Beginning of the end or end of the beginning in Iceland?

The Eyjafjallajökull-Fimmvörduháls eruption at night on April 10, 2010.

I mentioned this earlier in the Monday Musings column, but the Eyjafjallajökull-Fimmvörduháls eruption in Iceland that started last month seems to be at a nadir of activity since its inception. This is being interpreted by the Icelandic Met Office as a sign that the eruption itself may be winding down after less than a month of activity - the earthquakes and inflation associated with the eruption appears to be subsiding along with the actual eruptive activity. Now, there is always the chance that the fissure will roar back to life, or {SPECULATION} possibly that the magma is being diverted in a tube system that we are not privy to see. However, as Eruptions readers have reported, there are still intermittent steam plumes at the vent area, so we might expect to see at least some more (potentially limited) eruption from the vent. Be sure to check out the new measurements made by the Met Office on the eruption through April 9.

To me, this is a bit of a surprise as many of the recent Icelandic fissure eruptions have lasted months to years, so this could just be the end of one phase of the eruption and the beginning of another. However, this is speculation on my part - we could just be seeing the end of this intrusion of basalt into the upper crust that lead to this spectacular event. However, I'm sure the Icelandic tourism board would not like to see this eruption end so soon.

More like this

The eruption at Eyjafjallajökull-Fimmvörduháls continues on - the explosive spatter and bomb eruptions at the new central vent (on the second fissure) were impressive all night, making the hikers/cars/aircraft look like mites in comparison. This eruption has, so far, followed the pattern of…
The steam and ash plume from the Eyjafjallajökull subglacial eruption that started early morning, April 14, 2010. Well, after the brief respite when there was speculation Eyjafjallajökull-Fimmvörduháls eruption might be over, we now know what was going on. After the original fissures ceased…
Lots to do! Tourists flock to the Eyjafjallajökull-Fimmvörduháls in Iceland. The media does love the term "supervolcano", and a number of Eruptions readers sent me a link to the article on the dreaded submarine "supervolcanoes". I would delve into this article from Live Science, but it sadly…
The small steam plume from Eyjafjallajökull on May 23, 2010, where explosive eruptive activity has ceased for now. The big news over the weekend, at least volcanically, was that Eyjafjallajökull seems to have entered a period of relative quiet. The eruption has died down dramatically, with the…

Did anyone see or discussed the other mountains at Eyjafjallajökull-Fimmvörduháls? There are some mountains with almost show the same seize ans shape like the new mountain made by this new eruption. If the are caused by a fissure eruption, they could maybe lead to an explanation of the actual eruption regarding the seize and duration....

By Thomas Wipf (not verified) on 12 Apr 2010 #permalink

Hi Eric,

Have a look at the seismics, I suspect that the eruption is not yet over just yet

By Richard Oliver (not verified) on 12 Apr 2010 #permalink

@ Well me I guess: As for the steam plume, it was something, but what?

Look at:
Day: 12.4.2010
Hour: 18
Minute: 7-59(50-59 is nice)


Thinking about though, was this energetic enough to be a "throat clearing", after hours of sleep? I am wonder if that was caused by a collapse of some sort, letting hot lava come in contact with more ice and snow. I did not notice much seismicity during that time.

Inflation seems to be basically stable as far as I can tell.

This is really off-topic, but it is symbolically appropriate that this eruption occurred just as the *report on the causes of the Icelandic banking disaster* was published (more than a thousand pages). Anyway, Earth abides, and the people of Iceland will get through this economic mess just as they have survived much worse hardships in the past.
I hope the eruption will enter a new phase lasting into summer, so the tourists will experience the double whammy of "white nights" and an active volcano....

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 12 Apr 2010 #permalink

Beginning of the end or end of the beginning in Iceland?

"Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."

- Winston Churchill, November 1942

There is, perhaps, an even better quote attributed to this able statesman, that describes our enthusiastic interest in our Pet and wariness of activation of her Companion:

"Everything tends towards catastrophe and collapse. I am interested, geared up and happy. Is it not horrible to be made like this?"

-Churchill, a letter to his wife, written nearly 100 years ago, during the build up to World War I.

Magnitude 0.9 1.6 km below the flank of Katla at 9:38 GMT today.


great thanks for the WC quote "everything tends....". Having eager anticipation of impending disaster seems to be a characteristic shared by many to some degree or another. I think this explains why being preoccupied with "the big one" is so entracing even though as Dr Benke points out, the mundane risks we contend with on a daily basis are much more likely to affect our lives.

"[T]here is a bigger worry smoldering in the background. Scientists say history has shown that when Eyjafjallajokull erupts, the much bigger Katla volcano nearby often follows within days or months.... [V]ulcanologists say a new blast is overdue.... [However,] there is very little seismic activity near Katla. I see no reason to expect Katla to do anything in the near future." -Associated Press

Look at the maps... they show an earthquake WITHIN the Katla caldera. Could this be where all the magma is flowing to?

StarBP at least the quake wasn't inside the caldera, there were a few in the caldera last week but I don't think there have been any since.

Check again. It was within the caldera (if I'm reading the map right).

Oh, now I see. I meant the 0.9 in the early morning.

StarBP it is showing it to be outside the icecap and the caldera is covered by the ice cap....there is a better link to look at the quakes that has the calderas mapped out. Hang on and I will find it.

Oh well. And I am scheduled to go out on site this Thursday. It looks like there won't be that much to see. But at least I'll be able to get really close really safely.

At least it wasn't an "end of the world as we know it" type eruption.

By James Jones (not verified) on 12 Apr 2010 #permalink

Katla would not be an "end of the world as we know it" eruption. After 1 year its effects would likely not be seen outside of Iceland.

For a large eruption from Katla, the marked effects on climate and the environment would *most certainly* be seen for a period of one year, more likely being serious in the period of 2-3 years following the eruption, right across the northern hemisphere.

No it wouldn't be the end of the world but has the potential to make things very unpleasant for the people of Iceland and much of the Northern Hemisphere. I don't think it will but really you never know.

Let's look at an odd coincidence of large, violent public events and significant earthquake clustering.

For 10 points on todays pop quiz, on this map, a series of earthquakes ring which Central Asian nation?

Those earthquakes occurred on April 8th - 9th.

For bonus points, what happened in that same country on April 8th?

Katla's a VEI-5. A VEI-7 (Tambora) only affected the climate for 2 years.

OK, so Arctic volcanoes affect the climate more than tropical ones of the same intensity. Some speculate that Redoubt's 2009 VEI-4 eruption caused this winter to be unusually cold in temperate latitudes. The key signature is the Arctic Oscillation. After major eruptions in the Arctic, the AO drops dramatically (or so it is theorized). Some even go so far as to say that Arctic eruptions can cause El Niños. So, I stand corrected. If Katla erupts with a VEI-5, then the US should expect cold winters and slightly below-average summers for 2-3 years. However, there would not be any "Year Without a Summer" or anything like that. Four years after the Katla eruption, there would not be many visible effects outside of Iceland. Note that Godabunga is a different story altogther, though.

Uhh, Kamchatka and Aleutian Chain volcanoes went bonkers over the past several years, with as many as 6 erupting concurrently.

Highly unusual regional clustering emissions that *augmented* the effects of reduced solar insolation and variations in several large weather patterns.

Not Redoubt as much as Katastochi.

Pardon, meant Kasatochi. Long day spent on proposal writing.

While I was chided for sticking to my notions of lurking magma, I'm not fully satisfied (or even partially-satisfied) that the Eyjafjallajökull routes for magma to follow have been exhausted. The "softening-up" phase during the early pre-eruptive weeks caused many routes to sit "in reserve" as it were, should any become blocked off.

The mapping of principle pathways released by Iceland Meteo on the 31st only showed quakes of 2 or higher, so entire quake swarms were unrepresented. But those closest to the surface most assuredly would be of lower magnitude because the lower overburden weight (to push against and "crack open") would offer less resistance - yet the quake would achieve the same result of opening a useable channel.

I'll hold off conclusions about whether Eyjaf is done. In the meanwhile Veðurstofa Ãslands has given lots of jönkuhlhaup material to chew upon and consider. I personally would not want to be either in the Markarfljót, or on the south-side trail going up (used by the trek companies leading tourists to the volcano) if the more westerly possible next-fissure were to open under the jökull where it could.

I am not concerned if anyone labels me overly cautious... I am only concerned that there may be scores of people in the wrong place at a very unfortunate moment. If the next eruption should surprise us all and shift over to Katla - is that any more optimistic? The magma pathways are unpredictable and loaded with reserve energy that has proven very hair-trigger in its sudden movement. I don't see why anyone would want to be the expert reassuring all those folks up there that nothing more is going to happen.

This following text and more (plus citations, maps and diagrams giving the most recent information about Eyjafjallajökull jönkuhlhaups) can be accessed at

"The newest set of quakes are all focussed under areas of the glacier with approximately 100-200 metres thickness of ice. Depending upon which side of the north-south Eyjafjallajökull drainage gradient an eventual new fissure might poke through, the resulting water pool and heated steam under the jökull will exert upward pressure and ultimately burst out either under the Steinsholtsjökull glacial tongue to the north (draining into the narrow upper valley of the Krossá and down into the Markarfljót sandur) or will stream down a narrow gorge to the east of the (south) Goðasteinn peak on Eyjafjallajökull, as indicated in the inset illustration - within the Meteo article above."

"Their additional concerns, at this late winter season, are about massive ice and snow slides from the steeper southern side (slope failures similar to avalanches) triggered by the undermining of high volumes of heated water flowing downhill in this direction... and are primarily motivated by the short warning times involved. Such slides will sweep over the highway now being used by many tourists coming to the volcano, in addition to regular circumferential traffic on Highway 1."

I feel that the continued concentration of magma's upward pressure - albeit unsuccessful - is to break through whatever obstacles have been retarding its progress down there at the 6 km. or so level.

Nonetheless magma has continued to get within .2 kilometres of the surface on three occasions in the past 48 hours during multi-quake sequences... and all those quakes have been in very close vertical proximity to one another. It's all under the ice fields. So, should a breakthrough fissure arrive with similar "fountains" as seen in prior weeks (but under 150 metres of ice) I imagine we might see some dangerous situations evolve.

How much did the 1912 VEI 6 eruption of Katmai/Novarupta/Valley of 10,000 Smokes affect global climate? It was after all of the same magnitude as the biggest of Katla's historic efforts and it's basically at the same latitude.

The expansion has started again according to the GPS data from IMO. There are few earthquakes at the moment. This is not totally unexpected from my point of view. As the 1821 to 1823 eruption has shown that there can and often are breaks in Eyjafjallajökull eruptions. The last eruption continued with breaks for 1 year. I guess Eyjafjallajökull is repeating history to some extend now.

@Henrik (#26) - the impact on global climate of a volcanic eruption depends not so much on its overall size (tephra volume or VEI) than on how much sulfur dioxide it emits. For example, the 1980 Mount St Helens and 1982 El Chichòn eruptions were of similar VEI and volume, but only the latter produced enough SO2 to influence the climate. So whether a future eruption at Katla will affect the climate depends on how sulfur-rich its magmas are.

Caution pleeeeeeease also when inferring from Eyjafjallajökull's last eruption on the current one - the fact that the last eruption lasted 2 years does not give us the least little bit of information about how this one will go, because (a) the magma is different, and (b) if we look at other volcanoes like Etna or Kilauea but also less famous ones like Izu-Oshima in Japan, each eruption is an entirely different story; the duration and volume of one eruption has nothing to do with those of the next. And, finally, the number and magnitude of earthquakes has nothing to do with the magnitude and duration of the ensuing eruption. Earthquakes can also occur AFTER an eruption is definitely over and dead, just due to the settling of the volcanic system that has undergone a lot of stres during the previous magma accumulation and intrusion.

But, just because it's been a really lovely show and has given fresh blood to the stricken Icelandic economy, I'd rather wish to see this eruption continue much the way it has been so far.

@Boris Behncke, As that may that each eruption is different. All volcano follow a common factor in regards to pattern and eruption style. We know little of how the last eruption did start and what type of lava did appear in early steps in that eruption.

But I am fairly sure that this is not over. I am fairly sure that this has not even started properly yet.

some thing happening to the left of original eruption

@claire What are you seeing? I can't get at the webcam at the moment, I'm afraid.

By James Jones (not verified) on 13 Apr 2010 #permalink

@Jón - that's the problem with volcanoes. They do NOT necessarily follow repetitive patterns. They DO surprise us over and over again, even those that we know since thousands of years (like Etna or Vesuvius). And then look at Okmok in the Aleutian Islands in 2008. That's a volcano that normally produces basaltic or basaltic andesitic magmas, which are emitted with nice lava fountains, Strombolian activity, lava flows - a bit more ash than in the current Eyjafjallajökull eruption. Then comes July 2008 and the volcano explodes violently, due to magma interacting with the water of a lake - that sort of eruption that everybody's worried about if Katla becomes active again. Before this eruption there were only some 5 hours of very very faint seismic activity that was not even noted by the Alaska Volcano Observatory until a coast guard ship reported that a powerful explosive eruption was under way.

So it MAY be that this is only the beginning of something much longer and maybe bigger. But equally it MAY be over soon and nothing will happen for the next 200 years. There's little way saying which of the two is more realistic. The one thing that I have understood after studying volcanoes for nearly four decades and living with Etna and other Italian volcanoes for more than two decades, it is that volcanoes remain difficult to understand and forecast - they're terribly complex, they're skittish and changeable. So, caution is warranted when trying to make long-term speculations about a volcano's behavior - these things change faster than we do.

@Boris Behncke, what type of magma volcano makes appears to be or is dictated by the flow in the deep mantle. I do not know if there has been any study into this, so I am just going with my idea on how this might work. Now, the current GPS data show that not much have changed since the eruption started and ended. There was some deflation over the three weeks when the eruption was active. Over the last 24 hours there have been some expansion to south and west since the eruption ended. The change however is so little that compared to what where it was when the eruption started it is actually interesting that it did stop now.

But this is not over. But we might in for a break for several days or weeks. Hard to know what happens on when this might start again. But I am sure that it is going to. Because Eyjafjallajökull is not yet quiet as it was before the current volcano episode started.

@Claire (#31) and James Jones (#32). I think I caught the tail end of what you saw (lower Vodafone camera, above the pyramid-shaped, flat-topped mountain, right?) and it looked very much like all the previous phreatic explosions when a lava flow interacts with water or snow. I saw one earlier today and took a "Print Screen" of it, same position. Alas, I've got the jpeg on my job computer.

Boris! As far as climate-affecting Icelandic eruptions are concerned and on historic evidence, aren't the Laki and Eldgjá fissures far more likely than Katla to produce such eruptions (even if some sites claim Eldgjá is a part of the Katla system)? Also, how do we know the 1912 Novarupta eruption was "low on SO2" so to speak? Direct observations or inferred from a lack of climatic effects?

Looks like the eruption is over - for now.

By Reynir Heiðbe… (not verified) on 13 Apr 2010 #permalink

@21 StarBP
I'm afraid you're misusing terms. VEI is a measure or explosiveness of a particular eruption. It cannot be used to refer to a volcano itself, only an eruption it has produced. Think of a specific volcano as an ocean and individual storms as eruptions. The Atlantic can produce anything from a brief shower to a Cat 5 hurricane or huge extratropical storms, but we can't say every storm is going to be a Katrina or Halloween Eve storm.

One thing to keep in mind is that the eruptive history of a volcano tells us what it has the potential for doing, not a guarantee of what it will do, as Boris illustrates @ 33.

Is it? There have been at least two phreatic explosions in Hrunagil(?) today, where the lava first flowed. Also, the Eyjafjöllajökul glacier proper (visible to the extreme right of the lower Vodafone camera) does not have the pristine look it had a week ago. It LOOKS as if something, not neccessarily volcanic in origin, is going on but with the limited view and low resolution available, it's impossible to say what. This may be completely normal for the season, but I wish there was a proper view available with decent resolution...

@Jón (#34) - there is a lot happening between the mantle that generates magma and the place where the magma comes to the surface. It is not only the mantle flow, it is also a question whether, where, and how long magma accumulates below a volcano, how fast it rises, and what volumes of magma are involved at what rates. And, surely enough, other factors such as gas content, chemical composition, and temperature, are important as well.

For example, at Etna we know that at least three-quarters of the magma that rises from the mantle into the feeder system of the volcano NEVER comes to the surface, but it releases its sulfur dioxide, from which we can infer on the quantities of magma that come to within a few kilometers of the surface. We also know there are significant variations in the behavior of the magma due to changes in the tectonic stress field, and very complex interactions between magma accumulation and displacements of the flanks. It's all far more complicated than what one might think even after studying volcanoes for some time, and that makes me think that at Eyjafjöllajökull anything can happen - also nothing at all.

Consider that here at Etna we have a volcano that erupts virtually every year. Believe me, each time it's completely different, and each time - although we now can say with some confidence that an eruption will occur some time in advance - it brings new surprises in spite of an extremely dense network of all sorts of monitoring instruments, which surpass the monitoring at Eyjafjöllajökull many times. We look at data from at least eight different disciplines - foremost seismicity, ground deformation, gas geochemistry, and petrology, and we certainly understand things better than even a few years ago. Yet, if you ask us today when precisely the next eruption will be, and how and where and for how long, the only thing we are currently able to say is that it will probably be soon, within a few weeks to a few months. Period.

But in the case of Eyjafjöllajökull, I guess we will soon have the answer. It all depends on whether the volcano will remain restless - if significant deformation and seismic activity continue and therefore there may be ongoing movement of magma - or whether the unrest will come to a stop. If the latter happens, then I fear this has been it. Remember at Krafla, during the 9 years of repeated eruptions, there was nearly constant ground deformation, and there were numerous intrusions of magma that did not reach the surface. Indeed, only a very small proportion of the intruding magma actually was erupted, most remained underground. Then everything quietened down and probably Krafla will not erupt for many decades or even a century.

We would like to know the train is coming so we can get out of the way. It's comforting to know the train schedule.
Sometimes we don't even know there's a train.
2006 Fourpeaked blew up.
with no warning this volcano blows up after being quiet for
10,000 years.
We are creatures of comfort and we take comfort in predictability. i suggest a walk on the wild side and surrender to the idea that anything can happen and does.
Enjoy the show.

>Sometimes we don't even know there's a train.

They're called 'Blue-Sky' eruptions. Low seismic activity fails to indicate an eruption is imminent and EQ activity can fall as abruptly shortly after a short-lived eruption.

These type eruptions (often hydrothermal fissures) are nearly impossible to predict.

motsfo you summed up my feelings about volcanoes and every other kind of natural disaster.....I tip my are a true philosopher;)

"For the most part we humans live with the false impression of security and a feeling of being at home in a seemingly trustworthy physical and human environment. But when the expected course of everyday life is interrupted, we are like shipwrecked people on a miserable plank in the open sea, having forgotten where they came from and not knowing whither they are drifting. But once we fully accept this, life becomes easier and there is no longer any disappointment."
--Albert Einstein

Hey.... Looks like Törfajökull is stirring up a bit...

Quote from the GVP:

"During postglacial times only a narrow fissure zone at the western end has been active, producing mostly silicic lava flows, lava domes, and tephras.".

Where is that seismic activity going on? At the W end. Duh....

By Volcanophile (not verified) on 13 Apr 2010 #permalink

Volcanophile yep and it has the potential to really mess up your day.

motsfo you are not only a philosopher you may also be a prophet;)

@Henrik (26): The Novarupta eruption in 1912 was not measured, only estimated, but I could not find any SO2 data. At AVO there is a good description of the eruption:…
This says that the cloud of volcanic ash and gases had reached Algeria (North Africa) on 17th June 1912 (it is 11 days from the beginning of the eruption)
The temperature of the first two decades of the 20th century might have been also influenced by other things, by the way here is a pic with global temperature data:…
Here is one with arctic temperatures:
But there are other observations that might help us estimating the amount of SO2 of Novarupta eruption. For long centuries there were hundreds of observation of lunar eclipses, written in chronicles, and later in journals, etc. The lunar eclipses are not similar each time, some are bright copper red, some are dark brown, etc. With a great amount of volcanic SO2 in the atmosphere of our planet the lunar eclipses would become darker. After big eruptions many lunar eclipse observations tell us about this phenomena for centuries. These observations were made worldwide, so to say from China to Europe, to Arabia, to America. Most of the great historic eruptions are followed by dark lunar eclipses, eg. after the Tambora eruption the 1816 lunar eclipse the Moon was NOT SEEN at all (so to say it became black), it was not seen even with telescopes. The same happened after the 1883 Krakatau eruption both in the 1884 and 1885 eclipses.
As we come closer to the 20th century more and more observations are available for us. There are some from North America in 1913 March lunar eclipse. Here is an article with observations: (scroll down and go to next page too)
So I think there might have been a significant amount of SO2 in that eruption that travelled upwards enough (SO2 has to reach the stratosphere to remain there for longer periods). The last eruption that had the same effect was after Pinatubo's 1991 eruption. I am Hungarian, and we could also see an eclipse in dec. 9-10 1992. There was even a poem written mentioning the darkness of this eclipse (it is in Hungarian, but if you'd like I can try to translate it to you.)

The Icelandic RUV carries the news that the eruption is over -

;) If they read this blog, I can see Mila & Vodafone rushing off to Kópasker, Torfajökull, Herðubreið, Trölladyngja, Bárðarbunga & other places where we hopefully predict coming eruptions to set up new cameras - just for our benefit of course!

@Henrik (26):
(I tried to reply you some minutes earlier but it didn't appear, maybe because of the links in it, now I try again with some modification)
The Novarupta eruption in 1912 was not measured, only estimated, but I could not find any SO2 data. At AVO there is a good description of the eruption:…
This says that the cloud of volcanic ash and gases had reached Algeria (North Africa) on 17th June 1912 (it is 11 days from the beginning of the eruption)
The temperature of the first two decades of the 20th century might have been also influenced by other things, by the way here is a pic with global temperature data:
Here is one with arctic temperatures:
But there are other observations that might help us estimating the amount of SO2 of Novarupta eruption. For long centuries there were hundreds of observation of lunar eclipses, written in chronicles, and later in journals, etc. The lunar eclipses are not similar each time, some are bright copper red, some are dark brown, etc. With a great amount of volcanic SO2 in the atmosphere of our planet the lunar eclipses would become darker. After big eruptions many lunar eclipse observations tell us about this phenomena for centuries. These observations were made worldwide, so to say from China to Europe, to Arabia, to America. Most of the great historic eruptions are followed by dark lunar eclipses, eg. after the Tambora eruption the 1816 lunar eclipse the Moon was NOT SEEN at all (so to say it became black), it was not seen even with telescopes. The same happened after the 1883 Krakatau eruption both in the 1884 and 1885 eclipses.
As we come closer to the 20th century more and more observations are available for us. There are some from North America in 1913 March lunar eclipse. Here is an article with observations: (scroll down and go to next page too)
So I think there might have been a significant amount of SO2 in that eruption that travelled upwards enough (SO2 has to reach the stratosphere to remain there for longer periods). The last eruption that had the same effect was after Pinatubo's 1991 eruption. I am Hungarian, and we could also see an eclipse in dec. 9-10 1992. There was even a poem written mentioning the darkness of this eclipse (it is in Hungarian, but if you'd like I can try to translate it to you.)

Evidence for Katmai ash (calcium) and SO2 aerosol signature has been described in the GISP2 technical literature.

Fine ash and SO2 aerosol clouds are carried on prevailing weather patterns, as was very much evident in the recent Kasatochi eruption satellite tracking images that depicted the cloud whorling over much of Canada and the US, UK and Western Europe, Central Asia and parts of Eastern Asia, resulting in considerable variability in local wet deposition across the Northern Hemisphere in the months post-eruption.

1km deep 3.0 inside Eyjafjallajökull caldera!

By Mattias Larsson (not verified) on 13 Apr 2010 #permalink

One 2.8 also, and several smaller quakes. I can see them well on your Hekla seismometer Jon. Something is up! Jon, or anybody else awake, what is going on out there? Central eruption on the way soon?

By Mattias Larsson (not verified) on 13 Apr 2010 #permalink

Sorry, no 2.8. I accidently looked at the depth readings instead of the magnitude.

By Mattias Larsson (not verified) on 13 Apr 2010 #permalink

I have a feeling this could be something serious.

By Mattias Larsson (not verified) on 13 Apr 2010 #permalink

@Passerby: Thanks for the last link with Jon's seismometers. I wonder if raw wave data coming from those in a common format could be made available. It would be easier to tell what's going on. Or if it's not possible, making spectrograms graphs available. From the compressed helicorder it seems there's more than just earthquakes.

Yo! Look at the temporal-spatial clusters of activity at Eyjaf and north of Vatnajökull!

Come on people....ahh, this is what happens when the "General Public" starts speculating on information that they know very little about. It is all fine and good to try to guess what is going to happen, actually kind of fun, but get back down to reality. The "professionals", whose responsibility is to protect the public, have raised no red flags. They have said that at this point in time it looks to be winding down(for now). They have said that it is possible, but very much not likely, that activity could increase.

Is it not wonderful to live in the day and age that we do? Where the information to support your hypothesis is just a mouse click away?

I hope there are any webcams pointing in the direction of the caldera now. I think this could be the start of a new eruption. I hope they are ready to evacuate people right away. Eruption under the glacier is not something to play with.

By Mattias Larsson (not verified) on 13 Apr 2010 #permalink

Um, This does not look normal - more than 25 EQ's in the last hour, all under the Eyjafjallajökull mountain, centred on the old caldera, instead of either the old pipe or the fissure zone.

@Mattias #60: I would be very surprised to see an eruption while we are seeing deflation. Seismic activity happens during inflation and also deflation.

Meiby nothing will happen Gordy, but I am sure that experts are monitoring this situation carefully. The eq:s are shallow which concearns me. Also there has not been any activity this intense activity for a long time. So my guess is that something will happen soon under the glacier. I am no expert, but it is still fun to guess.

By Mattias Larsson (not verified) on 13 Apr 2010 #permalink

New magma intrusion? Or refueling.

@chris #28 - Thanks for pointing out the typos. In past years I've done entire blog posts on jönkulhlaups, but late at night I start to have transposition errors like crazy. In that blog entry I spelled it correctly 3 times out of 8. Hopefully the content was no less useful.

Yes, something might happen, but I feel it unlikely. Both THEY and SOHO have been dropping like a rock today...more like billions of tons of rocks. That has to make some noise.

Let me know if you need the links. I'll be up for an hour or so yet.

2.6 at 1 km, sounds bad to me. I think something is trying to break the surface. Meiby it alreay have broken ghe surface and is melting the snow and ice above. But I think we already should have heard of it on the news by now if the monitoring experts suspected that.

By Mattias Larsson (not verified) on 13 Apr 2010 #permalink

90% quality 2.0 earthquake at 0.3km depth. That would put it in the glacier?

By Mattias Larsson (not verified) on 13 Apr 2010 #permalink

I'll try to post the link to the Iceland GPS. The spam filter has not been kind to me lately though. I still have one stuck in there from yesterday that had most of this on there.

This is the Continuous GPS measurements location map.

This is the plot for THEY.

An easy way to see the others, in your address bar, remove the "they" from theypred.html and type in soho, gola, stor, in place of they, any you will see that locations plot.

Ah good it went through...Of course this is a dynamic Earth that we are talking about and I may be wrong. There is always a surprise around every corner.

I´m sorry if I made you post those links Gordys. I already have them bookmarked. But thanks anyway :)

By Mattias Larsson (not verified) on 13 Apr 2010 #permalink

The last spike (2.0 magnitude) was at 0.3 km. It is close to coming through, and definitely under the jökull... so if it creates a fissure shortly there will be a jönkulhlaup for certain - and it's hard at this moment to tell exactly where it's going to fissure, but I suspect the water will eventually burst north.

It's doing the same sequence of deep to shallow, with pauses between... so I suspect there is a gradual opening of a big pipe by expansion... prior to a final thrust as was the case just before opening the second fissure in this eruption series. The drop in vertical deformation elsewhere suggests that the magma found a channel over to here, does it not? And is now rapidly diverting over?

I believe at this late hour most of the 4-wheelers are out of the Markarflót. It will take about 3.5 hours for the crest of the wave to reach Highway One once a jönkulhlaup heads down a northern gully. I put all the particulars vis-a-vis Eyjafjallajökull jönkulhlaup options (from Icelandic Meteo) on my blog yesterday evening -

>Both THEY and SOHO have been dropping like a rock today

Huh?? More like barely changed.

Something is up (although it is not the 'experts', they are in bed) and it's happening at more than one center presently.

Couple good-sized rockers in Asia/western Pacific just occurred in the past hour, too. Total number of global earthquakes is starting to rise, after having fallen precipitously over the past 24 hours.

Now we got that repeat of the N-S axis of tight shallow EQ clustering at Eyjaf that we saw before the eruption in March. Interesting.

Maybe Mikey is right. Do we we got water movement with the push of shallow EQs in a direct line to the south of Eyjaf's crater.

Dang this swarm started suddenly and looks like it is not going to stop. Hard to belive an hour ago nothing was happening. I would be shocked if nothing happens as this is what occured before the 1st eruption happened.

By Chance Metz (not verified) on 13 Apr 2010 #permalink

I'm jumping in here ...

Although this looks like a very interesting event, I want to warn about getting an attitude of superiority because you have been tracking the events all day. I can guarantee that the experts in Iceland are tracking this closely and to suggest otherwise is not only condescending but also dangerous. I know it is a blast to feel ahead of the curve with the events of the eruption, but to claim that only "we" know the truth based on freely accessible public data is unwarranted.

That being said, I will be interested to see if there are any signs of changes that correlate with these earthquakes - definitely keeping our eyes open, eh?

I need to go and sleep now. I leave the volcano monitoring to you. :)

By Mattias Larsson (not verified) on 13 Apr 2010 #permalink

There's no guarantee a fissure will open now, of course, or that just because magma is within a half-kilometre of the surface that it will continue rising. It may subside and come back again in the next day and a half as it has in the past.

It's also worth noting that the "most-explored" conduit is not the caldera but actually another more easterly point which it hit this afternoon twice (Wednesday 14.04.201000:13:55) and many times also in past weeks... after smacking today a few times at the edge of the caldera. If there's a pattern, it is that the magma rushes repeatedly at a possible "openable" vent, and then without warning goes for one in a different, less resistive, direction. I suspect THIS point is in that "#2" position for actually breaking through...63.612N-19.584E. It almost broke through *there* a bit earlier at the time noted... notice the depth - 0.1 km1.1 magnitude.

There's a small under-glacial lake there sometimes, I believe. In which case it will drain southward.

>to suggest otherwise is not only condescending but also dangerous.

Please. Nothing of the kind was suggested. It was a reference to the time in Iceland, presently 1:30am.

Actually, the timing is interesting. Last couple of big activity episodes at Eyjaf also happened just at or after midnight.

Ionosonde HF data is looking interesting (spiking, global atmospheric circuit), just like last Fri night, and before the big Baja earthquake. Some kind of general stress buildup, not necessarily specific to Eyjaf.

Well said Eric. It is easy to get carried away sometimes. Good night ;)

By Mattias Larsson (not verified) on 13 Apr 2010 #permalink

@82 Thanks, Mate! Just the ticket. We had a hot surge in the outlet flow, right on the money just before midnight.

You can tell the geologists / volcanologists in Iceland are still up and working. They just reduced the size of the earlier '3.0' EQ down to 2.6.

At least it's nice to see somebody is keeping an eye on things...

Evacuations now underway as a precausion.

Erik that is why I am sticking to quotes and metaphors until we know just what happened....Like I told may not be an eruption but I will bet an e-beer something very interesting happened;)

Shake cluster axis is shifting orientation. Too bad there is isn't an outlet stream Q (flow) and temp monitoring station to the south. That's where most of the melt water went, although some did run north, as indicated by the EQ path.

Not that hard to stick in a temp Hydrolab remote monitoring site with flow and temp sensors.

Something is clearly going on.

The water level at Markarfljótsbrú keeps going up. That shouldn't be happening at this time of the day...

Could you provide a link to the water flow data you're monitoring?

Looks like the glacier melted and caused a flood which can only mean hot laava has coe in contact with ice down below. How long does it takes for the magama to reach hte surfacr once that happens,I know it is not right away.

By Chance Metz (not verified) on 13 Apr 2010 #permalink

@94 Mr. Moho

I'm using the link "" that 'someone' @82 provided. It's in Icelandic, but the login credentials are provided right on that page.

Once inside click on 'Mýrdalsjökull' and then on 'Markarfljótsbrú'. It's still rising...

Shake pattern looks like it might be moving towards the second southern outlet glacier tongue.

If so, evacuation might have to be widened.

Subglacial eruption from intrusion?

Helicopter surveillance at sunrise.

If that is the case then things just got very interesting and way more dangerous.

By Chance Metz (not verified) on 13 Apr 2010 #permalink

I can't find anything in the news anywhere online saying there has been a flood or anything else....that doesn't mean there hasn't been one but it doesn't confirm there has like Erik said lets wait until we know for sure before we start telling people there has been a flood or an eruption....something happened but unless you can show me something in English I am still going to just call it an interesting event;)

James I clicked on the English version of that link and it didn't say anything about a flood or an eruption.

Whatever it is, something is going on and we will know more in the morning. My guess it that the authorities have evacuated because there is a dangerous chance a flood will occur and they want the people to be out of the way. It may or may not have started. I hope not, but if it has, I hope everybody is out of the way.

I have to say this has been one of the most interesting events I have followed and I didn't think it was over, either. As Yogi said, It ain't over til it's over.

May the people of Iceland be ok whatever happens.

The porewater in the fissure systems near Hálslón reservoir is pinging like a seismometer. Useful indicator maybe.

Erik reported that there were evacuations. (New thread?) Now he's asking that an Icelander report.

The google translate of this page indicates that Something is happening:

"Fear a new eruption and flooding in the built

Jarðskjálftahrina is initiated under the top Eyjafjallajökull. In consultation with the Icelandic Meteorological Office jarðvÃsindamenn has been decided rýmingu south glacier safety.
Rýmt Markarfljóts east was east of the Woods and was called on the town that were asked to evacuate. Police Rescue tracks and manage spaces Gunni. Coordinating Centre for Civil Protection in the Applicant in Jakarta has been activated and monitored the progress in cooperation with jarðvÃsindamenn."

Keep an eye on eastern SISZ, just in case.

@someone: where is that radar link we talked about some time ago...recent IMO expansion project.

It would be useful to see if there is something aloft.

My Jönkulhlaup overview on Monday night - (mostly Veðurstofa Ãslands studies) vis-a-vis Eyjafjallajökull eruption, and discussing either jönkulhlaups in the Markarfljöt direction, or the south-east route down the face toward the ocean - is at
Michael Cerulli Billingsley                              

Sent NASA EO a heads-up and imaging request.

Ah, the suspense. Amazing things happen when you put the Icelandic news through the Google translator: some is translated "there is a new eruption underway but it's under the sea" (which I believe is not the case but it's under the ice). But the most hilarious translation comes out if you put in this page: www(dot)ruv(dot)is(slash)frett(slash)eldgos-liklega-ad-hefjast --- it starts with "In all likelihood, considered to have a drink or to get under Eyjafjallajökull". I would refrain from either in the current situation.

Some 700 people are reported to have been evacuated from areas at risk from Jökulhlaup (NOT "Jönkulhlaup", it's without the "n" after the "ö", Michael!).

Monica! (#49) Thank you, a very interesting read. I should have remembered lunar eclipses being a former amateur astronomer myself - I even took photos of a few through my C8 in the late 70s. Doh!

Thank you all for the amazing range of information on these blogs which I have been following since 6th March. I had thought I might miss something with my flight to Spain booked for today... but the event thoughtfully occurred before I was due to go! So I can stay home and read the blogs as usual, it's just amazing. Just to bring a comment from another (non-scientific) blog on-board -

1555: Mark Reuby in Canterbury says:

Eight days ago I was there watching the first volcano at close range. Probably my favourite travel moment to date, especially as Top Gear were filming there. We were told a local Icelandic "mystic meg" had predicted three volcanoes will blow this year in Iceland - one more to go and it's the big one!

Absolutely unscientific, I know, but just one more for the mixing pot. Thanks to Mark!

jönkuhlhaups. what a word.
no need to make it worse than it already is : jökulhlaups
jönkuhlhaups, don't know who started it. it is now frequently wrong on many internet sites.. sigh

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