Ongoing Eruption in Iceland - 13 Eart­hqua­kes Stronger than Magnitu­de 5 Featured

Photo: Institute of Earth Sciences Photo: Institute of Earth Sciences

The volcanic activity in Iceland's Holuhraun, north of Vatnajökull glacier, is ongoing and similar to what it was yesterday. Seismicity has been intensive since last night when an earthquake of magnitude 5.5 struck the northern edge of Bárðarbunga. Since August 16th, 13 earthquakes have measured over 5 in magnitude. Over 190 earthquakes have been measured since midnight. 

Hundreds of smaller earthquakes strike every day in Iceland these days. The new lava extends over a 3 km area which 

A second fissure eruption started in an ice-free area north of Vatnajökull Glacier, early Sunday morning. The eruption is located at the same site as an eruption Friday morning. corresponds to a magma discharge of 300 to 500 cubic meters per second. From observations yesterday evening, the volume of erupted lava is between 16 and 25 million cubic meters.

The eruption has not created any ash-fall and air traffic has not been affected. 

Gas measurements indicate a high level of sulfur dioxide. People could be exposed to highly dangerous gas levels close to the eruption. It is essential that those visiting the eruption site are equipped with gas sensors and gas masks.
Following are a few photos from the Institute of Earth Sciences:
Many highlands roads have been closed today due to possible floods. 

Key facts:

  • All airports are open and no restrictions on air traffic
  • All parts of the main road (Road 1) are open
  • No volcanic ash has been detected
  • The eruption is in a remote, uninhabited area
  • No immediate threat to people or populated areas
The map on the right, released by the Institute of Earth Sciences, shows the new lava field in Iceland as it was at 2pm yesterday. The lava stream from the fissure continues so the lave keeps getting thicker. It is expected that the edge of the lava will break and the lave then progress forward again. The lake in the image is Askja or Öskjuvatn. 

An erupti­on mig­ht start und­er Dyngju­jök­ull or Bárðarbunga

Scient­ists from the Icelandic Met Office and the Institu­te of Earth Sciences and representati­ves of the Civil Protecti­on in Ice­land att­end the meet­ings of the Scientific Advisory Bo­ard of the Icelandic Civil Protecti­on.

These are the key po­ints of the Scientific Advisory Bo­ard of the Icelandic Civil

  • Seismic acti­vity cont­inu­es. Around 160 eart­hqua­kes have been recor­ded since midnig­ht UCT today. Seismicity is occurr­ing mostly bene­ath the nort­hern edge of Dyngju­jök­ull. A magnitu­de 5.5 eart­hqua­ke occur­red at 03:08 UTC today on the nort­hern side of the Bárðarbunga caldera.
  • GPS mea­surements show that the volume of the dyke intrusi­on has increa­sed since the beg­inn­ing of the erupti­on; this signifies that more magma is enter­ing the dyke than is being erupted.
  • Despite no sign of a volume decrea­se in the dyke, GPS mea­surements show that the rate of ground deformati­on has slowed.
  • Recent radar ima­ges show a 0.5 – 1 km wide depressi­on that has for­med both in front of and bene­ath Dyngju­jök­ull. Signs of the depressi­on ext­end about 2 km into the ice marg­in. The increasing thickness of the glacier decreases the visual extent of fract­ur­ing associa­ted with the depressi­on, so it is likely that the area ext­ends fur­t­her bene­ath Dyngju­jök­ull.
  • In lig­ht of GPS, radar and seismic results, it is possi­ble that the ongo­ing erupti­on could progress sout­hw­ard und­er Dyngju­jök­ull. This would lead to immedia­te flood­ing haz­ards on the floodplain in front of Dyngju­jök­ull. Con­sequ­ently, risk assess­ments for scient­ists work­ing in the area will be reviewed.
  • The volcanic erupti­on cont­inu­es on Holu­hraun; the main path for lava is to the east-north-east.
  • At 08:00 UTC today the total area of the lava flow was estima­ted at 7.2 km2.
  • Th­ere have been no observati­ons of ash-fall. Ash producti­on is almost negligi­ble.
  • Sulp­h­ur di­ox­i­de cont­inu­es to be detected near to the erupti­on site. The erupti­on cloud is drift­ing to the north-east from the erupti­on site.


  • The follow­ing are the four most likely scen­ari­os in the Dyngju­jök­ull-Bárðarbunga area:

    The Aviati­on Colour Code for Bárðarbunga remains at ‘orange’ and the code for Askja at ‘yellow’.

    • The migrati­on of magma could stop, resulting in a gradual reducti­on in seismic acti­vity and no fur­t­her erupti­ons.
    • The dike could reach the Eart­h’s surface caus­ing anot­her erupti­on, possi­bly on a new fissure. Lava flow and (or) exp­losi­ve acti­vity cannot be exclu­ded.
    • The intrusi­on reaches the surface and anot­her erupti­on occurs wh­ere eit­her the fissure is partly or entirely bene­ath Dyngju­jök­ull. This would most likely produce a flood in Jök­ulsá á Fjöll­um and per­haps exp­losi­ve, ash-produc­ing acti­vity.
    • An erupti­on in Bárðarbunga. The erupti­on could cause an out­burst flood and possi­bly an exp­losi­ve, ash-produc­ing acti­vity. In the event of a su­bglacial erupti­on, it is most likely that flood­ing would af­fect Jök­ulsá á Fjöll­um. However it is not possi­ble to exclu­de the follow­ing flood paths: Skjálf­andafljót, Kalda­kvísl, Skaftá and Grím­svötn.
    • Ot­her scen­ari­os cannot be ru­led out.
Last modified onWednesday, 03 September 2014 16:33
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