Living Dangerously – Grimsvötn Forecasted

Grimsvötn 2011 eruption. Photograph from Reuters.

In August of 2017 Albert and I stuck our necks out on a limb and made a forecast each of what the future pattern of Grimsvötn was most likely to be. Or in other words, when would it erupt next.

As I reread our two separate forecasts, I am struck by how different methodologies we employed. Both versions are deeply entrenched in historic data and science. The data employed was obviously the same, and still our different methodologies gave us slightly different results.

I ended up with the most likely time being between December 2018 and December 2019. Albert got a best fit for 2021.

We wrote our parts as a very friendly competition against each other, but perhaps our real antagonist is nature itself. Foremost it was, and is, an exercise in showing that it is indeed possible to forecast upcoming eruptions to a fair degree. Obviously, it is not possible for all volcanoes, but for those that have regular eruptions, and that are showing clear signs, it is possible.

As we revisit the volcano more than a year later, we once more pit our wits against a sea of data to wrangle out the elusive fish of a Grimsvötn eruption.

Since I haven’t read Alberts part as I write this, I will make another forecast. Albert will employ mathematics as his main tool, and I will try once more to find signs of pressure increase factors in GPS and Cumulative Seismic Moment data in the area of Grimsvötn.

Who will be right? Me? Albert? Or the pesky nature of a volcano? The game is on, but I know that both me and Albert would love to win in an ever so friendly way.

Albert, should we bet the first round of beers? Problem is just how we bill Grimsvötn if it throws us something unexpected.


Longterm trend of M0.8 earthquakes at Grimsvötn running from the 2011 runup to today. Image by the Icelandic Met Office.

There are two things that have been the same for the eruptions of 1996, 1998, 2004 and 2011. The first of those are that the pressure increase as shown in the Cumulative Seismic Moment (earthquake energy release) is surprisingly consistent, and the same goes for the GPS-data showing inflation.

This is caused by two factors. One is that Grimsvötn has the highest known sustained influx of magma into the system of any volcano on the planet. The influx ratio is staggering, between 0.5 and 0.8 cubic kilometres per year.

That is roughly 4 times more than the combined input of all Hawaiian volcanoes, and a whopping 10 times larger than the most productive supervolcanic system, Uturunku. Obviously Grimsvötn is not a supervolcano, it is not even a supererupter by the common definitions.

Still it has produced more ash and tephra than any other volcano on the planet in the last 12 000 years. It has also produced prodigious amounts of lava in the form of distal systematic eruptions in its two-pronged southern fissure swarm, around 30 cubic kilometres or so of erupted lava.

The reason behind the almost ridiculous numbers are that the highly elongated system of Grimsvötn take up more than half of the tectonic spreading in Iceland. Or in other words, the bulk of the lava is back-filling the spread at depth, what we see erupting is just the over-spill.

The amount of over-spill is though on a mammoth scale. If we combine the 150 cubic kilometres of the Saksunarvatn Tephras, The 30 cubic kilometres effused in the 3 known rifting fissure eruptions, 10 km Skaftár Fires ash, and all the other central volcano eruptions throughout 12 000 years, we end up with a conservative number of 250 cubic kilometres of total ejecta.

That equates to an average of a VEI-3 eruption every single year since the end of the last glaciation. Not bad for an over-spill, not bad at all.

The deep magma reservoir is open-ended downwards to the mantle, explaining the very small number of deep earthquakes. This deep reservoir can be visualized as the over-turned hull of a sailing boat.

The hull’s stern is situated about 20 kilometres NNE of the Grimsvötn volcano, roughly at a spot of intriguing deep earthquake activity that we have named Greip since it may be a formative central volcano.

The hull then continues for 120 kilometres SSW, continuously tapering off until it dies out around where the Skaftár Fires erupted.

The central volcanoes of Vatnajökul. Danish map in my private collection.

From this hull-shaped reservoir conduits go upwards into the central-volcanoes above, these are from north to south, Grimsvötn, Háabunga, Geirvörtur, Thordharyrna, Hágöngur and Eldgigur. In a sense of it Grimsvötn is the deep reservoir, with all these central volcanoes being sideshow Bobs.

And what glorious sideshow Bobs they are. Not counting Grimsvötn we have the serial VEI-4 volcano of Thordharyrna and the enigmatic Hágöngur responsible for the 536 VEI-6 that had a very serious impact on the climate (Katla topped it off in 540 with another big VEI-5). But that is something for a rainy day to write about.

The pertinent point is that at least Grimsvötn has open conduits from it’s deep 500 cubic kilometre reservoir up to 3 upper reservoirs in the central volcano.

It would be simple to believe that these reservoirs are situated under the 3 intersecting calderas that create the Mickey Mouse shaped caldera-system. This is though wrong, since only 2 out of the 3 calderas have a current chamber.

Map of Grimsvötn caldera with the pertinent magma reservoirs and features marked out in a rough position by me.

The North-west caldera (1) has a reservoir running up towards Gjálp (where the Gjálp lava originated), the central caldera (2) has the most active chamber responsible for the 1998, 2004 and 2011 eruptions.

The third reservoir (3) lies SSW of GFUM GPS-station in the direction of Háabunga, but it is clearly separated from the magma-chamber of that volcano as evidenced in earthquake data.

And here comes a bit of a conundrum, because the pattern has changed at Grimsvötn. And we will need to go through what that is.


The Holuhraun eruption. Photograph from Iceland Naturally.

Having several large volcanoes in close quarters has it’s effects. Especially since Bárdarbunga and Grimsvötn are the two largest volcanoes of their type on the planet.

Gjálp and Holuhraun showed the effects of this amply. In the first case a large earthquake at Bárdarbunga caused a pressure differential at the North-west magma reservoir of Grimsvötn that ripped it open in a fissure eruption.

In the second case the magma moving out of Bárdarbunga bounced against the pressure of the northern end of Grimsvötns deep magma reservoir and turned north.

Now it is analogy time. Imagine that you have two balloons. These are a bit of special balloons since both balloons are constantly being inflated until a valve brakes and a bit of air goes out. If the balloons are in different parts of a room, they will not affect each other in any meaningful way.

But if you push the two balloons hard against each other things will rapidly become interesting. In the real world there are several balloons massaging each other, and the names of the balloons are Gjálp, Grimsvötn, Háabunga and their common deep reservoir, they in turn massage (and get massaged by) Kistufell, Bárdarbunga and Hamarinn.

Longterm GPS-plot (plate-detrended) showing data from the just after the 2004 eruption, up to today. Notice the combined uplift since 2011, it is 50 centimetres. The Holuhraun effect is clear. Image by the Icelandic Met Office.

During the 1996 eruption of Gjálp the highest pressure in all of these was inside the Gjálp reservoir of Grimsvötn. As the relatively low-pressure volcano of Bárdarbunga suffered that large non-double-couple non-volumetric-change earthquake it lowered the pressure in Bárdarbunga creating the possibility for the Gjálp reservoir to rapidly expand, this in turn opened up the fissure nearby and general squirting ensued.

After 2011 all the reservoirs at Grimsvötn was relatively low pressure, but Bárdarbunga was medium-pressure and an oddball turned out to be high pressured. As magma pushed up from depth into Kistufell that volcano burst sideways towards Bárdarbunga, creating an extra-volcanical dyke running straight into Bárdarbunga insta-flipping it from a medium-pressure volcano into a high-pressure system, Bárdarbunga then cracked, and a new dyke ran off towards Greip at the northern end of the Grimsvötn deep reservoir, there it either connected, or rebounded, and went towards Holuhraun.

Not only did this magmatic pinball machine create a spectacular eruption, it also had grave consequences for the timing of the next Grimsvötn eruption.

As the balloons of Kistufell and Bárdarbunga erupted they lost pressure and shrunk, quite a bit. As they did that, they squeezed Grimsvötns magma chambers less and less. This meant that the Grimsvötn reservoirs could expand in the direction of the two deflating central volcanoes ever so slightly. This expansion lowered the systemic pressures of the magma chambers at Grimsvötn.

This stopped the build-up towards the next Grimsvötn-eruption dead in its tracks, or at least created a 2 year long hiatus in pressure build up as Grimsvötn took up half of the work of refilling the 2 cubic kilometres erupted out of Holuhraun from a pressure standpoint.

On this plate-detrended GPS-plot we can clearly see the point where the pressure returned to full and rapid inflation sets in. That puts the point of no return for the upcoming eruption to July. Image by the Icelandic Met Office.

99.9 percent of all volcanoes on the planet would by now have been out of commission for a century or more while doing the refilling, for Grimsvötn it took less than a volcanic heartbeat since it’s the grandmaster of magmatic influx.

In July the pressure reshuffling was finished as pressure had gone up in both Grimsvötn and Bárdarbunga to create a return to the normal hug-and-squeeze-fest between them.

But before we go there we have to talk about another profound effect that Holuhraun had on Grimsvötn. Prior to the 2014 eruption it was the central magma chamber that was inflating in the normal fashion, and we where heading for an almost certain repeat of 1998, 2004 and 2011.

But as the pressure fell in that chamber something unexpected occurred. The Nunatak upon which GFUM GPS is situated started to go up and being pushed to the north-east. This indicated strongly that it was the magma reservoir directly south-west of the station that was inflating. This was also evidenced by earthquake data.

Now it is time to see what has happened in the last half year, and what the effects will be upon my August 2017 forecast.

Grimsvötn revisited

We can safely say that pressure was fully restored in the systems as of early July 2018, at that moment a period of uplift started that so far has raised GFUM 10 centimetres in less than half a year. Total northward motion is 3.5 centimetres, and the maximum east motion was 3 centimetres.

If we just look at those numbers, it would be easy to assume that the next eruption would be south-west of the station. But it is not as easy as that.

Because a month ago the central upper magma chamber caught up and started to affect things quite a bit. The northward trajectory stopped dead in its tracks, and eastward motion reversed completely, and the poor GPS moved a centimetre west in under a month.

Currently, it is impossible to say which of these two magma chambers will take care of the eruption. It does though seem like the central chamber is the stronger of the two and should therefore be most likely to erupt.

On the other hand, those two could be connected and the eruption could utilize the magma from both for the upcoming eruption.

If the eruption would emanate from the southern and less well-known chamber there is a slight possibility that the chamber roof could fail if the ensuing eruption is large enough, and Grimsvötn is quite good at landscaping at times. One should though remember that it is a highly uncommon thing.

Cumulative Seismic Moment

The all important CSM-plote. Note how the earthquake energy release started to go up steeply as the pressure grew to large. Image by the Icelandic Met Office.

As the pressure increased between the systems the inflation and pressure started to increase rapidly, and it came as no surprise that the amount of energy released by earthquakes started to increase rapidly.

From having had the flattest trajectory ever recorded, the CSM-plot roared back with a vengeance as can be seen on the image above.

If the new trajectory would hold true, we could indeed have that December 2018 eruption, but it is more probably that it will return to a trajectory closer to 2004, and that would mean that an eruption would occur somewhere between April and July 2019. If the trajectory calms down into the 2011 version, we would see an eruption at the end of 2019.

I am here using the assumption that the necessary CSM-value should be between 3 and 4.5, that might be a bit off, but I do not think by that much since we have never seen anything pointing towards that.

Obviously, the trajectory could turn into something flatter than I envisioned above, if so the eruption would come at a later date more along what Albert originally deduced mathematically. And, obviously there could come a large prolonged swarm taking care of things within days or weeks, if so, it would cut the time short with a vengeance.


In the end I find that I do not need to change my original forecast that much given the data at hand. I think that December 2018 might be a bit optimistic, but at the going rate anywhere between April and December 2019 seems to be a good bet for a bit of volcanic tourism for those of the ashy persuasion.

Next week we will have Alberts version. And I for one am highly curious where the mathematical approach will lead. Upwards and erupwards I am sure!



209 thoughts on “Living Dangerously – Grimsvötn Forecasted

  1. Grimsvötn is as you say… likley open all way down into the hotspot partial melting zone
    Thats a good setup for possible lava lakes, and with a supply of 0,5 to 0,8km3 every year.

    Grimsvötn eruptions rarely go beyond the Glacial Pheratomagmatic surtseyan phases before stopping.
    If the 2011 s event have continued it woud have formed a tephra island in the meltwater lake and water and magma wont mix anymore. The lava flows and fountains woud emerge from the vent.

  2. I hopes Stinkvötn dont stop my flight to Hawaii in 4 weeks.
    I dont want ashy skies on december 15, I dont want to become stranded and unable to meet John
    I hopes Grimsvotn stays quiet for a few months more.
    But when I comes home again to Scandinavia, I wants that 500km3 resovair to leak out in the Dead Zone

    • No, you do not want that.

      That would cause a lot of casualties. Why do you wish for such a scenario?

      Why wishing for the harm of another indirectly?

      Maybe one day you will experience the mighty of one eruption near you and will begin to respect these sort of natural phenomena!

      • Yeah. Jesper you need to perhaps not get too carried away! I would rather have the Dead Zone magically go suddenly extinct. The prospect of another Laki is slightly unnerving!

        • Build me a timemachine is better : )
          let me visit Siberian Traps and pre – Opening of the Atlantic
          that totalty dwarf Zombie Zone eruptions, lovely
          We shall be lucky there is no monster flood basalts today.
          Too much gas

          • People *always* forget the timescale, and can’t relate it to human lifespan.

            Even at the peak of activity, you could have built a house in the middle of the Traps, lived your entire life there – and never once seen lava.

        • Only single flow from Camp or Siberian traps can have a volume of 5000 Lakis and erupted in a 5 times shorter timespann than Laki

          • I’d like a time machine too, especially the Tardis.
            I would go to Siberian Traps roughly 251 to 250 million years ago, see a Kimberlite Pipe eruption, or visit Venus 500 million years ago during a resurfacing event.
            I use a special time scanner to show when such eruptions have occurred.

        • Yup you guys are correct a Severe Flood Basalt is very bad news

          The largest flood basalts where the Central Atlantic Magmatic Pronvice
          That happened 201 million years ago just before pangea broke up.
          Major Superplume event caused that.

          Many induvidual lava flows built up a pile thats was 5700 km long and 2900 km wide and many kilometers thick. Its one of the largest continetal floood basalts we knows of. Just one of these single lava flows can have a volume of 15 000km3 and be 50 meters thick and the size of Scandiavia and UK.

          What an awsome sight it must have been! It makes laki look like a little fart.
          The gases and pollution from these must have been incredibely bad and caused the lesser known Triassic mass extinction.

          The only way to imagine each of these lava flows in their largest cases is a fissure maybe 500 to 700 km long and all along the lava fountains stands more than a kilometer tall. The force of these eruptions sent lava 3000 meters into the skies curtains of fire blaze along the horzion

      • 😏😏😏
        When the traps erupted their flows its crazy
        Souch individual flows coud have volumes of 5000 to 15 000km3 or larger!. This is a VEI 8+ effusive eruptions. In the most scary examples you can have fissures ( 300 to 600 km long ) Some old dykes in earths crust are many 100 s of kilometers long some over 1000 for old Canada LIP dyke swarm I think. These fissures with huge lava fountains roaring all over its lenght. Lava flow rates like the biggest jökulhlaup you can ever Imagine.

        Beacuse major LIP flood basalts caused global warming and Mass Exctiontions
        We can be pretty soure they went on very fast with collossal gas output.
        and the media image of magmageddon is likley quite true.

        Generaly true flood basalt lavas, are thick and uniform and massive: No lava tubes or small scale lobes: its fast and massive.
        A true massive ( 1000km3+ ) flood basalt
        Is likley a huge oversized channelized Aa flow
        With fast smooth Leilani like lava channels
        Flowing like mad crazy it must have done
        In the largest chase these channels coud be many 100 s of km long and maybe 40 km wide. Some lava flows from Deccan Traps flowed 1500 kilometers from their vent sources.
        The CAMP lava flow fields extended for over 5000 km over Pangea. It makes Holuhraun look like a little fart.

        At the distant edges of the ( +1000km3 ) Roza and ( +11 000 km3 ) Rhajamundry flows you likley have a massive wall of Aa lava moving quite fast 40 meters high and with some mouch faster breakouts that happens at Aa edges
        Or where the main flow front breaks thrugh the rubble.
        Behind the flow fronts is the main flow and open lava channels that looks like a lava sea from Closeup. The open lava channels goes up to the vent rift systems far away.

        The nightglow from these LIP events must soure been impressive red skies for 100 s / 1000 s of km photographers dream
        The initial startup of a (+ 5000km3 ) flow must have been an impressive sight for soure if its in the fast model the start up itself may generate A few VEI 7 volumes of tephra.

        Magnificent😏😏 I wants it
        But we all woud choke and sulfur smog everwhere and mass starvation
        If I gets it, I gets more than I can bite in
        Maybe its better that Flood Basalts are not Todays news

    • Even I hope Grimsvotn doesn’t go up at a bad time, either. But a bigger worry (for me at least) is Oraefajokull (or Lady O as I sometimes like to call it) or even Katla blowing up big time and disrupting transatlantic air travel like Lady E did.
      I have just booked a flight to Maui in Hawaii in February next year. But that isn’t a huge concern for me as I’m flying out of Western Canada. One thing, though, I’d be glad of is the lack of vog – if Kilauea or Mauna Loa don’t erupt again before I leave. A bigger concern for me is actually a flight to Barcelona, as one of my brothers is getting married there in June 2019 to his fiancee, who is Egyptian but lives in Canada.

    • “But when I comes home again to Scandinavia, I wants that 500km3 resovair to leak out in the Dead Zone”

      I’ve always thought that the attraction of Volcano watching is that you don’t want it to happen, but you don’t want to miss it if it does.

  3. Good post.

    I still contest that Klyuchevskoy, or rather, the central Kamchatka depression is the most impressive volcanic region in the last 10,000 years. Based on some off-hand output figures, Klyuchevskoy alone comes close to Grimsvotn and it’s not even sitting on top of a massive spreading ridge. Then if you account for the fact that Kamen, Bezyiaminny, Zimina, Ushkovsky and possibly even Tolbachik are all connected to a big deep chamber, there isn’t anywhere on earth that is close to the output here.

    Given, I realize we don’t know the extent of inter-connectedness here. Regardless Klyuchevksoy’s proliferance is mindboggling on its own. Based on my knowledge of pre-eruptive supervolcanic systems, I would say there is a very strong argument for this region as being a candidate of a future supereruptor, which is not something I’ve ever really seen mentioned or speculated upon before. Given, none of us will likely be alive to find that out, but it’s still interesting to consider nonetheless.

      • Well simply put, you can get a rough estimate by calculating the volume of the edifice itself. Klyuchevksoy’s primary ridiculousness is that it has been almost entirely constructed in the past 6000 years…. which is a geological blink of an eye. In that time period, it has become Europe’s largest volcano.

        Using its prominence of roughly 4,649 meters (according to wikipedia) and conservatively measuring a radius of roughly 3,700 meters you get an edifice volume of around 70 cubic km. This ignores ash output and erupted ejecta / lava that isn’t part of the immediate edifice.

        Extrapolating the time period here to a 10,000 year period, we get a volcanic output of roughly 115 cubic kilometers every 10000 years, and that’s only accounting for the volcanic material in the edifice… That’s basically a VEI-7 eruption worth of magma every 10k years, which is absolutely astounding considering this is only the above ground output measurements.

        Then you get into the truly batsh*t crazy thoughts of the output of this area when you realize that the other volcanoes of similar size that are almost sitting on top of Klyuchevskoy are likely connected in some way or another. So if you combine the cumulative output of Klyuchevksoy with its close neighbors, and you get an absolutely prolific volume of magmatic output that likely isn’t rivaled anywhere in the world over the past 10000 years. With that said, this is speculative, but I think anybody can appreciate the scale of this.

        • I found volumes of anywhere between 700 and 3000 km3 of magma erupted from kilauea in the past 10,000 years, and that is with the assumption that not all of it will erupt either. 10,000 years ago was about the time that the pahala ash was erupted. Whether it was from kilauea or mauna loa is irrelevant here but the ash is exposed on the south side of the volcano at an altitude of a few hundred meters, so kilauea has built up about 2/3 of its height in the past 10,000 years. It currently has a surface area of about 1500 km2, so 1500×800 is 1200 km3 of lava. That also doesnt add the significant amount that is entirely underwater on most of the volcano too, or the puna ridge. This also fits with historical data, the past 66 years has erupted 16 km3 of lava, and the previous 170 years adds another 6 km3, for a total of 22 km3, about 1 km3 a decade, or 0.1 km3 base eruption rate average which means about 40% of the magma that ends up in kilauea is erupted on average. Obviously the rate changes, in the late 19th century it was a lot lower than this as well as the actual supply being lower too, while it is well above this now and the eruption rate from pu’u o’o was probably about 100%. Overall though kilauea is a beast, I think it probably quite conclusively trumps the entire klyuchevskaya group, and also overtops grimsvotns eruptive output. Grimsvotn has been buffed by the rift drawing in magma, but nearly all of that magma is never going to erupt even if it could.

          • Grimsvötn may have a supply of 0,7km3 every year
            Thats likley the highest on earth

          • Grimsvötn is as you say… likley open all way down into the hotspot partial melting zone and with a supply of 0,5 to 0,8km3 every year.

            Grimsvötn eruptions rarely go beyond the Glacial Pheratomagmatic surtseyan phases before stopping.
            If the 2011 s event have continued it woud have formed a tephra island in the meltwater lake and water and magma wont mix anymore. The lava flows and fountains woud emerge from the vent.


        • It is very impressive and I am sure that the total volume of the Klyuchevskoy Group is much higher than 115 km³ in 10000 years, but I don’t think it is as much as unrivaled, Kilauea surely outdoes that number for the time frame given and very probably also outdoes the total combined volume with Bezymianny and Tolbachik included. I will give a more conservative estimate of 500 km³ in the last 10000 years for Kilauea based in a well accepted total volume for the last 200 years of 10 km³ erupted. I don’t know much about Grimsvotn but I think that in terms of eruptive rates it should also join the competition.

          In my opinion the highest eruptive rates of this planet belong to Kilauea while the highest supply to Grimsvotn. The Klyuchevskoy Group doesn’t fall short of them though but probably doesn’t take the record.

          • Past 230 years since the 1790 LERZ flows is definitely more than 10 km3, there is about 6 km3 for caldera fill including refilling collapses, and another 16 km3 for ERZ flows. Pu’u o’o is more than 4.5 km3, at least 8 km3 and as hig has 11 km3. If it was 4.5 km3 over the 140 km2 surface area it has then it would be 32 meters thick. That appears to be about right, the lava on the coastal plain has been reported to be 35 meters thick, but the lava is much thicker up near the vent and on the upper part of the flow field, 300 to well over 50 meters thick in places, and the cone is 90 meters high. 70% of the time the lava was also flowing into the ocean, and often it was only flowing into the ocean, and that on its own would give a significant extra over the 29 years there had been active ocean entries on kilauea. 70% of 4.5 is 3.15, so the volume theoretically already has a minimum of 7.65, and that is using HVOs measurements which seem to be lower than what looks to be happening. Mauna ulu is a lot smaller than pu’u o’o but it is not 1/20 the size, its volume probably easily exceeds 1 km3 and I would find up to 3 km3 believable given its size. Kilaueas supply rate from the mantle is also going to be higher than its eruption average, it isnt a rift volcano like grimsvotn but it does deform to make space so some magma (maybe about 30% of it overall) will never reach the surface and will slowly cool to evolved rock deep inside the volcano. Very occasionally these magmas get erupted with the normal basalt, or even on their own like fissure 17 this year.

            There is also the stuff I did as calculations before. Extrapolating that mauna loa has maybe erupted 1/4 of the lava that kilauea has during the holocene (based on the idea of it being dominant about 1/4 of the time), then the hawaii hotspot is far and away the most prolific source of volcanism today at at least twice that of iceland and klyuchevskaya, and bigger than basically the entire rest of the world excluding the mid ocean ridges, but Iceland and klyuchevskaya group are both still far above world average too. The one thing that makes klyuchevskaya stand out though, is that it is a subduction province, definitely not a typical one but the source is ultimately from the subduction of the pacific plate, it is kind of like a pseudo mantle plume. Curiously it is also in the exact location where the hawaii hotspot chain disappears…

          • The most prominent would seem to be, yes. Prominent as vertical distance from base to summit not that weird prominence definition that puts Everest ahead of Denalí, Dhaulagiri or Kilimanjaro.

          • It is actually the most prominent active volcano full stop, 4700 meters.

            Elbrus, damavand and kilimanjaro are more prominent but are not currently active and have not erupted in observed history.

          • Elbrus is in Europe, is higher, and has erupted in historical time. Definitely the winner. The highest volcano in Asia is Damavand, but it is 30 meters smaller than Elbrus and last erupted 5000 years ago. Klyuchevksoy is of course far more active and much more likely to go VEI-6. But for the highest volcano in Eurasia, Elbrus wins.

            (There is a monogenetic field in Tibet which is at higher altitude but it is not considered a volcano – not sure why.)

          • With prominence I was referring (as I explained) to the base to summit height, not height above sea level nor the definition of prominence that is most widely used, and in that Klyuchevskoy leaves Elbrus and Damavand far behind. The only volcanoes that surpass Klyuchevskoy in terms of base to summit height are Kilimanjaro and some oceanic islands (like Hawaii, Maui or Tenerife). Kilimanjaro would seem to be the tallest subarial volcanic edifice in the planet rising around 5150 m from the plains to its south (a few more hundreds than Klyuchevskoy). It is an impressive mountain and it must have been even more back when there was no caldera yet and I imagine must have had a height above sea level of ~6400-6500 m and above the plain to the south of ~5650-5750 m a cone that would dwarf even Klyuchevskoy out.

    • I would say that Sheveluch is still has the most impressive Holocene record. You know a volcano is prolific when there are 60 VEI-4&5 eruptions in its file!

  4. “Not counting Grimsvötn we have the serial VEI-4 volcano of Thordharyrna and the enigmatic Hágöngur responsible for the 536 VEI-6 that had a very serious impact on the climate (Katla topped it off in 540 with another big VEI-5). But that is something for a rainy day to write about.”

    No, Carl, you got be kidding us.
    Extraordinary claims, require a good dose of well documented evidence.

    I respect you in many ways but I won’t believe you until you show us with that.
    I mean the above statement is a very bold proposal.
    And the scientific community just recently proposed Iceland as a 535 culprit, and I am still highly skeptical about it.

    A mid size VEI6 would have left a caldera where we do not see any in Hagongur. Or is it hidden under the ice? And such a devastating eruption would have left such a thick ash layer that would be much larger than the settlement ash of Vatnaoldur, which is one of thickest in the Holocene in the tephra record in Iceland.

    • As I wrote above, it is for another rainy day.
      But the eruption is actually there, there are quite a bit of debris in the adjacent part of the glacier.
      And like many large eruptions it did not leave a huge honking caldera. There is after all no necessity for a small VEI-6 (or a very big VEI-5) to crease a caldera.
      And yes, I did not connect the dots until I read that article myself.
      But, in the end it made sense due to the sulphur part. No other volcanic system is as gassy as Grimsvötn.
      I will though return stating the case at depth.

      • I’ll await your argument. But the long lasting effect of the 536 event (3-5 years!) indicates that the sulphur went high into the stratosphere. I have not seen any evidence that Iceland has had such a strong explosive eruption – there would be ash all over Europe, not just one or two particles.

  5. It would be interesting to see what the effect would be if Bardarbunga does eventually go into a renewed phase of regular small eruptions which of course we haven’t seen in the era of monitoring!

  6. Hawaii is the winner in Holocene output it takes down grimsvötn in an instant
    No other volcanoes on earth can match Hawaiis histroical output!
    Kilauea have since 1790 done maybe 30km3 of lava IF you calculate all the eruptions lava flows and caldera fillings and all the lavas that was lost to the ocean and never added on land.

    Puu Oo eruption have I and Turtlebirdman re -caluclated to 11km3
    Thats beacuse over 70% of the eruptions volume ended up in the sea, with 4,5km3 remaining on land as thick inflated pahoehoe lavas.

    Most of the Puu Oo eruption went into the ocean and calculate eruptive rates and time and duration
    and you gets 11km3 erupted by Puu Oo

    Now calculate this on Entire holocene output

    • And Hawaii does anything from 600km3 to 3000km3 of lava every 12 000 years
      If we use this model

    • You should keep the estimate of 4.5 km³, first because I don’t think you know what exact method they used to get that volume estimate. I don’t know either but I imagine it is based in eruptive rates x time method in which the volume is not lost to the ocean. The volume erupted from 1823 to 2000 in Kilauea is estimated to be 9 km³, and I imagine that if you include 2000-2018 the number goes up to 10-12 km³. 1790-1823 certainly was a period of very fast caldera filling and intense even violent and explosive summit activity, if I had to estimate then I would say a few km³ were erupted but the total volume 1790-present would still very probably remain under 20 km³.

    • 30 km3 is a bit much, maybe 22 km3 at most since 1790 which would include all of the time since the last rift period ended. Kilaueas nominal supply rate is probably rather less than 0.3-0.4 km3 per year most of the time, it can and has reached or even exceeded that level but only temporarily, as it may be doing now and did in the early 19th century. The base rate average is probably about 0.1-0.25 km3 per year during the last 70 years, and somewhat less after 1840 and before 1950. Still, 0.1 km3 per year is nothing to be sniffed at, especially as it is entirely from one single fairly standard source rather than some exceptional factor like other comparable systems. Most volcanoes are considered big or highly active if they fed at even less than 1/10 of that.

      In general the magma supply now is about twice the rate it was in 1960, when the last eruption in lower puna was. I calculated a rough volume of 0.2 km3 to get a dike to lower puna, so in 1960 a total of about 0.35 km3 of magma was removed. It took about 1.5 years before another rift eruption happened. This year the dike was a lot smaller overall, maybe 0.1 km3 being generous, but the eruption was massive, the volume of lava approaching 1 km3, so it was about 3 times bigger than 1960 in total. However the supply rate means this eruption will be recovered from twice as fast roughly, so it is equivalent to 1.5 times longer than the recovery from 1960, about 2 years. However unlike 1960 this years drainage was mostly filled in by physical collapse, about 80% of it, so out of the about 1.2 km3 of magma removed maybe only 0.15 km3 needs to actually be replaced to reach the point where the general stress is relieved and the volcano can start pressurising. That is about half the amount needed to refill after 1960, despite the way bigger magnitude of the event. The quake space will slow this down by a fraction but probably by a pretty small amount, especially as the eruption actually happened downrift of the bit that moved and probably filled that space in during the eruption itself (maybe why the time between first eruptions and new lava was so long compared to normal), unlike 1975 where the active complex was uprift of the quake and so the lava could drain from the vents to fill the space and took 8 years to resume large scale ERZ activity. The May 4 quake happened near pu’u o’o, the 1975 quake happened in the same area to a bit further down near kalapana.

      Overall, this comparison ends up predicting a recovery from this years events about 9 months after the eruption ended, meaning in May 2019. These dates I have found are all fairly close, February to May 2019, and it seems pretty likely that some sort of activity will occur on kilauea during the second half of next year, probably in halemaumau or near heiheiahulu in similar fashion to the 1960s eruptions but maybe in a bigger scale overall. If the high supply and open rift continues, then resumed continuous lava effusion from a long lived ERZ vent like what characterised pu’u o’o will probably happen, though further down the rift is more likely.

  7. Kilauea is not even in her main shield stage and still haves a supply of 0,3km3 every year
    When she peaks in 170 000 years she may get a supply of 0,8km3 or more and 95% of all that will erupt since she have no ridge under her ; )
    She will enter her main shield phase the comming 15 000 years

  8. Still Grímsvötnum s supply is amazing! 0,5 to 0,8km3 every year
    Thats likley the highest on earth at current moment and heavly handicapped by the rift in output

  9. The current supply to grimsvötn is 0.5 and 0.8 cubic kilometres per year.
    Thats crazy!, thats absoutley crazy
    The higher estimates is almost 1km3 every year infused into grimsvötn
    Grimsvötn may become a very scary volcano in the future

  10. Thanks Carl. When making predictions, it is always useful to go back later to find out how it went. It it an essential part of improving the models. In the end, nature decides. We can predict but we can’t schedule.

  11. with all that ‘stuff’ going into the Icelandic rift and back filling it, somewhere else would have to sub duct to get things to ‘normal’ ?

    • Yes. That happens around the Pacific. The MAR, including Iceland, is filling the gap left by the shrinking of the Pacific ocean.

  12. Thanks much Carl, for the Boats Hull and the Balloons, really much more interesting than how many km3 ejected to the surface anywhere on the planet. I think. The oblong shaped reservoirs did get stuck in my mind since Pàll Einarsson wrote an article about it, just after Holuhraun. I love the way he stirs… The shape might connect/distract events better than thinking in one volcano related fissure system.

    That perky volcano prob will win!
    And hoping for a few rainy days too!

  13. Hi, I´d just like to thank Carl and all the other writers here at Volcano Cafee for the great and insightful articles they write.

  14. Fuego looks to be being evacuated – presume that means the activity has ramped up a bit, anyone got any details?

  15. Turtlebirdman! Carl says that Grimsvötn haves a deep supply of 0,5 to 0,8km3 every year
    He says “That is roughly 4 times more than the combined input of all Hawaiian volcanoes, and a whopping 10 times larger than the most productive supervolcanic system, Uturunku” Can that really be true?
    I dont agree.. I think Hawaii haves a larger combined output and inpout

    • That is through the technicalities of all the passive rifting, the hotspot supply to grimsvotn probably isnt bigger than hawaii, and could be a lot less. The amount of lava erupted from kilauea and grimsvotn is also technically the same since 1780, but nearly all of that lava from grimsvotn was diring the skaftar fires, and another one of those repeating right now seems unlikely so soon after the last one. In an average period of comparison, like from 1400 to 1700 for example, kilauea would leave grimsvotn in the dust. Grimsvotns eruptions are also being counted as including the entire fissure swarm, which includes a number of features which could be considered full volcanoes in their own right. Kilauea is one volcano. In saying that, the hawaii hotspot total is only a bit higher than for kilauea, maybe an extra 10%. Mauna loa is certainly nowhere near as active, and the other volcanoes are basically just weak spots that magma from the trailing end of the hotspot is able to rise out of every few hundred years.

      The elephant in the room is the massive flows north of Oahu, but the dating on those are too uncertain to add to this comparison. They are definitely very voluminous though and could be considered real flood basalts, significantly bigger than the skaftar fires at 50-200 km3 a flow (there are dozens of flows too…). The flows are all believed to be less than 1 million years old up to recent and are composed of olivine nephelinite like the rejuvenation volcanics on the islands past the hotspot, this rock is made by decompression melting of the mantle at depth. The extend of these flows also goes beyond the mapped area to the east and west, probably age trending with the hotspot and maybe with much more recent flows east of kilauea maybe only thousands of years old. I think these flows are a gravitational response to the massive weight of the Hawai’i and Maui Nui being erupted within a geologically short time-span and deforming the crust.

      • Wow Flood Nephelintes!
        I belived these superalkaline magmatic rocks thats formed by low degree and very deep level of partial melting coud never coud emerge as huge flood volumes.

        Flood lavas are almost always Thoelite Basalts from shallow and very high degree of shallow partial melting in the mantle.
        Hawaiian hotspot at its focus makes vitrualy only Thoelite Basalts ( main shield building phase ). 93% of its massive volume will be emplaced during a 200 thousand year spann.

        The post shield stages and rejuvenation tends only make small ammounts of basanites and nephelintes, not a flood alkaline voclanics


        Some information, it is pretty easy to infer that these flows continue eastwards based on the obvious edge of the mapped area. These flows are enormous, they have surface areas as big as some of the entire islands, and the main part is as big as all the islands put together. Volume wise the big islands a lot bigger but still these are probably the closest thing to actual flood basalts that is probably still active. The lavas were very gas rick and even in the deep sea were able to erupt with some violence, so the eruption rate was probably at least something similar to the eruption rate of big Icelandic flood basalts.

        • I never knew that Alkaline flows coud get that big

          But I already knew these Ohau deep sea mini flood basalts
          But I did not knew they where super – alkaline

  16. I agree with you, I have never belived that Iceland coud compete with the Hawaian Hotspot
    Kilauea likley takes down All iceland volcanoes combined in histroical ouput
    Carl is wrong that grimsvötn is the most productive erupter on the planet

    That title goes to Kilauea

    • Carl isn’t wrong about eruption power and total size though, kilauea can do a holuhraun (it basically already did that this year) and it can probably do a grimsvotn 2011 if things get really crazy, but it will very probably never do something quite as monumental as the skaftar fires. The amount of energy released from that much lava cooling down to ambient would exceed the amount of energy of every single explosive eruption that has occurred in the holocene – full stop… Every VEI 7, 6, 5, 4, 3 etc, all of those added together into one massive number with a lot of zeroes in it, is topped by the single eruption of a lava flow in Iceland, in 1783. And that lava flow isn’t even the only one of its kind in the past few thousand years, or even the biggest one at that… Skaftar fires is like erupting the entire volume of kilaueas current east rift episode in a period of 8 months, and mostly within the first 2 months, the scale is actually quite similar, as well as the surface covered, but the time duration is where the two events diverge very markedly.

      Its not how much energy there is that drives eruptions, its how fast it is used – in another analogy think supercapacitor vs lithium metal battery, capacitors have 100 times less energy than a Li metal battery, but touch said battery over the terminals and your hand might get burned if your skin is wet, touch a charged supercapacitor over the terminals in any condition and your hand explodes…

      • Grimsvötn is powerful have mind mind it have a supply of Liklay 0,7km3 every year!
        But as you say its handicapped by the rift

      • Kilauea will never do the 3 basaltic 30km3 plinian basaltic sakursunarvatn tephras either
        But still Kilauea beats Grimsvötn in overall in histroical output and edifice size
        Kilauea is a giant shield volcano, while Grimsvötn is a caldera complex

        • It may just be me, but the energy comparison still seems to me to compare apples and oranges. VEI is kinetic energy alone. To REALLY compare figures, you’d have to account for kinetic + thermal energy release and compare that with the kinetic + thermal energy release of kilauea.

          • I did some calculation of two eruptions which are comparable in volume: Kilauea 2018, Mount St. Helens 1980.

            Numbers are very rough estimates, but cumulative (volcanic) energy release is:
            Kilauea: 4.3*10^15 Joule
            Mount St. Helens: 1.04*10^17 Joule

          • What numbers did you use to get that energy?
            I did calculations based on the heat capacity of basalt, that Hawaiian basalt is about 3 times denser than water, and is about 1200 C on eruption. The energy scale isn’t meant to be the same as VEI, it is a separate thing entirely. In VEI kilauea is very much overshadowed by a lot of other volcanoes, but the amount of thermal energy released by all the volcanoes over the entire earth, kilauea accounts for a large fraction on its own.

            I found a thermal energy equivalent of 960 megatons for leilani, 1400 for holuhraun, and 9860 for skaftar fires. Tambora is stated as being 800 megatons. Granted that was its explosive eruption and doesn’t add the thermal energy of its own magma, but silicic magma is often way colder than Hawaiian basalt, rhyolite is considered molten at only 650 C and would contain a lot less energy. Most of the material from tambora was from the removal of its massive 4+ km tall cone anyway rather than new magma, so the thermal energy is not needed there.

            Pre1815 tambora must have been an impressive sight, a snow capped mountain rising out of the equatorial ocean.

          • rising out of the equatorial ocean” … at several hundred feet per second, yeah… definitely impressive, if not outright terrifying. But, I imagine the base surge would have gotten you at about the time you realize what you were looking at.

          • I also used the heat capacity of basalt at about 1200 C. I know that VEI is entirely different (said so myself in my post), but that is the problem, isn’t it? I have a fundamental problem with saying “kilauea released the equivalent of a VEI x in thermal energy” because, linguistically speaking, that suggests an equally powerful eruption. You just cannot take the thermal energy of an explosive eruption out of the equation. Of course andesite (which I took for the eruption of Mt. St. Helens) has a different heat capacity and is erupted at far lower temperatures (I assumed 800 C), but it still amounts to a significant amount of energy released. Don’t get me wrong, the amounts of energy released by kilauea are staggering, but, If you want to replace the VEI scale with a “Energy Scale” to judge the power of an eruption (which I’m all for, the VEI scale has lots of issues), you cannot just take a look at thermal energy and suggest that kilauea does a Tambora every x years.

          • The 960 number comes from and then using that for how big the eruption was in the end.

            Also scroll down a bit.

            Also the heat capacity of andesite is apparently slightly higher than for basalt, something to do with higher SiO2, but the temperature is a lot lower in subduction volcanoes, probably around 700 C for tambora. Most of the viscosity of silicic magma is from the tendancy of its formation to take a long time and so the magma is pretty cold by the time it gets to rhyolite, as low as 600 C. Hot andesite at 1000+ C like what erupted at fissure 17, or at hekla, is much more fluid and looks like basalt. Hot rhyolite at that temperature probably is still pretty viscous but not as much as is inferred, it probably looks like glass and would be expected to flow pretty well, which is pretty appropriate as obsidian is rhyolite glass and makes lava flows easily.

          • To find real hot (basaltic) andesite, look no further than Anak Krakatau at the moment.Sangeang Api and Mayon are also good examples. This stuff definitely looks quite fluid, a bit like what you can find at the front of an Etnean lava flow.

            Lots of subduction volcanoes seem to be capable of switching to high-temperature silicic products. My speculation is, that has something to do with the magma feed rate.

            When the magma feed is low, the andesite lava is erupted cold and viscous, and plugs up. At Anak Krakatau, you get vulcanian phases where violent explosions are separated by hour-long repose periods when gases build up.

            When the feeding rate is high, lava doesn’t have time to lose temperature on its way to the surface, and you get very spectacular continuous strombolian activity, sometimes true fountaining episodes,and far-reaching, fast lava flows. The products emitted look like what Etna puts out on a good day.

      • Ambrym is one of the subduction zone island arc volcanoes thats haves the highest magma inflow.
        Today 2018 it have now a whopping 3 basatic lava lakes.
        Each of these 3 lakes is extremely churned up and degassing and huge co2 and water vapour output from Ambrym. The lavas are very hot and fluid and almost hawaiian looking.
        In Masaya, Ambrym, and Villaricca the lavas rise very quickly from source, they do not diffrentiate and remains hot and fluid.
        Thats how “hawaiian” fluid actvity is possible in subduction zones

  17. Kilauea is a incredibley much more massive magma system than Grimsvötn
    Grimsvötn is just a seriers of magma chambers below collpased calderas

    Kilauea is the 2 th largest volcanic edifice on the entire planet.
    Kilauea is 220 kilometers long and 55 km wide and 16 km high from the pressed down submarine base
    If you adds in the massive puna ridge.
    Al this formed in the most recent 180 000 years.
    Hawaiis pleistocene and holocene output goes beyond imagination.

    • The volume of Mauna Loa alone is estimated to be at least 75,000 km3! I do not know if it has ever been estimated how much larger the erupted volume that created it and the other islands must have been…considering how much of the lava must have directly entered the ocean and just washed away as it got blasted into mud and sandy bits.

      Mauna Loa at it’s peak output would have been a unbelievable sight. Probably Mount Doom X 1000.

        • Haven’t got a copy of the Tolkien epic to hand but from memory Mount Doom was a rather small stratocone standing about 1600m above its base. Possibly modelled on Vesuvius which popped off bigly while JRRT was writing that part of the book in 1944

          • Tell that to Klyuchevskoy, Kilimanjaro, Ararat or Mount Sanford and they will laugh at it.

          • One thing I (and probably many others) find particularly impressive about oceanic volcanoes is how absolutely massive they can be above sea level despite the depth of the ocean. Hawaii rises out of the legendarily deep pacific abyssal plain to over 5 km tall just to even reach the surface in the first place, and by that time the volcano is already gigantic by world standards. Loihi is but a peon next to the big island but it is the same height and about 10 times the volume of etna or fujiyama. Then you not only get said volcanoes reaching sea level but shooting way past it to reach a height above sea level that even most towering continental stratovolcanoes struggle to reach. And not only that but this has happened at least twice and maybe 3 times in the past million years. The big island is as tall above sea level as all those enormous stratovolcanoes, and actually the two maunas both have spots in the top 10 tallest and most prominent volcanoes on earth, but they also rise out of the abyssal ocean too. I mean literally every single terrestrial volcano I can think of would be completely underwater in the middle of the pacific, the 4500 meter tall monolith of kluychevskaya is still almost a km underwater, maybe kilimanjaro is a small island, but Hawaii is all of that just to even reach the surface and then the volcanoes still reach into the 4 km tall range on top of that…

            Tenerife is similarly spectacular, it’s not anywhere near as big as Hawaii but teide is still a massive stratovolcano just sitting in the deep sea, why so many of the atlantic volcanic islands are making tall steep stratovolcanoes is beyond me but it does make for some rather impressive views.

          • The three highest base to summit volcanoes of the world are the two Maunas and Haleakala, Tenerife comes in forth place, not third as it is usually said. The reason why Tenerife is so massive is, first because the Canary hotspot might be far less powerfull as Iceland, Hawaii or Afar but I think it is still very productive compared to many other hotspots, the second reason is because Tenerife due to the slower movement of the Atlantic plate has had much more time to form (millions of years compared to the hundreds of thousands for Hawaiian volcanoes). Some Samoan volcanoes are also remarkably tall and extensive. The Hawaiian volcanoes are the bigest active volcanic edifices of the world, Mauna Loa bends down the crust roughly 7 km so that Mokuaweoweo sits atop of a 16 km thick pile of lavas, for Mauna Kea it is about 1 km more and likely much more for Haleakala.

            With all of this talk about volcanic edifices I have tried to find how the slope of the axis of a Hawaiian rift zone evolves through the development of the volcanic edifice to be able to reconstruct past ones. As a shield volcano progresses towards its post-shield stage the rift zones get more steep as magma gets more viscuous and the rift zone buttresed between surrounding volcanic structures, both factors favouring central volcanism as they make rift intrusions more difficult. I have measured the slope along the axis of some hawaiian rift zones. Kilauea’s ERZ has a slope of 0.021. The slopes for Mauna Loa’s NERZ active section is 0.077 and the slope for two sections of the active SWRZ (the upper half, and the lower half to the 1868 vents) are of 0.072 and 0.077. For Hualalai’s NWRZ is of 0.12. And in Haleakala 0.134 for the SWRZ and 0.15 the ERZ. The 4 still active volcanoes of the islands follow the progression of increasing slope with a rift slope of 0.02 for a volcano that is entering the shield stage, a rift slope for a volcano towards the end of its shield-building stage of 0.075 (though only in the still active parts, the NERZ doesn’t extend all the way to the sea and the lower part of the SWRZ is inactive and was affected by a flank collapse) and finally a rift slope of around 0.13 for volcanoes well into their post-shield stages. Kohala doesn’t follow the progression though and its NWRZ is of around 0.066 (less than Mauna Loa’s), maybe has deformation acted since it went inactive?
            So lets try to apply this to estimate the past maximum height of an old volcanic edifice. Haleakala’s paleo-coastline is 2 km underwater and the farthest point where its ERZ was subaerial is distinguishable, this coastline was likely formed when the volcano reached its maximum subaerial extent (towards the end of its shield-building stage) and if it had a similar rift zone slope to Mauna Loa then we would be talking of 0.075, but this is only if the whole length of the rift zone was active, Mauna Loa’s NERZ plus all the way to the ocean and the old SWRZ (Ninole Hills rift) give a similar slope of 0.06 which I will use as the number for a rift zone that has its lower half inactive (like Mauna Loa’s). In Haleakala the lenght from the summit to the tip of the once subaerial rift zone is of 98 km and that gives an estimate of its subaerial height towards the end of its peak activity of 7.3 km (with the 0.75 number) to 5.9 km (with the 0.06 slope). Now either this is a serious overestimation and this method doesn’t work or Haleakala was a monster volcano 6-7 km above sea level that even Mauna Loa would be jealous of. While I think there might be an overestimation I also think it is very likely that Haleakala was substantially taller than Mauna Loa (and more massive). There are some hints that this volcano might have been really huge, its ERZ all the way from the summit to its underwater tip is probably the longest rift in the islands (about 160 km), longer than Kilauea’s ERZ that goes next in the list 125 km long. Imagine a dike intruding along the 160 km, enough pressure is required to do that which already means a powerfull system. Haleakala has also sunk a lot and incredibly fast, 2 km in its coast in less than a million years, upper in the chain the paleo-coast of 20 million years old islands are still less than 1 km underwater. Haleakala also seems to have been much more long-lived than Kohala or Mauna Kea which may have something to do with its past glory.

            This method doesn’t give seemingly exagerated number for other mountains of the Hawaiian Chain, it gives a past height above the sea level of around 2000 m for the southern shield of the Necker Island (10 million years old) or 1500-2000 m for Laysan Island (20 my old and this year has lost its status as island). Yet better not take the 6-7 km above the sea level number seriously but I will just drop the posibility that this volcano is a really absolutely massive volcanic edifice, more even than Mauna Kea or Mauna Loa.

          • That is really interesting. There seems a natural limit to the heights, probably set by the strength of lower crust and lithosphere. Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea are almost exactly the same height. Once you correct for the part of the weight carried by being immersed under water, the height (bottom to top) is also very similar to Ojos del Salado. And if you correct for lower gravity, it is also identical to Olympus Mons.

          • Mauna Loa hasn’t reached that limit though, it is still able to maintain open conduits for periods as long as centuries and erupts very primitive lavas so it doesn’t seem to be struggling to erupt at that height, as long as Kilauea doesn’t steal the magma to it. Is that natural limit the same for every volcano? I imagine some volcanoes very productive may be able to reach greater heights, most storms get stucked at the tropopause but supercells tend to overshoot… Now that I think about it the volcanoes of the Lesser Sunda Islands seem to like going VEI 7 when they reach 4000 m high (Samalas and Tambora).

          • Maybe the close succession of the volcanoes is causing some to rob the supply of another before the other can reach its so called maximum height. Kilauea is already dominating mauna loa about 80% of the time so I think its pretty clear where the main growth is happening. There is also a noticeable big gap between kohala and haleakala, so maybe haleakala got a lot of extra time for some reason, and kohala is also very close to mauna kea so it could have been cut short a bit. With that there is also the trend that most of the volcanoes on the loa chain are pretty small, except mauna loa of course. The kea chain includes haleakala and mauna kea and now kilauea. I dont know if this really means anything. In any case, loihi is quite far from kilauea, so it wont really impeed it much and thus kilauea will very probably become a towering giant too maybe bigger than mauna loa. Loihi also seems to have that potential, although there is no successor to it that is easily identifiable or exists yet so it is hard to say for sure with that method.

          • I think that Kohala and Kahoolawe (which belongs to the chain of Mauna Loa) were also very high volcanoes. Kohala around 3-4 km if I use the rift slopes of Mauna Loa and Kahoolawe around 3.5-4.6 km. Kahoolawe may have been Mauna Loa sized and would have in that case looked quite impressive next to Haleakala when both were towards the end of their peaks. Hualalai either had the same height or lower than its current at its activity peak and same for Mauna Kea

          • It is interesting as to why kahoolawe is so small now then and haleakala is still a massive mountain. I know also that molokai was a larger volcano but a lot of it was removed by a landslide. It might have actually been the only hawaiian volcano that got decapitated by a slide, its former summit was probably just offshore of the current north coast. Most maps of maui nui fail also to take into account a few factors, one that the older volcanoes would have already been mostly submerged when haleakala started forming, and that erosion has radically altered most of the volcanoes a lot. The oldest maui nui volcano was actually connected to oahu when it formed too.

          • Haleakala has been active to recent times which has kept part of the volcano young, I also think Haleakala must have dragged Kahoolawe down as the edifice subsided. As I said the former coastline of Haleakala is 2 km underwater and I imagine the central volcano must have subsided even further, much more than the other volcanoes of Maui Nui. Comparatively it seems Haleakala was the most massive structure of Maui Nui to explain why it has dropped so much in a shorter time, I think that the other volcanoes of Maui Nui were still mostly subaerial by the time Haleakala and Kahoolawe were erupting. Interesting that the next volcano (Mahukona was a complete failure).

          • Im more meaning that if you look at the big island now, kohala is about 1 million years old, and you can see that it has subsided a lot in that time with its coastal plain being about 1 km underwater. mahukona might have also barely reached sea level by the looks of it but it is now also about 1 km deep. Mauna kea has coastal plains about 200-300 meters deep, hualalai about 120 metrers, mauna loa seems to not actually have much of a coastal plain but it might be starting to submerge, and kilauea has an actively refreshed coastal plain.

            The oldest volcanoes on maui nui were about 1.5 million years old when haleakala was at its peak, and so it would be expected that these volcanoes would be submerging and maui nui be smaller than in the pictures, at least in that direction.

          • But there are other factors like reefs and that the subsidence rate also depends on how much massive the edifice was. Some old reefs and coastlines are preserved and if you follow them around the islands you see that when Haleakala reached its maximum areal extent which was also when the island was presumably bigger it included the volcanoes of Haleakala, West Maui, Kahoolawe, Lanai, East Molokai, West Molokai and the West Bank as one single subaerial island separated by a narrow channel of water from Oahu. Except for maybe the West Bank and West Molokai the other volcanoes were probably all taller than 2000 masl. The valley between these 5 volcanoes must have been an absolute desert. Haleakala, West Maui and East Molokai would have worked as the perfect barrier trapping most of the rain that came from the east with Molokai as an elongated scarp with cliffs 1-2 km tall looking east and already probably deeply eroded. The summit of Haleakala probably had snow most of the time if not all, even during interglacial periods, and maybe other volcanoes would show it some times. The west coast developed reefs along all of its lenght.

          • Seems I came up with the name West Bank, it is actually called Penguin Bank.

        • Ngauruhoe is tiny compared to Mauna Loa. Even Kilamanjaro is a pint-sized compared to Mauna Loa.

          • But if Kilimanjaro had grown underwater, how would it have grown differently?
            Genuine question, as I would imagine that the water would help to some extent in supporting the growing edifice.

          • It would add about 1/3rd to the height because of the support by the water. The slopes would also be steeper, so more height for the same volume.

          • Kilimanjaro is a huge very alkaline stratovolcano in the African Rift near a the volcano is near cratonic litosphere enviroment.
            the main rock types found at Kilimanjaro are phonolite, phonotephrite, and tephriphonolite. And if you, like me, are wondering what the difference is between the last two, they are both intermediate compositions between phonolite and tephrite, but tephriphonolite is closer to phonolite than phonotephrite. Phonotephrite is less alkali content (7-12%) and less silica (45-53%) than tephriphonolite (9-14% alkali and 48-57%). Deep and low degrees of partial melting in the mantle tends to give rise to very alkaline magmas

      • All other volcanoes are TINY compared to the immense Hawaiian Giant Shield Volcanoes

    • 2 th largest volcanic edifice on the entire planet.”

      Well, if you want to go that route… then you really should consider Iceland as a whole as a singular volcanic feature. It comes from the MAR→Hotspot interaction. Then you really need to think of it as a manifestation of the North Atlantic Magmatic Province. I don’t think the Hawaiian hotspot can even touch that.

      • Well… Then it would be fair to include all of the Hawaiian Islands as a whole and then I think Iceland falls way back behind (the area occupied by the shields is bigger than Iceland itself and not to mention those shields are 5-10 km tall from the ocean floor + the crustal subsidence under those monster volcanic edfifices.

      • Hawaii winns in Long term erupted volumes
        Hawaii is as dustdevil says the very very largest volcanic edifices on the planet.
        All other volcanoes are TINY compared to Hawaiis monster shield volcanoes.
        Hawaii have been making huge volcanoes for over 70 million years.
        Hawaii the largest and hottest and deepest oceanic hotspot on the planet.
        The mantle under Big Island is around 1530 C its very hot.
        Kilauea and Mauna Loas immense volumes are mostly 300 000 years old thats huge ammounts in a blip of geological time. Hawaiis volcanoes are so large that its hard to understand.

      • I look at it differently. Olympus Mons has ten times the volume of the island of Hawaii. Mauna Loa fits in the caldera of Olympus Mons! That also means that Mauna Loa would have fitted within the magma chamber of Olympus Mons (now empty). Not such a big boy in the real world.

        If you consider all of Hawaii, you should compare it flood basalts. Again, Hawaii doesn’t come out so well. The major flood basalts have a volume similar to OM and more than ten times that of the entire island of Hawai’i.

        • But Hawaii haves over 70 million years produced as much basalt as a really really large flood basalt. Even IF Hawaii is a slow and steady
          Hawaii is the most productive volcanic hotspot In the entire cenozoic era
          It have done millions of km3 since it was born 70 million years ago.
          Since the Plesistocene the Hawaii hotspot is undergoing a boost in power and output. The distance between individual Hawaii volcanoes has shrunk. The far greater modern eruptive volume of the hotspot has generated more closely spaced volcanoes, and many of them overlap, forming such huge overlapping volcanoes as Hawaiʻi island and the ancient Maui Nui.

        • But both Hawaii, Iceland and Olympus Mons are farts compared to events like the Ontong java Plateau, that erupted 100 million km3 in a timespann of less than 1 million years, most of that volume likley in 500 thousand years pretty scary!
          Imagine enromous fast moving submarine flows, real raging lava rivers under the sea.. forming massive sheet lava flows ( fast sea flows do not form pillows )

        • But the most intense flood basalt coud be Siberian Traps
          The huge mass dying it caused sugegsting it was very very quickly and really large output at once.
          That Mantle Plume was so powerful it coud melt through the Russia Craton

          a Severe Flood Basalt is very bad news
          The largest continetal flood basalts where the Central Atlantic Magmatic Pronvice
          That happened 201 million years ago just before pangea broke up.
          Major Superplume event caused that.

          Many induvidual lava flows built up a pile thats was 5700 km long and 2900 km wide and many kilometers thick. Its one of the largest continetal floood basalts we knows of. Just one of these single lava flows can have a volume of 15 000km3 and be 50 meters thick and the size of Scandiavia and UK.

          What an awsome sight it must have been! It makes laki look like a little fart.
          The gases and pollution from these must have been incredibely bad and caused the lesser known Triassic mass extinction.

          The only way to imagine each of these lava flows in their largest cases is a fissure maybe 500 to 700 km long and all along the lava fountains stands more than a kilometer tall. The force of these eruptions sent lava 3000 meters into the skies curtains of fire blaze along the entire horzion and brave dinosaurs looking at it

        • Imagine how the whole Siberia and pangea domed and uplifted just before hell broke out….

        • Since Olympus Mons formed a very large shield volcano and NOT a Flood basalt
          We can assume that eruptions at OL was similar to Hawaii maybe somewhat larger and faster.. but otherwise very similar.
          Olympus Mons and the marsian giant shields totaly lacks rift zones and resembles an oversized galapagos volcanoes.
          Actvity at Olympus and Arsia mons resembled Hawaii and Iceland in eruptive rates and speed

          Mars thick imobile litosphere allowed The volcanoes to sit above the hotspot untl they grew absoutley enromous and the planet slowly cooled and actvity declined.

        • If you want to look at it that way again, the volume of the big island is about 200,000 km3, and the island is less than 1 million years old, that would put it solidly into LIP territory, far outdoing a number of long accepted members, like the columbia river basalts (120,000 km3 in 2 million years). Then you add that in the previous 1.5 million years Maui nui formed, which adds another 300,000 km3. In 2.5 million years the hawaii hotspot erupted a total of at least half a million km3 of lava, and that doesnt include the amount eroded away and in landslides (actually a lot and often forgotten, maybe over 60% of some of the volcanoes like molokai or koolau) or the mostly unstudied flood basalts surrounding the islands which probably also date from the past million years and amount to thousands of km3 of lava too. This is completely comparable to any officially recognised flood basalt, most of those lasted maybe 2-3 million years with the peak activity being in a million year period. The trend is continuing with kilauea, which is already an enormous volcano despite its young age (200,000 years) and low topographic prominence.

          Tamu Massif shows how big oceanic volcanoes can actually get on this planet, Hawaii is already huge but it can still go a lot bigger and that might well be where things are heading. Tamu is 80% the size of olympus mons and was active over only about 2 million years total, so it probably formed at a similar rate to Hawaii, and it is just as tall as olympus mons too except it suffers from the iceberg effect so most of its ~30 km height is in the mantle.

          • Yup it is… just that Hawaii tends to do smaller and more frequent flows or flows with lower eruptive rates constant activity

            In the monster flood basalts 100 years coud pass
            between each ( 1000 to 10000 km3 flow )
            I columbia river basalts hiatuses between the flows where long enough for whole ecosystems to develop between each lava hell flood

          • Woud be fun to place the powerful Hawaiian Hotspot under the superthick and superboring Sweden Craton ( Sweden Sucks Dead as Stone ) Where I stands the litosphere is 290 km thick ( it gets 305 km thick near Moscow and Finland ) as thick as it can get on earth

            I doubt even Hawaiis monster plume will be able to melt through
            But it woud I doubt that.

            My freaking ass homecountry bores me beyond the grave
            No volcanoes, No sun, No friends.
            Im living in Stcokholm and thats about as far north as Northen part of Northen Canada and Siberia
            Luckly the Gulf Stream keeps North Europe quite unfrozen!
            Now its really possible to see how Important the warm Gulf Stream is for North Europe.
            Stockholm is far North as Northen Canada and Siberia, yet it haves just barely below freezing – 1 c
            IN Northen Canada and Siberia its – 32 to – 40 c now
            Without the Gulf Stream North Europe gets very bad problems indeed.

          • LOL I dont understand how my parents can love this place But they are not volcanology addcits like me

            I was born in the wrong place and maybe wrong time.
            15 december I visits Hawaiis Big island … my favorite place

          • let us place the Hawaiian Hotspot under stockholm and wait 10 million years

          • Nope it cannot melt through that craton.. or can it?
            its a litopshere thats about 3 times as thick as Hawaiis oceanic litosphere

        • So, if we are considering flood basalts and extra terrestrial candidates.

          Where does the Jovian moon Io weigh in?

          Comparable in size of our moon and appears to be turning itself inside out?

          • Lei Kung Fluctus is the most extensive flow field in Io, it covers an area of 1.25*10^5 km² or about 125 km³ if we assume a thickness of 1 m to 1250 km³ with a thickness of 10 m, in terms of areal extension it is a little bigger than Iceland, in terms of volume it may fall short of some terrestial flood basalt flows but one has to keep in mind that it is a recently emplaced flow (as it is still hot enough to keep SO2 from solidifying over it) and that its thickness might or might not be greater than the estimates I used that would be for average basalt flows. My lowest estimate is still of 9 lakis…

            Outburst eruptions are also very impressive. Some eruption rates of Loki are estimated to have been around 10^6 m³/s or 10^4 times the eruptive rates of fissure 8, it may fall short of some really large explosive eruptions on earth but happen much more often and we are talking of basalt lava fountains here… Mauna Loa would fit inside Loki Patera lava lake too if there wasn’t that island in the middle of the it,

          • Io also has a magma ocean under its crust, it’s upper mantle is actually molten and like one massive magma chamber.

            Io is basically what a terrestrial planet that is permanently locked in the activity it had when it was in its first 100 million years of life would look like. It is also interesting that out of all the moons in the solar system that are big enough to be spherical (the ones smaller than that which aren’t spherical shouldn’t really be called the same thing in my opinion) only our moon and io are like terrestrial planets, all the other round moons are mostly icy. Io might have been a way bigger icy moon once (probably bigger than ganymede, and maybe even as big as mars in diameter) but it’s activity melted away all its ices and left a dense rocky body.

          • Io also has currently active ultramafic flood basalts, some of its lava has been erupted at temperatures exceeding 1500 C. I think the big flow you mention is one of them.

            Even though it is actually really cold (as cold as the other icy galilean satellites and generally a lot colder than antarctica) I think io much better fits the definition of a hell planet/moon, even the surface composition is made of things that will kill you like sulfur dioxide and thionyl chloride snow… The radiation is also like standing in chernobyl when it went critical.

          • Also 1 million m3/s eruption rate of lava flows on Loki, that is 6 km3 a minute, holuhraun in 16 seconds…..
            If this eruption was effusive then it must have been from a vent that was enormous, especially as it is in what can basically be described as a vacuum.

            If that outburst eruption went on for longer than 4 hours it would already be a VEI 8, or as voluminous as a typical flood basalt flow on earth, in 4 hours… If it lasted a day it would be 6000 km3, more lava than has erupted subaerially in the entire Holocene epoch including both Iceland and Hawaii at the maximum plausible volume range. I don’t think the word ‘flood’ does it justice describing that, that is like the flow rate of 10 Amazon rivers as a lava flow. Out of all eruptions possible maybe only the ignimbrite stage of a massive caldera could exceed that in the brief moments when the roof collapses but that doesn’t happen to continuously active basaltic volcanoes with 100 km wide open lava lakes….

            One has to wonder whether io has always been like this or if it is more recent and the ultimate fate of the moon is to be completely melted.
            Imagine if an asteroid hit one of the lava lakes, or an asteroid hitting an active flood basalt on earth, if the chixulub asteroid was a few hours late it would have hit the Deccan traps…….

          • Wait that is wrong, it would be 1 km3 after 1000 seconds, or a bit less than 8 minutes, and scaling from there, still a number that is pretty far and beyond anything on earth today.

  18. Interesting article. I do agree that all the signs suggest that we are starting to come closer to the next eruption date. I would like to point out that the north-south, east-west dance of the GPS over the last year is not really something unusual. Look at the long term plot since 2004 and you see that a short term variation of +-10mm east-west and +-20mm north-south is quite normal. The general long term trend is a quite constant southeast motion. There is also, on top of the general upwards trend, a yearly up-down oscillation that peaks around new year’s every year. In other words, part of the current increase in the up-component is due to approaching one of those oscillation peaks.

    If this GPS dance is due to magma chambers taking turns in inflating, I leave for someone else to interpret. I’m just saying that one should be a bit careful when drawing conclusions out of short term GPS trajectories.

    Having said that, I still find it interesting that in the last year before the 2011-eruption there was a similar north-south GPS dance like the one we are seeing right now.

    • A few days later, with a new data point registered yesterday, the GPS position is almost back on par with the long term trend.

  19. A deep supply of 0,5 to 0,8km3 is pretty impressive for Grimsvötn
    Thats almost 1 km3 every year pumped in at the high estimate
    Still Hawaii beats it… there is NO magma stealing rift in Hawaii

  20. 😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏
    Wow Grimsvötn arera have inflated by 50 centimeters since 2011 according to Carl

    • And we’re looking at up to 6 inches of rain over parts of that burn scar, and the Carr (Redding) Delta (I-5 north of Redding), and Mendocino (largest in area in CA, period) scars by Sunday night. 😔😔 They’re worried about bodies not being discoverable or easily identified after it rains. The whole situation sucks. Smoke should dissipate tomorrow night with the rain…finally.

        • Oh yes. National Weather svcs Sac and SF Bay area have been busy raising that alarm for almost a week. I’m so done with having my windows perpetually closed and wearing a painter’s respirator outside.

  21. Now its really possible to see how Important the warm Gulf Stream is for North Europe.
    Stockholm is far North as Northen Canada and Siberia, yet it haves just barely below freezing – 1 c

    IN Northen Canada and Siberia its – 32 to – 40 c now
    Without the Gulf Stream North Europe gets very bad problems indeed.

    IF earth spinned the reverse way it woud get worse too as Europe woud get easterly winds constantly
    the freezing Siberian Air instead of mild Atlantic air

  22. just love the ongoing discussions here….. very entertaining… Best!motsfo (making caramel popcorn today)

    • 😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏😏

  23. This video is pretty cool – shows a heavily steaming Halema’uma’u Crater with an interesting ring of clouds above it. Yes, it’s from the same guy who’s been doing all those helicopter flights above the eruption of the Leilani Estates fissure.

  24. k found this on Katla. More on Gas releases. I do think that there is more here then is realized. For Microbes to produce methane CH4 it requires raw material. Carbon, Hydrogen. I agree with the microbes ability to do this, it is a common theory for the source of hydrocarbons but they aren’t saying the source of the hydrogen. They believe that a oxygen deficit environment is present. Does that preclude water as the source of the Hydrogen? I believe it is Katla itself that is releasing hydrogen which becomes trapped under the ice cap. I have heard of Helium being detected in volcanic systems. Hydrogen might not be detectable or less noticeable because of its chemical properties. We had a instance of Hydrogen migrating through a steel pipe and exploding at a welders arc. I think it is possible for it to find it’s way through rock easily as well.

    Another point is the amount of methane released in a total glacial meltdown. Texas, Alberta, North Dakota, Russia etc will have yearly or even daily fugitive emissions far greater. I have been to Iceland and the chances of the Icecap melting is about equal to the chance of getting a decent coffee outside of Reykjavik. And not if sleeping through a Atlantic gale shaking my rental in July is any indication. Hate to see a winter storm dump up there. Feet of the white stuff. If it happened the little bit of methane would pale to what Katla would do not having the weight the icecap to help seal it.

    I have a question about the CO2 venting from Katla. From my experience in the oil/gas industry, to get a liquid to degas usually a horizontal vessel is used. Simply for surface area at the interphase.
    1 My thinking is a horizontal sill or more than one for this to happen?
    2 Sneaking this in. Would the amount of venting indicate that the top levels of Katla will have a degassed liquid phase? I can’t help think of this as a sort of geyser on steroids. If you look at it through the volatility of the two liquids you can see a semblance of the two systems, though apples and oranges. Sooner or later the pressure will become unbalanced and either a effusive rift or a Pyroclastic eruption from the icecap will happen JMO. Last question. What are the chances of a rift eruption. Katla has had several major eruptions in the last 300 yrs and a break of a hundred yrs. If it has been degassing and filling it would seem to me possible.

    Held by akismet for approval by dragon. None could be found, but hereby released. Future comments should appear without delay – akismet does learn, eventually. – admin

    The comments seems to start mid-sentence. Is there a bit missing?

    • I have been to Iceland and the chances of the Icecap melting is about equal to the chance of getting a decent coffee outside of Reykjavik.

      The amazing thing about these stable ice caps is that they weren’t there 5000 years ago. Ice caps grow slow but melt fast. I can’t judge the quality of the coffee, but as everywhere in the world, the permanent-snow line in Iceland is moving up.

    • Icelandic ice caps have been melting at a rate of 1 Meter almost every year since 2000.

      Ice caps in Iceland have up to 1000 meters thick. Will take them 100 years to melt at current rate. Pretty straightforward.

      You see this happening if you happened to live in Iceland, like I did for 5 years.

      Because I was a serious hiker when I was in Iceland, I saw ice cap melting that defied my sense of proportion and belief but I saw it with my own eyes. It’s there, it’s happening.

    • CO2 degassing works best with a large active surface. A sill would degas more efficiently than a spherical magma chamber. Magma underneath a summit tends to form sills and this is likely the case underneath Katla as well. But CO2 can come out of the solution at quite deep levels, several kilometers. Perhaps the bubbles in a beer are an adequate way to see it. They rise quite well in a vertical glass.

      • I saw a demonstration a few years back and it is easy to replicate. A transparent vertical tube filled with water and a means to introduce a air bubble at the bottom. The bubble stays together and travels to the top. The instructor mentioned tensile strength.The liquid makes way. My thoughts are that is what is happening in the little huffs and puffs in active volcanos. Over time the top levels of the system give up their gas and become denser. Basically forming a liquid cork. I think after that then pressure starts to build and a larger eruption is possible after. My thoughts on katla
        Let me go back to the oil well thing. I know you thought it apple and oranges. Wells are gas, volcanos liquid you said, which is true. There is a time where this is not quite that way. In depleted wells the pressure is not sufficient to maintain a flow that will clear the pipe of liquids. Your well is now loaded. The flow has stopped because of the column of liquid. It is in equilibrium. The column will separate with water on the bottom, gas migrates up forming a three phase column. Their is of course gas entrained in the liquid, kept their by pressure. Various means are used to get wells going. The usual is lowering the head pressure. What happens after is what reminds me of volcanic systems. First it will depressure then you will get a surge of liquid. A small one and a pause with more gas then another, larger and another, larger still and more quickening till the system flows. Off course the time line is compressed compared to volcanos but the principal is the same.
        I’m going to go out on a limb here and predict that one day we will have the technology to tame the smaller and mitigate the dangerous volcanos. More money, more data, Manhattan project. We have been looking for an alternative energy source. Its here. Just have to harness it. Lots of reachable magma sources. Geothermal plants are the thing. Saw several in my travels. There are lots of valuable things can be produced from volcanos. But off topic. By various means it could be possible to bleed the gas and steam pressure of a potential eruption. It’s doable. The effusive basalt would make good bricks etc. Hmm Albert and Carl’s Brick and Mortar Company Lol

  25. The 1997 Pillan Patera IO eruption must have been an amazing sight.
    Thats the largest effusive basalt/komatite eruption ever seen by cameras.
    almost 60km3 of lava was erupted in a few weeks.
    Notice the dark pit floor and new lava flow.

    This was an eruption about 2 times larger than Thjorsahraun.
    The fissure was many 10 of kilometers long and the fountains kilometers tall.

    Look at Pillian patera pit, turning black. Thats beacuse the lava cascaded over the step 2 kilometer high pit walls and flooded the patera floor with lava. Imagine standing there in your spacesuit!, watching these 2000 meters tall lava falls cascade over the pit walls, imagine lava falls 2000 meters high and 70 km wide.
    This amkes the Mauna Ulu falls look small

    • “almost 60km3 of lava was erupted in a few weeks.”

      It can’t have happened in Hawaii in 1997. Unless you took some drugs.

      Sorry to joke about it!

      I saw 1.5 to 2km3 in Hokuhraun in Iceland erupting in Iceland. It’s far bigger than you think. Please book a trip and flight over Hokuhraun to get a sense of it.

  26. Amazing that must have been.. its very much like the filling of the ‘Alae Crater.
    But this Ionian event is 1000 s of times larger than that.
    Imagine 2 kilometers tall lava falls from horizon to horizon thats the scale of the filling of the Pillian Patera 1997 on IO. A sight from armageddon/Mordor almost the GIF is from the Galileo Spacecraft.
    If the 1500 C temps are correct then this is komatites and really high eruptive rates when the stuff is so fluid.
    So it woud look like falls of molten iron.. on a crazy scale.

    I also read that many suggest basaltic compostion for 1997 Pillian Patera flood basalt.
    One of the very largest effusive basaltic eruptions seen by cameras.

    • I think that the difference between basalt and komatiite would be completely compositional at such a high temperature, Basalt is mostly considered more viscous because it has components that are solids, like olivine. Olivine melts at 1200 C so really hot lava like freshly erupted hawaiian basalt might be really liquid but cool quickly. at 1500-1600 C even SiO2, the main reason sited for explaining the viscosity of magma, is a liquid, and so even rhyolite at that temperature would be a runny fluid that would look like water.

      Still with the power of chemistry and the quest for big energy this isnt anywhere near as hot as you can go, when nuclear reactors melt down, the melt is called corium lava. It is made of metallic zirconium and fissile uranium oxide, zirconium is like the better version of magnesium, it is the material with the highest burning temperature in normal air, over 4000 C… Mix that with fissile uranium dioxide that has gone critical and contains the nuclear energy density of 20,000 times that of coal…

      Even that stuff is outdone by the products of this reaction:
      2WO3 + 3Th = 2W + 3ThO2 + 895 kJ/mol

      Exotic thermite hot enough to cause the liberated tungsten to be a liquid, that is the same tungsten that has to be 3200 C to melt. This thermite reaction actually also releases twice the amount of energy per mole as iron oxide aluminium thermite…

      Thorium thermite… hail satan

  27. Just imagine standing on the floor of the huge IO Pillian Patera pit crater in your spacesuit
    Jupiter hangs huge in the sky. And … from Horizon to Horizon is mafic or ultramafic lava falls 2000 meters high that cascades from the plains above down the walls. That happened in 1997
    Its a scene from Mordor or Hell itself magnificent it must have been!
    Total Nervana there. Awsome, Lava niagara falls thats off the scale.
    The whole pit floor was covered very quickly.
    If reapting events like this happens, its likley that Pillan patera will fill up and dissapear completely in the future.

  28. IO is the moon of dreams, and have always been my favorite place!
    I wish nasa coud send an IO orbiter with same image resolution capacity as mars hirise.
    I think many wants to see more of IO s spectacular volcanism and the changes in surface features beause 20 years have soon passed after Galileo probe crashed into jupiter.
    IO volcano orbiter is a proposed spacecraft but it seems to never get into a reality

    I wants to see more of IO and the Hadean inferno that it does daily.
    IO haves 400 large basaltic volcanoes, each one of these makes Hawaii look like a little fart.
    VEI 7 and VEI 8 basaltic plinian eruptions, Flood Basalts, and lava Lakes 10 s to 100 s of kilometers across
    And lava flow flow fields and lava tubes that can be 300 to over 800 km long.
    Io haves huge lava lakes and many calderas and a few large shield volcanoes.

    IO is so tidaly heated by gravity it is like a molten ball of slag and as you says it haves a mantle magma ocean. On Avarge in lava flow yearly lava flow output on the Ionian plains IO makes around 600 to 1500km3
    With much higher when there is VEI 7 or 8 effusive or explosive eruptions.
    Ionan basalts are very gas rich .. with Sulfur being the dominant gas on IO, that gas when it leaves the lava fountains, freeze out in the cold vaccum and you gets IO s famous sulfur snow.

    An IO curosity rover woud be fun! if it can be shielded from jupiters radiation.
    That rover coud be put near active lava flow fields or lava lakes to watch and photograph the basaltic volcanic activity. Loki and pele Pateraes huge lava lakes will be quite an awsome sight, specialy Loki patera thats a basaltic magma ocean almost 200 km across its a window into IO s inner magma ocean. Here is a good paper on Loki pateras magma sea:
    Driving a rover near the Flood Basalts and Lava Fountains are tricky since the rover woud be covered in the lava flows.

    • In Loki Patera you would probably see a big black plain. The crust of the lava lake is a few m thick so your only chance of seeing anything would be going to a part that is overturning

      • Yup thats correct.. a big silvery dark black shiney plain from horizon to horizon
        At the lake edges there may be some splashing and sloshing

        The Pele lava lake on IO is far more churned up than Loki and woud be more of a sight

      • Pele is IO s most thermaly active lava lake… thats a thin churned up crust with large lava fountains and lava waves about ( 1400 C ). Its very hot basaltic. It woud look like a huge combination of Ambrym and Halemaumau combined. Pele lava lake is 60 km across and 30 km wide and sits deep inside a pit, it have frequent fountains and overturns
        It must bee an incredible sight to stand on the lava lake pit walls there looking down into this fiery sea. This fiery sea dwarf any lava lake on Earth

  29. The 1997 Pillan patera lava falls dwarf any lava falls ever seen on earth since hadean
    Imagine lava falls maybe 60 km wide and 2000 meters high its a sight thats hard to imagine.
    IO is like mustafar in Star wars episode 3 and that jupiter moon likely was the inspiration for that planet
    Episode III used imagery from etnas 2003 or 2002 eruptions that was pasted in the CGI shots

  30. 5.7 earthquake here but very deep and everyone felt it but me….. i was getting out of my rocker at the exact moment and was into my own “rocking” missed the whole thing… 🙂 Best!motsfo

    • It had been building up to that for a while now, I think. And this may not be the quake to end all quakes.

      Funny how you missed it. I once missed a high M5t M6 earthquake by being in an old van on a very rocky road. Never noticed a thing.

  31. The next Grimsvötn eruption will likley be like 2004 or 1998 after the huge 2011 event.
    But we coud get a 1996 or 2011 again… if the volcano is charged up enough.
    Grimsvötn is a powerful volcano and not to be underestimated

  32. AVO just put out a warning for Veniaminof (Alaska). A 5-km ash plume has already formed and it sounds like they may be expecting this to continue.

    • And IMO has this to say about Katla:

      Remarks of a specialist
      Sulfur is being smelled around Sólheimajökull and Jökulsá á Sólheimasandur. There are very low winds in the area in the coming days, which can allow the gases to accumulate to higher concentrations. There are no significant changes observed in the hydrological, gas, or seismic data in this area. People are encouraged to not remain in low lying areas where gases can accumulate and to not be close to the edge of the Jökulsá á Sólheimasandur River.

  33. This Veniaminof eruption is quite large, maybe the lava flow have a volume of a small VEI 4 now?
    The lava looks basaltic or most likley a sligthly more viscous basaltic andesite

  34. Google earth recently updated over kilauea to include pictures from 2018, including a direct picture of fissure 20 erupting, and also halemaumau. The 2018 lava in halemaumau had an area of about 0.5 km2 and a thickness of maybe 12 meters, and in total the lake was in the act of overflowing for about 15 hours. A cone with an area of 0.5 km2 and a height of 12 meters has a volume of 3 million m3. 3 million m3 in 15 hours is an eruption rate of 60 m3/s, or about half the eruption rate of fissure 8, and at least 6 times higher than pu’u o’o. This is not very high compared to some of kilaueas other summit eruptions but there was definitely a surge of lava in early 2018, pu’u o’o not flowing cant explain a 7 fold increase in eruption rate from a month earlier.

    I also worked out the eruption rate average of the 1983-2018 eruptions based on the probable thickness of the lava now that the eruption has stopped. I broke it into 4 parts because each of these areas is going to have a different thickness.
    Coastal plain lava thickness average = 30 meters – 30 km2. 900 million m3 of lava. (0.9 km3)
    Pali lava thickness average = 10 meters – 31.5 km2. 315 million m3 of lava (0.31 km3 of lava)
    S Upper flow field thickness average = 50 meters – 38 km2. 1900 million m3 of lava (1.9 km3 lava)
    N upper flow field thickness average 50 meters – 30 km2. 1500 million m3 of lava (1.5 km3)
    distal june 27 flow – thickness average 12 meters – 8 km2. 96 million m3
    vent structures – 6 km2 up to 90 meters thick average about 60. 360 million m3 of lava (0.36 km3)
    The total volume is 5.061 km3, similar to HVOs number, which leads me to believe that they only count the subaerial volume when asked how much lava has erupted. For 70% of the time there was an ocean entry, so that makes the volume about 70% bigger. That gives a final number of 8.6 km3, not as high has I thought before (11 km3) but still quite a lot bigger than what most sources say because it includes the fact that a lot of the lava doesn’t end up on land. It is also quite a lot bigger than the aila’au eruption still.

    3/1/1983 to 30/4/2018 is 12901 days, so the average is about 666615 m3 per day, or 7.8 m3/s. This works out to about 234 million m3/year, the real rate is going to be somewhat less because most of this time kilauea was deflating (about 1.8 meters upt to 2007) meaning the eruption rate was exceeding the supply rate, but kilauea still has a ridiculous supply rate of about 0.2 km3/year since at least the 1980s.

    At this rate it will be a maximum of about 5 years before another eruption happens and maybe 8 months if you add the fact most of the space lost was filled in. That also means that in the 4 months since the eruption ended about 81 million m3 of magma should have been supplied to kilauea, and the same amount while the eruption was going on, so the last week of the eruption was erupting magma that was fresh out of the mantle basically and had never been stored, it could be more picritic than the other stuff, in general the fissure 8 lava was described as being very rich in olivine so this could be significant in interpreting the nature of the eruption.

    • 0,2km3 very year is pretty impressive, and luckly Kilauea is not handicapped by a Tectonic Divergent boundary like Grimsvötn is

    • Being aware that these are only guesses, but to increase the total volume by 70% because 70% of the time there was an ocean entry is quite a stretch. Generally all numbers seem to be on the upper end of the estimations, which leaves the end result to be the absolute maximum and most likely the real daily rate was less.

      Is there an official source that states a supply rate of 0.2 km3 per year? I never read of anything bigger than 0.1 km³ for Kilauea.

      • In 1823 the filling of the caldera is estimated to have taken place at 0.3 km3/year, and remained above of 0.2 km3/year for much of the period before 1840, I have also seen in an official source an estimated supply rate of 0.45 km3/year during the recent part of the Pu’u’o’o eruption though I am not aware of what method was used for that.

        I don’t agree either with adding 70 % of volume to the Pu’u’o’o eruption because presumably there was an ocean entry 70 % of the time, after all even if there was an ocean entry for all that time that doesn’t mean all volume goes into the ocean, some lava can at the same time be emplaced subaerially.

        • It’s the best estimate that can be done, and it isn’t going to deviate that much. In any case a lot of material has to have ended up underwater, which is completely ignored in volume estimates.

          • Another way to estimate would be to find the volume of the June 27 flow because that is the only major flow that is complete, and then scale from there based on how long each flow lasted and maybe add 10% or so for before 2007.

          • June 27 flow, rough area is about 30 km2, and the upper half (from the vents to the crack) has an area of 22 km2 and thickness of about 25 meters on average. That gives a volume of about 550 million m3. The distal part that threatened pahoa is much less voluminous, it has an area of 7.2 km2 and is maybe 10 meters thick at most and probably less in general, and that would give a volume of about 50 million m3, so the overall volume of the flow is roughly 600 million m3, and keep in mind that kilauea was not inflating or deflating when most of this was emplaced. The flow lasted just under 2 years, so the average supply rate in that period is about 300 million m3 per year, or 0.3 km3 per year. I probably overestimated some of these numbers a bit but this flow almost certainly still rates in at about 0.5 km3, and this flow was actually noted by HVO a number of times to have been fed at a generally lower rate than a lot of the other flows before it. 300 million m3 per year is an average of about 9 m3/s flow rate.

          • Using this data too, the largest flows from kilauea since 1983 probably produced upwards of at least a km3 of lava. Kupaianaha lasted 5 years, and was often erupting a lot higher rate than June 27 flow, it’s volume probably easily exceeds 1 km 3 and could be around 1.7 km3. 1997-2002 might have been around the same, another 1.7 km3. 2002-2007 again probably reached a similar dimension, maybe even a bit higher as the flows were really extensive then. Really every 5 years about 1.5 km3 of lava erupted from kilauea since 1983. The volume of lava erupted during the high fountains in the 80s could gave been about the same as during this years eruption, 0.7-1 km3.

            7×1.5 is 10.5 km3
            If this is the volume then that means about half the lava ended up underwater.

            I don’t know how thick the June 27 flow actually is, but it completely buried pu’u kahualea which was 30 meters tall so 25 meters average probably isn’t unrealistic. I’m going to go out on a limb and propose that hvo might not be able to see the entire output of the vent and underestimates the eruption rate, and that maybe other lava tubes existed that were deeper within the flow and had no real heat signature. If the flow has the dimensions it has, then that means that much lava was erupted, if the observed rate is less than that then not all of the flow is observed.

            In any case this data shows kilauea is getting an insane amount of magma every year, at the rate it is going now it will almost certainly be erupting within a year, and be capable of large eruptions again within 5 years. The next few years might be like the 60s eruptions, but either more frequent, larger, or shorter period before longer activity. This will likely include eruptions both on the rift and at the summit.
            Really with such a high supply rate it is nigh impossible for kilauea to go dormant, and I have real doubts the supply has stopped somehow.

          • Also using this same technique, mauna ulu has an area of about 50 km2. The part from the ocean up to the top of the pali seems to all be pretty thin, probably 12 meters, maybe 20 meters in places, so probably about 15 average. That part has an area of about 35 km2, so there is roughly 525 million m3 of lava there. That is already far higher than HVO estimates.

            The part above contains the other 15 km2 area, but this part is much thicker up to probably 100 meters under the shield, and probably almost 250 meters where alae crater used to be. Alae crater was about 150 meters deep and 400 meters wide, which is a volume of 18 million m3. A cone 100 meters tall with a base of 15 km2 has a volume of 500 million m3, and that with the lava that flowed into the pit craters adds up to about 550 million m3, so in total the volume of the mauna ulu flow field is about 1.050 km3. There was also about a year of ocean entry, so the total volume of the mauna ulu episode was probably about 1.2 km3, which is about the same volume as a similar time length of the pu’u o’o eruption when you take the gap in 1971 into account. It seems like kilauea has increased since then but it was quite high to begin with. probably starting in 1959 with the big surge of magma to feed the kilauea iki-kapoho eruption and since then it has been very high but was mostly filling the rift zone. Because it probably also probably recieved about 2 km3 of lava in the 60s that means that a lot of the magma must have been going into storage somewhere and probably in the deep rift. There is therefor a LOT of potentially eruptible magma in kilauea, obviously not all of it will actually erupt but the longer this goes on the greater the possibility of something massive happening, more massive than what has already happened anyway. Currently the magma column is probably at about level with this years vent, 800 meters below the level it was in April. Before that it was formerly at pu’u o’o, 500 meters higher, but after 2015 it managed to get back up to the level of halemaumau as the lake was high after that and often overflowed. The danger is if it manages to fill up to that level again or higher, or even overflow the caldera, at its current supply rate it would take maybe 5 years to fill the new caldera, then the lava will be as high as it was this year, with a subsequent risk of a repeat or worse.

          • And finally, because I have determined that the volume of lava erupted during the 1980s fountaining episodes was probably about 0.5 km3 up to as much as 1 km3, and the total time spent in the act of fountaining was probably around 5 weeks. 5 weeks is 35 days, so having 0.5 km3 of lava erupt in 35 days is a very impressive number and one that I dont think is really appreciated.
            That is an eruption rate average of 14.3 million m3 per day, or as much as 29 million m3 per day if the upper estimate is used. The average is about 20 million m3 per day.
            That is about 0.83 million m3 per hour, or 960 m3/s, which works pretty well with my estimate of 1000 m3 for a 500 meter tall fountain of hawaiian type.

            It works less well for more violent activity like strombolian-type fountains (etna, start of skaftar fires), or for eruptions that last longer and erode the vent (fissure 8, holuhraun, later skaftar fires, eldgja?) though, so it probably underestimates the flow rate of fissure 8 somewhat. Fissure 8 probably had a flow rate higher than its fountain height would suggest as the fountain was a gravitational fountain not a gas-driven one. However during some of the surges if the vent was narrower it probably would have fountained to several hundred meters. Long lived fountains are rare, the week long first phase of the 1959 eruption might have been the longest sustained high fountain observed.

        • Yup Kilauea haves one of the worlds very very highest magma supplys
          Soon enough the Haleamumau lava lake will return grander than ever

          Now imagine Grimsvötn without the stealing rift
          then we wous have an Artic Kilauea in some sense I guess

  35. When Kilauea reaches her absolute peak in output as main shield
    She may get a supply of 0,6 to 0,9 km3 every year
    And over 90% of all that will erupt since Kilauea is not handicapped by spreading boundary.
    Thats Kilaueas future in 180 000 years when she is at absolute peak.
    The hawaiian hotspot is undergoing a boost/pulse and is getting stronger
    Its likley that far future ( millions of years ) volcanoes in Hawaii will evolve into huge LIP like constructs IF the hotspot keeps getting stronger. Islands will merge togther into a long snake IF the output increases alot in the future as the output keeps good pace with the moving litospshere, The Islands have already done that underwater the Hawaiian emperor seamount chain that since the hotspot began its boost grown togther

  36. Another swarm on Grimsvötn today… small one but its signs that Vatnajökull is getting restless

  37. This will make an impression in the CSM graph…

    23.11.2018 05:41:08 64.422 -17.254 1.3 km 3.0 99.0 2.1 km NNE of Grímsfjall

  38. Yup Grimsvötn is charging up, we even got a green star inside the caldera
    Can you give me the link to Cumulative seismisity again?

  39. 2004 haves a very very sharp climb magma chambers expanded quickly
    2011 is sharp too and really sharp at the end.
    2011 s – 2018 s climb have been far less steep as the volcano is recovering from the huge 2011 event.
    But the volcano is a hot open conduit system at depth and inflation of the calderas suggest its recovering quickly. Grimsvötn is likley open all way down into the partial melting region at depth since the volcano haves no deep earthquakes

  40. The amount of quakes for this month has also just risen to the same level as in January 2011. I’m not saying one way or the other, as the numbers of quakes reached the same level in august 2016. But this time, going by the number of quakes prior to the last eruption (and the CSM), the eruption could happen in march.
    This is though just laymans math, based on the fact that I like to see patterns repeat themselves, nothing more scientific than that.

  41. The problem is we may never know what will happen
    The whole Grimsvötn Arera have inflated almost half a meter since 2011 according to Carl.
    Thats the new magma thats moved in.. Im curious how much that is
    The whole Grimsvötn caldera area is quite a huge place

  42. Grímsvötn 2011 eruption. Chemical composition Wt%

    GR11- O1a
    SiO2 = 50,54%
    Al2O3 =13,73%
    TiO2 =2,73%
    MgO =5,69%
    FeO =13,14%
    CaO = 10,12%

    This is quite primitve and deep seated stuff
    Similar to Kilaueas magmas

  43. That is the Loki-Fögrufjöll volcanic system. It consists of the Hamarinn volcano and two ridges extending from Hamarinn – the Loki ridge extending to NE and the Fögrufjöll ridge to the SW. This star is on the Loki ridge if I’m not mistaken.

    This area is interesting as it sits in the middle between the two “magma balloons” of Bárðarbunga and Grímsvötn. I think the earthquakes in the Loki ridge area happen as a response when these two balloons massage each other. Looking at the historic quakes in this area it looks almost like a mini version of a transform zone.

    • That was meant as a response to Treeper. And as Albert says, the Loki-Fögrufjöll system counts as part of the Bárðarbunga system.

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