The Ballad of Ballareldur: Explosions in the night

The parasitic vent, Aug 9

Over the past weeks, the Fagradalsfjall has settled into in almost predictable routine. There are regular cycles of eruptions and interruptions. During the interruption, the tremor goes quiet. Nothing is shaking or moving on the drum plots. Over several hours, there is a slow build-up of the tremor. Lava begins to return to the crater in this phase. It reaches a peak when the crater is full and is vigorously bubbling. The crater overflows and the lava moves down the slopes, towards Meradalir. After 10 to 16 hours, the tremor very suddenly stops. The drump lot goes flat, and within minutes the lava disappears. A quiet, lava-free period begins; the cone is dark and empty. It stays likes this for perhaps 10 hours, the build-up starts and the cycle repeats. The build-up is slow but the end is almost instantaneous. In one case we saw that the end was triggered by a small wall collapse. The complete cycle takes about 1.5 days, or at least has done for the past week or so.

There are many drone videos of the eruption. Here is one that shows the phase of high activity. The vigorous bubbling occurs on one side of the crater, and it has build up a higher slope on this side.


During one of those quiet periods, there was a surprise. This was perhaps not unexpected. As one commenter wrote “This volcano keeps doing something different every few hours. Wouldn’t shock me if it started belching out wildflowers for a bit.” To be precise, a big bang. It was brief, and it was after midnight while nothing much was going on. The flash was still noted by the ever-present army of watchers, who see with blinding sight. After the flash, a gap was seen in the rim of the crater. The next day, lava flowed through this gap but it was quickly repaired by the eruption.

Here is the recording of the flash.

The flash came from the same area of the cone where the bubbling occurred during the active phase. It was not at the location of the gap and it seems this gap may have formed before the explosion, not during it.

Explosions are not uncommon during a phase where an eruption tapers off. The lava retreats below a blockage, either rubble or a thin surface of solidified lava no longer broken up by the movement of bubbles. Gas can collect below the blockage, and once the pressure become too much, cause an explosion. We have seen this happen in Agung. One explosion in the night is not yet a pattern, but it is a warning. Do not assume the cone is safe even during its sleepy time.

Gentle into that good night

Is it possible that the eruption is waning? Recent activity episodes have not been as vigorous. The lava does not get as far in Meradalir and instead spends more time building up the shield on the old valley-with-no-name which now is almost a hill-with-no-name. Where there used to be a lava river running down the slope, now there are many braided channels. Carl noted that the low-frequency tremor is beginning to lag behind the high frequency, and that the build-up phase takes longer. It is appearing as an eruption in decline. The coastal road may yet be safe.

The latest report can be found at, with data taken on August 8. They find that the flow rate is a bit lower, 9.3 m3/s averaged over 12 days. The rate has fluctuated over the past month. The scientists write ‘There are strong indications that the flow was lower in the first half of July, 7-9 m3/s, but then came a peak that lasted for 8-10 days, where the flow could have reached 17 -18 m3/s on average.’ It is too early to call an end, but the eruption is having difficulty in keeping going. Was the explosion its Rage, rage against the dying of the light?


In spite of its difficulties, it is already an impressive eruption. The volume has reached 0.12 km3; the area that is covered by lava is now 4.4 km2. The area has increased little in recent weeks, because it is locked in by the walls of Meradalir. Will it manage to break out?

The last few days have had fairly clear weather, a notable difference to the dense fogs of July. This has allowed some useful satellite images, not entirely cloud-free but giving us a complete overview of the lava fields. This satellite image is from August 7, taken with the ESA Sentinel. It was during a vigorous lava flow into Meradalir; the red flows dominate the image. How far did these flows get?

It is easy to recognize the hot lava. In contrast, the cold lava is black, not the easiest colour for images, and not easy to distinguish from the surrounding burned vegetation. We can see that the flows went into Meradalir, but to see whether they expanded the flow field requires a better comparison.

The current full extent of the lava flow can be found at together with detailed contour levels. Taking that map and overlaying it with the satellite image shows where the recent flows reached the walls. This did happen but only at a few places. The flow is pushing the edges in the northern most lobe and it may still be expanding there. The only other place was on the eastern side of the northern lobe but there it is pushing against a hill – it can go up but not out. It is possible there is some further lava movement underneath the surface which is hidden from our view. But mostly it seems that the lava likes to stay in the upper reaches of Meradalir.

In the western part of Meradalir, the elevation of the lava now reaches 150, in places 160, meters. There is a 20 meter drop in level around the narrow part of the valley. In the north-south-oriented valley to the east, the lava has reached an elevation of 130 meter. Northward it still has to inflate by 20 meters to escape: Meradalir there is enclosed by the 150 meter contour. To the east and south there are some escape routes at 140-145 meters elevation. The lava is still some ways short and it won’t escape the valley until the lava flows reach these borders again.

Instead, much of the lava seems to be building up the shield in front of the cone, and also thicken the slope into Meradalir and the upper valley. It is not as mobile as it used to, either because of lower flow rates or because of higher viscosity. It is getting old, but still going. Old age should burn and rave.

For enjoyment, here is another recent satellite image. This was taken by Planet Labs, also on Aug 7 but during the quiet phase. The high resolution image can be found at It shows more detail, including the shape of the cone

Finally, the 3d overview always adds to the information:

Rhymes and Reasons

So why is the output currently cyclic? Why is it variable? Is this an old eruption needing its daily naps?

Let’s start with volcano basics, VC 101. The magma flow is determined by a combination of factors (ok, VC 102). One is the magma itself: the overpressure it is subject to, and the buoyancy. The other is the conduit: the capacity of the conduit is set by its width and by the viscosity of the magma, perhaps reduced further in places by bottle necks.

Originally the flow was fed by the magma dike that was emplaced in February and March. The conduit connected this dike to the surface, and it limited the flow rate to 5-7 m3/s. The increase in the flow rate came in April when a new vent opened, with (apparently) a wider conduit. The dike probably contained around 0.1-0.5 km3, within range of what has erupted so far. Whether the eruption is purely living of this magma emplaced in the dike or that it has direct access to magma from deeper down is unclear. If it is the former, then we may now be in the winding-down phase where the pressure is decreasing and the viscosity may be increasing. If the latter, then it could continue as we are for longer. Of course, if it did stop the pressure in the dike could still force another opening elsewhere to give it another (shorter) lease of life. And volcanoes have been known to push out a block viscous magma to restart the faster flow. The problem with predicting the future is that there are too many possibilities. There is a butterfly effect for the weather – perhaps there is an earthworm effect for volcanoes.

Local GPS stations, e.g. Krysuvik and Svartsengi, indicate a small amount of deflation, with the stations moving a bit closer (1-2cm) to the eruption site since May, and since mid July also showing downward motion of some 2 cm. Svartengi is almost back to the elevation it had before March. Krysuvik still retains more than half of its elevation gain. This tells us that the deeper magma (perhaps 5 km or more) may have lost some volume but the shallow dike is still there. Of course it may have partly solidified.

The rapid fluctuations in flow rate suggest that the magma flow is no longer limited purely by the conduit but that maintaining pressure is becoming a problem. The most likely cause for the sudden interruptions is that something is quenching the degassing. Gas bubbles make the magma buoyant, and if they suddenly dissolve back into the liquid the magma column will collapse. The fact the cycle is fairly regular indicates it is not due to random effects, but it is running out of gas. Once it is running low, and small disturbance which adds weight to the column (rubble falling down) can stop the eruption. Now it takes time for gas to be replenished from below, carried up by fresh magma. Bubbles slowly reform, the column rises and the eruption restarts.

Where does this happen? The degassing is mainly in the lava pond inside the cone. If the pond has a size of 100 by 50 meters, it would need to be around 100 meter deep to provide the amount of lava erupted in one cycle. This is a rather rough number but let’s assume that in the quiescent phase, lava withdraws to that depth. That means that without the aid of the gas bubbles the magma column would reach to 100 meter below the rim of the cone. This is the height reached by the pressure in the dike or conduit, and it is not sufficient to drive an eruption. The cone has grown much too tall for the eruption. The eruption is at risk of ending itself by over-ambition. It may explain the parasitic vent, by the way, as the capillary action of the rubble of the sides of the cone can aid the rising of the lava.

Aug 12

Aug 10

The cone is currently not increasing in height. The region around the cone is growing, and is doing so rapidly. You can see this by staring at the above images taken on Aug 10 and Aug 12, or easier from this animation close-up from the Meradalir camera. The shield to the left is notably growing: you can see how the two hills immediate to left left of the cone are disappearing behind the shield. (One is now only barely visible.) Much of the lava is currently going into building the shield and not into the valley. But the cone itself is not changing (and neither is the region to the right). It indicates that the cone has reached its maximum height: the magma has insufficient pressure to go higher.

This suggests a way the eruption could re-invigorate: get rid of the cone. A new outlet at the base of the cone would change the state of play and could restart a phase of continuous, perhaps even vigorous (if not too viscous) flow. Could the cone collapse? So far it has avoided that – not even the explosion did much damage. But this volcano is unpredictable. Creating a new eruption site is harder as it has to break a new conduit through the solid rock. That will only happen if the eruption stops completely and the current conduit blocks. The pressure inside will build up, and eventually a new fissure may form. Or if the energy is gone, Fagradalsfjall may fall silent again, for 10,000 years or more.

Helicopter view

The drum plot show the phase of low activity, the build-up and the high activity. You also see intermittent brief bursts of activity, lasting perhaps 20 seconds. These puzzled us for a while. They are seen at any phase, but only during day light – were they solar-induced? They are on a 2-hour schedule (notice the repeating colours), starting around 10am. We now think these are helicopters flying over the seismograph.


Early on in the eruption, it was found that the magma came from a depth of 14-16 km, which is almost exactly where the crust-mantle boundary is underneath Reykjanes. Crystals in the magma also showed that the magma had spend some additional time at a depth of 0.5-2 km, in the shallow dike. This was measured in the lava that was erupted during the first two days. The composition changed a bit in April, perhaps as the shallow dike became exhausted. The larger dike that was emplaced at 4-6 km depth during the rifting and shaking phase in February and March may have become the source of the magma, or it may be sourced directly from deeper down. Or both.

The bulk composition is shown in the figure earlier in the post. MgO started out at around 8.8% but increased after a few weeks to 9.6%. These values are high for Reykjanes: typical values are 7-8%. TiO2 is measured at around 1%, while for other Reykjanes lava fields it is around 1.5-2%. SiO2 has not been reported but for Reykjanes is normally around 49%. The magma clearly is not a common type for the region.

The bulk composition was last measured in June. It may not be easy to get access to fresh lava at the moment! (Note that this is NOT a call for help.)

Abundances of other elements can help in tracing the origin. These were measured in the first few days of the eruption, and to my knowledge not since. The most important result is from lead. This element has four common isotopes, which form in part from radioactive decay. That is a very slow process, but the mantle is a very slow beast. Different convection currents n the mantle can end up with material of different ages and therefore somewhat different isotope ratios. The different isotopes are chemically identical, so that the ratio of the original material that provided the melt is kept in the magma.

Lead isotopes 204, 206, 207 and 208 in Reykjanes lavas. Data from Peate, D.W., Baker, J.A., Jakobsson, S.P. et al. Historic magmatism on the Reykjanes Peninsula, Iceland: a snap-shot of melt generation at a ridge segment. Contrib Mineral Petrol 157, 359 (2009) and from Black square: current eruption. Blue squares: historical lava flows in Krisuvik and Svertsangi, either side of Fargradalsfjall. Open squares: older lava flows n the peninsula. Red squares: recent submarine lava flows on the Reykjanes Ridge.

Here is the result. The lead isotopes follow the sequence of the other lavas, but with an interesting detail. The blue squares are the Krysuvik and Svartsengi lavas from 800 years ago. The cluster of open squares to the top right are other lavas from this period, the Reykjanes fires. The open squares on the bottom left are older lavas from the end of the ice age when there was a spike in activity driven by decompression melting. The top right is called ‘enriched’, for obvious reasons, and the bottom left ‘depleted’. The current eruption is less enriched than any measured lava of the previous period, but it is not as depleted as that of the post-ice-age period.

This sequence is thought to result from mixing of different magmas. How many different magmas there are is disputed, but it seems at least three are needed: the decompression melt at the ice age (long since run out), an enriched magma and a mildly depleted magma. The current eruption could be an almost pure example of the latter.

Notice the red squares? They are not on the peninsula but are from two recent lava flows (20th century) on the Reykjanes Ridge, in the Atlantic Ocean beyond Iceland. They are similar to those of Fagradalsfjall.

Lead isotopic ratio along the MAR, from Blichert-Toft et al. 2005,, with the value for the current eruption added (blue star)

This is worth exploring further. The lead isotopes have been measured below the sea along much of the north Atlantic rift – the MAR. This has shown a marked variation. While on-land a large range is seen, the MAR shows distinct regions can be seen, each with their own value. In particular, the Reykjanes Ridge shows a particular range with little scatter, with differs from that seen elsewhere. The Fagradalsfjall ratios are identical to those of the Reykjanes Ridge.

There are other elements in the lava. The rare earth elements in particular show notably low enrichment in the current eruption. On the Reykjanes Peninsula, high enrichment of rare earth elements is seen mainly in the east and the lowest level of enrichment are on the western tip. The off-shore lava is even less enriched. The current eruption is again close to the off-shore lavas.

As mentioned, recent Reykjanes magmas (i.e. the fires 800-1200 years ago) are thought to be formed by mixing two (or more) components: an enriched one and a less-enriched one. Fagradalsfjall is an example of the latter, and it seems to relate to the spreading ridge, which can cause melt at 20-50 km depth. This ridge magma would have collected at the crust-mantle boundary, 16 km deep.

There are other sources of magma in Iceland. The plume underneath Vatnajokull brings up a deeper melt, and this may spread to the peninsula. Magma pockets from previous eruptions may still be stored underneath the Reykjanes Peninsula, slowing changing composition as the magma evolves. At one time in the past there was also decompression melt, affecting shallower regions in the mantle and perhaps the upper crust. This last component is now gone: magma left behind from this will have solidified. The mixing of the other components cause the spread in lava properties on the peninsula.

Fagradalsfjall is in a funny place for an eruption. There are four volcanic centres on the Reykjanes Peninsula, but this eruption is in between two of them. There were eruptions north of here after the ice age, but Fagradalsfjall itself may not have seen an eruption since 35,000 years. The magma that had collected at the top of the mantle came up to feed the new eruption. But it did not find other magma pockets or stores: This was not a volcanic area. It gave us almost pure (primitive, as it is called, to the horror of any archeologist) mantle magma. What we see here is in effect a mid-oceanic rift eruption – on-land. It is not identical to one: the magma formed under an additional few kilometers of crust which may have provided extra weight and insulation, increasing both the temperature and the pressure. In particular, the high MgO and low TiO2 of Fagradalsfjall are not typical for the Reykjanes Ridge, or for other mid-oceanic spreading ridges. But it is close, and the lead isotopes and rare earth elements suggest the material shares its source with the MAR.

We know little about mid-oceanic-ridge eruptions. The most recent case on the Reyjanes Ridge was in 1970, at Eldeyjarbodi, 55–60 km off-shore, where lava was found to have formed on the sea floor. The eruption itself was not observed. This same region also erupted in March 1830, causing a large plume that was seen from Reykjavik. That eruption lasted with intermittent activity for a year. Perhaps it gives us an idea what to expect from Fagradalsfjall. Or perhaps not. But it is an interesting idea that we are seeing a real-life MAR eruption, the first ever tourist-friendly one. There is much to learn.

Albert, August 2021

Do not go gentle into that good night

216 thoughts on “The Ballad of Ballareldur: Explosions in the night

  1. Love that cartoon LOL.
    Keep the articles coming and maybe one on chemistry soon please 🙂

  2. Thanks, Albert. A MAR on land? How curious to see it happen before us. Fascinating article!
    Every time we, in VC, have decided the eruption is entering its closing phase, it surprises us. Looking at it today, it does look tired (just how I feel today with my osteoarthritis!).
    Personally, I have a feeling there’s not enough energy in the system to create a new opening in the vicinity. But I do think some of that cone is structurally dodgy, particularly on the ‘south wall’.
    My guess is we might see a cone wall collapse which may change the dynamics of the eruption and possibly invigorate it for a time.
    Place your bets, ladies and gentlemen…

  3. That poem knocks me out each time I read it. Also if Michael Caine reads it …

    Thanks for all the interesting posts.

  4. …………….and silane coupling agents, silicate cements and who knows what else. That pesky element sure does get around.

  5. Shaken, not stirred. The waves from the large South Sandwich earthquake have just arrived at Fagra

  6. Interesting article! Thanks.

    I find the eruption not that regular as you described, Albert. True, there is a big picture pattern, off and on and off, but certainly with gaps. I mentioned the Reykjanes Ridge earthquake activity on 2 august before, with temporarily waning activity in Fagradallsfjell. Coincidence? Might be. After reading your article it has gotten stuck in my brain though. The activity in the Ridge was about ending with a 2.4 near Fagradalsfjell.

    The crater has grown a lot in weeks. In drone vids you can see the old ‘bath tub’ which had a larger surface than the current. It has overgrown the old one. Past days the tub was overflowing, not the outlet only, but the whole thing. I expect the depth at the outflow has become less deep, so the tubs lava level higher.
    There are two sorts of walls now. The spatter cone, build by lava spatters, and the tub walls that get higher by overflowing lava waves again and again.

    Also the action seem to have become more rigourous after the 2 august pause, more degassing, maybe the height of the magma level in the tub is making this observation unjust. Weeks ago the crater and tubs walls where hiding much of the spattering because of the lower lava level.

    True, the spreading of the lava flows into Meradalirs is far more the case now, a week or so ago there were fewer, but larger lava rivers.
    I think the lava accumulation is taking place more near the cone/tub and part of the flow is also again flowing the old path into Meradalirs, along the footh of Langihryggur. It also appears to me that much of the lava is flowing into tubes, greatly seen in one of the drone vids past days. Possibly one of the next days, when the bulge near the cone has become to large, we see a larger inflow in the valley again. Before, flows into Meradalirs were also episodic.

    So I question if the eruption is waning at all. The amount of upwelling magma is regular in longer period but isn’t that even through the days. Obscuring. 😁

    We’ll see. Hoping for good weather, clear views!

    • I think it is also a case that all of the lava erupting now is flowing on the surface at some point so we can see it all, where before the new breakout a lot of lava was erupting into underground tubes and only extreme surges made surface flows. Now it is all surface flows, wo visually much more impressive 🙂

      I think it soon the cone is going to collapse and send all the lava back into Geldingadalir, that side is very steep. some of the recent flows into Meradalir were massive, the walls in Natthagi really wont stand a chance against that in my opinion, and the much more narrow contours of Natthagi will probbaly funnel those flows further if all things equal.

    • I would be happy for this eruption to continue. It is photogenic, drone-genic, tourist-friendly and doing little damage. I also see that the lava flow is more sluggish (more viscous?), that there are more episodes of lava in the cone without the boiling effect (such as last night) and that the flows rarely reach the edges of the existing lava. The lava is ageing, me thinks. But it could easily tap into fresher magma and re-invigorate.

      • It would be hard to know if the eruption is waning or not. The episodicity of the eruption I don’t think can be taken as a sign of waning. It is quite common for lava fountains to develop some kind of cyclicity, for example the first years of Pu’u’o’o were fountain episodes separated by pauses, before it developed a convecting conduit. Etna is the same, it has basically been in eruption for years, but the fountains always come in episodes because that’s what they do. The episodes might actually be a sign of maturity, the Fagradalsfjall eruption has reached a point were it is no longer a simple fissure eruption. Because the eruption episodes are so brief the lava cannot be expected to reach far, it is building a shield.


    Very good video of the small vent that was open the other day, probably not a really deep feature but it is not a hole in the wall, it is actually lower than the lava lake so if it was a hole it would flow much more and without spattering. It did open before the main crater was fully active too, seems pretty concrete.

    • Chad – great video, it was very helpful esp in regards to the side wall vent! Yes it’s not a side hole which I thought it was. It’s behaviour seems quiet independent of the main vent .

    • It has to inflate by 15-20 meters before it can get over the plateau in that direction. This is where the sentinel lava flow was (see post) but it does not seem to have expanded since that image was taken, 5 days earlier. But with the current behaviour, the ridge developing on the cone could easily send lava this direction and build up the northern flow much more than the southern one. It is not impossible, and actually would be good news, but it is not the most likely exit.

      • Ah yes, you are right, I was mislead by optics 😁.
        In the northeastern direction the lowest point is the dirtroad, 145 m asl.

        In the eastsoutheast side of the valley is a saddle about 125 m high.
        Some days ago I saw a vid, some cars were parked right on this saddle, it looked like the lava level had to rise another 8 to 10 meters before it can escape in direction of the coast.

    • At around 6:38 minutes in, there’s black stuff that looks like it’s appeared from nowhere and flowed down the slope towards the lava field. Would you know if that is vegetation or did the lava splash up somehow? I haven’t noticed it anywhere else.

  8. There is a little, and I mean little, “swarm of eq over at Kilauea IKI. Around 2km deep with a couple of +2 quakes

    • Nice. I would recommend to connect the points on the flow rate with straight line segments rather than curved ones.

  9. The current lava sure looks a lot more viscous than before! Has the temperature dropped, or is the lava fractinating(sp?)?

  10. The southern wall had a part collapse at 13:47! A slop of lava pulled down the top and opened a big enough breach for lava to our out of the pond. MBL and RUV cams caught it nicely.
    Lava pouring into Geldingadalur now.


    13.48pm partial collapse front centre after a period of sequential overtopping by waves of lava. There’s also a breach just left of the normal exit, too, don’t know when that happened.

    • It’s throwing a couple of lava devils into the mix too. Fun!
      Looks like the sulphur areas are going to get repainted.

  12. Heads up. At 13:48:30 a part of the crater wall collapsed. Lava is gushing out. It is in location that could conceivably feed towards Natthagi

  13. I think Alfred wrote this great article with the purpose to rile up the volcano 😀 it’s been punching holes on the rim of the bathtub today and it just punched the largest one, let’s see if the flow will erode away more or it will stop back up..

    • A quick comparison shows that this part of the rim had grown a bit during today’s episode. The collapse took that part back to where it was this morning. It is the new build that crumpled. The prebuild has held.

      • Yeah, it’s quite impressive how much it actually had built up that rim during the day almost unnoticeable for the eye without comparing directly..

    • I was about to comment using the same word – in my case seeing the lava wave rise up and slosh through!
      Great viewing!

  14. 16.12pm, yellow hazard-jacketed humans on the close-up webcam. Maintenance? Monitoring the cracks on Gonhall?

    • That close up camera is just below one of the cracks, I believe.

  15. I wonder if there is a crack growing on the left side. Some overflow has gone through there but it’s glowing red inside long afterwards

    • That was from a lot of overflows, it looks like a crack but it isn’t.

      I think the wall would collapse if you could see straight through a crack that big

  16. Hi, long time lurker here. Thanks to everyone involved in this fantastic site.

    There seems to have been a mysterious event lost in the Icelandic fog last night!

    Screenshot of the mbl close up cam at 23:19:09, hope it posts.

    The flash only lasted a few seconds but there was a glow visible just to the right on the Visir cam for half an hour afterwards (until it went of line) and for more than an hour on the LangihryggurN still camera, on the far right hand side of the view. Nothing on the Meradalur still cam which was completely obscured by fog at the time.

    Location must have been some way to the north or nirth east of the active vent.

    • Nice catch! My first guess would be a perseid fire ball, as the peak of this meteor shower is this time of the yer (Aug 9-13).

      • I thought it was connected to the volcano at hte time but unfortunately it was during the fogiest part of the night.

        • That particular light lasted for an hour or two. It was fairly faint, and reflected off the fog. It is on the lava channel and was shortly after the come reactivated, so it is likely lava. But it wasn’t a brief flash so I assumed that you meant something else. Volcanic explosions tend to last a bit longer, reflected of the ash they throw out. Meteor explosions tend to be fast. Is it possible the two things you saw were unrelated?

          • I should maybe have used a less dramatic word than “flash”, it came and went over about thirty seconds.

            I think it is probably a lava flow behind the cone as you describe and the close up camera has given me a missleading idea of what was happening by exagerating the brightness of the glow on the right whilst not giving any indication of lava in the cone, except a couple of small lights.

            It might just be down to the way diffent light sources reflect off the fog. The main source of light is probably out of view on the right so the “flash” might have been caused by an increase in brightness that briefly made it visible from that view.

    • Could there have been some residue lava breaking out from under the crust and the fog reflected the glow? There was quite a few glowing spots in the dark when I had a peek at the cam long before the eruption restarted.

  17. What this study suggests is scary to say the least but are there any many more supporting the scenario? This study suggests that the vaccine is maybe causing ADE.

    • RE: “What this study suggests is scary to say the least but are there any many more supporting the scenario?”

      The definitive research has not been done but there’s enough out there to suggest that it just might.

      Consider this: Joseph Lister was thought crazy when he suggested that surgeons wash their hands before operating. He established what we now call ‘the chain of infection’, leading to the barrier and isolation protocols which are in place this very day….including the controversy of masks. Where an issue is in flux, still evolving, conflicting opinions will exist. What we need to know now may not be known for days, weeks, months, or years. That does not render the observations of some as being false information and others to be true, until a finding has been determined to be incontrovertible.

      • There is no controversy on masks. There is unwillingness but there is no controversy. As for ADE, there are very few cases where people infected with an earlier strain got ill from the delta strain, and the hospitals are full with unvaccinated people but few vaccinated people get so ill they end up in hospital. That already shows that this ADE, if it exists, is not strong. I hope you are vaccinated. Unvaccinated people remain a danger to themselves and to others. Three people I know have died of it including one family member and one close colleague. Please, get your vaccine, wash your hands and wear a mask when appropriate. This disease is not a joke.

        • RE: “There is no controversy on masks.”

          I disagree on the matter of controversy but that’s a factor of how one interprets the use of the word. Personally, I have no issues with vaccines. I’m a 79 yo retired oral surgeon, have been vaccinated across the past decades according to the standards of medical practice, even to the ’47 smallpox outbreak in NYC. My family members are of the same ilk. My issue is with how the science is interpreted and the use of findings for cause. Notwithstanding the contribution of Fameroz, I am of the opinion that the content of those papers is enough to be able to say as you have expressed regarding ADE in the matter. Having said that, such an observation would be deemed ‘false information’ in some quarters of social media, which it has been, and is reprehensible.

          • That is good to know. There is a lot of misinformation out there, and vaccine hesitation is making things worse. As you have seen, I feel pretty strong about this!

      • The papers quoted specifically state there is no evidence for ADE being a problem with coronaviruses, whilst it is a very clear problem with dengue. Further everyone forgets c19 is just another coronavirus so similar to at least one of the four common cold viruses that the immunity shown by about half the population is most likely due to one or more providing effective live vaccination. The fact that repeated reinfection by coronavirus strains throughout life is normal in human populations and ADE has never been implicated suggests this is not a problem.
        I fear you are likely being spoofed by the anti-vax community with fake news.
        PS Every paper that can work coronaviruses into its abstract will do so for greater publicity and funding.

      • It is currently a theoretical risk, based on knowledge of disease processes with other viruses. The problem is, as important as it is to know the practicalities and be aware of the potential risks, with SARS-2-CoV and COVID-19 so much in the news, people are trying to interpret scientific papers without the training that is required to go with it. This is leading to incorrect assumptions, due to the lack of knowledge required for full understanding. Many of the anti-vaccine statements are based on the twisting of data, either deliberately or unintentionally. While there is a theoretical risk of ADE following vaccination, that risk is liekly much greater if you have been infected previously.
        It seems at the moment, that the patients with the worst symptoms, have a much broader antibody response, while those with a more specific response seem to have milder disease on the whole. Also, the level of antibody response is much statistically higher in those who have had more severe disease.
        Vaccines will never be 100% effective, so some will still become infected, but they are more likely to promote a more specific response, because they only contain RNA from the spike protein.
        Masks have a role to play, but some don’t understand what they can achieve. I still haven’t found an answer why there are outbreaks in some workplaces and not others, where there have also been infections. I suspect that people are continuing to work with symptoms in those places, possibly because they can’t afford not to work or it could be that their infection control practices are lax. Staying at home is far more effective than any mask or any other precautions.

        • RE: ” people are trying to interpret scientific papers without the training that is required to go with it.”

          This is why lay fact checking clerks, quick to censor and punish on social media, should stay out of it. The fine details you’ve cited reflect the lack of consensus in the science community, but we are used to those differences of opinion until the science irrevocably supports one side. One can’t be sure how much of the literature the so-called ‘experts’ are familiar with. Sources of ‘fact’ are often those whose testimony supports an agenda the fact checkers are advocates for.

    • If ADE from any of the vaccines were a significant factor in covid-19, you would expect
      any breakthrough infections to have an increased risk of poor outcomes. Instead, risk of hospitalization is significantly decreased for those who had breakthrough infections after being vaccinated.
      This is not to categorically say that there is no ADE effect. However, even if there is, the effect is minimal, and is significantly outweighed by the beneficial effects of being vaccinated.

    • It might do that, the question is how often. I’m betting
      1) not very often at all, depends on the individual antibodies being suitable for that
      2) it is equally likely that antibodies acquired from previous infection will also cause ADE, because the risk from ADE has to do with having antibodies
      3) the epidemiologic data (most hospitalizations and deaths in unvaccinated people) do not support the ADE risk being particularly high.

      BTW actually studied viruses in grad school + lab work.

    • I dont understand the fear at all for any of this. Even in the worst cases I cant see the long term effects of the vacine being worse than actually getting covid, it is after all a more controlled signal for your immune system to react to. Those who got sick from the vaccine probably would have just straight up died without it which is something rarely in the thought process.

      • The article confirms the general view of infectious rna viruses but apart from detail adds nothing new.
        We have lived for many decades with four circulating common cold coronaviruses and it seems to me likely that combines they offer broadband immunity to the group as a whole. This is important because coronaviruses routinely jump between species.
        The very low mortality of C19 in healthy people and the high incidence of asymptomatic infection made that obvious from the start. I did suggest 18 months ago we could use the existing common cold viruses as vaccines, which went down like a lead balloon.
        Basically we need c19 and its mutants to circulate at low level within our population, mostly asymptomatically with the odd bad ‘cold’.
        Its how its worked for hundreds of millions of years and its why covid in bats and humans has not wiped us out but been so minor most people didn’t even know about it (except vets).

        • It was always assumed that the pandemic in the 1890’s was due to flu, but they never found the culprit. There is now a theory that it was caused by one of the commonly circulating coronaviruses.

        • RE:”The article confirms the general view of infectious rna viruses but apart from detail adds nothing new.”

          What the article confirms, as well, is the quote I extracted from Richard’s comments. We remain in a constant state of flux and what we deem to be ‘No’ today may turn out to be ‘Yes’ six months down the road and vice-versa. Best guestimates are made on currently known information. Much is not cast in stone but assumed by some to already be. The short disclaimers at the end of research papers which declare that there is more that needs to be done are tossed aside like the few soft fruit in a large box of strawberries in favor of what appears to be acceptable for the shortcake.

          • Nearly all scientific papers end with a disclaimer than more work needs to be done. How else would they get more grant funding? Of course more work needs to be done. Scientific inquiry is not finite.

          • RE:”Scientific inquiry is not finite.”

            You would think not from the comments of the lay community and the vested interests. Such is the nature of the information gap. “There isn’t any evidence” in science doesn’t mean there might not be forthcoming, unless less the question has been answered irrevocably, and even then…. I’m beginning to hear the phrase…’at this time’, creeping into the advisories coming forth from ‘the suits’.

  18. Yesterday’s Fagradalsfjall episode was imaged by Sentinel. Day of the Triffids or War of the Worlds?

  19. Does anybody have a clue on what is happening around South Georgia and the Sandwich Islands?

    • There was a large earthquake yesterday there. At M7.5 probably about as large as it can get here – the full arc of the subduction fault may have given way. There have been a lot of aftershocks since

      • Albert,
        that 7.5 was followed by 8.1 minutes later.

        followed by near 1m tsunami.

        Dr. Hicks had some comments too

        And aftershocks following yesterday’s M7.5-8 South Sandwich Islands quake are lighting up over half the length of the subduction zone – that’s nearly 500 km! We normally expect subduction thrust earthquakes of this magnitude to rupture something like a 100-200 km length of fault.

        • When I looked at it after the event, about an hour later, it hadn’t yet been upgraded to an 8.1. The 7.5 made sense if the subduction part of the fault had slipped. I would not have expected an M8 – should have checked. The Haiti quake is smaller but will be much worse though – it is larger than the one that destroyed the capital in 2010

          • USGS keeps both 7.5 and 8.1 approx 3 minutes and 60km apart.

            that 7.5 is a solid foreshock.

          • actually USGS list this on the 8.1 eq page:

            Seismic observations suggest this earthquake is part of a complex seismic sequence. Our current interpretation is that this earthquake is the mainshock to a M7.5 that occurred ~170s earlier. The location, depth, mechanism, and magnitude of this earthquake is preliminary and less well constrained than typical events of this size due to interference from the preceding M7.5 foreshock. Research is being conducted on this sequence to better understand the faulting geometry and details of rupture. This analysis will take time and our understanding will likely evolve. This page will be updated as we learn more about these interesting events.

        • Could we possibly see one of the island’s volcanoes erupt?

          • They erupt often, one of them has a long term lava lake, though I forgot which island it is on.

            Might be the biggest active lava lake on Earth right now actually, come to think of it.

            I also remember seeing a picture of 4 of the volcanoes in this arc going at the same time, it is very active just also very inaccessible.

  20. Recent tilt signal at Kilauea is interesting, it is not of large scale only 5 microradians or so but it isnt a mirrored DI, only a D. It seems magma has escaped from the summit chamber somewhere into the rift, or maybe more interestingly it has intruded under Kilauea Iki. The upward movement has resumed as before too so whatever has just happened is going to put things off by only a few days.

    Iki quakes were all at a few km depth, magmatic depth there. There also have been a lot of quakes along the northern areas of Kilauea up though not in the last few weeks, showing something going on there even if tectonic. The swarm at Iki is not big, but Kilauea is probably the hottest and most ductile piece of crust on the planet, especially its summit and more than 1 km down.

  21. Watching the visir2 camera and it’s like to volcano is breathing. Little red dots all over the screen fade up and then glow from the central crater shows then in all fades away over a cycle of about 10 seconds.

    I don’t think it’s weather

    But the darkness, which we haven’t really had til now, is going to show us all another side of the eruption I think.

  22. Saw somebody mentioned the large earthquake swarm around the South Sandwich Islands.
    There’s a spreading ridge between the sandwich plate and the scotia plate to the west, and to the east it’s being subducted by the south american plate and coming up against serious resistance when sliding along the antarctic plate. The plate is lurching east right into the path of subduction, which is happening quicker than the spreading and which has been complicated by some underwater features and the island arc.
    Expect to see several M8+ over the years to come.

  23. In the light of a nice sunny day, the Geldingadalur volcano’s south wall looks well battered by the last period of activity. There are a number of crumbled areas. And some parts look rips for further destruction.
    Whenever the next eruption cycle starts, I guess a lot of lava will now run into Geldingadalur, and on to Natthagi valley.
    Should be interesting to watch!

    Also – another rattle off the Alaskan Peninsula just now.

    • And overtopping at centre.
      Haiti reports are not good. This country really didn’t need another natural disaster.

    • The Met Meradalir camera shows a strong flow at 15:00, 2021-08-14, starting halfway down the slope to the valley. Most of the lava must be coming through a tube system, because there is no visible lava above.

  24. Kilauea has started another DI event. Unexpected because it was still in the previous one. This is now a D2I event

    • I think the first drop was actually magma leaving the summit chamber somewhere, not a lot but still some, maybe going downrift more in the conduit as theres been quakes even a bit padt Pu’u O’o just no significant deformation. The drop was not as hard and when it ended it didnt go back up immediately but kept the trajectory before. The DI events are probably not magma actually leaving the magma chamber because they are temporary.

      All can change though. The other possibility is most DI events are recorded from Halemaumau but possibly they can also occur in the other active magma chambers and completely separately, and this is two separate DI coinciding in time.

  25. At 2027:03, looks like a hole has been punched through the south wall, to the west of the “parasitic vent”.

    Interesting development? Dunno – the cone seems to have “self-healing properties”, so we’ll see?


    • I was just looking at it – and it looks like the ‘parasitic vent’ has somehow survived all this. I thought it had died. It is about where the original output was.
      There must be a good crack right up the edifice from the bottom for this to be viable.
      The current eruption is really churning it out, now!

      • After looking at the ‘hole’ some more, it almost looks as if it originates inside the cone above it, and angles down. There’s not a steady stream of lava coming out (as one might think if the ‘hole’ went directly through), and with the rather spectacular spurting it does….leads one to wonder about the angle.

        Hard to say where this would go….the hole on the other side wasn’t easily seen at all – no camera coverage, so it’s hard to compare how this one might evolve. If it indeed grows, and since that side has a weak appearance, it might well grow much, much bigger.

        • This “parasitic” vent has been a weak feature from the start.
          I think it is just a crack in the rubble edifice starting at the main conduit. It’s allowing gases and lava to find a way up to a separate outlet. I do not believe it to be separate to the main conduit from the intrusion.
          I’m honestly surprised it is still going. I do not think it will survive in the long term.

          I’m intrigued that the term I idly coined, “parasitic vent”, appears to be gaining traction! Have I created a new volcanic phenomenon? My son searched the term out and only found one other mention in the volcanology press, in an article about Italy. Yet I have seen another Youtuber pick up the term.

          Fame at last! (For 5 seconds…)

          • It looks like your parasitic vent is becoming a right proper vent.

          • Geolurking, you’ll have to have a word with my son. He didn’t search hard enough!
            Oh well, my (feeble) claim to fame is lost. Back to obscurity….

  26. Parasitic vent is proper fountaining now, while the main vent is quiet too nonetheless :O

    • Should say there is still a massive flow, but the main crater is not fountaining much, I think there is no doubt to the status of this feature now, a skylight would not behave like this.

  27. The parasitic vent is now ten times bigger (that’s from been a tiny outlet) am baffle!

    • I think the parasite is fed from the lava channel coming out of the cone. The lava there is flowing quite fast, and a bit of the flow is side tracked into the break here. Because it has some speed, it is pushed up higher in parasitic vent. It may seal itself but it is also possible this will cause a break in the flow channel and this will become the main channel.

      • It erupted on its own for around 15 minutes as the main vent declined and actually stopped, it is probably not a really deep thing, maybe only a few hundred meters at most, but it is its own vent as in it has its own degassing and fountain. On the overflights this spot also is not actually next to the fast channel either, next to it but the lava is not moving much.

        There is also actually a second vent that was probably under the channel itself and only showed itself as a fountain in the last few minutes it was exposed. it might be a short fissure or line, will have to wait for pictures on that though it might be a single vent with two holes.

  28. There were a few splashes from what appears to be behind the cone at 05:36 on RUV cam

  29. Main vent has stopped glowing, aux vent still going. 0530 +/- a few min for main vent shutoff.

    Aux vent spewed a some good height 0537-8 then starts to shutdown.

    Lower tap into the main conduit?

  30. On the Meradalir camera, the lava field in the bottom left corner (just below the camera) has risen by several meters overnight

    • Albert – apologies, but a month or so back someone posted a link to a great e-book on climate, energy and all related things – can you or anyone remember what it’s called and who wrote it?

      From my memory it was described as not being the most up to date but still the best primer on the issues.

  31. Here is a link to an animation of how the lava field expanded overnight. The changes are at the bottom left corner, and at the centre of the image below the big peak. Especially at the bottom the lava has gone up quite a bit, perhaps 5 meters

    • Does that increase the likelihood of lava escaping north from Meradalir?
      I believe it had some height to climb before spilling out.

      • The area immediately in front of the camera is a blind embayment, with a good 50-60 metres elevation needed to overtop, looking at the latest fan map. The area with a possibility of overflowing is further round the hillside at far left (northeast).

  32. What’s going on with Fukutoku Okanoba? Information is sparse but I’m hearing that it’s potentially a massive eruption with a plume measured at 16km so far? Are we talking potentially a VEI-5 level eruption with this thing? Would love to get more info on it.

    • Thanks for sharing that. Apart from the lava tube reference, the idea of finding so many bones in one place, some 7000 years old is fascinating.

  33. Activity seems to have resumed, but all I’m seeing in the closeup cam is an orange blur. Could someone please adjust the focus now so that we can see the eruption? :/

  34. Would Grimsvotn just erupt already? I am getting tired of watching it doing nothing!

  35. Interesting perhaps on the drumplot at 05:00-is the blue tremor going to stall out around 4800? I think i’ve seen eruption in the last few hours thru the mist?…

    • It is a regular thing. Small pause in the building up tremor.

      No idea why.

    • Watching the cams, just before 5000 is the moment glow or/and spattering can be seen after the resting period.
      When the crater has been filled to the max with lava, tremor is at its max too?
      That could explain the stall, the period in which the crater is filled to the max.

  36. The quake swarm on Kilauea has stopped, maybe can be termed a failed eruption though it wont be long before things pick up again I expect.

    I noticed that regarding this activity there were actually more quakes along the Kaoiki faults, just like there were last year, and which are tentatively taken as early warning signs. In any case it is surprising to me how the new cent has already plugged itself tight, the pressure in the magma chamber is higher than what caused the eruption last year. Is a bit frustrating the alert is still on yellow though, it makes it look like both volcanoes are at equal standing and risk but Mauna Loa is very quiet and has been for months now…

    • It seems do be having a bit of an Monday morning today, hard to wake up properly, I know the feeling 😀

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