate. I think her fear is in part, due to me. When that tornado hit, I had been barking orders at her and my mom about what to do and where to be at… and in extremis, I’m not the most cordial and polite person in the world. We made it through that event, though she was a bit mentally traumatized by it. Yesterday, I stopped at a rest area and threw my jacket over my head to grab 5 minutes of snooze time and she was not happy sitting there watching the clouds. I tried to explain to her how to read them but she would have none of it. Fronts that roll through here have a definite pattern to the clouds as they go by, and watching their motion you can get a good handle on just how close the front is. The front acts like a snow-plow and as it comes through it picks up the moisture and cloud and shoves them off to the north. When they interact with the cool air of the front they lift and make the gnarly thunderstorms.

  27. I haven’t been providing earthquake summaries lately because there are so few M≥3 per day now. To make up for this, I’ve drawn up a table of all M≥5 earthquakes over the last four months, since the onset of the current unrest:

    The monthly totals are:
    24-31 August: 10
    September: 29
    October: 26
    November: 9
    1-25 December: 6

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