Worldwide volcano and earthquake news – Bardarbunga volcano (Iceland) update(s) August 22

Last update: August 22, 2014 at 1:43 pm by By

After Rodger Wilson was obliged to discontinue his daily participation at this site, we have decided to start up an El Hierro type article. The newest additions will always be on top and if the article gets too long, we will cut off a part of it and archive it. This url will always be the one to follow and if you leave our page open in your browser, the page will refresh every 60 minutes automatically.
Please be a little patient with this new format.
This report is compiled out of many information sources.

For our El Hierro volcano report : Click here


Bárðarbunga update August 22 13:12 UTC
Still on top of every Vedur page : Intense earthquake swarm continues at Barðarbunga. Presently there are no signs of magma moving to the surface. This message hasn’t changed since many days
- we are noticing a decrease in the number of earthquakes the last 12 hours. Still a massive number of course
- 3 M+3 earthquakes today below the Bardarbunga volcano location BUT at a depth of respectively 8.1, 9.2 and 9 km which means in human terms far away from a possible eruption. These stronger earthquakes are meaning that the pressure of the magma continues but cannot find a way up. Less earthquakes means also usually stronger earthquakes.
- The dyke North East area of the glacier where earthquakes are currently very shallow (a lot of weak quakes at a depth of 1 km) is currently having a decrease in number of earthquakes
- Visir Iceland reports the view of a number of specialists. Every belief finds his truth :)
Kristín Vogfjörð, Director of Research at the Icelandic Met Office believes that based on her interpretations of the GPS data, the pressure is receding and the likelihood of eruption is minimising.
Meanwhile, Ingi Þorleifur Bjarnason, a research scholar with the Insitute of Earth Sciences at the University of Iceland interprets the data differently, believing that the pressure is increasing and that the volcano is rising in preparation for eruption.
Magnús Tumi Guðmundsson, geophysicist and professor at the University of Iceland has said that really, it could go either way.
“There is definitely a chance that this will end with an eruption, the likelihood of that has not changed,” said Magnús Tumi.  “You could say that the longer this [eruption delay] goes on the chances of an eruption will go up. But I believe that there is no more a chance that an eruption will happen than it won’t. Nobody really knows.”
ER believes Kristin is right (based on the current data)

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Bárðarbunga update August 21 22:15 UTC

Report 2014-08-21 16:49 UTC
Compiled by : Melissa Anne Pfeffer Sara Barsotti Gunnar Guðmundsson Kristín Jónsdóttir Matthew J. Roberts Ásta Rut Hjartardóttir Hildur María Friðriksdóttir Elías Rafn Heimisson Michelle Parks
Report based on Seismic, GPS, water samples and Eruption plume if any
Meltwater No eruption. Daily measurements of water samples from Upptyppingar on Jökulsá á Fjöllum have shown a stable conductivity of ~200 µS/cm since Sunday.
Conditions at eruption site : No eruption.
Seismic tremor : No sign of harmonic (volcanic) tremor detected.

Intense earthquake activity continues at the Bárðarbunga volcano – a situation that has persisted since 16 August. Since midnight, over 900 earthquakes have been detected in Bárðarbunga. There are no signs that the seismicity is decreasing. Seismic and GPS measurements reveal a 25 kmlong dyke being formed in the crust under the Dyngjujökull glacier at 5 – 10 km depth. The dyke has not propagated to the north-east, nor has it progressed to shallower depth. Today three earthquakes exceeding three in magnitude have occurred on the caldera rim of Bárðarbunga (M 3.7 at 10:29, M 4.0 at 10:58 and M 3.4 at 13:02). These earthquakes were at depths around 2 – 5 km. They are interpreted as possible adjustments of the caldera due to changing magma pressure – they are not assumed to be the precursor to an imminent eruption.

GPS deformation
Seismic and GPS measurements reveal an approximately 25 km long dyke being formed in the crust under the Dyngjujökull glacier east of Bárðarbunga. The results of the GPS measurements also indicate a decrease in pressure in the magma chamber below the Bárðarbunga caldera, which might suggest migration of melt from the Bárðarbunga magma chamber to the dike intrusion east of Bárðarbunga. A new GPS station was installed in Kverkfjöll on the 21st of August 2014. This station will measure continuously and transmit data automatically to scientists of the Icelandic Meteorological Office and of the Institute of Earth Sciences at the University of Iceland, in a similar manner as other continous GPS stations do near Bárðarbunga. The new GPS measurements will provide scientists with an improved understanding of how the magma is moving within the crust.

Overall assessment
There are no measurements to suggest that an eruption is imminent. Previous intrusion events in Iceland have lasted for several days or weeks, often not resulting in an eruption. However an eruption of Bárðarbunga cannot presently be excluded, hence the intense monitoring and preparation efforts. The ongoing monitoring and assessment effort is necessary in case a volcanic eruption occurs. Hazards in the event of an eruption are being assessed, including a glacial outburst flood and dispersal of volcanic ash. Additional seismic, GPS and hydrological stations have been installed in the Bárðarbunga region. Likewise, mobile radars capable of monitoring ash dispersal have been moved to the region. The aviation colour-code for the Bárðarbunga volcano remains unchanged at ‘orange’, signifying that the volcano is exhibiting heightened levels of unrest.

Bardarbunga update August 21 12:31 UTC
- The seismic activity is still high and continues to move northeast.
- The Coast Guard will send out its TF-SIF plane today at 13:00 with scientists and rescue workers on board.
- Víðir Reyn­is­son, the head of Iceland’s Civil Protection Department, stated that it is believed that there are still travelers in the area who are unaware of the closures, but that the department is taking care to find anyone still in the evacuation zone. Notably, there were individuals who registered with whose hiking plans indicated that they should be in the area north of Vatnajökull around this time, but that their plans were not very specific and they may have already passed through.
- ICE-SAR, Iceland’s Search and Rescue, says that they successfully evacuated the area around Dyngju­jök­ul last night, but will continue searching for people still in the area today.
More bits and bites on this very good page

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Bardarbunga update August 21 08:35 UTC
Below a small table with the recent M3+ earthquakes. 2 of these recent 3+ quakes are right below the Bardarbunga crater area.
The 16:14 one is intriguing as it was reported at a depth of only 3.1 km. The left green stars on the map is the Bardarbunga crater area.
Whenever an eruption would take place a strong +4 earthquake might be an indication for it.
Do not forget either that an eruption would not necessarily get above the ice as the ice layer on top os the crater is at least 700 meter thick!

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Bardarbunga update August 21 08:17 UTC
Bardarbunga volcano continues to rumble but as yet there is no eruption to report, so here is a round up last night’s news.
- An earthquake measuring 3 or higher on the Richter scale struck the area around Bárðarbunga volcano around 11:30 pm last night, reports RÚV.
- Scientists flying over Bárðarbunga yesterday confirmed that so far there are no changes to the glacial surface of the volcano.
- Kristján Jónsson, a geologist with the Icelandic Institute of Natural History, has said that although he cannot confirm it, he expects the ash from this eruption will be coarser than that of Eyjafjallajökull in 2010, meaning it may not effect the aviation industry as heavily.
- Tourists in the countryside around Mývatn are reportedly feeling anxious about the situation brewing in Vatnajökull glacier and the fact that Mývatn’s Tourist Information Centre was closed yesterday. About 2000 travellers visit Mývatn daily.
- Bardarbunga, was named after a Norwegian man, reports RÚV (so not after the bunga bunga parties from Berslusconi).  The Norwegian Bárðar sailed to Iceland, docked his ship in Skjálfandafljótsós and settled in a nearby valley that was eventually named after him – Bárðardalur (Bárðar’s Valley).
More bits and bites on this very good page

You’d better NOT believe the many pictures currently published on Twitter and Facebook – The image below is the real stuff, boring action images for us volcano followers BUT at least beautiful weather for the Icelanders :)

Image courtesy and copyright

Image courtesy and copyright


Bardarbunga update 23:06 UTC
Iceland geophycicist after overflight : „It can go eit­her way“
Icelandic Co­astgu­ar­d’s airpla­ne land­ed at Reykja­vik airport tonig­ht. On bo­ard the pla­ne were geolog­ists ret­urn­ing from their flig­ht over Bárðarbunga, among­st them Magnús Tumi Guðmunds­son, one of Iceland’s lea­ding geop­h­ysicists.
“The flig­ht went well, we mana­ged to gat­her the in­formati­on we wan­ted. We did radar mea­surements of the glacier and the ri­ver Jök­ulsá á Fjöll­um, which will be of much value in the event of an erupti­on,” he said in a telepho­ne in­terview with
Magnús says it’s hard to evalua­te the chances of an erupti­on. “It can go eit­her way, no­bo­dy can really predict what will happ­en in this situati­on.”
A lot of ice to melt
He says that in the event of an erupti­on, one of two things would likely happ­en. “What’s more likely is an erupti­on below the glacier Dyngju­jök­ull, wh­ere we can see eart­hqua­ke acti­vity moving nort­heast. In that area the glacier’s thickness mea­sures half a ki­lometer, so it would have to melt a lot of ice before it could finally breach the surface.
Read the full article here

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Bardarbunga update August 20 @ 15:39 UTC
We encourage all our readers to read the linked NATURE article below. ER calls it the most adequate description of a) what is currently happerning and b) which scenarios can happen if it erupts + we fully agree with it. Click here or on the image below to read the full article in the Nature website

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Bardarbunga Update August 20 @ 15:13 UTC
National Crisis Center activated
The Nati­onal Cris­is Centre has been fully acti­vated af­ter a decisi­on was taken to evacua­te the high­lands north of Dyngju­jök­ull (part of Vatna­jök­ull glacier). The area is now closed and has been evacua­ted. These acti­ons were taken follow­ing seismic acti­vity around the Bar­dar­bunga caldera in the last few days.
The area that has now been closed is both lar­ge in size and un­pop­ula­ted. Th­ere are still no signs of erupti­on but these secu­rity mea­sures have been taken since it would not be possi­ble to evacua­te the area in time should a sub-glacial out­burst flood occ­ur from Vatna­jök­ull as a result of an erupti­on.
In the nort­hwestern part of Vatna­jök­ull glacier the seismic acti­vity is stable, with the main area being nort­heast of Bar­dar­bunga. Over 300 eart­hqua­kes have been detected since midnig­ht. The strongest event was of the magnitu­de 3.0. Anot­her event happ­ened insi­de the Bar­dar­bunga caldera and was of the magnitu­de 2.7.
Today The Co­ast guard airpla­ne, TF SIF, will make a sur­veill­ance flig­ht over the area with scient­ists and representati­ves of the Civil Protecti­on unit, if we­ather conditi­ons allow. Police and ISAR units will en­force the closure of the area. The situati­on will cont­inue to be closely monitor­ed.

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A nice gimmick starts when you click on the picture below. Earthquakes transformed in sound. Try it, earthquakes can make great music :)

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Click on this image to listen to the Bardarbunga quakes sound

Bardargunga Update August 20 @ 08:42 UTC
Nothing special to report – still a lot of seismicity but most of it today at a deeper level, average 6 km. The extremely shallow earthquakes (example 1 km) are normally triggered by stress and certainly not by magma intrusion. The Icelandic Met Office still has the following banner above the earthquakes list : Intense earthquake swarm continues at Barðarbunga. Presently there are no signs of magma moving to the surface.
Please keep in mind that normally volcanoes are not interconnected.

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Bardargunga Civil Protection report August 19 @ 22:17 UTC
The Police Commissioners of Húsavík and Seyðisfirði have decided to close and evacuate the highlands north of Dyngjujökuls, this due to the continuous earthquakes in the area in recent days. This is a precautionary measure.
The image below is a webcam view of the glacier during the night. The light in the background is the sunrise NOTHING else !

Image courtesy and copyright VEDUR.IS

Image courtesy and copyright VEDUR.IS


Bardarbunga volcano situation update from Civil Protection Iceland (19/08 at 10:12)
Below the press communique published yesterday by the Iceland Civil Protection.

The situation in Bárðarbunga volcano in NW Vatnajökull glacier has not changed today. The Civil Protection scientists committee held two meetings today with earth scientists from the Icelandic Meteorological Office and the University of Iceland. There is a very strong indication of magma movement east of Bárðarbunga caldera and on the edge of Dyngjujökull near Kistufell. Conductivity is high in Jökulsá á Fjöllum for the time of year.
Around 800 earthquakes have been detected since midnight. The strongest event was at 02:37 of the magnitude 4,5.
Civil Protection is still on Uncertainty Phase, which means that course of events has started that may lead to natural hazard in the near future. The National Commissioner of Icelandic Police (NCIP) has today met with the Prime Minister of Iceland, the Minister of Interior and government officials to consult on the issue. The NCIP also met with officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, foreign embassies in Iceland and from key stakeholders in Iceland.
Mountain roads North of Vatnajökull, F88 (completely) and F910 (partly), have been closed for all traffic. That includes cars, bikes and hiking. A map of the area can be seen here.

ER : If you think you are clever enough to discuss the pre-eruptive state of Bardarbunga, we have a great place for you. They are discussing what is happening there 24/7. Enjoy the discussion :)


The crossed section is closed to cars, cyclists and walking trails

The crossed section is closed to cars, cyclists and walking trails

Earthquake animation from the seismic activity on August 17 and August 18


Alert level increased to ORANGE for Bardarbunga volcano , Iceland ? (update 18/08 at 13:34 UTC)
Still no eruption, but lets call it that the eruption is imminent and could happen anytime. An eruption does NOT mean a free air eruption as most of the Barbardunga activity kept nicely below the upper part of the glacier (also called subglacial). Some collapsing parts of glacier on top of the the activity location is also possible, just like it happened in 2004 with the eruption of the Grimsvotn volcano. The picture below shows what’s happening then – an ice river who might create a jokulhlaup which could lead to Ice rivers with an increased flow and big ice chuncks. These jokulhlaup‘s are the reason that some roads below the glacier complex have been closed.
More about the pre-eruption phase click here

Image courtesy and copyright @Lava_Ice alias Ben Edwards

Image courtesy and copyright @Lava_Ice alias Ben Edwards


1240 earthquakes below Bardarbunga volcano , Iceland ? (update 17/08 at 22:00 UTC)
An impressive number of earthquake and a yellow volcano alert because of the seismic activity below the Barbardunga volcano (Vatnajokull complex). Some roads have been closed to traffic out of fear for a Jokullhaup (sudden ice river triggered by the melting ice of the volcano). This normally happens below the massive icecap of the glacier.
The current status of the volcano is YELLOW
These are the possible next alert levels
YELLOW: Volcano is exhibiting signs of elevated unrest above known background level.
ORANGE: Volcano shows heightened or escalating unrest with increased potential of eruption.
RED: Eruption is imminent or in progress – significant emission of ash into atmosphere likely.

Press report from the Iceland Civil Protection
Situation August 17 kl.19: 00
Meetings were held in the morning with the staff the Civil Protection Department, Icelandic Meteorological Office and Earth Sciences rods to review the situation.
The seismic activity is most pronounced in the two clusters north and east Bárðarbunga. No signs are visible that the eruption has started but the seismic activity may be a precursor to an eruption.
Scientists have increased surveillance in the area and police chief in Húsavík, Hvolsvelli and Seyðisfirði plus Vatnajökull National Park are alerted.
Coast Guard helicopter began today with the scientists and staff of the Civil Vatnajökull. That trip did add instruments and webcams as part of increased monitoring of the glacier as well as monitoring changes on the surface of the glacier and the area.
Commissioner of Húsavík has decided to close Gæsavatnaleið and other Highland roads east Skjálfandafljót the caldera. Way to Herðubreiðarlindir F88 (F88) has also been closed due to potential flooding in the area after an eruption.

Image courtesy and copyright

Image courtesy and copyright

Image courtesy and copyright

Image courtesy and copyright


Eruption in Bárðarbunga volcano, Iceland ? (August 16)
During all last week (Week 33) there has been a minor earthquake swarm in Bárðarbunga volcano. No other activity followed this minor earthquake activity during the week until last night (16-August-2014). During the night (around 02:20 UTC) a harmonic tremor started to appear on SIL stations around Bárðarbunga volcano. Following the appearance of the harmonic tremor earthquake activity started around 03:30 UTC. Largest earthquakes in this swarm have magnitude around 3,0 so far. Depth is around 5 to 10 km. During the night the earthquake swarm moved around in the volcano and is now more east then it first started.
Follow the possible eruption at the website of Jon Frimann, and Icelander who is following up all volcanic and seismic activity below the island

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2013 : July 8 – July 31
2013 : June 24 – July 7
2013 : June 8 – June 23
2013 : May 26 – June 7
2013 : June 8 – August 20
2013 : August 21 – October 27
2013 : October 28 – December 12
2013 : December 13 – January 30
2014 : February 1 – May 20
2014 : May 21 – August 11


  1. Gordon Hervey says:

    October 18 2013 UTC
    I always enjoy these reports and wanted to ask a question that I have also posted on Volcano Monitor. Japan Today has an Oct 18 article “Izu Oshima mayor under fire for not issuing evacuation orders.” A Tokyo Uni expert is quoted “the top layer of volcanic ash from recent explosions had been washed off by the massive rainfall….knocking down trees and…houses”. Dozens still missing or dead. My point is that the local volcano Mount Mihara must have had frequent explosions, yet I have not seen the name before now on any listings, anywhere. Modis data problems, Japan keeping secrets, what could this sort of thing imply?

    • Richard Rodger Wilson says:

      Hi Gordon,

      You have to remember, when a volcanologist (geologist) says “recent” he may be referring to an event that has occurred during the last 10,000 years! Mount Mihara has in fact erupted more recently (in a big way in 1986!) to produce exposed ash layers on the island. Regardless of their age, fragmental volcanic deposits are always susceptible to remobilization from heavy rains. If you live any time on a volcano you will understand this, so I don’t understand the accusatory aspect of the headline.

      Thanks for reading our report!


    • Gordon Hervey says:

      Thanks very much for your reply, I’m browsing a bit to try and find how ‘recent’ the Mt Mihara explosions have been. Apparently the mayor was out of town during the typhoon and took a decision NOT to evacuate Izu. As it turned out, that cost a lot of lives. It would seem to me that the description of ash buildup as ‘recent’ probably means ‘since the previous typhoon’, as otherwise the disaster might have occured then?

  2. Craig Heden says:

    Multiple seismo stations around Mt. Shasta are showing what appears to be episodic “pulses” of activity.
    The amplitude of some events are significantly higher than what I usually see.
    I am in visual contact with Mt. Shasta from my home, and no weather-related phenomena appears present.
    I wonder if this is the beginning/associated of deep-tremor event, or whether there is magmatic movement involved? Or, maybe purely tectonic?
    Maybe Roger can comment if this activity is indeed unusual?

    • Armand Vervaeck says:

      I will surely ask Rodger, Craig – Thanks for commenting

    • Richard Rodger Wilson says:

      Hi Craig,

      I’m pretty sure the pulses (the longer, cigar-shaped signals?) you refer to are actually produced by trains (provided you are looking at the northwest flank and Military Pass seismometers). How do I know this you ask?,…I used to maintain the College of the Siskiyous seismographs way back in the early 1980′s for Mr. Paul Dawson who was the C.O.S. Geology Instructor at that time.

      Thanks for your readership Craig!


    • Craig Heden says:

      Rodger and Armand,
      Thanks for your attention to my question. The two stations I was noting unusual seismo-signals were LMP and LGB. Both stations appear quite a ways away from the railroad. Also, as of now, (10-17-13, 12:36 PDT), both stations indicate different types of activity occurred early in the plot as compared to later on. The time duration for each period of elevated signals is also is quite long. I know how long the freight trains can be up there ( I fish the Cantera loop area often), but the duration of the activity appears too long for even the largest trains? Thanks again if you have any further info or theories to share.

  3. Matthew says:

    Some red on the White Island seismic drum today!
    pretty hard to tell whether there was actually an eruption or not, typical NZ weather!

  4. Paul Wyse says:

    I’m curious about the fact that the main seismograph for Cerro Negro in Nicaragua picks up so many more of the volcanic earthquakes at Momotomobo than any of the other INETER seismographs. Has anyone speculated on a remote plumbing connection between Cerro Negro and Momotombo even though they seem to be a litte too far apart? Telica is certainly much closer to Cerro Negro than Momotombo is and yet it seems that there’s only tectonic earthquakes that seem to show up on both the Cerro Negro and Telica graphs.

    • Richard Rodger Wilson says:

      Hi Paul,

      Sorry it’s taken so long for me to respond to your questions! I’m not that familiar with seismic equipment that INETER has on each of the volcanoes, but the discrepencies you noted in seismic data from adjacent volcanoes usually results from: a) different settings in the gain or amplification of individual stations, and b) the type of seismometers placed on individual volcanoes. For instance, many observatories have switched-over to using broad-band instrumentation at volcanoes during the past decade to detect (just as the name implies) the broader range of seismic wave frequencies generated by volcanoes. The “old school” (i.e. less sensitive) single-component vertical seismometers (but continue to be used) are most sensitive to the relatively high frequencies (> 5Hz) generated by nearby events and have difficulty in detecting special types (low-frequency) of volcanic earthquakes as well as more distant events.

      Hope this helps!

  5. rachael says:

    hello i live twety miles of mount shasta its looms in our view in most siskiyou couny. I dont feel it will blow up no earth quakes here the large earth quake a while ago originating frm lassen was not even noticable my thaughts are that lassen will be going sooner tan later that is not far from here
    George Wilson.. if you ever need photos or information from someone who lives next to mount shasta let me know… your site is so great thanks yu

    • Armand Vervaeck says:

      Thanks George! There was just a small earthquake at Mount Shasta overnight! I used to live in Weed for three years in the early 1980′s. There was alot more activity around Shasta at that time. You are right, it is very quiet for a volcano!

  6. Hi My name is Alex Schmollinger and I’m from Dallas TX and i just want too know is MT. Shasta getting ready too go off and blow it’s top in the 2013 year too come and i was in the Shasta area and i didn’t see any smoke or feel any recent quakes around the big Shasta Volcano so i need someone out there too tell me is Mt Shasta going too go off in 2013 year span or no?

    • Richard Rodger Wilson says:

      Hi Alex,

      Actually, Mount Shasta is one of the “quieter” Cascade volcanoes. There were seismic episodes during the late 1970′s, early 1980′s and again in the early 1990′s that made volcanologists sort of sit up and take notice of Mount Shasta, but since those periods,…the volcano has been relatively silent.

  7. v says:

    “This is likely the result of the infamous “familiarity breeds contempt” syndrome where the local population becomes complacent near a growing lava dome.” The real problem is that the scientists are blind and they suffer from the same syndrome.

    • Richard Rodger Wilson says:

      Hi v,

      Not so much the scientists being blind in this case. We are all to some extent free to (…and guilty of) ignore clear warning signs in all sorts of circumstances.

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