Iceland warns of potential eruption of Bárðarbunga volcano

We are due to visit Iceland next month but that may now depend on how this develops.

The Iceland Met Office has upgraded its warning about a potential eruption of Bárðarbunga volcano and said  there were “strong indications of ongoing magma movement”.

The intense seismic activity that started on 16 of August at Bárðarbunga persists. Very strong indications of ongoing magma movement, in connection with dyke intrusion, is corroborated by GPS measurements. There are currently two swarms: one to the E of Bárðarbunga caldera and one at the edge of Dyngjujökull just E of Kistufell. At 2.37 am on the 18th a strong earthquake (M4) was located in the Kistufell swarm.

This is the strongest earthquake measured in the region since 1996. As evidence of magma movement shallower than 10 km implies increased potential of a volcanic eruption, the Bárðarbunga aviation color code has been changed to orange. Presently there are no signs of eruption, but it cannot be excluded that the current activity will result in an explosive subglacial eruption, leading to an outburst flood (jökulhlaup) and ash emission. 

From Volcano Discovery:

The volcano is hidden beneath the northwestern part of the Vatnajökull glacier, and contains a 700-m-deep caldera that is hidden beneath ice and has extensive flank fissures, from where eruptions have taken place: the Veidivötn fissure extends for over 100 km to the SW, almost reaching Torfajökull volcano, while the Trollagigar fissure extends 50 km to the NE touching Askja volcano.

 

vatnajokull glacier and its volcanoes image wired.com

vatnajokull glacier and its volcanos image wired.com

The summary issued on Monday says that though intense earthquake swarm continues at Barðarbunga further movement of magma towards the surface has not been detected.

Summary written 18th August at 20:45

Since the onset of the earthquake swarm at Bárðarbunga on Saturday morning 16th August 03:00am, around 2.600 earthquakes have been detected with the earthquake monitoring network of the Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO), of these around 950 since midnight (17/18th August). Several of these events were larger than magnitude 3. The swarm initially started in the Bárðarbunga caldera and has been migrating in two clusters towards the north and the east of the volcano.

On Sunday 17th of August, these two clusters were active east and north of Bárðarbunga. The activity in both clusters was migrating northeastwards. While the strongest events were located in the northern cluster, the highest number of events was detected in the eastern cluster. The strongest event since the onset of the swarm was detected on Monday morning 02:37 in the northern cluster. Detailed analysis revealed that its magnitude was 4.5 and it was felt in Akureyri and Lón. By Monday evening, activity has significantly decreased in the northern cluster.

The eastern cluster remains active. Two stronger pulses of activity have occurred between 10:45 and 12:00 as well as 16:50 and 17:30 this morning. Within the first pulse around noon, the cluster was again migrating northeastwards, most events are now located between Bárðarbunga and Kverkfjöll. As reported earlier, GPS ground deformation data has evidenced that the earthquake swarm is caused by magma intrusion.

Throughout the whole sequence until now (18th August at 20:45) the majority of events has been at 5-10km depth. No signs of migration towards the surface or any other signs of imminent or ongoing volcanic activity have been detected so far. IMO is monitoring the area around the clock very closely and will update in case of any changes.

 

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