Bárðarbunga, the End of the Eruption or…?


Fig 1. From Holuhraun lava field 4 March 2015. The central part of the crater Baugur (Circle) on March 4th, view to the North along the crater. The encrusted surface of the lava lake has collapsed. Its remains are now a course, black rubble at the bottom of the crater. Small vents of blueish gas can be seen sporadically at the crater floor. The crater rim on the right hand side gave way and and allowed an outlet onto the lava field beyond; the channel is about 50 m wide and 40 m deep. (Ármann Höskuldsson, IMO)

By Henrick:

It has now been a month since the IMO proclaimed that the eruption in the Holuhraun area was over following an overflight on March 3rd followed up by a field trip on March 4th. As early as October last year, Haraldur Sigurdsson, the doyen of Icelandic volcanologists, prognosticated that the eruption would come to an end at the beginning of March, an uncannily accurate prediction it may seem.

But is it so uncanny? Several of our readers made similar prognostications based on the observed rate of subsidence and how that rate it seemed to decline. Fast-winding their curves yielded similar results, the only uncertainty being whether or not a pocket of eruptible, evolved magma would be breached, re-heated and then erupt. As of date, this has not happened nor has the jökulhlaup feared should a major eruption begin under the Vatnajökull glacier. In the end, the 2014-5 eruption was a very pretty, albeit on occasion for the inhabitants of affected areas, a very unpleasant and sulphurous experience.

There is an inverse relationship between the cumulative seismic moment, the energy released in the form of earthquakes, the rate of observed subsidence and the volume of magma erupted in the Holuhraun area. No doubt, scientists at NordVulk will publish several papers in the coming years and months explaining this gravitationally-assisted or –powered eruption in great detail. On February 14th, the IMO reported the extent of the two lava field as having reached 85 km² (84,6 km² + 0,4 km²), a figure since not improved upon. The total amount of erupted magma is estimated to have been at leat 1.4 km3 (Feb 1st) but that is not the full story.

This is a rifting event. The rift is 45 km long and roughly 17.5 km high. Calculating the width is though a bit more interesting. If we take the east and west dilation between the Dyngjuháls (DYNC) and Kverkfjöll (Gengissig, GSIG) is by now 44.5cm. To get the correct values we have to take to recognize that the GPS-station are a bit far from the rift so the value is larger. Now, if we compare with the apparent dilation on further out stations we can roughly calculate that the true value is around 135cm. That would give a volume of intruded magma sitting in the rift of 1.05 km3.

Bardarbunga manually checked

Fig . Manually processed earthquakes since August 16th 2014 (IMO)

But this is not the end of the story. In addition to the intrusion towards Holuhraun, there was a failed intrusion along another fissure line to the NNE which leads to another volcano, Kistufell. This intrusion stopped once the eruption at Holuhraun began.

Further north and separated from Holuhraun by a graben, there was a lot of activity going on in the Herðubreið area. This is nothing new as the area has been geologically active for years, but from the earthquake signatures, it would seem that this is all tectonic readjustments and not an ongoing intrusion. That there will eventually be an eruption in this area is a given, but perhaps not now.


Fig . Tugnafellsjökull volcano from Sprengisandsdalur. (VC reader Jamie)


What from a volcanological point of view is a much more interesting development is that a radial fissure opened up from Bárðarbunga to the Tungnafellsjökull/Vonaskard volcano with its twin calderas. The activity began about six weeks into the eruption and continued right unto the end with several hundreds of manually checked, i.e. greater than M2.5 if the same principle has been followed, earthquakes ranging from a deep 13 km to a shallow 2 km. There can be little doubt that there has been a substantial magmatic emplacement in this volcano, and as there have been very deep earthquakes (up to 30 km) since 2013, this volcano should be closely watched, especially since almost nothing is known about her eruptive history. There are however no signs that an eruption is “imminent”.

Finally, there is Bardarbunga itself. Icelandic geologists and volcanologists have repeatedly warned against complacency. It is such a huge volcano, with such vast reservoirs of magma and capable of inducing very large eruptions as far away as Torfájökull and Veidivötn 1477 (VEI 6) and Askja 1875 (VEI 5). The 2014-5 Holuhraun eruption is actually very small in comparison to what she can do and indeed by many was expected to do. Right at the beginning, we cautioned our readers to expect a Long Wait and the waiting is not yet over.

I’d like to end on a more personal note. It will have escaped few that Carl predicted this eruption just before all the fun began and he has now received a very rare accolade from one of our favourite authors of PDFs – “Congratulations on Bardarbunga”.



110 thoughts on “Bárðarbunga, the End of the Eruption or…?

  1. Word of advise for anyone that fancies themselves as a swordsman.

    A Santa Rosa deputy pumped a suspect full of lead yesterday who then fell over and died. Why? The suspect had attacked his partner with a Katana during an investigation into a disturbance over in Navarre. According to what the 911 dispatcher was told, the suspect was armed with a knife. I am assuming that the sword in question was a Katana, all the news bobblehead had to say was that it was a “Japanese Sword.”


    “In a heavily redacted offense report released by the Sheriff’s Office, witnesses said that Kimbrell had consumed half a bottle of rum prior to the confrontation and was heavily intoxicated. When another resident of the household asked him to stop drinking, Kimbrell became violent and started throwing kitchen knives at them.”

    “The details of Kimbrell’s shooting are redacted from the report, but according to the a Sheriff’s Office press release, deputies arrived on the scene a short time later. Kimbrell was instructed several times to put the sword down but failed to comply. When Deputy Matt Ray approached Kimbrell, Kimbrell struck him with the sword multiple times.

    The second deputy on scene, Sgt. Brian Miller, fired several shots, incapacitating Kimbrell. Ray and Kimbrell were transported by ambulance to a local hospital.”

    • Yesterday, on my return trip from Midway, I had to go through Holly-Navarre. I noted that there were a couple of recent signs posted designating the entry points for “Alabama National Guard Training Area” up in the Eglin AFB property area. My guess is that after work, they can bop down to Navarre and go party on the beach. There are more than enough STDs for them down there. And one less drunken swordsman to worry about.

    • On a side note. This county is looking for a place to build a new jail. Our blew up several months ago. In the mean time, our female inmates are housed over in Santa Rosa County’s jail and I think the males are being kept at the Sheriff’s work camp. Reportedly, Santa Rosa county is okay with this since we pay them $58/day per inmate. I’ve been past the Santa Rosa county facility, and if some one breaks out there, they will have a difficult time of it. One of the State Prisons is right next door and they have an award winning tracking dog team.

      • According to the news, he’s already had one surgery and is slated to have a follow-up surgery. The swordsman, not so much. He’s a few ounces heavier and succumbed to lead poisoning. Our deputies are pretty good at shot placement. Behind that prison that I mentioned, is a firing range and I think the Sheriff’s dept and the State Officers both use it quite a bit.

  2. Thank you for an interesting post, Henrik 🙂 & congratulations to Carl for the accolade 🙂

    What next after Holuhraun? Good question.

    I have a few questions: is the volume of lava erupted at Holuhraun quite high compared to the subsidence at Bardargunga; did some of the lava erupted come direct from the mantle, rather than Bardarbunga; how much of the subsidence seen at Bardarbunga was due to rifting and / or melting ice, rather than erupted lava; if there was a subglacial eruption, will we see a jökulhlaup with the Spring thaw?

    • In my opinion, this is pretty good evidence that Holuhraun may have gone a long way in establishing it’s own feed system, to eventually become an independent volcano unto itself.

    • Congratulations, both on a very informative post and to Carl for the accolade!

      Where the magma in Holohraun came from: all from Bardarbunga. I think the excellent correlation between the subsidence there and the eruption (and the fact they ended simultaneously) leaves little doubt. There is a question how deep the sourcing went, but not where the source was. If Holohraun had developed its own magma reservoir, there would have been local inflation and the eruption would have lasted a bit longer. Bu Henrik is right, there is a huge reservoir underneath the Bardarbunga reservoir and this was almost a minor leak.

      Iceland is reported to produce 0.57 cubic kilometre of magma per year per 100 km of rift length. Most of it stays underground and builds the deeper crust (‘fills the rift’), as in fact it did in this eruption. The bottom line is that the 2-3 cubic kilometre involved here, over a rift length of 40 km, can be replaced in a decade. Faster if Bardarbunga captures rising magma from a longer stretch of rift, as may well be the case. On the hand, it suggests that Iceland’s next activity will happen elsewhere. Hekla, anyone?

        • It is the number you get from how much crust needs to be added at the rate the rift rifts. It goes from the bottom of the crust to the top. Only a fraction will be erupted. Much of it should cycle through the magma reservoirs though

        • Appreciate that. I was actually thinking back to a discussion on under-plating that I had with “Passerby” on another forum. The phenomena that he was talking about originated from magma generated by the melt zone of a subduction region. My somewhat misguided musing was actually in relation to the persistent hotspot of Iceland causing the abnormal thickening (for a volcanic island).

          • Oops. The number did not seem quite right and indeed is wrong by a factor of 10. The crustal thickness can be calculated as the magma supply rate divided by the spreading rate. That gives a crustal thickness of 110 km – Iceland is tough but not that tough. The magma supply rate should be 0.057 cubic kilometre per 100 km rift. That gives a crust of 11km. It will take Bardarbunga decades to replace the ejecta.

    • I would tend to put my money on Uturuncu in Bolivia.

      A while back, on Eruptions blog, Dr Clive Oppenheimer noted that it’s got the thermal feed rate that a monster caldera eruption would need, and it is nested in a family of volcanoes that have erupted in that manner. Short of your standard gravity made caldera like we have been watching slowly growing over at Bárðarbunga, it fits the bill of doing the abruptly nasty. As for Askja, well, that lake didn’t get there by itself. (and the same can be said for Grimsvotn.)

      From Wikipedia:
      “Researchers have determined that a large, roughly circular “disc” of land surrounding the volcano, approximately 70 km across, has been rising at 1 to 2 cm per year since at least the early 1990s, making it “one of the fastest uplifting volcanic areas on the Earth“, according to volcanologist Shan de Silva”

      Sporadic knowledge for the interested. A Magnitude 2.9 earthquake releases about the same energy as a Mk-82 (“500 lb”) bomb. And you haven’t had fun until you see a pallet of these buggers dangling by two pendants from a helicopter when the other two pendants came loose. According to the EOD tech standing next to me, there was no real danger other than messing up the casings or hitting personnel on the deck working with the load. With out fusing, they are mostly harmless.

      For the UKians…

    • Some interesting choices. I wouldn’t put Yellowstone, Mammoth Mountain, or Alban hills in my top 10 of volcanoes that warrant watching, but not a bad article outside that.

    • Or perhaps keep an eye on stratovolcanoes over e.g. c.3,000m height / likely to have slope failure

      Not an expert, the 3,000m is a guestimate.

      • Taller volcanoes are also more likely to have a caldera forming eruption too for two reasons.

        1. Larger edifices tend to build up more pressure since magma finds it more difficult to find pathways to exit or vent.

        2. Upon erupting, provided that there is a negative pressure difference in the magma chamber, the increased load a large volcanic edifice puts onto the overlying rock makes it more conducive for the chamber to fall in on itself.

        Bonus points go to volcanoes that are heavily glacially altered or dissected, especially when it comes to flank collapse.

  3. Nice post Henrick. I check out other volcanoes but I’ll continue to watch the Bard. You just never know what may happen next. I’m curious how the river will be once it gets warmer. Not to mention seeing Carl vatn. 🙂 Also I wonder when they’ll do a fly over Bard and take pictures to see what we can on the subsidence. Especially after warmer weather gets here.

  4. Wife and I were pondering the infestation of wind turbines in the Columbia gorge,
    the dry eastern part of course. Wife noted:” I wonder if they allowed of an occasional
    volcanic eruption.” “Ash in the gearboxes and electrical circuits would not be good.”

    • We have a bird chipper factory here that makes those things. Before GE bought the place, they used to make precision bomb casings. (or so I’m told. It used to be the Westinghouse plant.)

      30.514031°N – 87.167491°W

      • Yep, used to make nuke casings. I contracted for Westinghouse back in the 70’s one
        of the big shots a the Hanford facility wanted to go down there, but decided that leasing a Learjet would be quicker and actually close in cost due to the Lear being some 200kts
        faster than a 421 Cessna…

      • One of the Southern Company execs splatted coming out of our airport a few years ago. Took out a duplex. I never did find out the final results of that, some of the rumors/evidence pointed to an incendiary device being found under a seat and going off before they could do anything about it. This was mainly centered around two of the digits being missing from the remains. Bone doesn’t carbonize and turn to ash at normal jet fuel temperatures.

        • Not good. Been around a few crashes in my day. Things like that are suspicious. Years ago here in the NW the son of a well-known aircraft engineer and his girlfriend took off
          from our local airport for a trip to Nevada-stopping in McDermott . they stopped, took on some ah, baggage and fuel. upon climbout the aircraft exploded. Nothing was left .
          Not even a big piece of the engine.. It was suspected that the son got sideways with
          the Nevada mob over a bad dug and gambling debt..

        • I was lucky enough to not have been involved with that scene. Ferry Pass dept dealt with the fire issue and then it turned into a standard crowd control fracas. Yeah, I know it’s something people have “never seen” but that doesn’t make it into a personal visual tour site. I have never understood the public fascination with gore and destruction.

          The public angle is one reason why I never had the desire to go back into fire service when I retired from the military. I spent 4 hours on site standing in the median of the interstate where we were holding a TARP around a Deputy had been struck by a vehicle where EMS unsuccessfully worked on stabilizing him for transport. The reason for the TARP was to afford some measure of dignity for the victim while the overpass next to the site was loaded with scores of onlookers trying to get a cheap thrill from the scene. That whole event disgusted me to no end and somewhat cemented my hatred of people in general.

  5. Nice to have that summary. Thank you.

    One thing I’ll be intrigued to find out about is what’s happened to the sink holes and geothermal areas that have previously been reported around the rim of Bárðarbunga.

  6. Thanks for the update Henrik. Obviously things could still bubble up there so I’ll keep watching.

    Meanwhile, there have been a couple more little quakes at that point south of Hekla that’s been jumping about all week.

  7. Thank you Henrik for a lovely concise resume of the events in Iceland over the last months. I wonder about where all the melt water went right at the beginning when a Jokulhaulp was expected. Nothing seemed to happen and there were various theories about water being trapped beneath the glacier forming a “lake”. Did it refreeze? Will it flow once the wamer temperatures occur?
    I am watching Hekla with interest. She so much more twitchy than I have ever seen her. This of course could be due to the more advanced monitoring equipment.
    I feel for the people who live around Sakurajima. They may be used to their volcano but her activity will, I am sure, be a cause for concern..
    No blood rain here yet in North West England. Just large hailstones that are a nice normal white icey colour and they hurt like hell when they hit you
    Congratulations Carl on your accolade. I wonder what your next prediction will be! 😀

  8. According to Jon’s blog deflation at Bardarbunga has stopped and activity is slowing down in the new hydrothermal vents that formed due to the recent activity.

    I guess that means the show is over for now, at least at Bardarbunga. Makes me wonder what is going to happen next. 😀

    • Interpolating the GPS shows that the deflation stopped on Feb 5. The earthquakes continued for a bit longer, with a 4.9 on Feb 6 and a 4.7 on Feb. 10, but ceased around the same time. The bottom left plot shows the deflation, in metres. Days are numbered from Sept 1. Feb 5 is day 158. The other plots show the M3+ earthquakes. The fitted (coloured) lines are exponentials.

  9. Where is next activity going to take place? We all ask this question.

    First let us not forget that activity in Iceland waves to peaks of massive volcanic activity every 120-160 years. Last peak was around 1860-1910 when much eruptive activity occurred around Vatnajokull, mostly to the north of Bardarbunga but also southwest of it (eruptions in 1862 and 1874 and later 1875, the last being the major caldera forming eruption of Askja). Before that the early 1700s featured another peak of activity. A new peak is estimated to occur between now and the next 3 decades. So keep this in mind and do not be impatient expecting all eruption to be take next year or so.

    However these peaks feature the most prominent eruptions in Iceland and also earthquake episodes, when something as large as this rifting event occurs. Think as sort of a domino but it takes its time.

    I can see how the Hreppar microplate stresses have changed in the last few years. Not only rifting occurred in Bardarbunga and Tungnafellsjokull awakes, but also Oraefajokull and Kverfjoll. Let’s repeat, 3 major volcanoes are now also restless in Vatnajokull.

    Then, of course we have rifting possible along the south and west edges of Hreppar microplate. I call your attention to two areas of tectonic stress in the last few months:

    1) first south of Hekla that spot in Vatnsfoll. The area not only features massive rifting eruptions there, but ocasionally large M7 earthquakes. The ongoing spot is worth a close watch.

    2) second the area southeast of Langjokull. Also inactive for centuries but it’s a region of large volcanic eruptions in the last millenia so eventually rifting will occur there as well. The spot north of Geysir has been some swarms in recent months, and I find it interesting that it lies nearly directly opposite on the other side of Hreppar. Also worth a watch.

    Thus I gave you 3 volcanic regions to pay close attention. The other is of course the black swan case of Reykjanes peninsula, which ocasionally sees the odd eruption at Krusivik or Reykjanes volcano. Other than that I would expect, is history teaches us something, of frequent eruptions at either Bardarbunga or Grimsvotn, and not necessarely at their calderas. The late 19th century saw frequent eruptions in Grimsvotn; the early 18th century saw frequent eruptions near Kistufell (Bardarbunga). By “frequent” I say every 2-3 years.

    The next 20 years will certainly be very lively and interesting in Iceland.

  10. Personally, as a retired Electronic Warfare specialist, I would have been very suspect of the frequency as well. But it’s good sleuthing no matter how you look at it. ( its right in the middle of the operating range for that type of magnetron )

    As well as the strong indication that they’re terrestrial in origin, the researchers noticed that perytons were clustered around lunchtime, whereas “the FRB distribution in time of day is consistent with a random distribution”.

    Note that down around 1 Ghz it gets quite noisy. That’s the realm of Cell phones and VorTac/DME stations.

  11. off topic (sorry) :

    Where can one find very recent Satellite photos of the land surface .. ??? I know someone has posted the links here before, but I have failed to find the bookmark I made …


      • The article with the ‘All quiet at Holurhaun’ landsat has:

        The eruption created a number of features—the lava field and several craters—that local authorities are now in the process of naming. A new lake will likely form when summer melt water runs off of nearby Vatnajökull glacier.

        While fresh lava has stopped flowing from Holuhraun, it is possible that activity could resume. One volcanologist monitoring the area has noted that Bardarbunga’s caldera, which fed the Holuhraun eruption, has started rising, a sign that magma may be accumulating in the magma chamber again.

        NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey. Caption by Adam Voiland.

        This image record originally appeared on the Earth Observatory. Click here to view the full, original record.

        Last updated April 13, 2015


    • How does that compare to the inflation to the east of Hekla that GeoLurking and Carl discussed a while back?

      • This does strike me odd – there are other nearby stations that aren’t reporting any changes. With that said, if this were just a glitch, it probably wouldn’t be ongoing for over a month at this point, not to mention the nearby small swarm that has been occurring there. Hard to say what this is or isn’t, but probably something to keep an eye on at least.

          • Sort of…. Torfajökull then the Dead Zone.

            The 871 eruption “tephra layer has proved a boon to archaeologists, and it plays a crucial role in dating finds from the early years of Reykjavík history.”

            Per Wikipedia, March 1477 was its last shindig.

            According to GVP, Raudölder is a crater of Hekla, though it’s location is not given. Wikipedia claims that it had an eruption 1440, though it’s SiO2 content points to it not being Hekla’s magma. I have no indication of which magma set it would be in the Tephrabase dataset in order to do a plot of it vs known Hekla magmas. Tephrabase only shows data for a 1440 eruption over at Katla. And yes, it would show a different SiO2 ratio. I don’t know if the tephra chemistrys can not be resolved between Raudölder and Katla, but it is possible that the layer contains a mix of the two and they were both laid down at about the same time. If their eruptive periods happen to overlap, the two sites are not that far from each other and would have had similar plume distribution patterns.

            Per GVP with regards to a 1440 Hekla → “SE of Hekla”

          • Vatnajfoll is a fissure ridge to the east of Hekla that has erupted some fairly sizeable basalt eruptions. Most people believe it to be an independent feature from hekla proper.

          • Was wondering if there was another one closer to Hekla. There are ridges and craters on GE that are parallel to Hekla, close to the recent EQs.

            • I think the EQs are at the SW edge of Innri-Vatnafjoll, more or less due S of the summit if Hekla; the “inflation” is at the NE edge, about 6kms away.

              I agree that it seems to be a separate system from Hekla. Although these systems can run for many tens of kilometres, but I don’t understand what it has to do with the Dead Zone or what the DZ has to do with it. Perhaps GL could ampify…?

    • WOOT!

      … yeah, I said “woot.” This reinforces a pet idea that I have had for a while. 🙂

      It even ties in with the Jan Mayen microcontinent that I have often noted as evidence supporting the idea… though I didn’t think that it was actually part of it.

      “analysis of regional magnetic data, and plate reconstructions, we propose that continental crust beneath southeast Iceland is part of ∼350-km-long and 70-km-wide extension of the Jan Mayen Microcontinent (JMM)”

      • If I can speculate: Could it be that bigger mantle plume pulses every few X00 years, melt some of this material and when uplifting with this melt up into the magma chambers, the continental melt is contributing to make more explosive eruptions, like Oraefajokull, or is the more viscous/explosive nagma simply a product of normal magma ageing/evolving?
        Since Oraefajokull eruptions seem to be near (relatively) to those peaks of activity and the stronger plumes pulses.
        Sorry if its a dull question, but for me, science if most fun when I can speculate, and then see how close (or far) I was. 🙂

        • Well, according to Fig 9 of the pdf of the PNAS article, Oraefajokull proper was originally part of the “Flank zone: Additional volcanic loading widens the zone of crustal loading and subsidence.” Currently, (according to the figure) the hot-spot magma upwells right next to the plate shard that extends off of the Jan Mayen Microcontinent. It likely contributes to the chemistry of the magma feed, and as the magma sits in collected pockets under the volcano, it can undergo fractionation.

      • According to Gillian Foulger that JMM extnesion has been predicted. Her intepretation is ( I think) that the presence of the plate induces tectonic forces such that a plume is not required to explain volcanism.

        Click to access Astron-Geo.pdf

        Interesting that she is not cited as far as I can see in the references in that PNAS paper.

        • You wouldn’t normally refer to the A&G paper as it aims at a different audience, but they don;t refer to any previous papers discussing the indication for underlying crust fragments an perhaps should have. It does feel like this ‘discovery’ of the continental crust is a re-discovery. ‘Supporting evidence’ for the hypothesis would have been a better description.

          Maybe we should try to list the evidence for and against a hotspot/plume (Peter, if you want to write a post..). I am dubious about the plume but not violently opposed if the evidence is strong enough. A shallow origin seem more likely to me though.

          • Albert, I’m just an onlooker biologist. But I get the impression plumes have had an easy ride to acceptance generally and there are counter arguments. For instnace the latest from Don Anderson summarised here:
            – his PNAS paper is cited.

            Worth bearing in mind PNAS’ nickname: Premature News About Science !!!
            I doubt the field has reached a definitive concensus. But that’s science.

            • There are hydrodynamical models of mantle plumes so it is possible to make them. But they do make many assumptions on the (lack of) structure at the top of the mantle, and it seems easier to make very large ones ( ~1000 km across) than narrow jet-like plumes. And there is nothing I can see that requires them to start low, at the core-mantle boundary. The upper mantle should be enough. Cooling or insulation at the top should be the most important process determining whether and how much ‘pluming’ takes place. I was at a talk today which linked large impacts to volcanism, and proposed komatiites (derived from hotter than usual magma, and not seen today) were triggered by impacts. Quite a different approach.

  12. ⭐ The peak time for the Lyrid meteor shower is on the mornings of April 22 and 23. It can get aggravating this time of year here to do sky watching because of the rainy season. I still go out and watch anyway. Also April showers bring May flowers. 🙂 Here’s a list and info on the 2015 meteor showers.


  13. There may be something to this, only time will tell.


    “However, experts have dismissed the claims as being ‘unscientific’.

    Instead they believe the melon-headed whales may have suffered a parasitic infection. Others believe the sandy shoals around Hokato city may have also made the animal’s sonar ineffective”

    In other words, many different things can cause this sort of behavior. A pending quake is just one of them.

    • I’ll believe it when I see it.

      I had suspected some sort of show-boat event there after the demise of the last dear leader. My opinion was that he was gonna stuff a nearby mineshaft with ANFO and booster charges and set it off as some “divine” signal since the volcano figured into his descended from the gods backstory. At one point in his career he was almost a first hand witness to the power of an ammonium nitrate explosion when the train he was riding in missed an industrial accident by a couple of hours. I’m still not fully convinced that their nuke tests were bona-fide, but the detection of nucleogenic compounds in the atmosphere point towards the tests as having actually been real. I do know that large scale mining blasts using ANFO are timed so as to keep them from being erroneously classified as nuke blasts. This timing is used to advantage in cast shots where the debris is thrown down in an orderly manner.

      Yeah, I’m a cynic, and a somewhat politically motivated one at that so my opinion on the matter is very suspect and may not even have been worth the effort of you reading the first paragraph. The first paragraph is opinion and not very well based on established fact. To make it worse, the following is anecdotal.

      As for the volcano itself, I’ve heard Carl note that its a pretty poorly studied system. Some nearby residents aren’t’ even aware that it is a volcano.

      One thing is certain, when that volcano goes, it tends to do so in a spectacular manner.

      And, despite the territorial pissing contest over the mountain, “In 2014, the Government of North Korea invited vulcanologists James Hammond of Imperial College, London and Clive Oppenheimer of the University of Cambridge to study the mountain for recent volcanic activity” (Wikipedia)

      So, they at least have someone quite competent looking into the matter… even if he does resemble another Doctor. 😀

      Eruptions that Shook the World Hardcover – June 30, 2011
      by Clive Oppenheimer

      Yes, I posted a link to the book for sale over at Amazon. Given that it is focused specifically on volcanoes and Dr Oppenheimer’s work has been noted in countless reference links here on the Cafe, I feel it’s appropriate… unless the other dragons drag me through the coals over it or I am told other wise, it stands.

      • Well, tho it is a poorly studied system, I do believe the opinion of the Korean scientist has at least some merit.
        If its not close to eruption, it is at least in a phase of a good intrusion.

      • If you have a link to recent interferometry, I am all ears.

        (Or even opportunistically placed GPS stations and their positions. See, I can run that through a Mogi model and get an estimate of the amount of intrusion) From that, we can ball-park a hypothetical eruption and how large it might be. (as a rule of thumb, 1 to 5% of the intruded magma tends to be eruptable, baring a flank collapse). Lacking that, I can’t even make a reasonable guess.

      • Not dragging you anywhere and besides…it wouldn’t be coal Lurking, it would be nice sharp and hot lumps of cooling lava………pumice would be a good exfoliant 😀
        Dr Clive Oppenheimer is one of the best and if he’s studying a volcano then there is something pretty interesting going on.

    • A caldera rising 1 cm in half a year really isn’t much, and that’s what he’s basing his opinion on. First off, I don’t doubt that there is heightened activity, but the question becomes “how much” do we need to see before we see an eruption?

      Another thing to keep in mind is that even if Baektu / Changbaishan erupts, it will probably be a much more modest affair than the VEI-7 it supposedly put out during the dark ages given that it likely emptied a very sizeable portion of its magma chamber, and is now in more of the rebuilding phase.

      • I agreed. 1046 years is a rather short period for the rubble of the caldera floor to have become very cohesive. I don’t know how long it takes for rubble to pack down and become a semi-solid unit, but you sort of need that in order to get much pressure build up. Failing that, any magma that wants to get out, just has to snake it’s way to the surface with little to no obstruction (relatively speaking).

        • It also would need to re-supply volatiles and magma in order to have a large eruption. Given, not all the magma in the magma chamber was expelled during the previous eruption, but most of the eruptible magma likely was, and the stuff that didn’t come up 1000 years back isn’t likely to rejuvenate that quickly.

          Caveat: If there are two magma chambers, or stacked magma chambers, this presents a different dynamic, especially if a deeper magma chamber is extremely unstable. Mt. Mazama DID erupt a VEI-6 eruption followed by a VEI-7 eruption less than 300 years after, so it’s not entirely out of the range of possibilities, but I would still assume any renewed activity here would be dome building, or at worst, vulcanian style eruptions (which could pose a significant risk via lahars)..

      • The helium isotope tends to reflect the origin. If the ratios more closely match that of the levels presumed to be in the original molecular cloud that formed the sun and planets, then it is taken to have been stashed away quite deep within the depths of the earth, preserving the ratios.

  14. In regards to the inflation at the SODU gps site, I emailed someone over at IMO and they told me could be icing on the antenna not anything related to Hekla. But…. They are looking into it because it is such a large vertical signal and icing like this is not common in this area. Should be back to normal once it warms up. 🙂

    Oh. Hi everyone.

  15. Some EQ activity at El Hierro yesterday and today:

    1325216 14/04/2015 10:33:06 27.7505 -18.1740 31 2.0 mbLg W FRONTERA
    1325141 14/04/2015 07:06:07 27.7103 -18.1861 25 1.8 mbLg W FRONTERA
    1325079 13/04/2015 21:28:24 27.7693 -18.1871 27 2.0 mbLg W FRONTERA
    1325075 13/04/2015 17:45:30 27.7934 -18.1872 26 1.7 mbLg W FRONTERA
    1325074 13/04/2015 16:25:46 27.8004 -18.1190 24 2.1 mbLg NW FRONTERA
    1325055 13/04/2015 15:12:01 27.6723 -18.0808 22 1.5 mbLg SW EL PINAR
    1325052 13/04/2015 14:22:00 27.8034 -18.1413 28 2.1 mbLg NW FRONTERA
    1324958 12/04/2015 16:20:03 27.7301 -17.9925 13 1.6 mbLg NW EL PINAR

    Source: http://www.ign.es/ign/layoutIn/volcaListadoTerremotos.do?zona=2&cantidad_dias=10

    • I think I’d take that website’s ratings of volcanic activity with a substantial amount of salt.

      I am far neither a scientist nor any kind of geologist but to rank what’s going on at Kerlingarfjoll at the same level as what’s happening at Bb seems to me to get things slightly out of proportion in relation to what’s showing on the drumplots. IMO are not showing any seismic activity at all at K’fjoll, and they’re only showing one volcano at a colour code Yellow – Bb.

  16. I thought I would post this little clip a) to introduce Dr Clive Oppenheimer to any who have not yet “met” him and b) because it shows some interesting features of a well studied volcano , Mount Erebus in Antarctica.
    Those comments about ice tunnels I find fascinating. There are Ice tunnels under Vatnajokull I think. They may be formed by water rather than gas emissions but interesting that the gasses trapped there could be a useful indication of the state of play.

    • Launch successful, the landing of the lifting rocket failed (again).

      Note: The landing site is a barge floating out at sea. Space-X has successfully demonstrated landing this thing tail first on a fixed pad on land.

  17. With best occasional greetings and thanks for all the very good posts!

    Mount Zao may blow its top: agency
    Areas near Mount Zao rumbled with heightened seismic activity Tuesday after warnings that a potential eruption could threaten a popular Tohoku ski resort in the area were issued the previous day.
    The volcano sits on the border of Miyagi and Yamagata prefectures, where 12 volcanic earthquakes had occurred by 11 a.m. Tuesday. The Meteorological Agency issued a volcanic warning the same day for areas around the crater — its first for the Zao area …

    • This has a more likely occurrence in the near future than Baekdu.

      Reason that I think so: It is over top of the magma genesis region of a subduction zone and has better access to a consistant supply. Baekdu, not so much. There is a rifting boundary nearby but magma genesis there is hit or miss, dependent on decompression melt, which is ostensibly driven more by regional tectonic stress field changes than anything else.

      • Moreover, “snow monsters” are living there 🙂 Not sure if they are looking forward to an eruption of volcanic heat:

        From wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Za%C5%8D
        One striking feature of Zaō’s famous ski resorts is the snow monsters (樹氷 Juhyō?) that appear in mid-winter. Strong wind over the nearby lake fling water droplets which freeze against the trees and their branches, until near-horizontal icicles begin to form. Falling snow settles on the ice formations, and the end result is a grotesque figure of a tree. The effect of a full forest of such trees gives visitors a ghostly impression.

  18. Fun with Capsicum…

    I can confirm the desire to punch stuff. It’s normal. It’s a way of getting some sort of mental releif from the pain. I do not recommend that anyone do this. I conned my cousin’s fiancée into thinking that some Scotch Bonnets that I had grown were “Miniature Sweet Bells.” I was in disbelief when he reached down and picked one up to taste it only to experience the full scale furry of one first hand and unexpectedly. That was his wedding day and I had brought my peppers to proudly show to my mom who was an aficionado of hot peppers. It was ten years before that cousin ever talked to me again.

    • Famous for 15 minutes, but in agony for 10 of them… Hot stuff!!

      “I can swallow [choke, choke] volcanoes – aaahgh – I can eat magma”

      Sounds like these dudes ought to be invited to do a special report for VC.

    • There is a chemical motivation to consuming high power peppers. You get a serotonin release that is similar to a “runner’s high” that acts as a reward. There also may be something to the pattern of the effects that I haven’t quite nailed down. Some peppers make the back of my head sweat, others make the top of my head sweat instead. I have no idea why I see that effect when I eat peppers. It just seems to vary from variety to variety. The Habenero family I won’t eat in this fashion, the same with hot sauces made from it. At one point, the heat is too great for you to derive/detect any flavors from the food. I like hot, but I like to be able to taste my food also.

      • I like runner’s high and am prepared to go through what some see as pain to get it. I also like the chilli high, but not enough to do the equivalent of back to back Marathons des Sables!

  19. My next Iceland bets list in no particular order another eruption around Bardarbunga vicinity, Hekla vicinity , Grimsvotn.

    • But.. there is the little caveat that the eruption was not actually caused by “chamber” over-pressurization in the first place. It came about due to tectonic stresses changing and weakinging a fissure line below the pressure that was already present in the “chamber.” That the prevailing pressure have been relieved is part and parcel for the whole eruptive process, no matter the cause, but with Bárðar­bunga’s normal rate of inflation, I expect that the quiet time is still going to be fleeting at most. Re-pressurizing is not something outside of her bag-o-tricks. It will re-erupt, it just may take some time to get around to it.

      Using the eruptive history for the last 2000 years of confirmed eruptions, Bárðar­bunga has a repose interval of 11.459 to 101.511 years. (95% conf)

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