Iceland: Plumbing the Plume

Image borrowed from the University of Iceland.

In the last decade, science has been under increasing attacks and have lost in status among the general population. Where famous scientists a century ago could rake in some serious dosh by going on lecture tours explaining their findings, today’s scientists are increasingly unknown and scorned by the general population.

Instead, we see the rise of pseudo-sciences ridiculing evidence and holding “feelings” in high esteem while screaming the words “fake news” at the top of their lungs.

A few decades this was just a movement on the fringes of society, but about a decade ago this started to happen inside science too. Some scientists started to take advantage of the peer-review system to push papers based on false data, or that are just nonsensical.

A few days ago, two of these “scientists” died due to a lack of vaccination against Covid-19. I am obviously talking about the twins, Igor and Grichka Bogdanov. Igor got himself a Ph.D. in Physics and Grichka one in applied mathematics.

Based on this and a few published papers they got their professorial robes. The only problem was that it turned out that their entire list of publications including what they did for their Ph.Ds., was entirely without a shred of substance or meaning. It was all a huge joke on science.

In this case, it was probably an art project of sorts, we are after all talking about a couple of real characters, complete with record-breaking amounts of facial silicone and potentially being the partial fathers of Bitcoin and Ethereum (the Ethereum part is canon, the Bitcoin part is at least very likely).

So, what on Earth does this have to do with geosciences? Sadly, the same thing is going on in the geosciences with bogus papers proliferating to bolster careers that should be non-existent. But where the Bogdanov’s lied about the moment right after Big Bang, the geoscientists are congregating around something that should not even be contentious, mantleplumes.


The Definition of a Mantleplume

“A mantleplume is caused by upwelling of hot ductile material from deep within the mantle conveying this hot material to, or near, the surface of Earths crust.”

This is the modern definition that is atomic in so much that it covers the essentials of all known mantleplumes.


The Origin of the Plume

Kistufell has the distinction of being Iceland’s least photogenic volcano, and also being Iceland’s least photographed volcano. This is as far as I know the only image.

At first, the mantleplume was a hypothetical solution to explain the existence of volcanism in Hawaii. This Hawaiian origin greatly influenced the theory building at the beginning, somewhat to the detriment of our understanding of mantleplumes.

The original definition, and the list of prerequisite evidence for being a mantleplume, is something that has rightfully been attacked by scientists in the field. This has in turn forced into place refinements of the theory.

If we look at the original list of required evidence, we find the following:

  1. There will be a linear chain of progressively older volcanic features as the crust moves above the mantleplume.
  2. The amount of primordial He3 should be anomalously high compared to He4 in collected volcanic gases.

The idea behind 2 is that He3 can’t form on Earth and is of stellar origin, whereas radioisotope decay can form He4. All helium is leached out of the atmosphere, so an anomalously high He3 count can only come from ancient deep trapped Helium from the time of the formation of Earth.

There was much rejoicing in the geosciences, finally, we could say something about the innards of our planet. Much lip-banjo was played by volcanologists.

The problem was that Nature was about to wreak havoc on this original definition of what a mantleplume was.


The anomalous Mantleplumes

Nature enjoys throwing spanners into science at the most inopportune times it seems. After finding the Hawaiian plume, and a couple of others (Albert did a fine job on one of those in the previous article), more and more very odd plumelike things started to crop up.

So many of those odd plumelike things cropped up that it started to look like it was the Hawaiian type of plume that was the anomaly, and not the other way around.

The likes of the African plume(s), The Azore plume, The Canary plume, The Icelandic plume, and so on seemed to be nature peeing mightily on the original plume theory. None of those fulfilled the first prerequisite of having a nice volcanic track, and to make things even worse, volcanoes that are decidedly not of plume origin showed up with anomalous He3/He4 content.

It was time to go back to the drawing board. And this time the entire barrage of the theory of science was deployed.


A Plume of good science

Here we must pause and debate what is good science for a moment. First, there must be a hypothesis.

Let us reformulate the definition into a hypothesis. Are there cases of upwellings of hot ductile material from deep within the mantle conveying this hot material to, or near, the surface of Earths crust?

To move this from a hypothesis we need to follow a few rigorous steps to get it elevated into a proper scientific theory.

The first step is, can you derive predictions from the hypothesis? In this case, there were 3 predictions accepted (later there was more). He4/He3-anomaly (not conclusive, but pointing towards the hypothesis having merit).

The second one was that there should be zones in the mantle related to the proposed plume that evidenced areas where the speed of sound changed due to increased heat, if so this should be possible to measure with instruments.

And the third was that there should be inclusions of materials that can only form in higher temperatures and at higher pressures than what is possible at normal magma-formation depths. This is if you think about it the deal-breaker. No such inclusions and it is not a plume.

The second step is, can the hypothesis be easily falsified? The requirement is even more stringent, as you formulate your hypothesis you must stipulate ways that the theory can be falsified (sticking your neck out). It is also obviously free for any scientist to ad things that are falsifiable within the theory, and then try to falsify it. We find that our formative plume-theory is eminently possible to falsify at this point.

And the third step, all experiments and data collection should be possible to repeat by other scientists in the field. It turned out that this was possible to do at numerous instances and plumes.


Plume Problems

Even though we by now have a well-established theory of plumes it turns out that we have something of a headache on our hands. Our proposed solutions caused far more questions than they answered.

How does a plume form? Sounds simple enough, but we do not have the foggiest idea, even though some interesting hypotheses have been brought forth. In fact, we only know parts of how a single plume formed, and that particular plume is the definition of anomalous.

Are the number of plumes increasing, or decreasing, over geological timespans?

Are plumes nicely shaped conveyor like things, or are they messy vortex-like spinning constructs?

To a layperson, this sounds like a mess best avoided, but in science, this is akin to a Gold-rush from all of those majestic questions that are open to solving. This is a moment where strapping Ph.D.-students across the globe crack their knuckles to create lifelong careers borne aloft on the rise of The Plume.

Now, before I start to play lip-banjo out of scientific joy we need to tackle to elephant in the room. The most anomalous plume of them all must be conquered. And it is honker of a problem that could easily derail Plumology.


The Icelandic Plume

Some days I feel that the entire reason for the existence of Iceland is nature’s way of taking a dump on all that we know about volcanology and geology. Whereas most of the rest of the planet is neatly ordered and understandable, and mainly only lacking enough instrumentation, Iceland is a chaotic maelstrom.

Iceland is quite like a psychotic kid running around giggling maniacally as it kicks you in the gonads for the sheer heck of it.

The problem is that no single theory can explain what is going on in Iceland. You must fully understand ALL of the scientific theories that are relevant for the place and then use ALL of them at the same time to model an understanding of what is happening there at a given point of location and time.

Sadly, not even the most picture-perfect and tested theory of mantleplumes will explain more than parts of Iceland’s very existence.

And to pile insult upon gonadal pain, the Icelandic Plume is setting records in being the most anomalous, making even the African Superplume look like a normal garden variety rose. If there is one plume that could topple the scientific plume-carriage, it is the adorable lump named Iceland.

First of all, it is the youngest of all known mantleplumes, being between 14.4 and 17 million years old. We know this from geochemical data from the oldest volcanic rocks in Iceland that is evidencing plume-origin factors like deep-inclusions and He3/He4 anomalies.

It is the most location stable mantleplume on Earth, neither the crust nor the plumehead itself is moving about to any great extent.

We also know that it is growing in intensity and depth over time. We know this since we can track both eruptive volumes related to the Mantleplume, and also the depth that the deep-inclusions form at.

This means that we can say that the Icelandic Mantleplume was born under what would become Iceland and that is not in any way form or shape came wandering from someplace else.

In other words, the Icelandic Plume is in fact a rather psychotic gonad kicking child of a plume, we also know that it originated from the top and is overtime burrowing downwards.

This obviously means that we have one class of plumes that is confirmed to have a top-down origin and that we perhaps have a bottoms-up category to be proven to exist. In other words, we can make the prediction that if Hawaii is of the top-down origin category we will find a curve of depth-created inclusions leaning shallower the further away we sample down the track from current Hawaii.

Easily falsifiable obviously, if they turn out to be ultra-deep from the starting point, we have a case for a second bottoms up variety of plume. Just a thought as I am writing.

So, let us look for evidence of an Icelandic plume. One after all has to try to find evidence for a scientific theory.


He3/He4 Anomaly Problems

He3/He4 anomaly data is problematic for Iceland. The first problem is that since the plume is not as deep as let us say Hawaii, we have less pronounced He3/He4 anomalies. But the really irritating gonadal giggle-kick is that Iceland is eminently producing non-plume related He3/He4 anomalies. Let me explain with a recent example.

Fagradalsfjall had a deep origin not related to any known plume activity. Instead, it was caused by crustal rifting sucking up mantle material, and as the eruption went on the erupted material came from ever deeper origin showing constantly increasing amounts of primordial He3.

First of all, this makes He3/He4 anomalies fairly useless as an investigative tool in regards to the Icelandic plume.

Secondly, it is perhaps giving an inkling towards how the Icelandic Plume started. Perhaps it was a Fagradalsfjall like “origin-eruption” that was larger, and that started to burrow down deeper and deeper until we got a downwards self-propagating mantleplume. This is just me thinking loudly as I write, not even a hypothesis at this moment in time.

Anyway, let us chalk up the He3/He4 anomaly studies as being muddy, but that the requirement is fulfilled. Since it is not giving the clarity we need on the subject, let us just state that there is such an anomaly and move on.


Seismic Tomography of the mantle under Iceland

We find that the Icelandic Mantleplume is evident at depths below 670 kilometres, and maybe even deeper. We also find scant evidence in the tomography for the Hawaiian mantleplume, at least a deep origin is not evidenced.

By tracking the wavefronts caused by large earthquakes we can make detailed (well, sort of detailed) maps of the interior of the planet. What we can track is how what is down there alters the speed of sound of the wavefronts of the P- and S-Waves. This alteration is predominantly caused by variations in temperature.

Warmer temperatures will cause the speed of the wavefront to slow down, and cold areas (sunken plates for instance) will cause increases in speed.

And as we can see there is a warm temperature anomaly under Iceland consistent with a mantleplume.

Now, there is a problem here that most people do not understand. A tomographic image in and of itself is only showing that there is a tubelike form that is hotter than the surrounding mantle, but it does not de facto prove that the heat is caused by hot ductile material being conducted upwards.

Let us pause here. This last problem is real, and it is something that I am surprised that plume-denialists have not dug into. After all, it could derail plumes completely. On the other hand, they never discuss seismic tomography, to begin with for some reason.

The reason is that then the onus would be upon them to come up with a workable hypothesis that is falsifiable, producing testable predictions that are also falsifiable and possible to repeat, to explain how the heat-tubes in the mantle are formed.

Let us just state for now that we have indeed found the predicted “heat-tube” and move onwards to a more inclusive ground.


Deep Magma Inclusions

Beautiful Chrome Spinel. Depending on the crystal shape it has many interesting uses.

In February of 2002, the angels of science sang as Kresten Breddam published the seminal paper Kistufell: Primitive Melt from the Iceland Mantle Plume, in Journal of Petrology. It is not hyperbole to state that it is one of the 3 most important papers published in regards to Icelandic volcanology and the single most important one in regards to mantleplumes anywhere.

My only criticism of the paper is that it is insanely dense and requires you to have above average knowledge on a scientific degree level in geochemistry, to be able to understand it. Words like highly technical do not even begin to cover it.

So, most of you will have to take my word on it being very rigorous and a showcase of good science. I will now try to explain what is so special.

The premise is quite simple. What inclusions can we find in the lava that has erupted out of Kistufell, a volcano that is suspected to be located above the centre of the plumehead itself? What depths are those inclusions formed at? And what inclusions are missing from greater depth than those found? The last one gives depth constraints for the plume.

The first part to note is that the paper finds evidence of subducted oceanic gabbro. This is interesting as such, but it is not the same thing as a sunken continent under Iceland, instead, it is the original oceanic Icelandic crust in and of itself that has been pushed down and morphed into sub-crustal gabbro. This formed as oodles of magma pushed down the oceanic crust it erupted on top of.

I think that we should invent a new term for this process since it is not classical subduction in the common sense of the word. Interestingly enough, this is also the case over in Hawaii.

The paper goes through in detail the gabbro part and the underplating material for those who are interested in those things (I am for one), but it also notes how rare those xenocrysts are from the deep crustal parts.

Let us now discuss the melt depth of the magma, it occurred just below the crust at circa 45 kilometres depth. This high depth/melt figure is most likely explained by the high temperature of 1270 at the point of melting.

This is interesting in a theoretical sense; it means that if the crust became even thicker it would effectively hinder any melt from occurring under Kistufell. Interesting, but it has nothing to do with our discussion as such. This is evidenced by the chrome-spinel formation depths.

Lavas from Kistufell shows that the plume derived magmas are like this: “The isotopic heterogeneity within the Iceland mantle plume may thus be viewed as a result of mixing between plume material rising from a layer of subducted slabs (which have partly maintained their geochemical integrity and heterogeneity) and lower-mantle material (FOZO) entrained in the initial stages of plume formation.” (Kresten Breddam, 2002, linked below)

The sentence above might be the most explosive sentence in contemporary volcanology. It is like someone had chucked the Tsar Bomba into the classical mantleplume model for Iceland. I will try to explain it by quoting myself… Massively.

“Kistufell is situated straight on top of the Icelandic mantleplume core. The petrochemical analysis gives at hand that a large part of the magma comes from the 670-kilometre discontinuity… …and is consistent with a formative mantleplume in the lower mantle.

Now, what on earth is the 670-kilometre discontinuity? Well, the material above that has the spinel crystal structure and below you have perovskite structure. In short, if your basic magma has spinels in it you have magma from above the discontinuity. If you have a marked lack of spinels the magma formed deeper than the discontinuity.

And the Kistufell magma is poor in chromium spinels, and the few that are seems to have come from xenoliths from the magma conduits rather than from the basic basalt (ol-tholeiite). Also, the high amount of Sr points towards a deep source.

Now over to garnets, they form at about 35 to 45 kilometres depth, and the Kistufell lava is very poor in garnets, so it is safe to assume that the magma has formed below that. This differentiates the Kistufell (and other mantleplume volcanoes) from other Icelandic volcanoes far away from the plume core.”

Is there any evidence that the mantleplume is indeed formative? Yes, there is. The amount of spinels increases with the age of the lavas tested in Iceland. Or, in other words, the older magmas came from an increasingly shallow depth as we progress backwards in time.

As such the mantleplume is not more than 14.4 million years old, at least in a way that we define as a mantleplume. That puts quite a spanner in the Alpha Ridge Theory, or any other theory stating that the Icelandic Plume has meandered over from somewhere else.



The mantleplume theory itself is not problematic, what is problematic is the lack of understanding of mantleplume formations. It is also surprisingly lacking in the ordering of types of mantleplumes because there seems to be more than one subtype that follows the basic definition of being a mantleplume.

We have up above defined the Icelandic Mantleplume as the most anomalous plume, and we have put it to the test against the definition and the prerequisites of being defined as a plume.

We find that it fulfils the prerequisite of having a high He3/He4-anomaly. We found that this is a must, but that it is not defining in and of itself. A lack thereof would though be constituting falsification of the mantleplume theory.

We also found that it had a seismic tomographic heat-tube structure. As discussed above this is a must, but not a definite for being a mantleplume. We do find though that the tomography suggests a much deeper origin (2500km) than what is evidenced by the inclusions, this is though trivial since Breddams work is not as such excluding a deeper origin, it just states a minimum depth origin.

We also find problems in the seismic tomography data in regards to Hawaii being a true mantleplume. Interestingly enough, no plume denialist has ever denied that Hawaii is a mantleplume, and still, it is the most likely spot to not be a real mantleplume. I mean, at least one of them should be able to read a seismic tomography plot, no?

Do note, I am not stating that Hawaii is not a mantleplume. I am though stating that it seems to lack the second component needed to be counted as such. Anyhoos, back to Iceland.

When looking at inclusions in the Kistufell samples we find evidence of an origin deeper than 670 kilometres. We find that this means that there is indeed material moving up from depth that is constrained into a tubelike conduit or vortex.

Incidentally, even though it was outside of the scope of this discussion, we find that the mantleplume under Iceland is young (14.4 million years) and that it formed at the surface and is burrowing downwards. We do though acknowledge that there are seismic tomography indications that it may be older and may have deep origins. More studies are indeed needed.

Carl Rehnberg


Sources (among many, but I am limiting myself to the three most relevant)

Kistufell: Primitive Melt from the Iceland Mantle Plume | Journal of Petrology | Oxford Academic (

Mapping out the conduit of the Iceland mantle plume with helium isotopes – ScienceDirect

Mantle plume tomography – ScienceDirect





660 thoughts on “Iceland: Plumbing the Plume

  1. Whats going on below South Norway
    Hot astenosphere is flowing below the Scandes mountain range and is resposible for some uplift. There is No good mantle tomography from this arera at least from Svalbard and down to scandes. Perhaps we haves another yet massive plume head flowing below northen west baltic craton? There is an old volcanic continetal rift in South Norway, perhaps more failed continetal rifting and possible flood basalting is up for Scandinavia in general, after 1 billion years of general inactivity. Last time it was volcanism in Scandinavia was very small scale Skåne Jurassic volcanism.

    The undiscovered plume stem maybe located in the sea above norway Bartens Sea.. any tomography from there? Or coud it even be the Iceland Plume thats happly seeakly found its way below Norway flowing under the litosphere

    • The litosphere is quite thin in Norway and northen western parts of South Sweden, so If the plume head materials welling up from below the bartens sea can acess these areras it will melt because of decompression melting

      Carl perhaps: will Scandinavia have another episode of major volcanism in the future? Is the thick Baltic shield blockning whats below there and making it difficult for geologists to probe the arera?

      Perhaps a nuclear detonation in Kiruna Mountains coud help us To probe the mantle in the whole area by seismic waves ..

    • There been continetal rifting and volcanism in Norway before in Carboniferus, quite intense too, im the Oslo Graben. So perhaps South Scandinavia is up for another eposide of rifting and volcanism, I haves No Idea really

    • Dear Jesper, if you google you will find that I wrote a piece about it.
      It is proto-subduction causing the 1500 meter uplift in SW Norway.
      Blame Iceland as per usual. 🙂

      • I meant the potential rifting in Northen Sweden that you talked about

  2. Big changes at Kilauea. The lava lake level is now controlled by pressure in the magma chamber, so far it wasn’t the case. In the figure below I put together various data streams of HVO showing the changes. On January 7, Honolulu time, the lava lake started to behave weird, it all of a sudden dropped during a deflation-inflation event of Kilauea’s shallow magma chamber, then it rapidly reinflated afterwards. This was the first time the lava lake responded to magmatic pressure so well. Since then it has been mimicking perfectly the pressure in the magma chamber. Why this change? It must have developed continuous magma convection. So far the conduit only allowed magma upwards, driven by the nucleation of gas bubbles, so that the level of the lava lake would only increase. Now the conduit has widened, or matured in some way, and allows magma both up and down the conduit, establishing circulation, and this causes the level of the lava lake to respond perfectly to changes in pressure beneath.

    Interestingly the current swarm of long period earthquakes, mentioned above, started hours before the lava lake showed its new behaviour. Also the LP earthquakes happen during deflation-inflation events and seem to be shut off in between them, which I think is something I’ve seen before although I’m not too sure.

    Now the lava lake has “three domains” with different temperatures. A small area with crust temperatures of over 600 °C and which is permanently active and is from where lava seems to emerge. This hot area is in all likelihood the new convecting lava lake. Another larger area with temperatures of 500 °C which is perched above the rest from frequent overflows. And finally the caldera is filled with thickly crusted lava lake which is only hotter than normal in small areas and could probably be walked over comfortably, like visitors often did in the 19th century walking into crusted lava lakes. Best not to try it though.

    • Looks like a nice standing wave of lava at the border of the hot convecting lava lake…
      Now I am waiting for a silversuited surf dude to show up with an asbestos board. 🙂

      • Loki Patera haves a constant thermal emission, the crust is always hot, and never really cools, its also resurfaced by foundering crustal overturns that cause the Patera to shine even more in infrared heat.

        Had it been episodic lava flows that resurfaced, then the Patera woud have times when it had a really cold crust, and thats whats not seen.

        Loki Patera have all the caracthers of an overturning ”basalt lava sea” althrough its not convecting. It coud be a window into IO s liquid astenosphere magma ocean
        And its a lava sea on a collossal scale 230 km wide!
        It coud be open all downwards to the mantle, But it coud also be a wast container pool of lava, althrough that woud require circulation To keep crust areras far from the conduits from freezing solid

        Loki Patera is probaly an open lava sea, since the entire crust is always quite thin and hot, and overturns frequently, the crust on this non circulating and overturning lava sea .. may never grow Beyond half a meter in thickness, it overturns every 2 years, so lots of heat comming up, althrough it should circulate perhaps.

        It woud be an insane sight to stand on the rim of Loki Patera, But it woud look like a flat endless black plain when its not resurfacing. Loki Patera is so huge, that it follows IO s curvature, the lava lake is sligthly domed in laws of sphere gravity

        • Had it been a Patera container with lava feed by conduits in the walls, it woud have To circulate to keep stable crust from forming, An open lava sea is the best explaination for Loki Pateras size and thermal behaviour in Galileo satelite data

          If Loki Patera ever overflows it woud be a vent, event that not been on Earth since the Hadean

          The hot sillicate magma sea is also scattered with light – weight sulfur Ice bergs that float around slowly, due perhaps because of slow convecting currents, or from their volatiles at contact with the lava

        • Loki Patera may have so much hot masses of sillicate magmatic materials underneath that basicaly it cannot form any circulation since the masses are not cooled fast enough

          It coud be a window into IO s liquid sillicate interior, the lava lake is much much much wider than IO s litosphere is thick

    • This is good, means it will very probably still be there when I do see it in April 🙂

      I guess if there is now proper open connection there should be more backpressure into the rest of the system, so we should start seeing magma going into the rifts again. If this doesnt happen then I think we will not have this caldera for much longer, couple of years at most…

      • So far the sill complexes in the Middle East Rift Zone are deflating and the two rift conduits are completely quiet So unless that changes the eruption is staying at the summit and may remain there for years. The caldera will get filled up if that’s the case.

        • Nice and safely contained in the park, perfect for tourism. The caveat is eventually there will be a liquid lake of lava with the volume of several Holuhrauns, that will make its escape eventually… The proper phase of actual shield building might happen after that, with a more solid foundation. Or maybe the lake will sort of turn into a magma chamber and get buried by the overflows.

    • This is very Impressive stuff, obviously Kilaūea haves an insane magma supply. Its still so called shield building vent rather than a true convecting lava lake. The whole 2018 s inner pit is being filled up, I think it may turn into a Kupainaha like summit vent, If the small lava lake is a convecting one, then an open conduit circulating lava lake column is back

      Still it will probaly do summit shield building, filling up the Halema’uma’u crater with giant rootless lava lakes that drain and fill themselves

      • I imagine this is how a activity in Io, the moon of Jupiter, looks like. Huge rootless lava lakes that fill and overflow with lava and then drain leaving behind paterae. The paterae fill up and then start overflowing non-stop again. Few volcanoes on Earth practice this style of activity, and only do so sometimes. Right now only Kilauea and Nyamuragira.

      • Kupaianaha was not really a conduit itself though, was a flank vent of Pu’u O’o. Its name means ‘mysterious’ but I think in the power of hindsight it was not that weird at all 🙂
        Anyway by the time lava got there it was degased, and the lava lake was not really convecting more just passively flowing towards the overflow point. Was very similar to Mauna Iki and Halemaumau, except it lasted a lot longer and with larger supply on average.

        This lava lake will be much more dynamic, strong fountaining and episodic large overflows like at Mauna Ulu, probably sometimes of rather massive scale, it will bascally be 1980s Pu’u O’o without the high fountains. Actually, Mauna Ulu did resume fountaining in its last months, not to the same scale as in 1969 but some were over 100 meters. There can also be fountaining and open lava lakes at the same time, like at Nyiragongo until last year. The current configuration of vents on Kilauea could be considered a variant of that actually.

        • Yes I knows that magma flowing under Puu Oo and degassing and emerging in Kupaianaaha, that vent USGS tought woud have lasted forever when it started in 1986
          It was the lake feed tube system that destroyed Kalapana in the 1990 s. Lava later remerged in Puu Oo as you very well know.

          I think the summit eruption at current will stil form a kind of summit shield very much like Kupainaha, when the 2018 s summit pit have filled, lava can then flow out and form shileding lava flows, perhaps we will see a new 1400 s like lava lake shield at Kilaueas summit, with the 2018 s pit becomming a very shallow magma chamber with a perched lava shield on top thats constantly overflowing 🙂 with Puu Oo gone, the supply haves to go somewhere…and now it trys for the summit of Kilauea

    • Hector, thank you for this!

      Does this mean it’s becoming (or already is?) a stemmed lava lake, like it was before the Lelani Estates eruption?

        • Good – those seem to last a long time at Kilauea, so should still be active when you’re there. 🙂

          BTW, watch out for cross traffic at Volcano Village; every single time I drove through there on the highway, people pulled out right in front of me. I never had that issue in any other part of Hawaii. I guess living on top of an erupting volcano makes them a bit nonchalant regarding risks like traffic accidents. 🙂

          • Based on worldwide occurence if this is a proper open conduit we are looking at years, at a minimum, of activity. Maybe up to last week there was a good chance the eruption would stop some time like it did in May last year but now it is looking very unlikely 🙂

            Unlike a lot of the other places though the magma supply is massive, so instead of being a glowing hole with lava in it, it will be a fountaining cone and lots of small rootless vents all over the place, liek was seen in 1823. Might also be the occasional massive flank drainout down through the shallow cracks, but it would take nothing short of another event as big as 2018 to kill this thing, we are back to the Pu’u O’o days of endless lava 🙂

          • Chad, if we’re back to the Pu’u O’o days of endless lava (which is what I saw when I was there last), wouldn’t that require a vent like Pu’u O’o to occur? I keep hearing that Pu’u O’o is dead, so might we see another like it spring up soon?

            My uneducated guess is that, if the magma supply to the current lava lake continues, we’ll either see the lake continue to rise, or, the pressure will be relieved via magma heading somewhere else, like to did to Pu’u O’o. And, if the lava lake continues to rise, it’ll eventually get to the point (no higher than the main crater floor) where the pressure ensures a breakout somewhere… a big breakout, given that the crater volume (below the level of the main crater floor) has increased a lot.

          • Or form a summit lava lake shield that looks like Kupaianaha, I guess the entire 1500 s outer caldera will be gone soon, if this eruption does not drain itself into the ERZ

          • The Pu’u O’o-like vent is the conduit, unfortunately it drowned itself before it had a chance to start up high fountaining 🙁 but it is there nonetheless. Summit lava lakes in the past have lasted even longer than Pu’u O’o did, for example one formed in the early years of the 19th century (or at least it wasnt there in 1794), and it lasted until 1894 as what would be considered a single eruption by modern definitions.

            Jesper this will be much more dynamic than Kupaianaha was, that lake was basically just a passive lake with a tube leading from it, the main conduit was below Pu’u O’o and then there was a shallow lateral vent that branched off within the shallow levels of the ERZ, probably through an old existing ground crack that got forced open and tapped the magma conduit. Pu’u O’o in that time actually did apparently have some strombolian activity even after 1986 that sent lava as high as the cone, and later on lava visible in the crater was often bubbling violently like the lakes at Ambrym do. In hindsight Kupaianaha as basically the same as all the other flank vents of that eruption but formed further away than most of its successors, it got a proper name because it was the first one mostly.

            This activity today will be much more like what happened at Erta Ale in 2017, or the last year of activity from Mauna Ulu, which was often times fountaining, or feeding large surface lava flows, it will be much more visually impressive than Kupaianaha was 🙂
            Halemaumau in its lava lake days of the early 20th century also was much more active than is sometimes shown. Most sources say it was sitting there doing mostly nothing, but in fact a few times it did erupt properly. In 1921 for example, there were tall fountains as high as 80 meters, and strombolian explosions much taller near the edge of the lake, half of the caldera was flooded with lava in a day and it left a big impression on Jagger, who hwas by then a hardened veteran and already seen several sizable eruptions from Mauna Loa mind you.,The supply today is on average about 3x as high as it was in 1921, so this will be an exiting time indeed.

          • I should say though, yes there most likely will be some big flank breakout flows. These wont be from the main ERZ conduits, more direct intrusions from the lava lake into the southwest wall of the caldera, this happened several times in the early 19th century most famously in 1823, and also happened again in 1919. Magma also broke out of the ERZ conduit in the chain of craters area in 1840 and flowed through shallow dikes down the north side of the rift before flooding out of the ground near Pahoa. These are more like the fast flows from Nyiragongo than ERZ eruptions we have seen in recent decades which are gas rich and erupt directly from the conduit.

            Of course the ERZ conduit might gain strength again leading to large volume eruptions there instead. To me it doesnt matter though, we still get a lot of lava either way. Might matter more if you live in Puna though…

        • 2018 was way to small to kill Kilauea for years, the magam supply is simply too massive
          You needs a Laki, perhaps even a Thjorsahraun to shut down Kilauea for over a decade. And even if you drains tens of km3 from Kilauea, she may just come back anyway after a few years because there is no room to fill up in an empty upper magma chamber.
          Kilauea is becomming a behemoth, and it will grow to insanity in the comming 100 000 years

          • Hawaii is pretty unique with this mammoth supply given for a single volcano, quite outstanding, only Nyramuragira in congo is the only other that constantly effuses lava like that for now, but Kilaueas supply is even larger..
            I most recently visited HVNP last summer

          • Jesper, any ideas on whether or not the subsidence in the caldera we saw in 2018 permanently shrank the upper magma chamber?

            If it did, would this cause lower volume, but more frequent, eruptions?

          • The summit magma storage is quite massive, very little of it was drained in the 2018 eruption, the collapse was a shallow one, probaly related to an upper conduit magma body acossited with the 2008 – 2018 Halemaumau lava lake pipe
            The main summit magma stoorage is unharmed

          • The shallow storage under Halemaumau, about 1/8 of that drained in 2018. The main caldera chamber, well none of that drained in 2018 and it is about 3x as big as the shallow chamber…

            The lavel of activity at Kilauea as it is today is basically what would happen if Iceland was only allowed to erupt at Bardarbunga…

          • Hmmm thats 24km3 then for the upper magma caldera storage body

          • Estimate is between 4 and 11 km3 for Halemaumau, so actually 2018 was more like 1/6 of the volume. South Caldera is around 30 km3. Rift chambers are probably all less than 1 km3 individually but given the size of some (Kilauea Iki, Makaopuhi, Napau) they could well be quite big too, almost as big as Halemaumau at least comparable to lower numbers for such. So total amount of eruptable magma at Kilauea is at least 35 km3 and maybe as much as 50 km3.

        • It will be a summit shield looking like Kuapaniaha but I means just more gas rich and vigorus, perhaps will be a new 1400 s lava shield at the summit, perhaps even a RagNar like cone that we had in fagradals. I wants that cone renamed into Morgoth by the way¨

          Kilaueas caldera will be gone soon, if activity does not soon go to the ERZ

          • More like this.

            Or this:

            Observatory shield was mostly like this too, all the way up to its end, there are a’a flows radiating from its former summit as well as the Cone Peak flows that seem to have been a final flank event before the caldera, those flows go as far as 14 km. The large pahoehoe flows probably came from flank vents, but the main conduit of both the Observatory and Aila’au shields would have been more like this, probably erupting itself not very often but would be quite a show when it did, likely in precursor to a flank breakout.

            Pu’u o’o in the late 1990s and 2000s did erupt very fast too sometimes, surges of lava that went a’a to the coastal plain, effusion rates of 100+ m3/s, even fountaining sometimes.

          • I think it is also best to wait on Fagradalsfjall, its not dead yet and could well end up being a lot bigger than it is now if things go a few more years. Rift events on Reykjanes seem to be long lived, decades long. Krysuvik fires was 1151 to 1180s, Reykjanes fires started maybe 10 years later and lasted until 1226. Brennisteinsfjoll might have even lasted over a century, 950 to 1080. So chances are this will be erupting a lot over the next 30 years or more, Hawaii might have some competition 🙂

  3. I am pestering for some more data from the geological society of Sweden and then I will write about it.

    • This was an answer to Jesper in regards of the rift in Sweden on the other page.

    • Needs To know How the mantle looks like there.. No tomographic slices from that area I think .. coud very well be an undiscovered plume, althrough very difficult for it to melt in the high pressure regions below Scandian Craton, deep small ammounts melting forms sillica undersaturated alkaline lavas, shallow extensive melting forms plume thoelitic basalt.

      If there is rifting in the future it coud be catastrophic eruptions, If there is hot mantle underneath

      • Sorry to spoil the fun for you, it is a tectonic fault that is rifting.
        In the end there could of course be spreading center melt.

      • Will never do.. will perhaps only be a few monogenetic kimberlites and extremely sillica undersaturated nephelinites If that rift keeps going and fails

        To get really massive volcanism and hurt the craton you needs a very intense Mantle Plume, as intense as Hawaii and preferabely much more intense.

        I dont know If even the most powerful mantle plumes can break apart an ancient craton. But on Mars geologicaly recent eruptions do break through an immensely thick litosphere

        Supercontinents split in the Young orogenic seams between the old cratons. The African Mantle Plume haves massive problems with the cratons, Running the head into it .. ouch

        • In Mars they get the time to do that due to the stable crust.

          The Swedish rift will go on for quite a while. You will end up above Murmansk in the end 😉

        • Not necessarily, Baikal isn’t underlain by a plume in most tomographic studies i’ve looked at and yet there is quite widespread volcanism all around it, though it’s been relatively quiet of geologically late

          • Its a plume free continetal rift, those are very much less active

      • Oooo I was adopted from Apatity in Russia with biological parents originating in moscow, my frozen gulag homelands woud like some volcanism.. Russian Lapland is brutal in winter.. althrough siberia is colder

        NAIP must have been a collossal plume, as well as Hawaii when that plume surfaced, Hawaii coud have had a mushroom thousands of km wide as it surfaced, its 80 million year old LIP have long since been subducted
        Hawaii still retains a smaller plume head today and remains an intensely powerful plume.

        African Superplume seems more spread out and not as intense, althrough its sheer intensity its probaly hidden by the thick cratons that prevents more extensive melting

        Pacific also haves a Superplume, But it seems not be very intense, even if its very large, Hawaii coud be an offspring of it who knows

      • I like Mantle Plumes .. Big happy bouncy jelly like blobs rising from Earths interior..

        Rhe really big ones with huge plume heads are fascinating often only haves it when a newborn plume surfaces, the plume head often burns away in a massive short lived flood basalt, leaving a longer lived stalk that can last 100 million years.. like Tristan da chuna, Canaries, comoores, and yellowstone are stalk plumes

        Hawaii, Afar, Iceland, Galapagos and African seems to have Plume Heads

      • Norway had rifting and volcanism recently in Early Permian. Oslo Graben, it may, may not been started by a plume But probaly had To do with global tectonics. It was a failed continetal rift But calderas and volcanism existed, and lava flows where quite intense during a short era, most been eroded by time

        No real flood basalt ever emerged in the Oslo Graben No LIP was produced there

        • Concerning Norway: No monster-volcano to be seen so far. Instead monster crabs:

          • Don’t worry, you have about 1 million years before the Norwegian volcanism starts, so there is still some time to go and buy the marsmallows.

            King Crab lags are scrumptious… now I am hungry again.

          • Omg gosh… looks like the terrfying alien crustecean looking monsters in the the Metroid game series! I means not the metroids themselves that are alone terrfying, I means the general look of metroid game enemies,very similar, luckly these are just crabs, Althrough the games bounty hunter woud certainly shoot them if she visited earth

          • Many groups of invertebrates tends to evolve into crab like forms, because its a very efficent body shape. If these ever evolves water dry proofing and more efficent loungs to suck out more oxygen, they can venture out into land and grow into behmoths, cow sized land murder crabs will be stuff of nightmares, that support themsleves with pure muscle power with muscle ring long springs in their legs.

            Luickly invertebrates never evolved effificent respiration, thats why they are no cow sized spiders or eagle sized hornets, also inner bones are lacking to support their weight

            BUt if giant predatory metroid crabs are the future of earth, then I will have to relocate to mars on a musk colony, too scary

          • In The Future is Wild original TV series ( 2003 ) 200 million years in th future
            A New siberian traps kills off the mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and even the fish. Leaving these empty lots for the invertabrates to take over. The fish niche is taken over by crustcean plankton, who grows into giants, killer whale sized shrimps, and shark like shrimp hunters, they fill all the niches thats left by the gone fish. The ocean fills with giant shrimps that resembles fish by convergent evolution

            The gone birds are taken by flying fish linage as the very last vertebrates, flying fish evolves efficent loungs and dry skinn and strong flight muscles and flying fishes fills all room that was left by the extinct birds…

            The invertebrates fills the room left by the extinct pervious vertebrate linagles
            The ever sucessfull Cephalopods thrives… and adpat to land existence by dry skinn and stronger muscle support..and more efficent loungs, the world fills by land quid and octopuses and huge snails that snatch the niches left by the mamals and other vertabrates.

            Alll the original episodes can be seen here: and is kind of nostaliga now
            By 200 million years in the future everything about earths biology is completly alien


            Our deamon did not like the many links and put it in the dungeon. One link has been left. The others are on that site anyway. Best to limit the number of links in a comment so not to raise our deamon – admin

          • There were sharks in that sea too, as well as giant squids with the intelligence of a supercomputer 🙂

            Not sure about how I feel regarding the show, I like it but it is very simplistic, definitely some things were very conservative and others way to out there for given time frame. 5 million years ago most animals looked like animals today, not really long enough for gannets to evolve into seals, for example. Really all they did for that model was put a long beak on an actual seal. Aquatic birds have evolved at least 5 times too but all maxed out at about 100 kg, larger marine tetrapods of that time would probably be another mammal, or less likely some sort of lizard or snake, or more likely just not have re-evolved yet at all. Also not sure how anything that can KO the entire marine mammal base would not also wipe out seabirds too, except seagulls probably…

            I also really doubt viability of animals with no skeleton getting big on land. There are insects 200 million years in the future, at least those have hard parts. I guess they really wanted to make monkey squids…

            Still the show is definitely a favorite of mine.

  4. I have a question regarding the longevity of mantle plumes:
    Most people do not realize that the Earth’s solid core rotates at a different speed than the rest of the planet.
    If you do a simple thought experiment, it makes sense.
    Take a ball of iron and suspend it by a beaded chain inside of a beachball that is otherwise filled with water.
    If you manually spin the beachball, the center iron ball would only accelerate a fraction of what the rest of the beachball does. However, over sufficient time, it will eventually gain speed to match that of the beachball through friction with the water and beaded chain.
    Now, touch the spinning beachball with your finger to decelerate it…so now the center iron ball is spinning faster than the beachball (as the Earth does today).
    The spinning of the iron core relative to the entire planet in turn, produces a dynamo that generates an estimated billion amps of current, which in turn creates Earths massive magnetic field and focuses plumes of heat outward in alignment with the magnetic field lines where the highest flux exists.
    Recent studies have now calculated that the Earths core rotates about once every 400 years (or about 1 degree/yr) relative to the rest of the planet (tho another recent study claims the super-rotation may be as high as 3 degrees/yr)…so jets of heat and magnetism are spewing outward which impacts the entire circumference of the mantle (at least briefly) every core-rotation.

    So, with an electrically non-homogenous object like the Earth’s core spinning at such speeds, how can a stable source of heat anywhere in the mantle remain vertically intact for tens/hundreds of millions of years? Even if the core is not physically connected to the mantle, the heat and magnetism it generates permeates throughout the overlying layers thus creating thermal differentials that can drive/inhibit convective currents of hot/cold material.
    In my mind, with a varying/unstable heat source, this should preclude a stable convective plume from sustaining indefinitely unless there is another feedback loop that keeps a plume of rising heat/magma from dissipating over time?
    And lastly to complicate things even further, we also know the crust/lithosphere also moves/floats somewhat independently from the mantle…which is another potential source of turbulence to consider that should in theory help disrupt any convective mantle plumes that’s driven by thermal imbalance(s).
    So, how can a plume can continually feed itself when the fire down below is not uniform?

    • I have seen a theory, with a lot of evidence, that Hawaii is formed from mantle at the core boundary that was created by direct chemical reaction of the outer core with subducted slabs of ocean crust. Tholeiitic basalt is also strongly reduced, it reacts with water to make hydrogen (not a lot but still) and those lava experiments done in New York actually make a lot of metallic iron, no smelting process literally it is just by melting basalt it forms a metal.

      • Is the metal liquid when it forms?
        These lava pour experiments haves fanasticaly smooth and glassy lava, because they degass the lava before pouring it by the way, Holuhraun and other basalt eruptions looks swollen and frothy and more viscous than they are, without gas it woud also be quite diffcult for any volcano to erupt


          19 minutes in 🙂

          If I had to guess, the iron in tholeiite basalt is probably in the Fe2+ state and it is possible for it to self oxidise to Fe3+. This happens in the air anyway as evident by the rusty colour the lava gets after a few months. To do that above reaction some of the iron will be reduced to the metal, disproportionation reactions and such (3 Fe 2+ = 2 Fe 3+ + Fe 0). I did see though they actually said they added iron to the crusible so maybe most or all of it in this experiment is not from the lava itself, but the above reaction should still be possible.

          • Wow so fluid and smooth that thing is!!
            Because its degassed and not swollen with gas, lava flows in nature almost never looks like that, only degassed tube lava at littoral ocean entries perhaps

            Woud be fun to see Nyiragongos rocks melted there at same temperature and see if it flows any diffirent, nyiragongo haves extraodinary low sillica content, and maybe the most fluid at any given temperatures, althrough basalts are hotter and just as low in viscosity

    • Hello Craig!

      Short answer would be yes.

      The long answer is very long, complicated, and filled with whaleloads of uncertains and unknowns.
      To even get remotely close to being able to answer we will for now have to leave the core be since there is a marked disconnect between the core and the mantle (which is in itself a spurious and uncertain “fact”).

      In other words, let us stay with the mantle, we are after all not talking about the extremely rare type that I have dubbed Core Plumes, mainly because it is doubtful that such a one can form in the current age.

      The reason that staying with the mantle is a good idea is that we do not know if mantle plumes form from the bottom, or if they form from the top. In Iceland it seems likely that it is the top-model that applies, but that may be a very rare exception (if it is true).

      Mantleplumes are definitely longlived compared to humans, but in geological terms they tend to die as teens. The rockstar life of a mantle plume is hard and fast.

      The youngest known mantle plume is Iceland at 14.4 million years, and the oldest known is the Lousville Seamount Chain that is just a tad over 90 million years old. This is based on seamount chain data.
      The African Superplume may be older, up towards 120 million years, but we can’t prove that. The Kerguelen Plume might be even older, but we have a problem finding where it is currently lurking due to lack of instrumentation in Antarctica.

      Now over to the plume being shut down by the core. Since the plume is a conveyorlike convection tube within the mantle, bringing hotter deep mantle material up, and not core material, the rapidly spinning core would not necessarily shut it off quickly (I see where you are going with this).
      It may at most affect the cyclic rate of a plume in the form of pulses inside the plume.

      Now, let us play with the pulse idea a bit. If we assume a rotational speed of 220 years we get a fit of rotation to plume pulse in Iceland. Only problem is that we do not see this frequency of pulse cycles at other plumes.

      Personally I see plumes as mostly lacking a spectacular beginning in life. Most of them are just just thermal convections as the mantle tries to reach equilibrium in temperature. Same as the thermal convection cells in the atmosphere.
      Nature is after all lazy, it uses the same idea over and over again at a surprising number of places.
      Mantle Plumes are probably just the geological version of thunder clouds, complete with anvil-like structures at the top.
      This means that in the not to distant geological future mantle plumes will die out as a phenomenon as Heat Death takes it’s terrible toll, after all heat death will sooner or later kill even the universe itself.

      • Also remeber that most of parts of a mantle plume is not molten at all, they are columns of superheated solid rock, its when they rises into the upper mantle, then they start to melt at colossal rates in some cases. Only the top of a mantle plume is molten because of decompression melting

      • Tristan Da Chuna is older than the plumes you list there

        • Also Crozet and Fernando. Iceland is debated. Some say around 60 million.

          • Problem is as usual to find data.
            In the case of Iceland, there has even been stated that it is 250 million years old.
            Problem is that nobody has produced a single shard of data supporting any other date than 14.4 – 17 MA old. For that age we have continent trajectory data and also drill samples and edge rock samples, plus obviously petrochemical development data.
            The aging of Icelands plume is about as firm as it gets, well unless someone finds an older rock obviously.

          • I think around 60 million fits very well with the Atlantic opening up and East Greenland. West Greenland doesn’t really fit. I found this paper which I like having brillant graphs:

            I wonder whether plumes were originally responsable for the starting of spreading thinking of CAMP, Afar, Réunion/Crozet/Kerguelen, Tristan/Walvis Ridge/Rio Grande Rise, Galapagos, Easter, Azores i.e.

          • There is no evidence of Iceland existing before 20 million years ago. It is a bit of a late comer. Jan Mayen may be older and the Faroer is much older. The gap between Faroer and Iceland has bene taken as evidence that the Iceland plume is young, younger than the ocean. When Iceland first formed, it was very close to Greenland. The north atlantic opened late, and slow. There may have been land connection even 30 million years ago. There was extensive volcanism during the opening. But that does not mean it was a definite plume. you can also get it from plain rifting. Rifting gives extension and pluming gives a bulge. There were a series of parallel areas of extension (e.g. the basin between Ireland and Rockall), with marine sediment, which does not point at a plume. The propagating rift from the south atlantic seems to have been the dominant player, but it took a while and it tried many detours. However, if a hot spot was involved at the time, you could do worse than look below the southern tip of Greenland: close the Atlantic, and there is a semblance of the three rifts running at 120 degrees to each other, including the one into the Labrador Sea. You can compare it to Arabia. The volcanism would have been along those rifts. In such cases, one the three rifts tends to die out or do badly (as in Ethiopia). That would have happened in the Labrador sea. More detail is in

          • Problem is just that the Atlantic opening was caused by a potential and different plume. And that plume in turn is a bit controversial since there is not even a remnant of it around, nor any direct traces in the bedrock.

            Personally I think (hypothesis), that the breakup was caused by a hotspot / or caused a hotspot to form.
            As you know all mantle plumes are hotspots, but not all hotspots are mantleplumes.

          • The Skaegaard is gabbroic, that more supports a hotspot origin than a plume origin.
            As I see it, the prolem remaining on that is if it was causation or cause in regards of the formative hotspot.
            I think we can hypothesise that it was causated by an initial continental rifting that caused melt in the upper mantle causing in turn a hotspot formation.
            It is the simplest solution, and simplicity usually win in the end.

          • That’s right, Carl. But a “hotspot” is not synonymous with a mantle plume. I do think though there might be a mantle plume. Evidence is difficult with these.

          • Dear Jesper!
            Gabbroic becomes more important when it is coming out in the form of a small flood basalt. That is killing off the plume origin in this case.

            Obviously I know about Iceland having large amounts of gabbro hanging about, but not in the plume derived unevolved magma.

          • @Deniali
            If you notice, I wrote this in my answer 🙂
            “As you know all mantle plumes are hotspots, but not all hotspots are mantleplumes.”

          • Yes Carl, you wrote that, but afterwards I read the second comment plus Jesper and forgot. Sorry 😉

          • 20 Ma is a lot, compared to Hawai’i, 1Ma, or Azores, 8Ma.
            Is this the general age to the bottom or the subarial age I’m wondering?
            There are lots of questions like: How come some islands pop up subareal in a row of volcanoes attributed to a plume, some stay submarine as a ridge (Hawai’i)?

          • Btw, Carl, 250 million years does not make the slightest sense. 250 Ma Pangaea has been constructed, and there was a huge mountain chain as huge as the Pyrenees/Alps/Turkish-Persian mountain plus Himalyas might be far in the future. Where Iceland is today there was part of this transcontinental mountain chain.
            250 Ma only would make sense if Pangaea hadn’t been as solid as assumed and if there had been an ocean in front of those mountains, at least in the east.
            It would make sense later though when Pangaea came apart.
            There was CAMP then, but CAMP was further south. And that wasn’t 250 Ma.

          • The idea is not that crazy Denali. 🙂

            Back then a completely different part of Pangea was close to where the Icelandic plume is today. A place called Siberia to be exact, or to be even more pinpointy, Talnakh Mountains near Norilsk.
            In other words, The Siberian Traps.
            Only problem is that it was not the same plume.

        • Gabbro are just coarse grained plutonic basalt, coud be thinked as a mafic granite It can be formed by any type of geological setting

          Iceland haves massive ammounts of plutonic gabbro in its Igenous crust

        • Hawaii chain is just the pacific plate that moves over the Hotspot leaving a chain of Islands

        • Yes Carl. And that might have been next to an ocean north of that mountain chain and not too far from Greenland where the extinction went on faster. All big flood basalts seem to be oceanic or next to an ocean. CAMP happened in a breaking-up Pangaea and is called Central ATLANTIC MP. Then there is NAIP. Shatsky Rise. Maybe the Ontong Java Plateau should be investigated a lot more to find out more about flood basalts. The Deccan Traps are very eroded.

      • The enormous lava flows of the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province is the largest lava flows on land since complex life began and probaly the largest Igenous land Province since Earths landmasses stabilized, CAMP is larger than Siberian Traps even. CAMP may had lava flows on a venusian scale, There are dykes that are many 1000 s of km long from CAMP with lava flows eroded away. The original pile of lava flows was 5000 kilometers wide/ long and many kilometers thick. The pile have long since been broken up by tectonics and eroded

        Souch an astronomical effusion of lava can Only be explained by a massive and unusualy hot plume head that undervent major decompression melting. CAMP s plume head was thousands of kilometers wide when it pressed against the litosphere and began to thermaly erode it

        LIP s can be tought as the handprints of large plume heads.

        The really Big Plume Mushroom balloons like these burns off in short lived Flood Basalts, like CAMP, Siberian Traps, NAIP, Franklin and Deccan Traps

        They may leave a longer lived stalk channel that last for a 100 million years, Tristan is souch stalk

        Hawaii is is a fantasticaly presistent plume.. despite it lost its plume balloon 80 million years ago. And according to the Hawaiian Swell it maybe ballooning again althrough coud be just the heat

        Hawaii been very presistant
        While most other plumes burns off in flood basalts and dies

        • Imagine, it would have been a desastre, but it was good. The continents came apart. I imagine Pangaea as a hard world with little beauty.

        • Indeed Pangea was dry and hot, and with low biodiversity in terms of habitats

          • Take care of a safe flight back though, Carl, you might change your mind concerning ideal 🙁

            Science: Severe climate made central Pangaea uninhabitable


            Few fossils. Nobody wanted to live there. Possibly snakes. They would love good old Carl for a nice meal.

            There is one of the more realistic looking maps in that piece. The maps with that solid American football in the middle are for schoolchildren. No life without some water. Pangaea is thought to have had monsoons. So what about India? You can take Jesper along and visit the Deccan Traps, and Jesper writes a beautiful piece about them :-).
            Better maybe than Kibo’s crater.

          • Unfortunately you won’t have the same ad next to the piece, too bad. I have one from Scuderia Ferrari. Just beautiful. All red. Volcanoes of the cars.

      • Thank you for the piece comparing these four island chains (map from the piece):

        • Its all due to the speed of the moving litosphere above and the strenght of the Hotspots magma production

          Cape Verde is a very weak hotspot under a very slow oceanic litosphere

          Hawaii is an immensely strong hotspot under a fast fast moving oceanic litosphere

    • That rotation is probably for the inner core. It is also seen in a slow drift of magnetic field anomalies which form in the inner part of the outer core: it forms in the liquid part of the core, not the solid inner core. The core-mantle boundary rotates at the rate of the mantle. There is another effect but I may write about that in a post

      • Looking forward to your post.

        (Still not convinced about the dating of the formation of the core 😉 )

        • Extremely interesting conversation. To Albert I would like to suggest for his piece to dare a comparison with Venus which has different volcanism and also rotation. That would be suspense.

        • No one is? The core is though to have started solidifying 2 billion years ago but a recent paper finds it is quite a bit younger. Perhaps you ca dig a bit deeper and find out? Lots of heat down there!

          • I am still stuck with a nice track that can only be explained by core material in a plume.
            No core and the age of the rock is wrong, if the age of the rock is correct then there must have been at least a proto-core with high iron content.

            The Kiruna plume walked like a core plume, and it talked like a core plume. But when is the core… Sigh…

          • But that is a different question. The core itself formed when the planet was still molten, within the first ten million years or so. It was even before the impact that formed the moon. Afterwards we had a bit of material added to the outside (called the late veneer) but the inner parts remained separated into an iron-sulphate core and a silicate mantle. The core remained liquid but the mantle was solid. The division of the core into an inner solid part and an outer liquid part happened much more recently. the inner core is now growing at something like a millimeter per year

          • Problem is then solved.
            All is well again in Plumeville, and the core plume is once more safe. 🙂

    • I noticed it, and it had a very nice depth of 3km, so it would be at the roof of the big magma reservoir, but since nothing much has happened since Wednesday I did not mention it that much. It also looked fairly brittle.

      • M3.2 at Bardarbunga and still some movement west of Ok volcano.

        • Is that near the OK Corral?
          (Sorry – I’ll get my coat…)

  5. Thanks to everyone for the thoughts on my question about the rotating Earth’s core and possible interactions with the mantle and plumes… especially all the caveats, and the ‘we don’t really know all the details’ comments. As is often the case, it is the notion of the unknown that drives science at it’s root level.
    So, in my continuing quest for more knowledge about how mantle plumes can (or do they?) persist as long as data indicates, I now have two additional thoughts:
    1. Does the mantle behave according to the laws of fluid dynamics given it’s “relatively” ductile?
    2. For the sake of argument, let’s say the mantle is molten..or at least lower viscosity. With the center of planetary gravity being at the core, wouldn’t material closer to the core rotate (i.e. “orbit”) faster than material further up in the mantle?
    I’m probably getting my science’s mixed up here, but in my mind I’m envisioning a difference/increase in apparent speed as material falls into a gravity well…and in the real world, wouldn’t that apply to the liquid outer core and the more ductile lower mantle?

    • A competely liquid mantle woud allow for very efficent and fast mantle convection, the spinn of the planet woud probaly spinn the convecting magma ocean into currents and vortexes and belts.. like jupiters storms But in molten magma.

      Earth only looked like that during the hadean era after major planetary mergers at high speeds during the planets diffrentiation. Earths partialy molten astenosphere is probaly what remains of what was Once a magma ocean.

      The real worlds solid hot mantle should behave like convecting fluid dynamics over long long timescales.
      On a global scale, and over very long timescales, Earth is a fluid, even the hard litosphere is semi Liquid on huge huge scales, althrough at smaller scales and on human timescales most of Earth is indeed a hard solid

    • 1. It is a non-newtonian fluid. you can’t swim in it
      2. The mantle has solid-body rotation. Every part goes around in the same time. Therefore the bottom goes round at a lower speed. As the plume comes up it gets more speed from the surrounding mantle.

    • I will answer 1.
      Yes it does, but it does so at an extremely slow pace.
      The Icelandic Mantleplume is moving upwards at about 1 Inch per year, or 2.5cm for us who are not imperialy confused. 🙂

      Number two I will leave to Albert to explain, I think he will do a far better job of that than me.

      • I seems to have missed that Albert already answered it.

        I do though have an addendum on 1.
        People tend to get confused by it moving like a fluid, but very slowly, and slower the higher the pressure.
        Start instead at the other end, and what it is. It is basically very hot gravel. So, imagine gravel coming down a conveyor belt, tipping over the lip, and then falling like a waterfall down into a ships cargo hold.
        In this case it behaves to all points and purposes as water. It flows easily.
        But, if you put pressure on it will move slower and slower.
        So, with more force applied it get less and less ductile. In this way it works exactly like a non-newtonian fluid, exactly like Albert said.

        • Here is another funky tidbit.

          Let us say that Jesper want to get really up and close to magma. He gets the sturdiest dive suite never made (highly hypothetical divesuit), and then dives down towards the depth towards the center of the core.

          As Jesper ends up at the center of the core he will find 3 things happening. His suit will be insanely pressured from all sides, he will find it nice and warm, and most amusingly he will find that he is completely weightless since there is no gravity.

          There is though the obvious thing, as Jesper travels downwards he will travel slower and slower since the possible speed of travel will be impaired due to the non-newtonian effect as the pressure (force) increases.

          I hope our Jesper remembered to pack a lot of burgers for the trip, otherwise he will starve on the way.

      • Indeed and What are the surface of the inner core like? More than its brigther than the sun, whats the surface like If we coud be there?

        Is it smooth, is it a forest of huge crystals, is it full of iron snow crystals freezing out from the 5500 C liquid iron above?

        In the center of the inner core its around 6100 C perhaps even more

        The larger Super Earth class terestrial exoplanets probaly haves 12 000 C cores that are completely liquid, we dont have souch planet in our solar system, Earth is the largest rock here, althrough there are rocky worlds way larger in other systems

        • I knew you would enjoy your trip to the core Jesper. 🙂

          And for your answers, not the faintest idea really. Everything would though be extremely compacted, so I do not expect fluffy crystals. More like a solid chunk of very bright ice.

        • It coud be a fluffy crystal surface snow, just under extremely high pressure, the inner core is the bottom of an ocean of liquid iron

          The inner core coud also have giant hard crystals growing upwards merging as the surface rises and the crystals join togther

          The surface coud be smooth or be a crystal forest .. we have No Idea really

  6. I just read a report about a “powerful “ explosion at Hunga Tonga volcano with a reported tsunami

    • A tsunami would be surprising, but there is an ash advisory up for 16 800 meters, 55 000 in imperial.
      Explosions can cause minor tsunamis, but unlike regular tsunamis they dissipate quickly.

    • “The eruption was about seven times more powerful than the last eruption on 20 December last year and continuing to grow, Kula said.

      Kula said people on the islands of Tongatapu, the islands of Ha’apai and Vava’u group needed to stay indoors as much as possible, wear a mask if they were outside and cover rainwater reservoirs and rainwater harvesting systems.

      Changes to seawater levels have also been detected on the south coast of Samoa as a result of this morning’s eruption.

      Ash fall had been witnessed in the islands of Ha’apai, domestic flights and were on hold at the moment as a result, Kula said.”

      Should be alright, population is quite low and scattered.

      • It will be interesting to see where this eruption goes.
        Hunga is one of those volcanoes that theoretically could have an oversized eruption in the end.

      • The tsunami did indeed turn out to be minimal as I suspected.
        It was measured as 30cm.

        In an ocean a tsunami wave originating at a point source will disperse to rapidly to be a big issue. It it instead had happened in a constricted waterway it can funnel and become a huge problem.
        This is an ample example for why a large flank collapse in let us say the Canaries would be a local problem, and not a weed whacker in the US…
        I wish more people understood this.

        • Glad you said this because I could never understand why anything else would happen.

          The indonesian one on 2004 (?) was IMHO misreported as having an epicentre, implying a point source, when in fact it was a line several hundred miles long which partially focussed the energy at india and other locations, as well as being very big because the energy over a long distance is likely to be much more than any reasonable point source,

          • Ah, I can clear that one up for you.

            Epicenter is the central point of a fault where the rupture started and henceforth propagated from. As such the term has nothing to do with a point source like we are talking about here.

            Sadly the phrase epicentre is sprinkled a bit liberally, and causes a lot of confusion.

          • I know that, its just not a very good description. If they said “500 mile epicentre centred on” that would be better in all circumstances.

          • As with so many other things it’s misapplication of an over-aimplification. For smaller events on the world scale a point and therefore a single centre is a good approximation for an earthquake. With larger events that is not true and a line is a much better representation of what is going on.

          • I agree, that is why I rarely use the term epicentre.
            It also becomes even more ridiculous if you look at a real faultplane.

      • What will be interesting is how much landscaping there will be as and when the volcano goes quiet.
        Have the volcano blown away a portion of the islands? Have the Islands expanded? Is there a new Island?

        I love volcanic Island births, they are so exciting, beautiful, and so often ephemereal. I hope we will get a new more durable Island, or that the Islands of Hunga Tonga and Hunga Ha’apai joins together into something resembling the original Island of Hunga (that has been blown away in a previous eruption that probably sized as a small VEI-6).

        • “In late December, the island now named Hunga-Tonga Hunga-Ha’apai began to erupt from a new volcanic vent. Dan Slayback, a research scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, has studied this island since its formation. “[The eruption] destroyed a large section of the 120-meter tall tephra cone left by the last eruption, and completely filled its crater lake with new material,” Slayback says, based on analysis of Planet and other satellite data. The change in the island’s appearance in only a matter of days is striking.”

          Pics under the passage showing the change.

      • Whats the magma chemistry of this volcano? Is it basaltic or is it more evolved melts?
        I guess its quite mafic/basic in compositon

      • Well. there are 75,000 people living in Tongatapu Island which is basically flat and relatively close to the volcano, probably within range of dangerous tsunamis if it went really big. Although I think Tongatapu is safe it would be best for them to be alert.

  7. Thank you Denali for the link above.

    That is quite a lot of landscaping that have been done already.
    What I find interesting in this picture is that you can clearly see ringfaulting occuring to the left of the steaming vent.
    I bet that we will find a big hole at that exact spot when we get a new picture after the current eruptive event.

    • For the time being at least we seem to have lost two islands (Hunga Tonga and Hunga Ha’apai) and instead gained the combined and more well endowed Hunga.

    • Soon it will go effusive If it keeps going, looking like Anak Krakatau with massive ashy lava fountains and flowing rubbly lava if the andesite is hot enough. Or it coud be Viscous and gas rich enough To just continue to produce ash even after the water interaction is gone.

    • Where’s the ring-faulting? Must need new specs as all I can see is the remains of another crater.

  8. Found an interesting piece – I believe – about ‘hotspot’ motion and the movement of the Pacific plate, concerning the Hawaian and Emperor chains.
    “If the Pacific plate underwent a sudden directional change at ∼47 Ma—from a nearly northward direction (parallel to the Emperor Chain) to a north-westerly direction (corresponding to the Hawaiian Chain, attendant tectonic events along the margins of its neighbouring plates should be expected. According to Norton , however, evidence for circum-Pacific tectonic events at the time of the bend formation is lacking, and hence the bend must rather reflect the motion of a non-stationary hotspot. In the decades since, this issue has remained unresolved, and continues to be vigorously debated.”

    • From the conclusion:
      “After more than two decades debating hotspot drift versus Pacific plate motion change to explain the HEB, we must realize that neither of these two end-member options is able to accurately reproduce the geometry and age progression of the Hawaiian-Emperor Chain. While the change in the direction of the Pacific plate motion is required to account for the geometry of the bend, the more than 2,000-km-long stretch of the Emperor Seamounts would not have been created had the Hawaiian hotspot not drifted southward from Late Cretaceous to middle Eocene time.

      If we accept that, we can stop going in circles and move forward, focusing new research on understanding the processes that resulted in the change in the direction of the Pacific plate motion at around 47 Ma, which we conclude is a prerequisite for explaining the formation of the HEB. The directional change at ∼47 Ma demands plate reorganizations and tectonic events in the Pacific realm, but the causes and mechanism(s) for these events are still unknown. Many of the Early Cenozoic components of the Pacific have since been subducted, accreted or otherwise modified, and the former plate geometries are often speculative. Nevertheless, the continental margins along the Pacific still carry piecemeal geologic evidence that along with seismic tomography can be used to improve existing reconstructions, and ultimately answer the question of what drove the Pacific plate motion to change at ∼47 Ma.”

      • One possibility is that the change in motion was caused by the inception of subduction in the Mariana-Izu-Bonin Arc, which started about 50 million years ago, at the time of the bend more or less. This is a very big and highly active subduction zone, so it is reasonable it would have had such an impact, particularly considering it has underwent substantial rollback. It would have increased the slab pull from the west side of the Pacific rotating the direction of the Pacific Plate more towards the west.

        • Very interesting idea. And the plate just sort of drops into those deep trenches at a very steep angle. So it is a very special subduction there. Thank you for the link, Héctor. Will read later.

    • The Hawaiian Plume is stationary the mantle is mostly solid, and it woud take very long time, for it to move around in the mantle and heat the rocks to 600 C above normal astenosphere temperatures

      Its the plates above that have moved and causes the bend, its changes in the pacific spreading zone that caused that Bend in the Hawaiian seamount chain

      • Actually it has moved a bit, Emperor seamounts were formed further north than where Hawaii is now. Has moved about 10 degrees south since about 60 million years ago.

      • Its the plate That moved and changed spreading direction at the oceanic ridge

        If you moved the Hawaii hotspot To a new location, it woud take a long time to heat things up. The seafloor is moving slow enough to allow for gradual heating, but its a very powerful plume too.

        I wonder If the Hawaiian Plume woud be able to pierce through the Scandian Craton But probaly not

        • No I mean the actual seamounts were formed at a higher latitude when they were active, Hawaii is at about 20 degrees north while a lot of the Emperor seamounts (maybe all of them I will have to find the source) were formed at 30 degrees north or more, the hotspot has moved south even if most of the trend is from plate shift.

  9. “attendant tectonic events along the margins of its neighbouring plates should be expected”

    This is the contested part really. Would there by necessity be such effects? After all, we are talking about a large scale tectonic shift.
    I am not having any opinion on this nonewhatsoever, but a mantleplume can’t move at that speed, it is impossible as such due to pressure restrictions on speed (as discussed up above).

    It was an interesting idea back then, but today we do know that there was such a tectonic shift at around that time.

    • The best way to change the movement of a plate is by changing the subduction zones. A new subduction may form, and an old one may die. The second best way is to break the plate and create a new spreading zone within it. A transform fault may also do the trick. But plates do not change direction by themselves.

        • Learned something, so, thank you. To me the term “Coast Range” referred to the western-most mountains of California, Oregon, maybe as far north as the Olympic penninsula of Washington. None of these mountains are volcanic in nature as far as I know.

          Quite the generic term, Coast Range.

        • That arc is from subduction underneath the insular superterrane. The accretionary wedge from that subduction was moved north and is now in Alaska as the Chugach terrane.

          The plate boundary location that Wikipedia has 74 to 64 Ma is WAY too far south. It also takes no account of the near-trench magma age progression along the Alaskan coast through the Chugach terrane.

        • The Coast Range Arc is supposed to have formed on Stikinia, an old (from Paleozoic to Mesosoic) oceanic terrane (like Wrangellia):

          But this was more about the Farallon Plate:
          “One of the major events during the Coast Range Arc was about 85 million years ago when a huge rift developed near the center of the oceanic Farallon Plate. This rifting event created the oceanic Kula Plate:

          Some geologists believe some fundamental change in convection within the Earth’s mantle caused the rifting event, while others believe the huge oceanic plate became mechanically unstable as it continued to subduct beneath the Pacific Northwest.The Kula Plate once again continued to subduct beneath the continental margin, supporting the Coast Range Arc.

          • Next try, pic 1:

            Stikinia blue

            Next try, pic 2:

            Farallon and Kula

      • On the physics.
        Years ago it was considered that upwelling hot magma from spreading zones (eg MAR) powered continental drift. I could never see how such a small motive force could do the job. Then we found out about plunging slabs and it was immediately clear that these were pulling continents along as they fell. A dirty great chunk of cold dense rock many hundreds of miles wide, deep and tens of km thick is energetically something else, and can be seen in miniature on lava (and molten mental) pools near you.
        I can see another possible mechanism which may have enough energy and that is a substantial dome in the centre of many/all continents. Some due to collected melted slabs, others perhaps just caused by the thermal insulation of a vast cap of crust. The crust is thus sloping down (admittedly at a modest slope) putting the centre in tension. To actually break think continental lithosphere probably requires some extra assistance though.
        Plumes really require more knowledge of spherical 3D hydrodynamics of very viscous fluids than we currently have because some work on this done I think with levitated hot metal and the results were partly unexpected.

        • Gravity has an effect. It acts on the 4 km height difference between the mid-oceanic ridge (2 k below sea level) and the old oceanic crust (6 km down), offset by the water in the ocean. In my recollection it contributes something like 10% to the total driving force. The biggest uncertainty is actually the viscosity of the astenosphere.

        • Convective currents is that moves the litosphere as well as the half molten lubricanting astenosphere that the litosphere slides on

          Without a shallow astenosphere, tectonics woud be very difficult

  10. Hawaii is a very very very powerful hotspot
    Very intense and focused and high in thermal input. What woud happen If the Hawaiian Plume was placed under Malmö in South Sweden? I imagines that the land woud boulge as the Hotspot pushes up the litosphere

    The end result woud be apocalyptic?

    • I do think the Campi Flegrei are just enough for Europe. Yes, apocalyptic scenarios are not unimaginable. Totally plumeless.

  11. It could be possible that a combo of effects took place that formed the Icelandic hotspot. It could be that those plates, with their remaining water and a conveniently placed mid-ocean ridge that made it possible. The released water then flux-melted the part of the mantle, causing an effect where, again, with the mid-oceanic ridge, the nagma easily rises. Melt production in said ridge is so high it eventually birthed Iceland. Over time, however, as the plates begin to sink and lose more water, the vacuum effect accelerates and goes deeper, allowing more magma to rise… but less so with flux melt and more with the thermal brought up by this so-called “Icelandic mantle vacuum”. This is all speculative but that is what I think happened to form Iceland.

  12. This is about the birth of Hunga, a little bit also about Surtsey and atiny bit about Mars, accompanied by Dr. Goddard, NASA:

  13. Completely unable to find an eruption date for the central volcano of Maug islands, can’t find any research at all concerning volcanism here. Dug out an archaeological paper which might be interesting for Albert concerning famous mystery eruptions. It says that Pagan, Mariana Islands, was probably inhabited before the Europeans (Maghalaes) discovered it:

  14. In other news.
    I am spending my friday evening stitching.
    I fervently remember how much I hate stitching.
    I also suck at stitching.

    End of my friday bulletin.

    • Carl, as long as you are not ‘stitching someone up’ all will be well. If you get the point? Just take one stitch at a time. Oops off the thread a little there. 😉

      • I would leave the stitching up to the surgeon in the family…

        • You didn’t accidentally stitch up the Fagradalsfjall rift, did you?

  15. I loves Iceland, Almost just as much as I love Hawaii, I wants the whole Iceland To be miiine!!

    When I invades Iceland with my trillion strong antartic army of Gene modifyed giant pengiun soilders basicaly Urk Pengs / Pengzilla I will overthrow their goverment and install myself as dictator over Iceland and everything will be mine. I will force the Icelanders to build me a obsidian ziggurat like palace at Heklas summit.

    The future for Iceland is billions of slowly waddling pengiun feet and my shouting, : D cannot wait to be servers by my own emperor pengiun servants at my Office cabinent. Since Carl works with buisness, he will be installed as finance minister / minister of armaments

    BTW they are breed in the caves of Mount Erebus born out the ground, our human genetic experts are working on tampering with the genes that controlls the emperors growth size to create super sized pengiun troopers.

    Fridays sillyness:. Im as dumb as its possible to be 😆

    A planned pengiun invasion of Kilaūea – Big Island is also on the table

    I have very odd daydreams How I will one day move to Iceland and the volcanoes I like 🇮🇸 enjoy

    • I thought you can live in Iceland because you already live in Sweden? No need for invasion 🙂

  16. Not sure about what has happened there in the last few days, but this is how far lava from the ongoing eruption at Wolf has flowed as of January 11. I expect if the eruption didnt stop that the lava has already long since reached the ocean by now.

    Looks like this might actually be quite a big eruption, it is a lot bigger than most of the other obvius lava flows in the area.
    I also find it interesting that of the 3 volcanoes in the above picture only Wolf has erupted in the last 200 years and has been quite productive, but yet it is also the one with the least covering in young lava flows… Eruptions at Darwin or Equador must be of quite impressive scale I imagine, to be that extensive at such low frequency. Or maybe Wolf and Darwin alternate with each other, with a recent transition.

  17. Some of the videos of the tsunami hitting Tonga are really bad.

    • Only American Samoa?
      Samoa north-west doesn’t seem to have any tsunamis.

    • Looks like an extremely intense eruption in satelite imagery, more intense than Grimsvötn 2011 the Islands are being blown towards Saturn

      An eruptions volume says nothing about its intensity….

  18. Based on everything but unverified, i think this is VEI 6, somewhere inbetween Pinatubo and Krakatoa. Unless the water vapor makes it look worse than it is? Noise is heard very far away. And Krakatoa had more eruptions aside of it’s destructive one and those other eruptions were pretty bad. Hunga probably was at this point already before this night VEI4.

    Seems at the very least VEI 5, but i think VEI 6 could be the case? Around or above Pinatubo? It’s hard to compare because Pinatubo’s eruption was partially hidden by a cyclone during it’s climatic event.

    Also, i hope everyone is safe. Really hope so.

    • I’ve read twitter comments saying VEI 4 and others even suggesting VEI 7. Many people on Twitter compare it with Krakatoa now (due to the similar noise). But i think 4 is an underestimation and VEI 7 overestimation. Eruption also isn’t over who knows what might happen next. Krakatoa was high end VEI 6 so VEI 7 seems extremely unlikely and sensational claims. Likely VEI 5 or the first VEI 6 of this century, maybe around or above Pinatubo but might also overestimate it myself.

      • Here is where VEI doesnt work well. It measures volume of tephra, that is it. Problem is a lot of really huge eruptions dont make tephra and some small eruptions are a colossal bang. This is probably well under a VEI 5 in volume even from earlier activity, but the force of the explosion is probably comparable to a 6, and likely the biggest yet observed in the 21st century. if we are going on volume and volume only, then Pu’u O’o is by far the biggest eruption this century, with almost 3 km3. Obviously though this isnt really an appropriate measuring stick.

        I think though this has got very real potential to get over a 5, if it keeps going…

    • How is VEI calculated if a bunch of the eruption is underwater?

    • Its perhaps not even a VEI 4

      But its a very very very intense eruption, insanely intense

      Volume is not same as intensity 🙂

      Chicxulub was a borderline VEI 10 in just a few seconds 🙂

      • so it seems like we need a new measurement scale, one that distinguishes intensity vs. volume

      • A VEI 5 phase that takes weeks to do, is very diffrent than a VEI 5 thats done in an hour or two …

        Indeed volume and intensity is not the same

        • So we need a rate scale that is based on volume per unit of time.

        • VEI is best used on fast instant eruptions like Kelut 2014

        • The VEI scale was intended for brief explosions. It is based on several aspects, one of which is tephra (not lava) volume. The others include height of the column. Nowadays we use it purely on volume, but that wasn’t the original design

        • Or a VEI 5 that is done in a few minutes or less. That can happen too but its difficult to to know of course. Some of the explosions of Krakatau 1883 were probably VEI-5 events which occurred in a very short period of time.

          I agree that this is a very powerful phreatomagmatic blast, probably from a VEI 4 eruption. A VEI 6 would require the caldera to collapse and that seems highly unlikely to have happened.

      • Perhaps not even a VEI 4: Sane comment, Jesper, about the opposite of Tw bird cries.

    • I think this is VEI-5 max, maybe lower. I doubt there will be much more than a cubic kilometer of eruptive material. The intensity is caused by magma-water interaction, possibly with water hitting the magma chamber.

  19. I’m waiting for this:
    “I bet that we will find a big hole at that exact spot when we get a new picture after the current eruptive event.” By Carl.
    I bet he’s right, but that’s easy now.

    • Thinking of Taal might help more than a comparison with Krakatau. My guess after Carl’s observance of that rim right next to the smoke.

  20. About six hours ago:
    “People on all islands in Tonga are advised to stay out of the water and away from the coast.
    There are no warnings in place for Fiji, Samoa or New Zealand.
    The maximum tsunami wave has been recorded in Nuku’alofa tide gauge at 12:30pm and was about 30cm and the fluctuation of the sea level is currently observed.”

    Now it’s in the middle of the night there.

  21. I tried to compare the scale with my country Belgium (also for Americans, it roughly fits the size of New Mexico currently). First image is size of Belgium (it’s around 30.600 km²), second is Tonga’s ash cloud at night (last image, which is around 220.000 km²) and the latest image is the latest day image with a size of 150.000 km²

  22. Naah, compare it with St. Helens

    Ash cloud pasted on Washington, Oregon

    Video of St. Helens eruption on satellite

    St. Helens was VEI 5 and it was mainly the climactic eruption.

    I feel like it is almost impossible for this eruption of Tonga to be less than a VEI 5, unless i’m missing something. Pinatubo and Santorini in the link Denali sent me were preceded by phreatomagmatic eruptions. Tonga did as well in december and yesterday too. But i’m not sure if today is. It seems to be part is ash. And how can it generate such violence and such a pancake column.

    • This is very nice, but doesn’t work. Comparing the flank collapse of a nearly 10.000 feet high mountain of the Cascades to a probably phreatomagmatic eruption of a small and new oceanic volcano doesn’t function.
      You might have had an ash cloud like this in Seveso or Los Alamos for that matter. An ashcloud says only that something exploded, but nothing about the mechanism underneath. This will be evident in five to six hours if it isn’t too cloudy.

    • The island was not large. It was probably a VEI 5. But to get to that size, there should now be a deep hole where the island used to be. Carl noticed the ring fault yesterday. My guess would be that there was a collapse, to below sea level, water got in and the scene was set. A flank fissure could have done the same. The question is now: is the hole 500 meters wide? (VEI 4). 1 kilometer? (VEI 5) 3 kilometer? (VEI 6). You would expect it be half as deep as wide.

      • So, can you figure out at all what Maug did at whatever time? I guess the depth wouldn’t count due to sediment.

        Maug Island(s): There is now an estimated 2 km distance between the three island rims that are of course eroded.

        • Any volcano at sea level is risky. And it does not even have to be near the sea: as long as water can get near the conduit, there is trouble. The Laacher see was a bigger explosion than this one. The width of the maar is a good indicator of the size of the explosion. But the rock is also important. Krakatau exploded into solid rock. So did Pinatubo. This one exploded into loose tephra, which is what build the island. That gives more ash per Joule, because the explosion does not need to fragment the rock, but less ash per km3.

    • That is Impressive! The ash shield is as large as a large MCS storm,
      But the anvil shields from large VEI 8 plinians can cover entire countries
      Here is Tobas Ash shield ..

      Althrough the Hunga ash shield is mostly a pyrocumulus cloud With water Ice crystals in it


    • Wise. It will be a sunny day in the middle of summer, and people take to the islands and the reef, sometimes in small boats.

  23. This was an amazing ash cloud:


    Soufrière St.Vincent 2021, picture from NASA.
    VEI 4.

    • That is an ash cloud that had days to build up. Just wait a while and this one will cover an enormous area.

  24. Judging from a satelite video I saw showing how the shockwave propagated, the columnal inversion rebound, and what was likely to be a base surge, I lamp this as a medium VEI-5 to a very small VEI-6.
    It meters if you compare the imagery to similar for Kelud. This was much bigger and even more violent.

      • That might be sad, but right, unfortunately. really waiting for some pics in a few hours.

        • I am just happy that the place was uninhabited.
          The relatively small tsunami should not be a problem for the next island over residents.
          The explosion must have been fairly massive to even cause this tsunami.

          • It is still there, it is active with nice fumaroles, but the eruption is right now not going.
            By now it is so big and armoured with lava that it will remain for millennia.

      • It was great that you saw the ring fault yesterday and made a prognosis for a hole at least. I’m impressed.

        • I have been doing this for more than a decade now… So, volcanoes tend to do as I suggest. 😉

          • I have been reading this for about two years and tend to believe you.

    • Just saw some pressure data from New Zealand.
      Hunga Nomore just did a Krakatau on us.

        • Hunga Anak will probably be born in a century or so, and then blow away in turn.

          • That’s why we WILL have eternal life. It can’t be that we cannot see that. Mind: Henrik is seeing it too, with my theory.

      • Meaning a VEI-6 larger than the 1991 Pinatubo eruption? Apx. like Krakatau? WOW! A century event. This will affect foodprices a lot if we have more than a 0,5 deg. C. cooling for the coming 2-3 years from this.

        My thesis does not seem weaker from this event.

        • The cooling depends on the amount of SO2.

          I think we will have to wait a day or two before we know the extent of the eruption.
          Remember that Pinatubo was a small VEI-6, so it does not say a lot really.

          • I totally agree. This is the wow-what-is-happening-phase. With the data just starting to come in. We need the data. Then conclude.

            But since you brought up Krakatau it gave apx. 1,2 deg. C. cooling the year after, and cooler than normal untill 1888.

          • Krakatau actually had a limited effect on global temperatures for its size, possibly because it was quit sulphur poor. Global temperatures dropped by 0.4C, but for instance Europe had two warm winters following the eruption. For comparison. Pinatubo (same size as Krakatau, but more sulphur-rich) managed to shave 0.6 C of global temperatures.

        • Most likely smaller than Pinatubo. We have to wait but I expect it was a VEI 5. As for global temperatures, even 0.5C reduction would not take us back to pre-warming days. It is easy to forget how much warming there has been since 1980. And this volcano is quite far south, so any sulphate would have difficulty crossing the equator. It will mainly affect the southern hemisphere. I don’t know how much sulphur there is in this volcano. If there is, the sunsets in the southern hemisphere could be quite spectacular for the next weeks or months. Perhaps even blue suns!

          • I will keep watch for any blue sunsets. I didnt really notice it at the time but the sunsets after Puyehue/Cordon Caulle in 2011 were very pretty 🙂

          • Except that Cordon-Caule was to small to have any significant effect.

          • Andesitic volcanoes tend to affect due to high stratospheric input don’t they? I remember debating whether or not the 1808 eruption came from a similar location in the Tonga/Vanuata arc.

          • 1808 could very well be when the Hunga Island had its previous caldera event. That one was a VEI-5.

    • I think that the eruption is most likely over if it went Krakatau.
      With the lid gone the sea water dropped into the magma reservoir and blew out. So the reservoir is most likely gone.

  25. Ash seems according to this tweet to have reached the Lau islands in Fiji (i don’t know how far away this is from the volcano.

    • I calculated it. 350 km’s further away or 210 miles. (on the image where you can read Nukuni)

  26. Just catching up on the news. That was one heck of a bang. The BBC news have a satellite video of it.

    • Its probaly more humid condensation than a real ashcloud, most of the cloud is a big pyrocumulus with lots of Ice in it. This is a pheratoplinian eruption, wet and steamy, similar to an oversized Grimsvötn eruption.
      There maybe even snowfall and hail inside it

      Of course There is ash too inside

      • Would make sense, the ash is wet and probably not that hot in the end, so probably isnt going to rise far into the atmosphere like it would from an eruption on land. Krakatau was probably similar, its colossal plume was mostly likely water vapour with only some ash, though it was powerful enough to get it into the upper atmosphere anyway.

    • I think it is two explosions. The third one is I think the second explosion hitting the temperature inversion

      • Might be.
        I am waiting for access to NZ infrasonic data.

        Edit: It was 3 explosions according to data.

      • The dude that caught the sound in a video was almost blown off his feet.
        He staggered a couple of steps backwards.


    • Good morning!
      After pestilence and war we now have big eruption.
      2022, the year that is really bountiful.

  28. This eruption should be taken very seriously, I doubt these past explosions were the climax, and it wouldn’t be a shock to see large escalations.

    • I think that is incredibly unlikely.
      This was most likely the magma reservoir blowing out completely as water interacted with the magma chamber. There is then nothing left to go boom down there.

      • I don’t know. The volcano is mostly submerged so I am not confident that this is a small volcano, it only began erupting 109 years ago, and both islands are part of a caldera that looks to be around 5-6 km wide. A VEI 6 isn’t out of the question in my opinion.

        • First recorded eruption was 109 years ago, that is not the same as first eruption.
          It is another case of first white dude around history thingy…

          • I am about to get to bed after working all night and if I find that that this volcano has produced an even larger eruption after I wake up, I am going to be pissed and happy simultaneously.

        • Someone claimed here on VC that the volcano blew in 1108. It was said that the volcano between 1040 and 1180 and that it could correspond with an unknown tropical eruption in 1108 that left a footmark in Antarctica.

          I don’t know who said it.

      • I am 4200 km away, didnt hear it though there is a tsunami alert (probably nothing to come of it though).

        So it is at least not twice as big as Krakatau 🙂

        • Kraktau was heard up to 4,800 km away.

          But can distance the bang was heard be a reliable indicator? Air currents would affect how the sound travelled.

  29. This japanese article compares today’s event with Pinatubo (at least acc to the director (Setsuya Nakuta) of Volcanic Research Promotion Center of the National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention (volcanic geology).

    You have to translate the article to read it

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