Eruption at Eyjafjallajökull becomes "more explosive"

A shot of the strombolian activity at the vent of Eyjafjallajökull, taken on May 4, 2010. Image courtesy of the Iceland Met Office.

The latest news from the Eyjafjallajökull eruption has the volcano erupting more explosively again (see above), possibly due to an increased influx of water into the vent area - in any case, the ash has become denser (by volume in the air) and the plume is higher (see below) than in the last couple of weeks. The rate of lava flow extrusion has also gone down in the last few days. The latest update from the Iceland Met Office has a lot of details on the current activity thanks to some flights over the volcano:

Plume was observed at 5.8-6 km height (19-20,000 ft) estimated from the Icelandic Coast Guard (ICG) flight at 10:40 and 15:30 GMT. It is heading east-south-east to south-east from the eruption site. Plume track clearly visible up to 300-400 km distance from the eruption site on a NOAA satellite image at 13:13 GMT.

Water levels have been rather constant. Water temperature at Markarfljot bridge was low this morning (below 2°C) but seems to be rising (about 5°C at noon). Water level seems to be slightly decreasing.

Lava is still flowing northwards, forming a lava fall down the steep hill under GÃgjökull, about 4 km north of the crater. Blue gas is seen rising from the lava and white steam plumes are seen somewhat lower and mark the front of the lava stream. The size of the eruptive crater is 280 x 190 m. Lava splashes are thrown at least a few hundred meters into the air.

The overflights of the volcano produced two great image galleries of the current eruption, both worth checking out. You can see some video on the current eruption in this BBC article, while IceNews has an interview with Dr. Ari Trausti Gudmundsson on the volcano and this eruption. As always, you can get caught up on the day's activity at Eyjafjallajökull by checking out Philipp's excellent time lapse video from the vodafon webcam. The upshot of this new activity is that more airspace over Ireland and the northern UK (Scotland) have been closed due to the threat of ash in the atmosphere. Right now, it is unclear when the airports might reopen, but the current ash advisory suggests it might not be today for Ireland at least (none of which is good news for the EU airlines primarily affected by this eruption.)

The eruption plume from Eyjafjallajökull, taken from an Icelandic Coast Guard aircraft on May 4, 2010. Image courtesy of the Icelandic Met Office.

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Jón - If the magma is coming from deeper, then it is likely more mafic rather than evolved (silicic) - the deep source magmas in Iceland are almost always basaltic. The silicic magmas at Iceland likely form closer to the surface as remnant blebs of basaltic liquid cool. Even so, the timescales to differentiate a basalt to even an andesite by crystal fractionation (for laymen: removing crystals from a liquid melt, thus changing its composition) are far greater than a few hours or days - most likely on the years timescale.

FLIR image on Hitamyndavel cam ... now to figure out how to read the pic!

By beedragon Canada (not verified) on 06 May 2010 #permalink

Yay Thermal Camera is online.

Yipee thermal camera on but I don't know what I'm looking at:(

Check out the helicorder. Big spike.

By Carla - Seattle (not verified) on 06 May 2010 #permalink

@Erik Klemetti, I know this fact really well, I've read a lot of books on geology and took some classes in school already. But according to news there has not been a change in the chemical make-up of the magma during the current eruption. But I must point that the crust there appears to be thick, given the earthquakes at ~30 km depth. How knows what might have been cooking down there for a long time, even longer since last eruption in Eyjafjallajökull.

I did send you a email today regarding ash that I am sending to you.

The new cam is streaming strange image It should be really nice at night if the water vapour is not to much FLIR is not a magic wand to clear all fog sorry it is good for the normal volcanic vapours but cold fog is not easy to see through

Dark purple colour, looks like its something flowing and all around has went orange please can anyone read this camera properly

@Carla, It's a cultural noise. Do check with IMO data when reading my helicorder. My sensors pick up a lot of noise, like all sensors that record earthquakes.

The brighter the color, the hotter the pixel, It's not that hard, I think.

Am I the only one who can't find the actual link to the "new" webcam, the infra-red one?

I'm hoping someone will post the link in response, not a "yes" or "no" answer


#498 Randall. Just check this paper. Talks about plenty of measurements both with COSPEC and MiniDoas techniques of SO2 on active volcanoes. What Boris says about Etna is just a clear example about SO2. Miyakejima just released 200.000 tons just in one single eruption.


By David Calvo (not verified) on 06 May 2010 #permalink

What was that rather large spike on your helicorder?

The new thermal camera is on-line at (scroll down below the "normal view" cam) - but I should have warned you all, when there's cloud even the thermal camera doesn't see much. You see things once the clouds are relatively thin ...

In nearly all cases, deep magma recharge is mafic, but it is also more gas-rich. Gas can be lost through an open conduit if the magma rises slowly, so it's very much a question of how fast the magma is ascending toward the surface.

Hi all, just scroll down on the fimmvorduhalsi cam, it's below the real litght image.

By parclair NoCal USA (not verified) on 06 May 2010 #permalink

@510: Thorolsfelli webcam page, try scrolling down.

Hm.. strange that no EQs occured in the whole Icelandic area since more than 6 hours. This is more likely of a system outage than normal behaviour, especially due the sudden silence compared to previous days continuous activity all around the country.

(Is that one tiny EQ 3 hours ago rather a test data than real happening?)

@Jón FrÃmann [505] & All.

"... But according to news there has not been a change in the chemical make-up of the magma during the current eruption. But I must point that the crust there appears to be thick, given the earthquakes at ~30 km depth. How knows what might have been cooking down there for a long time, even longer since last eruption in Eyjafjallajökull."

One possibility is that new magma is taking a more direct path through rock that hasn't encountered any of the current flow. These deep quakes seem to be lined up more with the caldera than towards the group roughly halfway between the Caldera and the original Fissure eruption. (centered about 19.53ºW @ â4km depth)

Right I have figured out that the purple colour is cool so the darker the purple the cooler it is and the orange is warm doh I know I feel so silly for not figuring it out sooner :()

Randall - My thought on the sulfur dioxide increase is just that we have new influx of basaltic magma. You can increase SO2 emissions without causing any noticeable change in the eruption style, especially with basaltic magma where much of the degassing is passive.

@ Kultsi (485)


By Anna, ReykjavÃk (not verified) on 06 May 2010 #permalink

Re: Jon (#494) & Dr. Klemetti (#500).

Regarding the likelihood of seeing either more mafic or more silicic magma entering the picture, I have a question: How easily can a mafic intrusion remobilize a mushy almost-solidified silicic chamber (if any such exists)? Let's make an assumption that the intrusion is large enough, and is hot enough to remelt the silicic magma. What would the contact between the two magmas look like? Would it be a simple horizontal planar interface (ie, new mafic (molten but still denser?) on the bottom, and silicic on top), or would the new magma create lots of interlacing channels and more efficiently transfer heat?

What sort of remelting rate would you get, and at what remelted % would you start considering the silicic magma to be eruptible?

By lifeblack (not verified) on 06 May 2010 #permalink

Lifeblack - You've more or less asked me to summarize my entire research career there! It is a lively field of study, this question of magma "rejuvenation" - I might try to post something on it soon to address your questions, but the short answer is yes, basaltic intrusion can remelt silicic crystal mush. However, understanding what they remelting might actually produce and how eruptible it is is an entirely different ballgame.

Stock market plummeting!

@Boris, thanks for that.

Anyone who can't find the infrared camera on that page, remember to press function key 5 (f5) or refresh your browser page, otherwise the new camera may not show up.

Thanks again!

#510 the thermal cam is on the same page as the normal one, just scroll down.

My interpritation is that the top two thirds is cloud. Then in the middle, the dark purple area is the ice of the glacier. Foreground appears orange. The cold water in the river appears purple too.

It will prove useful if hot water flows down or if lava appears through the glacier. But most useful when cloud lifts.

the darker coulor are colder than the bright ones
at the lower edge you can see parts of the river as a dark violet colour the stones at the edge of the image are yellow warmer a steam cloud will be rather bright
I wish they would post the colour to temp chart for this camera

Erik Boris thanks I will go back to working for now. Sorry but I still have a real bad feeling about this whole that I didn't have until last night.

Let's recall that sulfur dioxide is not what makes an eruption explosive. If it is emitted in enormous quantities and injected into the stratosphere, it can be a climatic factor. But what makes eruptions explosive is carbon dioxide and water vapor - both vapor present in the magma and vapor generated from contact with external (ground, melt or sea/lake) water.

Yes, Volcanoes are wonderful and romantic; until they throw
up all over and cause a drunk actor;
they are deceiving from a distance. And you are cleaning up puke forever.
i took off the rosy glasses a long time ago.
Grand Redoubt is just a pile of dusty ashes and ice...
mud, if You like.

But i enjoy learning about the puke.

That IR camera on MÃla's pole on Ãórólfsfell is a major improvement, that's certain.

By Reynir Heiðbe… (not verified) on 06 May 2010 #permalink

Where did all the water go? Very little glacial melt going on.

As the clouds cleared a little it looks like the thermal imaging camera is aimed in the same direction as the regular camera which would make the large black triangle in the middle would be the cold glacier, with bright purple being hot and yellow being ambient background temperature. But really, I am no expert here, just got a glimpse through for a moment!

For those watching the thermal cam, a few words of advice. I've used thermal imagers extensively, and they have their advantages and limitations. Remember they record the temperatures, usually in the far infrared, of *solid surfaces*. This means they're fairly good at seeing through smoke, mist, and dust, and they're totally unaffected by darkness. But this also means, for instance, that they may well not show the plumes. I can be in a burning building, point my thermal imager directly at flames - and the imager will pretty much indicate the temperature of the wall *behind* the flames.

And of course, as you can see, *heavy* cloud can stop them seeing very far. I'm not sure if we would even see a LARGE heat signature through those clouds, if you take my meaning!!

swap between vodafone and the thermal cam for a comparison
a lot of good info can be extracted from this setup

heading for the new thread see@535

By birdseyeUSA (not verified) on 06 May 2010 #permalink

Wow, gotta love the folks at MÃla. Not only have they provided us hours of info-tainment with their 3 webcams but they seem to have listened to our whines. Many folks, myself included, have wondered where the cameras are located and which way they point. Now each camera has a map that tells us. That's very helpful. We've been fussing about cloud cover and now we have been provided a FLIR view. What awesome customer service! Thanks MÃla!

By JSB, Seattle (not verified) on 06 May 2010 #permalink

Seems like the Lava have reached the surface.. Love that Thermal Camera from FLIR.

Seismic activity again in the Vatnajökull region, I heard that there is some concern about a possible eruption occuring there as its a huge glasier.
Anyone know anything about that region and any worries about the possibility this activity preceding a possible eruption?
Not sure where i read about this region ( may have been on here)

You may have not supposed to take action, but I think you've got managed to precise the state of mind that a lot of people are in. The sense of wanting to help, however not realizing how or where, is something a lot of us are going through.