Subglacial eruption underway at Eyjafjallajökull-Fimmvörduháls in Iceland

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 activity, the magma found a new route to the surface, this time underneath the Eyjafjallajökull glacier. Eruptions readers last night watched as an earthquake swarm arrived underneath the icecap, which prompted Icelandic officials to start evacuating people from the area around the volcano (photo from prior to this eruption) for fears for joklhlaups - volcanically-triggered glacial floods. These floods are started by the intense melting that occurs when basalt at 1200C meets ice - and they can be very powerful floods, moving car-to-house sized material with ease.

The currently, there are reports that the new fissure that has opened underneath the Eyjafjallajökull glacier has created a hole/crater ~200 meters wide deep. The BBC has some video footage of an eruption, but it is unclear if this is just footage from earlier this month in March (impressive nevertheless). Gunnar Gudmunsson of the Icelandic Met Office thinks most of the eruption is occurring at or near the summit of the volcano underneath the ice cap. This has, of course, lead to intense melting of the glacial ice, raising water levels in drainages leading from the volcano in some cases 3 meters in a matter of hours. The south of Iceland has been told to expect flooding due to the eruption. The walking bridge near Fimmvörduháls has also been taken out by the floods, while other measures are being taken to protect roadways.

The London VAAC message suggests that the eruptive plume from the eruption is at least 8000 meters tall - now this plume is likely dominantly steam with some minor ash component. The fragmentation of the lava in this situation comes from the interaction with water (mostly), so it is different that a very ash-rich Plinian ash column, but still it posed a hazard to aircraft - flights below 30,000 feet have been banned from the zones to the north and the east of the volcano. You can see some of the brown/grey ash in the foreground on some of the webcams as well.

Much like the previous fissures, it is unknown how long this phase of the eruption may last. The seismic swarm that started last night has tapered off since the eruption began, but as we saw before, seismicity can ebb and flow repeatedly. The first flights over the volcano this morning spotted a trough created by the eruption in the ice cap, but no lava was spotted (although seeing conditions were poor). Haraldur Sigurdsson points out that now that the eruption is directly underneath the Eyjafjallajökull volcano, we can begin to ponder what might happen if there is any rhyolite for which the basalt to interact, but this is still speculation. We can use the 2004 eruption of Grimsvötn as a guide for subglacial eruptions, but where this new direction at Eyjafjallajökull leads is still up in the air. We should know more after the flights the Icelandic Coast Guard will be performing over the volcano during the day.

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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 Eyjafjallajökull-Fimmvörduháls eruption on April 7, 2010. Just as we were speculating that the Eyjafjallajökull-Fimmvörduháls eruption might be over, Icelandic officials may have ordered an evacuation for towns (icelandic) in the area (but information in english is scant). There have been…
Generally, it takes the threat of imminent death or disaster to get earth science onto the front page of newspapers, and today is no exception. A massive plume of ash emanating from the tongue-twisting Eyjafjallajökull eruption in Iceland has thrown a wrench into much of Europe's travel plans; the…

The BBC footage is just of the March eruption.

The BBC host states in the end of the clip that the footage is from the earlier eruptions.

By Thomas Nygreen (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink

my congratulations to Jon Frimann, who apparently beat the professional geophysicists/ volcanologists with his predictions ... hats off to you :-)

By robert somerville (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink

Looks like I better book my ticket to Iceland - hopefully to cover as many aspects of this eruption as possible in HD. Hopefully can arrive tomorrow evening!

@Thomas Wipf - the video didn't play well in my browser. But I saved the link as a file and opened it with VLC Player, which played it perfectly.

That method worked for me as well to get the video to play. Download it, remove the .wmx ending and open in VML. Thanks for the video links!

This looks very bad indeed. Alot of people thught this would happen and it seems people on here beat the experts in predicitng this. Of course no one had any idead when this would happen and even the experts knew this would likely happen eventually as well. 8000 meters is pretty tall so I guess ths is a pretty big event.

By Chance Metz (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink

Matt #7, Haha, it looks like I took screen shots at almost exactly the same time. I recognize the plume in you pictures :)

By Mattias Larsson (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink

Chance! With so many people venturing guesses, some were bound to "get it right". I can only recall two who were convinced that what we see today would happen - Jón Friman and Michael Billingsley (the jökulhlup-part). We should not place too much emphasis that one professional seems to have spoken too soon yesterday saying the eruption was over for now. We do not have his actual words, only what the journalists reported. He MAY have said that the Fimvörduhals eruption was over and refused to speculate on further developments - and the journalist reported him as saying the eruption was over. Stop.

Once there were signs of renewed activity, the experts reacted with laudable alcrity to get out accurate warnings - during the middle of the night! At that point, there was no hard evidence of an eruption, yet they made the correct call!

The bottom line is that we can afford to speculate and look silly, they cannot!

How true. The ash plume has been reported to now be 11 km by the London VAAC. How high is that in feet or miles?

By Chance Metz (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink

Posted by: Chance Metz

"How true. The ash plume has been reported to now be 11 km by the London VAAC. How high is that"

11 km - 6463.7 smoot

or... 36089 feet.

Just for entertainment I've uploaded a (very) high-resolution image of the previous appearance of the area where the jökulhlaup is coming down:

Taken on my visit to the area two weeks ago.

Not sure what you mean by 'looks very bad'.

Pretty sure the experts at IMO/Geological Institute knew something was up with a marked jump in seismic activity among several Ridge-fault-system complexes yesterday well before the swarm.

One or more people here speculated, correctly, over the past day or so, that magma might be migrating elsewhere when Fimvörduhals grew ominously quiet. That's where we were correct - the eruption period wasn't over, just shifted activity centers.

But that *was* speculation. The key indicator that activity might restart was the large pattern of seismic activity that started at the plate boundary-ridge intersections to the north and south that migrated inwards along the transform faults and thence to the north.

The outbreak of 'buckshot' EQ pattern, the initial seismic activity at Eyjaf yesterday raised expectations - John confirmed the uptick in activity as we refuted conjecture that this was due to subsidence at GPS monitoring sites. The EQ activity coalesced into the dense shallow swarm centroid, punctuated with much deeper EQs, near the crater. The dense pattern made it pretty obvious that an intrusion was occurring and that a subglacial eruption was in progress.

'Someone' helpfully posted outflow/temp website; water temp data cinched it with straightforward evidence of one or more meltwater pulses before the flow rate began to climb sharply.

That's about the time when IMO issued the civil evac response - they had to have consulted on it before we even thought to mention it. I think they suspected a flood was imminent or in progress just before or about the same time we did, per the helpful pointer to the glacier outflow monitoring station website.

We suggested here dispatching a helicopter for visual recon, about the same time the decision was made by IMO to look for plume evidence, probably SOP for them.

I don't think the experts were caught by surprise, except for the quiet period when we applied dogged determination to play wait-and-see. Most of us knew that it was the end of the beginning, including Erik, as it was a great choice of title wording for his blog the other day.

London VAAC were reporting the plume up to 11,000m which is very high!

Looks like I'll aim to arrive in Iceland on Friday night since weather looks promising from Saturday onwards for getting good view of the eruption.

Thanks Lurking never been really good at math! 36,000 feet is pretty high I would say. It seems the experts and the so called armchair geologists on here where on the same page which just goes shows you the value of real time online data.

By Chance Metz (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink

That it definately a high resolution picture Fireman. It takes several minutes to upload, normally it should go much faster with a 10 Mbit connection. There must be something slowing it down.

By Mattias Larsson (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink

I think that the THEY GPS station is gone, it is at least off-line at the moment due to flooding.

The flooding is subsiding for now. But what happens is hard to say. There has also been a drop in the harmonic tremor.

@ Mattias: probably a sudden surge in demand, couple with a not-very-fast link; it's hosted on my own server in my lab, and it's ~9MB...! I did say very high resolution...!

So what happens next?
Does anybody believe a phreatic eruption is likely?

By autosaveme (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink

I should post here a few words that I also posted on the previous thread, hoping that the discussion will largely continue in this current thread here!

So what I said is - Jón is THE man here no doubt. While I never excluded that he was right I always insisted on being cautious which is a central issue in the moment that you are a volcanologist working for a government institution and Civil Defense and every word you say is amplified a thousand times. In that position you do count on every possibility but do so with discretion because it's a terribly sensitive issue. A false alarm can have an impact nearly as bad as an unheeded alarm, maybe less in terms of human victims than in economic terms but unfortunately there are people out there who consider the latter more than the earlier.

I must say Jón is a generous winner because I understood he doesn't touch alcoholic drinks - so in that case we'll have to find out what sort of drinks (or other gourmandises) he prefers and if there is something specific I could offer him from Sicily.

A very precise map showing the location of the new vents has been published at
and shows that most do indeed lie well within the caldera, but one lies outside the caldera on the upper southwest flank.

Other information - in Icelandic but with tell-tale photos of the flooding coming from the glacier Gigjökull - is here at the IMO site:

@Boris Behncke, My model works to some length. But I need to put more idea work in it, and prepare to do some write up on my ideas in regards to volcanoes.

I can send you a copy when it I finish writing version 1.0 of my idea. :)

At current time I going to try to figure out what happens next. But I do know one thing now. The current events are happening a lot faster now then in 1821 to 1823 eruption. That raises the question if that is something to worry about. My model says yes. But I am re-running it in my head.

I drink Fanta, Sprite, etc. instead of alcohol.

By the way, it looks like tremor readings have changed character. From the mainly low-frequency characteristics (0.5-1.0 Hz) of several hours ago, after a pause they started again with most of their intensity in the 1-2 Hz range.

Too bad that the currently bad weather doesn't allow seeing what's going on exactly.

Yes, Jon Frimann, thank you very much for your data and (in Finnish) sisu. Is there such a term in Icelandic?

To everyone else, thank you for the links and the translations. Darn. I slept thru the whole thing, but I felt the excitement of the moment thru your posts.

See the Valahnúk webcam now! There are some great views of the eruption.

By Mattias Larsson (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink

Harmonic tremors are increasing now in Eyjafjallajökull. They are now getting stronger then around 13:00 UTC earlier today when they where at there strongest.

It appears that the eruption is gaining strength at the moment.

The Fimmvörðuhálsi webcam is offline now. :(

By Benamin Franz (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink

@Henrik 13 - Thanks for that, and for Jón's, yours and Erik's steady hand as well. I hope the jönkulhlaup compilation continues to be useful. Anyone wanting it will find it by clicking on my name here.

I suggest that we name this volcano Loki - the "trickster" for its repeated pattern of picking at one path and then suddenly turning round and coming out another... after a period of deceptive silence. It has done this twice before and now again, and I believe it deserves the name. It is a shame to name a volcano for it's own ice-cap... Katla and Grimsvötn don't have to put up with that.

On another note, I encourage people to remember that another character of this vent system is its periodicity. I've asked Socuel to see if he can detect, on the basis of his long-running "activity" summations, and to plot the actual *period* of the periodicity. I suspect since 4 March we have enough sample days to do it.

It is still helpful (to understand the evolution of magma channels under Eyjafjallajokull) to go back and periodically view Socuel's timelapse of EQ movement - even better to put one's cursor over the first fissure point on the ridge, so get a feel of how the magma channel was developed -- not initially used, then pushed through after a period of full quiet. Watch here -…

#21 @Jón: If THEY sends its data via landline, I'd guess that link broke.

By Reynir Heiðbe… (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink

If you want a cheap laugh at the expense of the media (and who doesn't?) then try BBC's coverage of this.

They've finally learned how to spell the name of the volcano, so perhaps by the end of this episode they'll have learned how to pronounce it too. Total gold.

At the moment, the best bet for images of the plume is is the Katla Watch ( ). That's a WMV stream, by the way. This is a pretty good night eye, too, so you might, just might, get to see some reflected glow tonight.

By Reynir Heiðbe… (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink

Yes, kudos to all of those who got it right.

Quiet on the earthquake front, and that second tremor peak has passed. We still have activity/pressure indicators to the north on the ridge above Vatnajökull and western SISZ.

Something is up.

Randall - to paraphrase - "De dormiens nil nisi bonum" ;)

Another flood is on its way down the Markarfjót. People (media) are being evecuated.

@Michael Cerulli Billingsley

I like Loki (the joker). But possible eyjafjallajoker? ;)

@ Jon - It will be interesting to see if it is merely explosive due to the water interaction - something like a phreatomagmatic event - or if there is a true change in the nature of the magma erupting. My hunch is that the explosivity is driven by the additional water, almost like a landbound Surtseyan eruption?

Awwww now come on guys....we all know Loki is still chained up....Henrik said it in the other thread....this is not Götterdämmerung so please don't go getting Loki involved or we could have a real Ragnarök on our hands;)

"Fylliz fiǫrvi
feigra manna,
rýðr ragna siǫt
rauðom dreyra.
Svǫrt verða sólskin
of sumor eptir,
veðr ǫll válynd

Vitoð ér enn, eða hvat?"

It seems to me this eruption is steadily turning from a Phreatomagmatic eruption, to a more substantial small-scale Plinian event. As forcing Magma has been somewhat stunted from movement due to the Glacial Phreatomagmatic eruption, which in turn has caused explosive gasses to occur within the Conduit system resulting in this continual explosive eruption.
Eyjaf is merely "clearing its throat" in terms of what's been vented out so far.

By SNOW_JOKE (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink

I have quietly watched you folks' comments on this eruption, and I have to say, YAY Jón Frimann for his correct praedictions! It is so neat to read and learn from all of you.

I can't wait to see what happens next during this most well observed eruption.

On 21 March I created a 3-D simulation of the Markarflót floodplain, looking back up the Skarrá valley toward Eyjafjallajökull. It is still up -

@Holger 40 - excellent AP photos of the jönkulhaup bursting from beneath Gigajökull, but they are mislabeled as being photos of the "crater." The jönkulhlaups - everyone should guess - are going to continue (and likely increase) until all the ice above the caldera has melted and the created pool stops overflowing through the outlet under Gigajökull. New eruptive sequences... if more violent... will accelerate the melting and increase the volume and speed of the jönkulhlaup outflow down the Skarrá valley and filling the Markarfljót.

Additional concerns pointed out by Veðurstofa Ãslands... if out-flow pathways down the south face of Eyjafjallajökull become necessary, to relieve the impounded summit water... undermined winter snowpack could break free as avalanches, roaring down steep slopes toward the coast.

From Cameraman salvages GPS recorder - "We danced with joy," University geologist said.

By Reynir Heiðbe… (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink

@Randall: Two ways: "Smádreki" or "lÃtill dreki".

By Reynir Heiðbe… (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink

@Randall Nix 56 - my apologies to Snorri Sturluson for any possible false attributions. Loki's nature still fits the bill in my imagination... which is in turn shaped by my ongoing work with pre-historic cultures of the North Atlantic, and the paleo-climate that affected them.

Actually Dame Bertha Phillpotts long harboured the assumption (as do I) that Ragnarok is a description of an event *already happened* (rather than one due when the gods finally turn their backs upon humankind) in which a North Atlantic-wide tsunami followed some major geologic or astronomic event... an event which also triggered a possible simultaneous eruption of both Katla and Hekla c. 1160 BC.

Valahnuk webcam clearing up again (finally!) strong ash rich steam plume. looks great.

By bruce stout (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink

According to the radio news on RÃV Hekla and GrÃmsvötn may be getting restless.

Woah, look at it now. This reminds me of pictures of Ruapehu. The last cloud is pure ash. black as. Fantastic stuff. Let's hope the weather holds off.

By bruce stout (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink

Erik's point at 54 is that we cannot know if this explosive activity phreatomgamatic or vulcanian-plinian until we know the composition of the tephra and the source of the gases.
Phreatomagmatic implies magma, often basaltic, interacting with shallow surface water or groundwater, causing it to flash to steam and explode. Vulcanian and plinian eruptions usually involve a higher silica, more viscous magma that already has trapped gas (still mostly water vapor, but with CO2, SO2, H2S).
The distinction is important, because it will tell us whether or not the basaltic magma has intruded into an eruptable volume of higher silica melt. A plinian eruption would likely wreak havoc with transatlantic air travel due the injection of ash at airliner cruising altitudes (jet engines and glass shards don't mix well). I do not think that this problem has occurred in the North Atlantic since the advent of jet travel.
So as we speak there will be people remotely measuring the gas composition and gathering tephra to analyze. In any case we are able to watch the effects of jökulhlaups as they happen

Eyjafjallajökull frá Valahnúk cam is rather interesting at the moment huge fast rising black plume

Jon is our resident Hekla monitoring specialist - he would know and probably would have said something by now. Jon?

True, Grimsvotn has been showing mild EQ activity. Maybe another subglacial eruption on the way?

@Passerby, Hekla and GrÃmsvötn are quiet at this moment. But if they go, they go.

The ash cloud is getting quite dark at the moment. That is not anything good.

Wish those clouds would stop coming in and blocking the view. It is as black as tar now and if this is jsut water interacting with melting ice then this is amazing.

By Chance Metz (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink

Michael Cerulli Billingsley I know but Loki is far too powerful for this volcano;) I thought about NÃðhöggr myself but at this point even that seems like overkill. I saw your site and like your work. I have studied a lot of archeology and have read most of Joseph Campbell's books. I do understand how myths are usually based on real events. Hey look at us now.....gathered around the virtual fire....comparing notes and as the volcano builds....building our own myths ....singing our own songs about epic events;) Oh will someone please pass me my cup of Mead....I know it's got to be 5:00 by now on someone's sundial:)

Well, let's not get too excited. My comparison with Ruapehu 95/96 fits the bill nicely, I reckon. Similar, phreatomagmatic eruption (and also relatively small) These kinds of eruptions seem to put up a wonderful display. The plume is not yet anything near plinian and I am pretty confident all we are seeing is interaction of hot basaltic magma with ice, albeit very likely a much larger volume of magma than at Fimmvordulhals.

All said though, it's a pretty stunning display. Just wish the cloud cover would go away!!

By bruce stout (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink

Thanks, Jon.

By Passserby (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink

Can't tell if the plume *is* darker or not. The sun shines right along it, which tends to bugger up estimates.

By Reynir Heiðbe… (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink


Hekla doesn't really 'get restless'. It gives you maybe an hour or so of seismicity and then blows its top. There never seems to be any real lead-up period.

There was one 3.5 magnitude quake at Grimsvotn today, now reduced to a 2.3 on the Vedur site. That's hardly 'restless'.

Both volcanoes are statistically 'due' an eruption, but that's an awful way of prediction, of course. Both have the required pressure inside, too. I suspect the news were making that out as them being 'restless' when in actual fact it means very little, other than they could potentially go.

@Randall Ha! I like the comparison. Happily join you in a cup of mead.

By bruce stout (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink

Amazing to follow this through webcameras and in here! Airports in Northern Norway is been closed right now due to the ash, predictions is that almost all airports will have to close during the night an tomorrow.

Will be interesting to see how long this continues and how it developes.

Did the Vodaphone cam go down? Or is it just here it doesnt show?

Fine particles entrained in a steam-gases plume can cause sudden darkening of plume color by light absorption. We've seen that recently (early March) at Chaiten and Mont Seurat, via webcam, when there was a minor dome collapse.

The presence of lightening suggests charged wet mineral particles that pick up surface charge by friction as they erupt. No surprise here.

@James #88:

I only caught a part of an interview with Páll Einarsson, geophysicist, in Spegillinn right after the radio news at 18:00. Ruminations probably but perhaps you should check on it.

@Stefan (#80) - lightning is typical in water-rich eruption columns. Which we would expect in an eruption coming through a glacier.

@Fireman (#74) - luckily this is a far cry from Pinatubo so far, the plume seems to be below 10 km height, whereas Pinatubo's Plinian plume reached a height of 40 km.

But this looks quite more serious than the first episode of the eruption.

How long will such an explosive phase last? The historical subglacial eruptions in Iceland seem to have lasted from a few days to a few weeks. But what will happen once the eruption has melted a significant portion of the glacier? If it's still of basaltic composition it might lead to the formation of a lake within the glacier, and the growth of a cone above the lake level - if it lasts long enough it might even repeat the Surtsey eruption to a degree. If the crater becomes insulated from water and ice, the activity might turn fully magmatic and if it's basaltic that means, lava fountains and lava flows. Many of Iceland's table mountains formed that way, starting as subglacial eruptions that created lakes within a glacier and eventually the volcanic cones rose as islands from the lakes, emitting lava flows and building small shield volcanoes on top of the table mountains. That would be a thing to see, I'd say.

If on the other hand the magma is more evolved (like rhyolitic) this will be mostly explosive, although the explosive activity will not last very long, and might end with the growth of a lava dome ...

Uh-oh, very spectacular view on Valahnúk now

The Vodafone cams are indeed down, as far as I can tell. So is the cam on Fimmvörðuháls. Katla, Valahnjúkur and Hvolsvöllur are still up.

By Reynir Heiðbe… (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink

There is one very remote possibility that belongs to the realm of after-dinner speculation: Many large Icelandic volcanoes such as Askja, Katla, Krafla, Tindfjallajökull, Torfajökull, have big calderas. Are large, rhyolitic eruptions the only means to create such calderas?

Eyjafjöll volcano probably(?) began life as "tuya", a subglacial table-top volcano upon which the startovolcanic peak was later built. Small basaltic flank eruption have also played a large part in shaping today's mountain. From the pre-eruption earthquake data we know that there was a gross overrepresentation of quakes at 1.1 km depth. We also know that in the short space of time of 25 days, magma has erupted through (at least) four different channels. Taken together, this suggests that the interior is, not a pile of loose rubble as suggested for some rhyolitic stratovolcanoes, but rather a multitude of broken blocks of basaltic rock.

Now imagine an eruption such as the ongoing and that water finds its way into cracks going deep down but not connected to the current magma conduit. Then there is a small quake, some water interacts with magma resulting in an explosion that opens those cracks. Millions of cubic metres of water interacts with the main magma chamber.

Now, have a look at my concluding line of #13 and remember this is a flight of fancy and in no way a prediction firmly anchored by scientific fact applicable to the current eruption. ;)

@bruce: I do check it and other cams every few minutes in case there's an opening in the scud. Right now Valahnúkur has an opening. The plume is black as sin.

By Reynir Heiðbe… (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink

Christian 90#: You beat me, 97#, with that news :)

By Mattias Larsson (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink

It seems that there are 2 different plumes. The darker one we see well i webcam and another much more "white" just behind it.

You can see the white plume only sometimes when it is more high than the black one.
Probably they are originated from 2 different parts of the same vent

By Dario Leone (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink

Hummmmmmm....I am looking at that dark plume....thinking perhaps little dragon wouldn't be the right name;) It is awfully dark and seems to be getting bigger?

@ Michael Cerulli Billingsley #68:

"Actually Dame Bertha Phillpotts long harboured the assumption (as do I) that Ragnarok is a description of an event *already happened* (rather than one due when the gods finally turn their backs upon humankind) in which a North Atlantic-wide tsunami followed some major geologic or astronomic event... an event which also triggered a possible simultaneous eruption of both Katla and Hekla c. 1160 BC."

I'm more than willing to believe that Ragnarök is a description of an event that had already happened, something so spectacular and devastating and deadly that it resounded through the centuries. And basically got elevated to a mythical status.

But what you're saying is very interesting, I've never heard of this North Atlantic-wide tsunami + major Katla/Hekla eruptions occurring in recent pre-history.

would that be a nice oak matured meed or a fine mug of spiced perhaps a fine cherry mead you would like?
i have all 3 in the cellar most are 3-5 year old

@Dario: Very likely correct, as the Katla webcam shows a white plume whereas Valahnúkur shows a black one.

By Reynir Heiðbe… (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink

@ Henrik nice speculation! two things:

1. calderas do not always form from large explosive eruptions that empty a magma chamber but also from relatively slow eruption of large volumes of magma. The surface then lacks structural support and the caldera forms from collapse.

2. many eruptions in New Zealand followed a course precisely in the way you mentioned. You could go back to Taupo 181 AD for the mother of all phreatomagmatic eruptions. The volcano erupted for four days until something catastrophic happened on the fourth day and then (most likely) Lake Huka emptied into the magma chamber and 80 cu km of material went up in about three minutes. Less dramatically, the Tarawera eruption in 1886 was also a basaltic eruption along a fissure that split open along 12 km finally compromising the shore of a lake and the consequent phreatomagmatic blast resulted in the Rotomahana Muds that buried a couple of villages and destroyed the Pink and White Terraces. So, yes, it is not uncommon and the reaction of water and hot magma is always an explosive mix.

That said, I don't think we are seeing anything on that scale here. Firstly, this magma rose quickly from depth, which kind of indicates to me that there is no shallow magma chamber to suddenly up-end itself on us.

By bruce stout (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink

Am i right in thinking that we should see some good lightining from the ash column in the fading light ?

i find it interesting that the black plumes seem to be rising a bit further to the right over time when the wretched weather allows it to be visible

Randall, Gina! Since Iceland was a Viking colony, perhaps we should stick to the original recepies? Now, which variety would you like? "Dream Mead" spiced with poppy? The "Lovemaking Mead" (hemp)? Or perhaps the "Berserker" variety, spiced with toadstool mushroom is your poison? ;)

The eruption seems to have calmed down in the past 5 minutes.

That would be the oak matured then a fine choice also the oldest in my stash I brewed that lot in 2005

Gina.....If history teaches is to never ever invite a Saxon to a party!....That's how we got to Britain....Arrrrrrrr;)

#117: Thanks, Christian!

Alas for the Saxon, Randall. He had to give best to the gate-crashing Viking four centuries later (most likely sore because he wasn't invited to the party). Romani ite domum!

Parclair! (#116). That's one of the best views all day, thank you!

Henrik wait make that a poppy laced's been a long day;) Oh and by the way I have no problems with the Romans or the Vikings it's those Normans that worry me:)

As I sit here watching the live stream from valahnjuk and the earlier videos of the joklhalaup I can also rotate my office chair 180 degrees and take in a nice view of Mt. Rainier to the south looming over the Green river valley on a mostly sunny Seattle afternoon. The thought of a sub-glacial summit or flank eruption on Mt Rainier is really chilling, considering how built up the surrounding river valleys are compared to Eyjafjalljokull.

Any info on flouride levels?

Thanks Bjarni!

The lava in the thermal image seems to be showing some fountaining, which suggests it is a basaltic eruption of the kind we've seen over the past few weeks. The amount of ash produced by the eruption so far seems to be indicating the same.

@ Bruce Stout: seen the fact that the eruption still doesn't appear to be silicic (yet), I still need to buy you that beer ;-) .

By Gijs de Reijke (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink

Doug, you and I are on the same page, I also look at Mt Ranier evry day from the back window of my house (on clear days) and wonder if the people underneath it are on borrowed time. I also wonder when Mt. Baker is going to wake up again. This eruption though has taken some interesting turns, and I wonder if it is going to trigger Katla to erupt as it has in the past...

By James Hobbs (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink

The Vodafone webcams are back up. They now point due south, right at GÃgjökull.

By Reynir Heiðbe… (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink

Doug Mt Rainier is possably the most dangerous volcano in the US i would not like living in it's drainage area it has sent lahars into the Puget sound in the past it is a mass of very unstable rocks and clays any eruption will be messy (understatement)

@ meed drinkers a poppy laced would be interpreting but i have no desire to visit the premier growing area to get them
now a hemp based would be interesting i do have a lot aging made with hops just a bit bitter yet a little sweet

Hey Gijs! I was wondering where you were. I hope you were able to follow the action today. It's been quite exciting.

Re that beer, cheers! keep it in the fridge for now. One day we'll get that meet-up together when I have a fewer family and work commitments! (Failing that, we can meet on Etna late May if Boris gets that eruption cranked up in time :-))

By bruce stout (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink

I did see just know on Katla web cam on that the ash plume did take a direction upwards just now. I do not know why. But it was dark looking cloud.

so it looks like "our pet" has both bark and bite!

@Anna 107 Christian 117 - As Anna may know, Storegga's 15-35 metre tsunami preceded possible Hekla/Katla c. 1160 BC eruption by a good 4600 years and the resulting tsunami had devastating results upon the struggling colonies in Doggerland as well as the east Scottish coastal communities, Shetlands, and Norway itself.

The transition from middle to late Bronze Age has puzzled archaeologists of northern Europe and the UK/Irish islands because peaceful farming communities abruptly switched from agriculture to warfare, and weapons production/fort-building took a vicious uptick in less than 20 years. Apparently food was the issue.

Several recent papers at the American Geophysical Union suggest a meteoric bolide struck the mid-Atlantic near coastal Florida near that time... and apart from the tsunami (which several contemporary Irish accounts suggest was 100+ metres high) the impact may have triggered Hekla and/or Katla... causing in Hekla's case a 5+ eruption which blanketed the northern hemisphere, blacked out the sky for 3 continuous years (mentioned by Sturluson, and shown by the dendrichonological record) and caused widespread and almost total starvation... Ragnarök.

Ramses III had a failed grain crop for next two years as a consequence of the sky going dark, and on 1059 BC survivors of the massive starvation emerged along the shores of the west Aegean, commandeered Phoenician ships, and began ruthless raids against the city-states of the west Mediterranean (the so-called Sea Peoples). I believe those events are all connected to Iceland.

Can someone post a collection of links to the most interesting web cameras at the Volcano area please?

By Even Johnsen (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink

@Jón: Check for wind shift. The Road Works' weather stations in the vicinity show WNW-ly winds. Also, winds may be calming as well.

By Reynir Heiðbe… (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink

I'm wondering if the clouds are really clouds, or vog (volcano smog) from the really big, ongoing cloud evident in the katla cam. It's more greyish than usual.

Buggrit! It's new moon, and that means spring tides. Millennium hand and shrimp!

By Reynir Heiðbe… (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink

Hmm. I've always associated the rise sea peoples with Thera (santorini) eruption, about 1628 BCE. In Wikipedia , they say the first of the sea peoples are 1700 to 2000 BCE. Also 'The Lukka appear much later and also the Sherden in the Amarna Letters, perhaps of Amenhotep III or his son Akhenaten, around the mid-14th century BC."

I think what this all might mean is that we go through waves of multi-disasters over a couple of hundred years, which can lead to great social chaos and change.

I've often read that we've lived in a remarkably calm period, climatically.

Seeing Jon's helicorder, I think another medium-sized explosive event might have just occurred.

Now the airspace over Western Norway is also closed, according to the Norwegian national broadcaster NRK.

By Thomas Nygreen (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink - Five webcams at a small airstrip NW from Eyjafjallajökull. Third camera from above looks towards the glacier. They expose for the ground, thus tend to burn the sky badly.

By Reynir Heiðbe… (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink

parclair our whole written history has occurred climatically in a golden age.....It really doesn't get any better than this;)

"To study history means submitting to chaos and nevertheless retaining faith in order and meaning. It is a very serious task, ... and possibly a tragic one."----Hermann Hesse

Re the Katla Watch webcam, it looks to me that the dark cloud at the top of the screen is the plume and the paler stripe below is scudding.

By Reynir Heiðbe… (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink

Another from Seattle here. I'm a non-academic volcano freak enthusiast. Can anyone tell me if the page below shows auto-updating seismic information? Or is is a historical only? If the latter, is there another place to look for live updated seismographs? My Icelandic is rusty nonexistent. Thanks.

@Carla: Historical - today's news. Click on the word "English" at the top of the screen for translated information.

By Reynir Heiðbe… (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink

I've read the vog has either has a whitish, yellow or reddish cast to it when viewed through sunlight.

Vog event in Hawaii earlier this year (Feb 14)…

If you look for photos of the yellow dust that enveloped Beijing and the coast for nearly a week last month, you'll have an approximate idea of what a really bad case of highly sulfuric vog haze might look like.

So now.. this reminds me truly of what went on in 1991, in Chile, in Moutn Hudson's caldera.

The first eruption was basaltic ant phreatomagmatic...exactly like this one is.

The problem was, the dike feeding this basaltic eruption cut through the main magma chamber of the volcano, which was filled with highly pressurized andesitic magma, and primed it to erupt.

The next phase of the eruption was a plinian andesitic eruption, VEI 5+.

As far as I know Eyjaf is basically an andesitic to rhyolitic volcano, and so far it has been erupting basalt, something very unusual in its history.

This looks quite suspicious to me... This could give the rhyolitic magma chamber sittig under Eyjaf just the push it needs to start erupting big time.

By Volcanophile (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink

Reynir Heiðberg Stefánsson it could have been reports of the volcanoes early demise that angered the God's....or it could have been....Dr. Who.....My guess is that it was most likely Dr. Who;) Time Lords can be so darn clumsy.

Seems like there are lots of us watching from under the shadow of Mt. Rainier. I wonder how many of us are volcano watchers today because Mt. St. Helens blew up when we were young and impressionable. I was a teen and already interested in geology when that happened. But it certainly sharpened my interest.

159: besides the fact that it's probably way too early to tell (nobody still knows how much material has been erupted, what was the exact ash column height, and also the thing is still ongoing, etc.), it's not correct to speak about VEI for the whole volcano in my opinion. VEI is a definition for individual eruptions.

By the way, personally I would treat the smaller fissure eruption which began a few weeks ago as a separate thing from the recent explosive events occurred right in the old caldera.

@ Bruce: yeah, I've been watching things all day :) . I think that what happened at Eyjafjallajökull can be compared to a meandering river, where erosion takes place at the outer banks of the river. In the case of Eyjafjallajökull the fresh basalt has melted away the older and solidified materials that were under the caldera, while it could escape through some vents that formed at weaker spots nearby.

Currently I'm quite busy myself, too. Part of my study is about fieldwork and I'm preparing to take some high school classes to the Eifel to test some fieldwork techniques. And I'm going to Scotland from May 1st to May 8th. Probably gonna pick up some nice pieces of rhyolitic tuff and megabreccia at Glencoe ^_^ .

Maybe Boris can keep Etna from erupting till July of August ;-) . I don't have any plans for the summer holidays, exept for going to some Eifel quarries ofcourse ;-) .

A meeting in the Eifel is something I think we have to do for sure. Laacher See is cooler than Etna anyway ;-) . Maybe some others can come over, too. We should exchange contact information ^_^ .

>I wonder how many of us are volcano watchers today because Mt. St. Helens blew up when we were young and impressionable.

Check the box! Plus have professional interests, this eruption in particular. Once I knew why it would happen and approximately when (within a few years), I patiently waited several years for the start of The Eyjaf-Katla Show.

Volcanophile: Cerro-Hudson was very much below the global radar when it massively erupted in 1991, as all eyes were turned to Mt Pinatubo and Mt St Helens.

I was watching. It was a very important eruption.

National Geographic Daily News has images from the flood, plume and glacier.

Regarding the eruption still now showing signs of slowing down, I'm really curious about ground deformation. These days I've usually checked out mainly data from this page:

Will next day start showing added inflation or, as it would be generally expected after several explosive events, deflation? But thinking more about it, shouldn't all the molten ice have alleviated much counter-pressure from above?

Sigmar 168. Thanks for the wonderful link! ;D

It is likely that only the Katla webcam will have anything to show until ca. 04:00-04:30 UT in the morning. By then it should be bright enough for the other webcams.

By Reynir Heiðbe… (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink

@ Sigmar 168. No kidding WOW! Most beautiful; a real feeling of being dwarfed. Do you think the folks at that farm are getting any more work done that the rest of us? Just pull up a chair & gawk!

Latest news are that there is heavy ashfalls in the country side around (east) the volcano. Just before dusk (20.30) it just went pitch black and unstayable outside.

By Sigmar Reynisson (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink

@Passerby #164: So now you are saying that Katla is going to erupt? No doubts about it?

Yes, I have to check the box. I have a Jack Daniels bottle of Mt. St. Helens ash that my Brother collected when he was in the Army, and helped with the cleanup.

@Boris 95: I know, I wasn't thinking of the climactic eruption at Pinatubo, more some of the early vent-clearing blasts.

@Mr. Moho #170: That is the same site that I have been going off of, that and the other locations that you can access from it. The problem is, I understand that is not real time. I should have caught that long ago. Hence my failure in thought process last night. I do not know of any "real time" GPS stations that we, the "General Public" are privy to.

As far as my comments for last night; I maybe should have pulled my head out of my #%^ and listened to Randall.

I understand from previous comments that THEY is disabled now. Am I mistaken?

The katla cam seems to be really lighting up. Checked moon phase, and it's new moon. Any word of increased activity?

@gina 162, thanks for the seismo link. That's what I was hoping to find. I'm going to quiet down now so the experts can talk.

Posted by: bruce stout

"... Firstly, this magma rose quickly from depth, which kind of indicates to me that there is no shallow magma chamber to suddenly up-end itself on us."

Then why are most of the quakes over the last 24 days centered about 3-6 km down at about 63°38'5.69"N - 19°31'55.03"W...4.5 km SSW of the initial fissure eruption? ( â38.5% of all the quakes around the volcano )

@Benjamin: Thank you, I'll have to explore that site.

@parclair: Looks like the sky may be clearing up, but you'd likely have to average about a minute's worth of images to get a usable picture out of all the noise.

By Reynir Heiðbe… (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink

@181: there's also this one but it seems to lack updates from the last 2 or 3 days:

To me they all seem to show slightly different data although the general trend is about the same. What they have in common, though, is that it's hard to figure out what day corresponds to each individual point. It's not clear if the last day has been added yet.

Either way, it appears that the average medium-term trend over the last dozen days or so is slight deflation.

Yes, >85% confidence level, for a pending eruption at Katla within the next 2 years.

NOAA Earth Observatory staff have answered our petition for high-resolution imaging of today's eruption. Images should be obtained and made available in a few days at the EO site. Erik will be sent info to post.

Daily low-res images of the ongoing eruption progress at Eyjaf is maybe found at any time, on a dedicated webpage at NASA (daily listings by date each page, as clickable thumbnail true- and false-color images):

Todays data should be the page you pull up, and it clearly shows the plume progress.

I believe they may supply another thermal analysis (temp, volume) of this new phase of the eruption later on, as our Pet is high on their satellite image processing priority list.

Thanks NASA EO! Your ROCK!

@parclair 144 - I've got to clarify that Wikipedia entry. There's an apparent conflict with the Phoenician entry and certainly with that on Ramses III - who memorialised his conflicts with the Sea Peoples. Santorini's c. 1645 eruption was forewarned and there were almost no direct casualties, although tsunami and climate effects were severe on the coasts, and in the Levant and eastward.

The periodic rise of marauders called variously Sea Peoples and other names between 1700 and 1200 BC is not to be confused with the fleets of "Sea Peoples" armies (using primarily Phoenician ships, as I said) who burned down most of the east Mediterranean city-states between precisely 1159 and 1152 BC, and who Ramses III eventually defeated after a series of costly battles. Either way, major volcanoes jump-start cultures into big changes in style... or out of existance.

hehe....well here is one GPS station.
Apparently a news cameraman grabbed this GPS measurement equipment floating around while "dangling" from a helicopter earlier today.
Btw, i dunno if you know this, but the water measurment site got swamped with hits this morning and had to be taken offline to public.

By Anonymous (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink

As a scientist that has operated numerous remote reporting environmental sensor/data logging devices, I can empathize with the geologists at the Institute when the seismic monitoring station equipment was thought to be lost.

It was recovered during a helicopter recon flight earlier today. The man who saved their bacon: lucky Harold Asa Lárusson.

"Harold saved the GPS tracking device group by hanging outside the helicopter in the morning and catch it out of the flood."

Way to go Harold!

It is amazing that he found the GPS station. It made me happy when I read about it :)

By Mattias Larsson (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink

Thanks Passerby - you can definitely tell that the plume is casting a shadow.

@ Michael Cerulli Billingsley 193 Thanks for the clarification. I keep a little mini list of quick cultural declines and another list of catastrophic events. I hadn't heard about the disaster around 1100 bce. It's on my list, now.

Those things aren't cheap by any means so losing one really would be a bad thing. Guess we ahve to wait until morning to find out how the eruption s going. Until then all's we can do is talk aobut what has happended today.

By Chance Metz (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink

NATS are on about closing all UK airspace north of the Wash/North Wales by 06z this (Thursday) morning.

By SNOW_JOKE (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink

>Btw, i dunno if you know this, but the water measurement site got swamped with hits this morning and had to be taken offline to public.

Been there, done that with public data access sites in the past. They should have set up periodic page image grabs and posted them to a dedicated site for the public and emergency response personnel access.

Fortunately for us, tremor monitoring plots proved to be a useful proxy for estimating timing of meltwater flux events.

I would be surprised if the agency didn't loose their flow and temp monitoring/logging instruments in that second flood.

parclair if it were not for catastrophes and volcanoes in particular we would never have left the trees....We would still be eating fruit, picking lice and flinging poop at each other;)
"Adapt or perish, now as ever, is Nature's inexorable imperative."
--H.G. Wells

Gordys I have found getting my head up my #%^ isn't the hard part....getting it out that was always the hard part;)

Passerby "If you stand in the market place, announce the end of the world they're just gonna think you're a mad ol' Soothsayer."---Dr Who The Fires of Pompeii

Mama Mia!!! What an erution! I think we have something that could turn worse than it is, but, as one said above, we will have to wait until morning to see anything. That is, if the clouds are gone or mostly gone. I had to catch up with everything as I was too busy to get on and see what was going on. I did get to see some of it before I had to get going.

Randall, as for the "freshman at a frat party," I knew exactly what you were talking about. I have had to wait all this time before I could let you know.

Anyway, I have caught up now, for the most part, and I just wish the weather would cooperate so the authorities coud see what was going on, let alone us. Of course, we want to see it!

Catch everybody later. I will keep monitoring.

So what happens next? I've heard someone say vent clearing like Pinatubo may be going on. Is this eruption is on the rim of the caldera or right in the middle of it? If this were to happen at Yellowstone I'd be packing it up.

I don't see it getting that bad but with volcanoes anything is posible. That ash plume sure is getting huge on sattlite.

By Chance Metz (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink

Richard I am not sure the experts even know for sure what will happen next:) I think they are still studying the data, waiting for the weather to clear up and the sun to come up before they make any new predictions.

Scottish Airspace Closed as Iceland Volcano Ash Moves to Europe
April 14, 2010, 9:46 PM EDT

By Ben Martin

April 15 (Bloomberg) -- BAA Ltd. said Scottish airspace will be closed âuntil further noticeâ following safety advice from U.K. air traffic control, as an ash cloud from an Iceland volcanic eruption moves across Europe......

The earlier periodicity of magma surges might again be being repeated - perhaps to be most emphasized during the new moon than during the full moon (just a wild hunch).

I'm working with data provided kindly to me by socuel to see if there is a reasonably consistent, repeated interval that would allow predictive forecasting of the next surges. For the time being, approximately 20-26 hours after the beginning of each "hiatus." At least people are learning that the "quiet" means... get ready for the next big one... not "relax, it's over."

The analogy I used long ago in mid-March (of a muscular fellow walking back into the hallway - then running full tilt against the door and smashing against it with his shoulder, and then walking back, and running at it again) was made to a magazine editor in Reykjavik. She had suggested that the quiet, EQ-free time meant we could relax. I asked her - "If you were the woman behind the door, when it fell silent outside in the hallway, would *you* relax?" She agreed that she would not.

I suspect the next one will be bigger.

@211 Randall

Prediction is fairly simply as there are only three possible outcomes:

1. The eruption will get stronger
2. The eruption will stay the same
3. The eruption will reduce in intensity

So anyone making a prediction has a 1 in 3 chance of being correct no matter what they say. Those are pretty good odds in the prediction business.


@216 Anonsters

My guess is they do some sort of archival across midnight and shut down processing of it for a while. I have noticed that behavior at other times as well. No data apparently gets lost, they simply appear to stop updating the graph for a while around midnight.

@Randall Nix 207 - Melungeons were new to me... the DNA evidence seems the most useful. But I can say that the Beotucks of Newfoundland were a stupidly-lost resource because the British were too impatient to colonise, and would rather have pushed them into oblivion than cut a wide swath around them. Their height, hair colour and difficult language suggest they may have at least partially-descended from the survivors of one or more storm-driven ships driven off-course (from a fleet of about 50) which left Ireland for uncertain points north around 1650 or 1700 BC... the tribe of Béotach.

Another similarly isolate, non-Amerind culture were the Red Paint People of Maine and north through Labrador, who successfully established colonies between approx. 4800 and 1200 BC. Their lifestyle, burial customs and certain other elements are sometimes linked to the northern Sa'ami along the Norwegian coast. They disappeared abruptly, possibly in conjunction with a tsunami - they rarely established their villages more than 15 metres above sea level. The "end date" is very close to that tsunamigenic meteorite impact event I mentioned earlier.

Berber African sea pirates based in old Timbuktu (which unlike the present one, was on the coast) successfully raided and overpowered Ireland on two occasions before 1500 BC. They routinely sailed most of the Atlantic, and when forced by changing climate to move their operations to what is now Algeria, still continued raiding the North Atlantic for slaves and booty. They famously and successfully raided Iceland for slaves (under Dutch corsair leadership) in the 1600's. People "got around" the North Atlantic in ways which today we do not always give them credit.

Michael Cerulli Billingsley I thought you might find the Melungeons interesting....It's surprising what one can find out at a volcano blog;)

Michael, would you be willing to post your general findings of periodicity or lack of it? I'm sure Peter is interested, and I am as well.

Looking for:

Initial period of burst activity, duration
significant pause, length
resumption of activity, duration before hiatus
hiatus length

I believe there is significant repeat structure- had already noticed it. The repeat structure lengthens slightly with each cycle between quiet times.

We also had interesting discussion of the roughly 24-36 hour oscillating patterns of EQ number/depth early on (pre-eruption) that was productive. They appeared to predict major activity (new fissure eruptions).

I'm with Peter in suspecting a larger forcing function mechanism for magmetic heating/mixing and movement to the surface.

The Valahnúk webcam has daylight again and when the low clouds allow you can see the eruption cloud in the background. Looks like it's still going strong...

Lower Vodafone cam - most definitely an increase in flow from the glacier overnight and something going on at the foot of the glacier. Bad lighting conditions preclude identification but bears watching. The Valahnjúk camera still shows the dark plume.

Erm... Good Morning everyone! (Kettle on, coffee, get dressed, back to webcams.)

Addicted? Me?!? Never! xD

On second thought (and after watching for a few more minutes - whenever the low clouds allow), it's not as strong as when it first blew. But the dark clouds are still coming up.

Morning Henrik! Looking at the web appears the little dragon is still angry.

Randall, I bet you won't be rich if you'd be paid for sleeping... :-)

On the subject of our names for this volcano: Eyjafjöll will always be "The Little Volcano That Could":

When Iceland asked Hekla, Katla, Bardarbunga, Krafla, Askja and Laki to put on a show, they said no, they needed their sleep. But their little sister Eyjafjöll said "I can, I can!" Iceland smiled and said "Very well, dear daughter. You're old enough so you should be able to."

The little Volcano tried. First there was a lot of shaking, a shaking all its big brother Laki and sisters and even the mighty Dame Etna ( ;) ) in the far away country of Italy would have been proud of, but no eruption. The Little Volcano said to herself "I can do it! I can do this" and tried again. There was a small fountain of lava that impressed everyone who saw it with its beauty. But the Little Volcano was not happy, and tried again. More beautiful lava fountains and people came from all over the world to admire its surreal beauty.

The Little Volcano thought "Perhaps this is enough. I will be remembered for my gentle beauty. I don't need to be feared. I might as well let humans be afraid of my big brother Laki and my big sisters". But the Little Volcano had tried so hard that she had gotten a congestion. And then she sneezed, and sneezed, and sneezed. It looked just like what his big sister Katla used to do before she went to sleep, jökulhlaup and all. But the Little Volcano discovered that once she'd started, she couldn't stop...

I've been watching this and reading along with you all as we waited to see what would happen in March.

It's interesting to wake up to find that there the flights are interrupted in and out of my local airport, Manchester due to the eruption.

I predicted the event last night after reading this

I shall enjoy the peace this morning.

The eyjafjallajokull-fra-valahnjuk webcam is definitely a site to see right now. The strong winds are quickly carrying the eruption column away, but it looks heavy ash-plinian. I would say this is a very unpredictable situation. Phreatic explosions combined with fragmentation of older rhyolite-andesite rocks in the conduit could be responsible for the ash. Yet, we aren't sure if this is basalt mixing or earlier speculation of possible depressurization of silica rich magmas from eyjafjallajokull's main chamber. Exciting for vulconologists to watch this unfold; however, it must be nerve-wrecking knowing so much glacial melt water is in contact with the main conduit.

Monika Oh I sleep...when I am tired...I even took time yesterday to go slay a small WIFI dragon for the Navy;) It's 2:06 here so I am calling it a night

Henrik alright man good inspirational volcano prose;) I think I will leave it in your capable hands and get me some sleep...I have WIFI dragons and web demons to battle in the morning....good night volcano heads:)

A spike in harmonic tremors. And it is actually visible how the ground is shaking on the Hekla webcam..:)

@Matt (#231) so far this eruption is phreatomagmatic but not Plinian (the plume is far too low); a Plinian column usually reaches the stratosphere. But certainly it is violently explosive, mostly due to interaction of magma with glacier and meltwater. I am curious to see the composition of this new magma once the analyses are published - in any case this eruption looks very similar to the subglacial eruptions in 1996, 1998 and 2004 at Gjàlp and GrÃmsvötn. Much of the explosivity may be due to the magma-ice/water interaction rather than to the explosive (gas-rich) nature of the magma. But to know this better we'll have to await the results of rock composition analyses and gas measurements.
On the Valahnúk webcam in this moment (08:00 GMT) it looks a bit weaker than yesterday afternoon, though we all know this may be only temporary.
I like Henrik's (#229) little story a lot. That would be worth to be brought beyond this thread.

@Boris (#235): It seems to be winding down a bit but if we have a look at the tremor chart at it definitely seems that something is on the move.

It was more calm during the night but seems to be picking up alot more harmonic during the last hour.

Very nearly gone black on Valahnúk camera

UK MET Office VA Advisory Maps

Looks like UK air traffic is facing major disruptions, I wonder what the long term plan is if the eruption continues and the winds do not shift.

@ Matt P (239): What kind of long term plan do you think? Maybe someone could go and sing a lullaby to the vulcano? :-) I can't imagine any 'plan' could help this situation. Maybe people would travel by ship, by train etc. Or they simply stay where they are. The hotel owners might even dream of some extra profit from these days as many people has to rent a room if they can't travel home...
Try to imagine a world with less travel! I think at least 75% of the Earth's population had never left the place they were born for more than 20-30 kms. OK, it's unpleasant to stay somewhere we don't want to be, but there are many other vismaior situations too in one's life. It's not the most serious. The problem is that we are too much travel-, transport- and technics-dependent...
I rather think with sympathy of those people who can't go home and save their animals, their goods if the volcano and the glacier would make some more dirty floods...

@Henrik, Dame Etna lol she's not going to like that!!

@Boris, thanks for the info on the fragmentation.

@ Lurking #186 and Daniel #237 eek! you're right! I had assumed that this new flow was a shallow breach of the original flow to the west but it certainly looks like it has much deeper origins. It will be interesting to see the results of the analysis of the ash getting emitted.

other than that all I can say is damn weather!!! fog on all webcams. ARRGH!!

By bruce stout (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink

Our airport is closed this morning because of how much volcanic ash we are getting landing on us here in Scotland.

By Luna_the_cat (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink

I think that 1mm of volcano ash is enough to close down a airport. But this is just the fine stuff that Europe is getting at the moment. But ash might fall anyway.

According to a caller to BBC News they are getting a strong smell of sulphur in the Shetland Islands so it's not just high level ash that's getting around.

Just to clarify, flights are NOT cancelled because of ash falling on the ground. It is because it is in the atmosphere, at the altitude that airlines fly. If ash enters the engines it can clog them and cause them to stop. Obviously extrememly dangerous.

Looking at the weather patterns this could effect flights around NW europe for at least a week unless the eruption stops.

Interestingly I have seen a report of an eggy smell in the Shetland Islands this morning.

Wow, I go away for a week and look what happens whilst I'm gone!

You can watch European flights being diverted because of the ash:

Sounds like UK airspace is pretty much shut now:

And now we can enjoy the sideshow of the British media getting over-excited about it all.

ash falling at Valahnuk right now. thought it was a bit dark.

By bruce stout (not verified) on 14 Apr 2010 #permalink

@ Monika (240): Definitely, my thoughts go out to those directly impacted by these events. I just hope that the wider national authorities/businesses could be as well prepared as the Icelandic government and people. I read constantly on science based blogs that elsewhere in the world chronic lack of investment and planning leads to the unnecessary loss of lives and increased global disruptions. To answer your question - perhaps contingency/funding for additional rail travel and re-routing thru European airports not affected by ash in this kind of event. Don't want to head too far off topic tho. My point was more that there is going to be great demand for more accurate predictions about this new stage of the eruption.

Speaking of glacier-covered volcanoes. Someone recall Nevado de Huila in Colombia? In November 2008 it erupted, producing destructive mudflows that killed about 10 people. Luckily the lessons from the 1985 mudflow disaster at Nevado del Ruiz (also in Colombia) had been learned and the death toll was limited due to timely evacuations and up-to-the-standards volcano monitoring.

Nevado de Huila then went on producing a lava dome, which has continued to grow to the present, with a strong surge in extrusion and explosive activity in fall 2009. A new dome began to grow on top of the earlier one and has since then spread out in two broad flows, eating away quite a considerable portion of the glacier that had previously occupied the place.

Now there is again a dramatic increase in seismic activity - more than 1200 earthquakes in the past week, and and there have also been ash emissions. The alert level has been raised to Yellow. Spectacular aerial photos can be seen at:

@Passerby 221 - I'm off for a 2 day trip (by car) and can't process data, and seem also to have lost Excel functionality after a recent OS rebuild and must re-install. Bother.

Given the immediacy of everything, and since the raw dataset was put together for me (yesterday) most generously by our mathematician friend socuel, you might want to to ask Michel directly.

He is also, at my request, working up a marvelous version of the older EQ timelapse "movie" running up to the present-day... so we can continue to have a better feel for the pathways explored, opened, and "held in reserve" - those which then suddenly become "put to use" when one or another conduit in use for eruption becomes inadequate.

Visit Michel and communicate through his blog at… He could perhaps package and send the data to you directly, so you can analyse for the patterns as I have started to. He has kept other data graphs running to the present there as well, including an up-to-the-minute depth v. location plot which can be accessed in good detail. My kudos to him.

OK, so I just did a scout of UK aviation sites and the lack of information available is shocking. the UK Civil Aviation Authority is providing next to no information, the National Air Traffic Services site has collapsed under the weight of visitors and has a holding page. The UK Met Office is providing some maps, updated fairly irregularly (every 2-6 hours it seems), here:

On Twitter, I've seen various tags used, including #ukash #ashtag and, utterly absurdly, #ukvolcano.

Ben Marsh has set up a map using the hashtag #ukash to track people's experiences of the ash, using the format "#ukash first-half-of-postcode Score-out-of-10", e.g. "#ukash n4 0/10" he did the same thing for #uksnow during the winter, which was kind of fun.


more airtraffic-closures coming up here in Europe:
Netherlands, Belgium and northern Germany will be closed starting 2pm local time. Full closure is expected to be in effect starting 3pm local.
This adds to the closures we already see right now, or which are announced to be in effect shortly, which are:

UK: full close starting noon local time (Scotland already closed)
Denmark: partial close (above north sea) in effect, full closure possible
Finland: northern parts closed
Norway: full closure in effect
Sweden: Northern parts are closed already, full closure to be expected
Sources (in German):,1518,689125,00.html…

Have a nice day!

And another source - there are 2 pictures taken by a satellite in the picture-show (at the bottom; one of them also appearing in the text above), showing the ash-cloud stretching from iceland east and south:…

And the airtraffic-closure in Germany is for northern Germany only (might have been badly expressed in the post above), with complete closure of that part starting 3pm local. Also Denmark just announced a full closure starting 6pm local time.


@ Matt P (249) "there is going to be great demand for more accurate predictions about this new stage of the eruption."
Yes, this is really impoortant! As Boris wrote some comments before about the Colombian geologic survey learned and works a lot for saving people living around their dangerous volcanoes. Colombia is not among the richest countries of the world... But they know what to do and they might also take care of the financial background of scientific works too.
Some other countries also have their own destructive forces being present near people's homes and sometimes I feel they are a bit short-sighted in funding scientific works, or in instructing people to do or not to do certain things. Parliament representatives or senators might never be able to understand the importance of the "useless" researches with expensive instruments, only if a catastrophe has reached their people. History repeats itself in many ways. It would be easier to lear from other one's problems and make steps to avoid the same in our life... I think Iceland is one of the best prepared countries if we think of natural disasters.

The lightning map down at the Met. Office site lit up a lot overnight. Maybe that's what the flickering on the Katla webcam was.

By Reynir Heiðbe… (not verified) on 15 Apr 2010 #permalink

Indeed, what I wrote was misleading. By ash "landing on us", I didn't mean on the ground. I meant, it is just here.

I'm going to have to check to see if my travel insurance covers disruptions by volcanoes, next time I fly.

By Luna_the_cat (not verified) on 15 Apr 2010 #permalink

I came across a description of the 1821-23 Eyjafjallajökull eruption, written by a naturalist and published in 1882. His sources were contemporary accounts: printed material (a periodical) and someone's personal papers.

Unfortunately Google Translate (Icelandic to English) is a joke! But it may deliver the gist of this short description (which is on a meteorologist's blog).

If anyone wants a manual translation, I'll give it a try.

By Reynir Heiðbe… (not verified) on 15 Apr 2010 #permalink

General question to all you who knows more than me:

Is there any reason to be concerned regarding the big sisters/brother of Eyafjallajökull?

What i mean is that Hekla, Katla, Laki and Grimsvötn and maybe Krafla are part of the same volcanic system right? And there has been an increase of seismic activity all the way up the ridge underneath these volcanoes.

Are there any data supporting unrest at the bigger ones? I have heard that scientists were monitoring Hekla or Katla (dont know which) since one of those were expected to erupt next. Now that Eyafjalla erupted does that reliev pressure or does it complicate or even worsen the situation?

Amateur volcanoe enthusiast here. :-)

Reynir Heiðberg Stefánsson, if you would be so kind! I'd love it, thank you. At least I will learn more relevant things than Google translate's "The best place for cocktails is Eyjafjöll's Southwest side where it's roots are in Stone Mountain."

@ Daniel
the distances involved are too great for there to be any noteable correlation. It is sometimes even too hard to establish the correlation within the one system (which in fact we may be witnessing here depending on whether the analyses prove the ash is identical to that erupted at Fimmvorduhalsi or is in fact from a slightly different part of the system).

There has been a lot of talk about Katla and Eyja being connected but their magma signatures are different and the connection is far from established. We'll know more in a couple of years if Katla does in fact erupt. But that is tenuous at best so talk of Hekla, Laki and Grimsvötn (which are all much further away) being triggered by this eruption or somehow related is idle at best. In other words, no, I don't think there is any established connection.

By bruce stout (not verified) on 15 Apr 2010 #permalink

Is there a standardized way to count eruptions, or a particular jargon used to quantify or categorize eruptive events?

By my count, we're currently on the third "eruption" in Iceland for the last month, as I've been counting distinct eruptive events. The first Fimmvörðuháls fissure opened on March 20th. The second fissure commenced eruption a week later. And then Eyjafjallajökull began its eruption yesterday. So, I count three.

But I can also see the logic in referring to two eruptions (Fimmvörðuháls and Eyjafjallajökull). Or even one (counting all eruptive events as part of the Eyja eruption).

So I'm curious to know linguistically, how would this be quantified in volcanological terms?

They all sit on roughly the same volcanic zone, but they are totally seperate systems with no known linkages aside from Eyjafjallajokull-Katla.

Hekla is currently more pressurised than before its last 2 eruptions and is, according to its 10 year cycle since 1970, 'due' an eruption. So we're on edge about that - it could literally go any time.

Katla is also 'overdue' an eruption although it's dubious as to whether it's on a hair trigger, unlike Hekla. But now that Eyjafjallajokull is going, given the evidence for a mechanical linkage, an eruption of Katla has come to the fore as a possibility.

Grimsvotn is in a similar position to Hekla, being highly pressurised, with pressure levels approaching previous pre-eruption levels. We're expecting an eruption here within a couple of years, really. Laki is just part of the fissure swarm of Grimsvotn.

Krafla was deflating since its last eruption but I believe this trend may have begun to reverse in the last few months. However, I think an eruption here within the next few years is very, very unlikely. Askja is more likely, given the recent high seismicity and the intrusion event at Upptyppingar.

But yeah, none of these systems are really proven to be linked. Maybe there's some transfer of stress along the rift but I doubt it's a huge deal.

Also, as an aside, be careful with your terminology. In Iceland, a 'volcanic system' is generally a system of a central volcano and its associated fissure swarm, like Grimsvotn with Laki, or Katla with Eldgja. The 'volcanic zones' are areas of activity such as the Eastern Volcanic Zone.

Hohgeeze...left my office for lunch, I can tell you that the entire city of Aberdeen is covered in a layer of rotten-egg smell now. The sulfur has reached considerably further south than just the Shetlands.

Reynir Heiðberg Stefánsson, I would also love to have a translation of that description, if you can.

By Luna_the_cat (not verified) on 15 Apr 2010 #permalink


Out of curiosity I ran the text through Google Translation.

Google evidently doesn't recognize place names so it tries to translate them, with surreal results mostly.

Like SÃðumannaafréttur ("The Men of Sida Commons", literally). In Google it some out as "little Jack on Human News Site".

Thank you for your input guys..

The origin of my concerns have its roots in the statement made by some scientist linked to the first eruption in march: "Historically, when eyafjalla erupts Katla always follows"

Mind you, Google might be right after all, depending on the place and weather... but here goes... "The eruption in Eyjafjallajökull began in the evening of Dec. the 19th, 1821. At that time people spotted fire up on the glacier. In the morning they could see a white cloud above the glacier that stretched ever upwards, slowly darkening, ending as a thick plume of ash. As day turned to night, the plume lessened for a while, then grew again, this time with lightning and thunder. From the 21st to the 27th the ash fall was mostly steady, most of the time in a NE-ly wind and the west part of the glacier became black from the ash. Ash fell mainly around Ytri-(Outer-)Eyjafjöll and in Eastern Landeyjar. West of the glacier rumble could be heard and rivers grew greatly in volume. A glacial flood broke forth to the north-west into R. Markarfljót and filled the valley between Langanes and upper FljótshlÃð. [Literal translation would be inner-FljótshlÃð.] Grass meadows of the farms of the farms Eyvindarmúli and Ãrkvörn flooded, with livestock saved at the last moment. Fragments from the glacier were spread all over down to the sands west of Steinholt and took uo to two years to melt down. The ash fall was reduced greatly with the new year of 1822, but rumbles and crackles continued." Ash fall began again in latest June, mostly under Eyjafjöll. The eruption finally ended in the beginning of year 1823.

By Reynir Heiðbe… (not verified) on 15 Apr 2010 #permalink

@Reynir: Takk fyrir!!

Ekkert mál - fyrir Jón Pál!

By Reynir Heiðbe… (not verified) on 15 Apr 2010 #permalink

Daniel! The only reliable historic example is the 1821-23 events when Katla erupted several months after the eruption in Eyjafjöllajökull had ended. Just because the Haiti earthquake preceeded the Chilean by a month doesn't mean that there is a causal connection there! That is not to say there definitely is no connection, but that one is very unlikely.

For the only other recorded "dual" event in 1612, there are no dates available for the Eyjafjöll eruption.

UK Airspace now closed until tomorrow morning at least. Feel very sorry indeed for anyone supposed to be flying through northern Europe today. Also feeling very lucky that we returned from Georgia on Tuesday night instead of today.

@269 Luna_the_cat

My sister lives in Aberdeen ... she can't smell any rotten eggs outside (not sure if she has checked the fridge yet):)

@Michael 214, Passerby221. Yes I'd be very interested to see more oscillatory EQ activity. Socuel's plot has shown nothing that I'd regard as clear-cut oscillations since the March pre-eruption sequence ended. The burst of EQs on Wed. was less symmetrical and shallower than the series in march, so I suspect a different mechanism. If those March oscillations at around 8km mean depth reflected boluses of magma accretion from the plume onto the crust at 20km depth we may have a long wait-perhaps 200 years to see more spikes.
@Socuel: any chance of you putting up a static image of those March EQs?

By Peter Cobbold (not verified) on 15 Apr 2010 #permalink

Reynir, thank you! From the description, it seems it was different from the ongoing one with the initial eruption at the main crater.

Anna, we had a lot of fun on earlier discussing examples of "Gaggle" such as the scientist who was one of the Coast Guard's aeroplanes

Curses! The glacier is totally hidden in the clouds. The forecast is for W-ly winds until at least tomorrow evening. Wonder if Kirkjubæjarklaustur is now the Village Hidden in the Ash. [A Naruto reference. :-þ ]

By Reynir Heiðbe… (not verified) on 15 Apr 2010 #permalink

Reynir #272:

Thanks for the translation. You forgot the blogger's overview at the end:

The 1821 eruption started in December and the ash fall was heaviest in the first 7-8 days.

The eruption then stopped in January (or slowed down considerably).

In February there was a small eruption in Sidumannaafrétt, NE of Kaldbakur.

In June the same year the Eyjafjallajökull eruption started again (with more ash fall) and lasted until January (1823). But not in quite the same place in the glacier, if I understand correctly.

And then six months later Katla started.

Fireman Dude! that is an awesome high res image! *big smiles* :D

By VulcanEye (not verified) on 15 Apr 2010 #permalink

Not to stray too far off topic here but does anyone have any idea what immediate as well as long term effects this will have on Iceland's economy? Even before the "natural" events that started there Iceland was facing a financial disaster. Much like what is happening with Greece and other countries.

Quote - "Once known as the "Celtic Tiger" for its sustained record of double-digit economic growth, Ireland is now in the midst of a financial tsunami. Unemployment is soaring, economic activity is contracting, banks are over-loaded on toxic assets and government spending is out of control. I've heard of a $110 billion deficit, and climbing. Is Iceland part of the EU? Does there exist a plan to help our Viking brothers and sisters or will we as a world wait until the last minute to help. It looks like they will need a bailout much like the US and other countries.

If we wait for our governments to help it will be too late. Does there exist a way to help with this potential disaster? It's disgusting to hear so much about "world government" when the world is not prepared to help in situations like this. Our money should go to funding for disaster relief and research to cope with and prepare for natural disasters like this one. (It's not a disaster yet but easily could become one.) We have known about events like this for a long time yet we are not prepared for it's consequences. Maybe it's time to put down the sabers and pick up the shovels?

God bless the people of Iceland! Our prayers are with you and your families.

By Concerned (not verified) on 15 Apr 2010 #permalink

Ash fall has been reported in Faroe Islands according to Ruv. The ash has been described as a light yellowish material. It is fine and blows easy according to news reports.

Is this a explosive type of ash or just because of the water and lava interaction. I am not as good in this area as I want to. So I ask.

@Reynir -- indeed, thank you!

@Jon -- it seems to wax and wane with the breeze, but I definitely still smell it, and several of my co-workers noticed it when they went out, too, although several others said they didn't. I left a closed/aircon office to go outside, though, so it's possible that I noticed it more strongly with the contrast. Once I/you've been smelling it for a while, the smell recedes from notice.

Where in Aberdeen is your sister? I'm on the Old Aberdeen university campus at the moment.

By Luna_the_cat (not verified) on 15 Apr 2010 #permalink

@Concerned: The tourism services are already expecting (even experiencing) a mini-boom from volcano hunters.
Iceland is an EFTA country, not EU. More likely that EU will want to demand compensation from us for disruptions to air traffic and forcing Royals to travel by rail to Queen Margarethe's birthday party. Mind you, some folk still consider the ol' gal our unofficial head of state.

By Reynir Heiðbe… (not verified) on 15 Apr 2010 #permalink

...I can't find an air quality monitoring station in our area which looks for sulfur compounds! They only seem to check ozone, nitrogen compounds and sometimes particulates. I find that appalling.

By Luna_the_cat (not verified) on 15 Apr 2010 #permalink

@Reynir Heiðberg Stefánsson, keep your nationalist nonsense elsewhere. I can assure you that EU is not going to do that. But we might get a aid from EU if this gets really bad.

I am trying to predict what is going to happen. But I don't have anything conclusive yet. The harmonic tremors appears to spike when a new fissure opens up and a new melting starts. All I do know that this eruption continues to gain strength at the moment, and that might be bad. I got the feeling that this eruption might be bigger then the eruption in the year 1821 to 1823.

Just seen this comment on the BBC page... thought you might like this.

1353 Sam in London says:

Absolutely beautiful images - mother nature at her very best. I find it amazing that this series of eruptions has been going on for a good few weeks now, with little UK media coverage. But get in the way of a £50 'getaway flight' to Europe and suddenly it's bigger news than the election.

By paul wakefield (not verified) on 15 Apr 2010 #permalink


Good to hear from you ... my sister lives in the Bridge of Don area ... she is going out for a walk with the dog to have a sniff shortly :) Do you work at the University ... I did my Master's in Aberdeen before moving to Newfoundland.

I am in Aberdeen too and can vouch for a definite sulphur smell here at lunch time. Reminded me of Rotorua in New Zealand if anyone has been there.

Just checked outside now and it's not evident, but it is more windy now.

The ash cloud can be seen on many satellite pictues now:…

two examples.

Although people in the immediate vicinity of the volcano are perhaps in most danger I dont think we should underestimate the impact this will have on the countries on Northern Europe. A complete grounding of flights does not just effect holiday makers. It is business, freight, military, medical too.

Other transport in the UK is reported to be overcrowded already and the transport infrastructure in the UK is very susceptible to grinding to a complete halt. It is often easy to think of transport as a leisure activity but it is vital for many aspects of life.

@Jón: I'm a natural optimist with a big dollop of sarcasm. Include my EU comment upstream in [humour type=sarcastic]...[/humour] tags to understand it properly.

By Reynir Heiðbe… (not verified) on 15 Apr 2010 #permalink

@Reynir Heiðberg Stefánsson, for certain things I have no humour.

Harmonic tremors continue to increase. But they have not reached yesterdays levels.

apart from the ash falling at Valahnuk, has anyone actually seen anything today?

By bruce stout (not verified) on 15 Apr 2010 #permalink

Okay, never mind my #286 comment, I've seen Eric's new post and that's definitely ash-laden...

By damon hynes (not verified) on 15 Apr 2010 #permalink

@Philipp 236
>From this chart:
>it looks like the new earthquakes come from a different
>magma path?

I agree, this new EQ map in your link looks very interesting. The EQ's on Apr 12-14 appear to have a different path than any of the EQ's from Dec-Mar. While there could be any number of explanations for that fact, I imagine that this could allow for speculation that this new magma might be of different composition than the magma which erupted at Fimmvorduhals? Obviously this is amateur speculation on my part.

I would be interested to hear opinons from any of the regulars on this blog.

I did some reading on Wapedia regarding the colour of ash and correct me if im wrong but isnt ryolithic tuffs pale grey or yellowish?

@Jón: OK, then, here's a translation of my comment: I do not believe that this eruption will make things so bad for us thet we'll need emergency assistance from the EU or others. Mea culpa for forgetting that peple are people.

Now, were Katla, Upptyppingar or something in the Hengill area to go active...

By Reynir Heiðbe… (not verified) on 15 Apr 2010 #permalink

@Jon -- yes, I do; when were you here? The campus probably has not changed much, except for the poor Queen Mum library. :(

As per what Jamie Z. above just said, I was just out for another wander, and it is a stronger wind and I couldn't smell it any more.

I am amazed, more people in Aberdeen! Yay!

By Luna_the_cat (not verified) on 15 Apr 2010 #permalink

@Anna 262, Reynir 263 - Thanks for your mutual effort to locate and then translate this account. I had wondered if the record was sparse because there were many fatalities and no one left to tell, or if it was just a survivable event that fell into the background over time. Sounds like it was more likely the latter.

@Concerned 291 - the Celtic Tiger was once (recently) Ireland, and the economic errors made in each country had entirely different origins. As someone ironically pointed out here, this eruption is taking the Icelanders' eyes away from the first comprehensive report pointing fingers and naming most of the names... of the men and perhaps a few women who shamelessly over-inflated Iceland's bubble, and then handed off their toxic banks for federalisation knowing the bubble was a day shy of bursting.

Not that quite a few Icelanders didn't pile up temporary private fortunes in foreign currency speculation on the advice of those nepharious bankers... with multiple repercussions on the mainland EU when they later went broke and some of those private traders abandoned their EU acquisitions, employees and obligations. It's a still-troubled wound so before this is over, we're likely to hear a few nasty cracks about Iceland making life difficult for the EU again. The only (gratefully received) help Iceland received initially was from neighbouring Faroes Islanders. But suffering together tends to heal wounds and perhaps that will be the case here.

I was to be on a plane for Ireland - leaving from Boston this Friday evening with a couple of assistants for our annual early spring research trip. But I had an awful premonition two weeks ago and postponed the entire thing... un-booked everything for the first time in nine years.

Does anyone have any links to any new updates, pictures, or videos of the new eruption? By new I mean 4/15/2010. It would be greatly appreciated.

Just got out of a meeting with all the main scientists dealing with this little crisis. :)

The latest:

- Not sure when it began. Earthquake swarm subsided, replaced with gradual tremor onset. Gradual onset much like the Fimmvorduhals eruption.

- Currently tremor is increasing. There are highs and lows in activity but the general trend is up.

- GPS stations in the area shows a subsidence on Friday following the end of Fimmvorduhals, then a sudden increase on Monday preceeding this eruption. At least one showed a sudden subsidence again immediately before or during the very early part of the new eruption.

- Tephra fall is currently around 5mm depth near to the volcano, and is ongoing and quite heavy now. The plume is blowing east and tephra fall is confined to quite a narrow zone.

- Late afternoon yesterday, the plume was seen to begin to contain darker patches. Darkened very rapidly at around 6-7pm, indicating the onset of full phreatomagmatic activity.

- Tephra fall was initially very dark, either basaltic or basaltic-andesitic although it has not been analysed yet. Reports this morning of a gradual change to lighter colours, grey-brown. Maybe more evolved magmas are making it to the surface? Again, no actual analysis done yet. The university don't even have tephra samples in hand yet due to transport issues.

- Tephra is (was?) very fine-grained and so there are some worries about the fluorine content (smaller particles, larger surface area, more fluorine on surface...).

- 'Best guess' is that the eruption rate is 10x that of the Fimmvorduhals eruption, based on fissure length and the rate of ice melting, but this really is a total guess.

@Daniel, That was problay spike of wind. But in general the black thick band you see on my sensor near Hekla is the eruption harmonic tremor from Eyjafjallajökull.

cool stuff james! looks like that brief gap in the clouds yesterday coincided with the change to ash rich emissions.

By bruce stout (not verified) on 15 Apr 2010 #permalink

Any chance of getting one of you guys to "scoot" up to the crater with a camcorder for some real time footage? Maybe not.
Isn't the internet great when it comes to stuff like this. How else could someone get so much real time data from so far away? Thanks to all of those who post the outstanding links to the information we outsiders are getting. Amazing, keep up the good work!

one could get a good idea of how the Columbia plateau scablands were formed looking at the vodafone images in the valley other than the shear size difference
i am wondering how much erosion caused by the outflow will it take before the snout of the glacier breaks off and falls into the valley


Hi ... I did my M.Sc. part time from Shetland. I only came down to Aberdeen a couple of times to do thesis work. I finished in 1989 then skipped the country :) My Prof was Dr. Peter Boyle who sadly passed away recently.

Quick notes - one, might want to move to the new thread since the convo seems to be getting split and two, you guys are all amazing for keeping the data flowing for so long over so many differentiations. I'm not in the shadow of a volcano (closest "threat" would be Mammoth) but it's amazing to watch this unfold in realtime with subtitles :)

Review of Soucel's EQ movie clearly shows the gradual migration of miniquakes from the crater centroid toward Fimmvorduhals during early March, becoming progressively shallow as it moves eastward before initial fissure eruptions.

Speculation here that there must have been eventual cooling and blockage of that path provided a clue to what might be happening as the flank fissures tapered off and then ceased.

The hot magma was melting overlying rock, pushing upward through another flow path. No surprise that it encountered a large pool of water that has created the explosive steam eruptions, very much like Grimsvotn eruption in 2004 (VEI3, few days).

Note that Grimsvotn erupted in 1816 (VEI2, 1 month), 5 years before Eyjaf erupted in 1821. Shortly after Eyjaf ceased eruption in 1823, Grimsvotn erupted again, (VEI 2, a few days).

More importantly, we should point to the difference in general flow prevalent winds aloft in recent Icelandic volcano eruptions: movement to the north, a function of larger weather patterns and to a lesser extent, the geographic location of volcanoes (away from the southern coastal boundary).

This explains the present regional airport closures, said to be unprecedented.

The other item worth noting is the continued occasional pressure indications, to the north and west on the SISZ.

I've contacted UMBC SO2 group, asking that they look for gas signature over UK right now and to report on it when they update the US (and global) air quality blog.

tremor is trending up over the last hour or so
i wish there was a view above the cloud cover

...Sorry to clutter the thread with non-volcano related stuff.

@Jon, I took the liberty of emailing you off your website.

By Luna_the_cat (not verified) on 15 Apr 2010 #permalink

Any Katla activity?

By Greg Lennes (not verified) on 15 Apr 2010 #permalink

For those who are concerned (or hoping???) that this eruption might be followed or even trigger eruptions at other volcanoes in Iceland - though this cannot be categorically excluded it's something that seems to be raaaaaaaather uncommon. As Bruce Stout said in #270, the systems are generally distinct and independent. The Eyjafjallajökull-Katla connection is uncertain and we'll have to wait for things to happen.

However, there is sometimes a clustering of eruptions in Iceland, like in the 1960s to 1980s, when eruptions occurred in 1961 (Askja), 1963-1967 (Surtsey), 1970 (Hekla), 1974 (Heimaey), 1975 (Krafla), 1977 (Krafla twice), 1980 (Krafla three times and Hekla), 1981 (Krafla twice and Hekla), 1983 (GrÃmsvötn), and 1984 (Krafla). The most frantic interval was 1980-1981 when Krafla erupted in March and July, then in August Hekla erupted to be followed again by Krafla in October, and once more in January-February 1981, with Hekla erupting again in April and Krafla once more in November. Both the Krafla and Hekla eruptions were in fact multiphase sequences at each volcano but there was no apparent relationship between Hekla and Krafla. On the other hand, the clustering of eruptions in the interval 1961-1984 may have been an episode of more extensive regional rifting along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge in Iceland - who knows?

As for Hekla, the ~10-year interval between the last four eruption might be an indicator that the next eruption will happen soon. But it may as well not. After the 1947-1948 eruption, which came after 101 years of quiescence, everybody would have expected the volcano to fall into a similarly long sleep again; instead it erupted again in 1970 and then it entered into this 10-year cycle which may continue or not. Currently I haven't heard of any signs of an imminent eruption at Hekla.

Askja has been deflating since geodetic measurements have been initiated and will probably not erupt within the foreseeable future. There has been seismic activity for some time in an area southeast of Askja that might be the site of an eruption in the not-too-distant future - again, we'll see.

@Angela (#271) This is essentially one eruption or eruptive sequence with different episodes, the first (with two phases) being the mild, beautiful tourist eruption, and the second is what's happening now. The eruption of Kilauea on Hawaii that began in 1983 and still continues has gone through a vast number of episodes, some brief, some long, with frequent shifts of vent locations and eruptive styles - yet it's considered one eruption. At Etna between 1995 and 2001 we had multiple eruptive events at the four summit craters, sometimes simultaneously, some with characteristics that would have allowed each one of them to be consdiered an eruption on its own, but in the end we called the whole thing "the 1995-2001 summit eruptions of Etna".

But yes, sometimes the volcanological terminology has its limit. I would call this a single eruption with single episodes, and the first of these has had two phases (the two different fissures of 20 and 31 March). Hope this helps ...

I live in Shetland and we've had a definite whiff of rotten eggs on and off all day. It was particularly strong this morning. There has also been a perisstent haze for much of the day and a slight yellowish tinge to the sky this afternoon.

That pdf is a just what we wanted! It visually links the N-S axis of EQs, observed just before the eruption, the meltwater path (with additional miniquakes), and the lateral EW trending stress cracking perpendicular to the N-W line of holes that opened up in the glacier.

Cool beans! Thanks.

@Luna_the_cat, I did not get your email for some reasons. Please try to send it again. Thanks. It is not in my spam folder, I did check. Try this email address instead, jonfr500 [at] simnet !dot] is

@Boris Behncke, Two times are not chances it seems. But what ever might be the trigger in this case. I am sure that eruption is going to happen in Mýrdalsjökull when Eyjafjallajökull stops, or is close to stop. When that might be is the big question, so far. It does not have a answer.

@Jón FrÃmann -- my apologies for the confusion, I was addressing a different Jon! I have nothing against you, honest, but it was the non-accented Jon who used to be in Aberdeen, upthread.

Teach you to have such a common name. ;-D

By Luna_the_cat (not verified) on 15 Apr 2010 #permalink

We have a thin film of ash up here in parts of Shetland. Actual ashfall from a volcanic eruption, who would have thought it!

Thanks, Socuel.

Thanks, Socuel.

@ Reynir Heiðberg Stefánsson and all

There is a feature in the Google translator where you can submit back your corrected translation of the page you first translated. That way, the translator improves. So if we keep doing this (for those who can speak Icelandic), we might get "eruption" instead of "soda" in translations, and a other improvement.

First of all, this discussion is absolutely overwhelming and superb for people like me who just want to get a better understanding. I have read stories about the impact of Tsunami (affecting the rest of Europe) to so called Saga's and definition of Ragnarök. And allot of people having great knowledge. Bravo, I have been looking for this for a while.

There is not much I can advice to you since you have e.g. probably found all cams but I have one site with more cam opportunities. Sure some of you know it.

I do though have 1 questions. Maybe you can answer and excuse myself if it is a stupid or for some reason an irrelevant question:

1. What about Katla. If you look at the history of its eruptions, it normally have eruptions with around 35 years of interval and then around 60-65 years of interval. The last eruption is now around 60 years ago. Are anyone thinking of some domino effect which could provoke an eruption on this volcano (even Hekla)? If so what kind of indications can we look for (if existing)?

I have had fun listing to various pronunciations of Eyja-fjalla-jökul. We should almost include a list of recordings of different recordings. This link is one example:


By Eric Roche (not verified) on 15 Apr 2010 #permalink

A bit off the subject.. But do you have any updates on the Gaua volcano in the Torba Province? It's a very big one and has been more active as of late. Thanks

By Mike Rewey (not verified) on 19 Apr 2010 #permalink

@Socuel: Thank you very much.

Another fabulous thread, after days of searching finally found something worth reading ;-)

I have a picture of the Mont Seurate eroption Feb. 9 -

I can guess from looking over the other website comments lots of people have lots of different and strong debates on this subject. I suppose it is a nice change to meet different opinionated people! Oh by the way I added this article to my FB list.

I could not agree with you more and I'm really thankful someone at last came out and wrote this. Thank you for your wisdom, Thomas

I learn new things on different weblogs everyday. It will always be stimulating to read posts of other writers and learn something from them. Many thanks for sharing.