Askja for Beginners

I love large caldera volcanoes. The first reason is that they are always very beautiful, especially if they have lakes in them. The second reason is that most of them are of a class of volcanoes that leave their pointier cousins far behind. Size matters after all. At one end of the beauty spectrum, you…

Icelandic Chicken Race

Geological time is interesting, because even the geological now is decades long, if not centuries. The current geological episode at Reykjanes didn’t start with Fagrafjall (it is no longer a valley, so let us drop the “dal” out of Fagradalsfjall shall we). Nor did it start with the large and very noisy intrusion over at…

Weekend Ash to Pottery Competition

A couple of weeks ago we got an email from one of our readers who is currently studying how to make ceramics and porcelain in Iceland. She was wondering about what ashes might give the best colours. I am not the best geologist around, and instead concentrate on the squiggly stuff on seismometers and bouncing…

What if Katla erupted?

First of all, I should clearly state that there are no current signs that an eruption at Katla is about to happen in the near future. Instead, the reason is that I was asked by one of our readers, Patricio Oliver, what would happen if the volcano erupted, especially for the inhabited areas. This is…

Askja, 1875

Background Askja is a lesser known major Icelandic volcano. The north volcanic zone (NVZ) where it is located is not as touristy as the east (Bardarbunga, Grimsvotn), the south (Katla) or the southwest (Fagradalsfjall) volcanic zones of Iceland, but it should not be ignored. The Krafla rift eruption here lasted (intermittently) for nine years, from…

Making a shield volcano

Looking back to when Fagradalsfjall eruption started, I wrote a post about the Reykjanes Fires, where I speculated about how the eruption could end up being like. I mentioned two main possibilities. One was that it would turn out similar to the eruptions of the Brennisteinsfjöll volcanic system that took place 1000 years ago. The…

Escape

Who doesn’t dream of escape? Perhaps you have a mind-numbing job, a repressive social environment, or a damp and cold house. It may be an escape in (and from) a computer game, trying to reach the exit while being chased by your real-time friends becoming virtual enemies. Sometimes we need to escape from a dream,…

The Ballad of Ballareldur: Explosions in the night

Over the past weeks, the Fagradalsfjall has settled into in almost predictable routine. There are regular cycles of eruptions and interruptions. During the interruption, the tremor goes quiet. Nothing is shaking or moving on the drum plots. Over several hours, there is a slow build-up of the tremor. Lava begins to return to the crater…

Volcanoes of the North: the fire in the ice

A freezer provides storage. And a deep freezer gives deep storage. You can’t go deeper than an original ice-age glacier. In Greenland, those glaciers are still there, being so tall that the top has remained in deep freeze even though the ice age is a distant memory. In this cryogenic environment, that frozen memory is…

The changing faces of Fagradalsfjall: fizz, bubbles and slugs

We have had quite a ride. The eruption began unseen, on March 19. The new fissure opened on April 5, after the initial double cone had begun to wane. The new fissures sprouted a series of cones, mostly twinned. By May, all twins had exterminated one of the siblings, and the survivors had battled for…