The Plume of Ballareldar?

Stunning photograph of the eruption. Photograph by Haussman Visuals.

To me the part of a volcano that is visibly erupting is the least exciting partPerhaps a better way of stating it is, that it is only the effect of the cause. This is obviously not true to most people on the planet, so I think I owe everyone an explanation.

And that explanation is especially important since we need to look deep into the volcano, to understand its future.  

Like most people I can obviously spend hours looking at lava bombs being hurled, and lava slowly filling valleys. But, getting to know the hidden innards of a volcano, and understanding their functions, is making the experience even better. 

So, let us take a journey through the volcanic features of the Ballareldar from the bottom up. During this journey I will try to impart the wonders I see, and why this cute little tourist eruption is one of the most scientifically important eruptions ever witnessed. 

To do this we must employ many tools of the trade, petrochemistry, geophysics, chemistry and garden average physics, to be able to look below the ground we walk on. As I go on, I will try to tell you what we know, what we can assume, and what are open questions to science. 

 

In the beginning there was the mantle 

The Geology department at the University of Iceland did wonders in the opening stages of the eruption taking samples and analysing them at breakneck speed. I wish we had later data at hand, but I think that is saved for some juicy future articles by the scientists in question. Which is fair enough, and they have let a few tidbits out that is highly intriguing. 

What we do have is still enough to make me feel like a kid visiting his first candy store. Because things are sufficiently “out there” to make my eyebrows lift quite substantially. 

Regular lava in Reykjanes is indicative of Mid Oceanic Rift Basalt (MORB) origin, coming up from the Mohorovic discontinuity between the crust and the mantle, it is normally partially evolved (fractionated)and has ample amounts of inclusions indicating that it has resided in the crust for a while. 

Normally you will see a medium amount of sulphur in the lava, and it will be fairly cool compared to the plume derived lava coming out nearer to the Icelandic mantle plume, and the plume derived lava is among the most sulphur rich lavas on the planet. 

Image by the Geology Department of the University of Iceland.

If we look at the current magma being ejected as lava, we find that it is, first of all, unusually hot. The confirmed temperature is 1190 ºC from the first observations, but I have seen later unconfirmefigures up towards the 1220 ºC. 

Higher temperatures than 1190 ºC is by far not impossible, remember that the official temperature was taken early on when the magma had been cooled and partially quenched as it passed between the cold sides of the 7km long and 15 km high dyke leading from the deep feeder conduit near Keilir, all the way to the surface. 

As the surrounding rock is heated by the passing hot magma, over time the cooling effect will diminish and the temperature of the lava will go up a bit. 

As far as I know the previous temperature record holder in Iceland was the Holuhraun III eruption at 1180 ºC. Here we had an origin that definitely was from a well-formed mantle plume, yes it had partially resided inside inside of Bárdarbunga and had travelled for a long stretch across a very long dyke. 

But a big part of it was fresh material from inside the mantle that was newly arrived. On top of that the flow rate in the dyke was large enough to heat it very well indeed, decreasing the cooling effect considerably. 

The telltale low TiO2 and high MgO. Image by the Geology Department of the University of Iceland.

The temperature of the lavas erupted during the Ballareldar is high enough to be seemingly congruent with plume origin.  

If we look at the regular lavas erupted at Reykjanes through the eyes of groundmass glass, we see that it usually contains about 250ppm of Sulphur, but the current lava is erupting an average of 1140ppm of sulphur. 

And we do know that the Icelandic plume produces record breaking amounts of sulphur as the associated volcanoes erupts. 

Here it is easy to think that what we are seeing is a tendril of magma that has squeezed itself merrily along the underside of Iceland until it arrived below Reykjanes during the last 800 years. Looking at the evidence so far, it is not a bad idea. 

But we need additional data to prove or disprove our little plume origin hypothesis. This is the point where petrochemistry shines. 

Rare Earth Minerals chart. Even the lantanides are unusually absent. The Geology Department of the University of Iceland.

The first we see is that the lava is rich with olivine, a crystal that is called Peridot and Chrysolite when used as a gemstone. It forms in the upper mantle, so now we know that at least the magma is from the upper mantle. 

Olivine comes in three distinct flavours, the magnesium flavour called foersterite (peridot) that can be green or transparent. It can only form above 400km depth, below that you get wadsleyite. 

The other common one is the reddish-brown fayalite (chrysolite) that contains iron, this forms at lower pressures than forsterite, so as such it is not pointing towards deep mantle origin. 

I will just briefly mention the third flavour, the whacky Manganese olivine named tephroite. From a volcanologic standpoint, it is the least understood of the 3. It can also have any colour visible to man, since it has a propensity to make love to pretty much any other metal. It is the penultimate slut in geology, making it into a darn good precursor when looking for mineralisations to mine. 

The Ballareldar lavas are rich in magnesium olivine (forsterite), this means that the origin of the magma is somewhere between 15-400 kilometres down. We also know that many Icelandic lavas are forsteritic, so it seems like we have once more proved a plume provenance. 

Now we need to compare the Ballareldar eruption (2021-) and the Holuhraun III eruption (2014-2015. The first thing that we see is that Holuhraun III has less olivine (forsterite) than Ballareldar has. 

If we look at the weight percentage of TiO2 at Holuhraun III we find that it is at 1.75 to 1.9%, whereas at Ballareldar we see a figure of 0.9%. On the other hand, we see weight percentages of MgO at around 6.7% at Holuhraun III versus 8.8-9% in the Ballareldar samples. 

Did we just find a spanner crashing into the spokes of the wheel of our hypothesis? Can we save our our pet theory? 

Yes, sadly our pet theory dies here in the warm embrace of TiO2, this is due to us knowing that the distance from the Icelandic plume center does not indicate decreasing TiO2, or vice versa. Plume derived forsteritic basalt does not drop in TiO2 with half. Bummer! 

At best we have a partial influence of the Icelandic plume, but sufficiently small to not explain the sulphur and the temperature as such. 

Here one could come up with the crutch-theory that it is another unknown plume at work. That is amply gunned down by geophysics, since we know from tomography mapping of the mantle, using measured differences in the travel speed of sound indicating temperature variations in the mantle. In simpler terms, we have a fairly good map of where there are plumes, or not, in the mantle. 

There is obviously no special plume under Reykjanes. At this point we will have to wait for new data from young strapping Ph.D. students. 

 

New data 

The gassy belly of the beast. Image by the Geology Department of the University of Iceland.

This is written a couple of days later as an addendum. I had already edited in the article when I found new data from the geology department at the University of Iceland. Problem is that the new data made mince-meat of what I had written above. 

My first instinct was to do a complete rewrite of the article, so that it would no look like I used the southern end of northbound donkey as a brain. Instead, I am leaving out the first part as it is, as an example of how new data is driving scientific discovery and creates the need for new models and hypothesis-formation. 

I love the smell of fresh science in the morning, well that and coffee. So, without further ado we will boldly go where no person has gone before. 

Let us begin with what is the same. The sulphur content is same at the high levels, and the release of SO2 is keeping steady at 2000 to 3000 tons per day. The variations closely follow eruption flow rates, so we can safely say that it will not increase nor decrease over time in any significant manner. 

Several people have asked me lately about the noticeable increase in “smoke and gas” from the vents. And yes, there has been an increase in the visible gas volumes at the volcano. Problem is that there is no increase in release of CO2 or SO2 from the volcano, and this is to be expected since the lava flow rates are constant while the Sulphur content has been consistently high. 

So, why then are we seeing more gas? There are two reasons for this. The first is that it is likely that water vapour has increased due to the magma moving through a number of aquifers, and that a few of those contain super-critical fluids. 

I have however not seen any data on water content, so this is speculative. The second reason is simple: from an actively erupting vent you have sufficient thermal uplift to chuck the gas straight up and out of the way as a visual hindrance. 

That is why we see more visible gas from dying colder vents; they do not have the energy for effective thermal convection. 

In short, the gas increase is mainly more a question of altitude than attitude. 

Petrochemical differences over time. Image by the Geology Department of the University of Iceland.

Now, let us talk about the differences. MgO has increased from the previously high number of 8.8-9 percent, now it is 9.7-10 percent. This means that there is more forsterite in the mixture. This in turn points towards greater depth. 

Now, let us turn to the TiO2, it has increased from the low number of 0.9% to 1.5%. These two increases in TiO2 and MgO indicates a deeper origin. 

This indicates that the original magma most likely was of Icelandic Plume origin and that the plume head is slightly wider than previously believed. It also points towards some process depleting the magma during its long and slow movement towards Reykjanes from the plume core under Kistufell. 

One solution that is likely, is that TiO2 due to it’s higher melting point trends towards attaching itself to the bottom of the crust in a process called underplating, whereas the MgO does not. 

Now, here we arrive at a monster of a question. Was the eruption caused by arriving deeper material that first pushed up the depleted magma under the eruption site? Or, has the eruption depleted the supply of depleted magma and new deeper material is going up to fill the gap? 

If it is the latter, we are most likely seeing a smaller version of the process that created the Icelandic plume to begin with, eruptions causing a void creating lowered pressure increasing the melt process at depth.  

At the Icelandic plume this process has been running for 14.4 million years now, so it has burrowed itself deep and become a true monster among plumes. Whereas Ballareldar is too small in the greater scheme of things, and it will putter out when the eruption dies out. 

I should here point out that we do not know which one of the two options given above is true, I lean towards thel atter idea of burrowing. But, as per usual, until a strapping young Ph.D. Student has done the heavy lifting and done a garnet study we will not know for sure. 

 

Final words 

What I would like to see is a study of garnets in lava. Various garnets form at different depth in the mantle, so have a garnet study would be helpful to constrain further the depth of the formative melt. Want to get a doctorate in petrochemical volcanology..? Go garnets, go! 

I had initially planned to write about the dyke, and the future for the Ballareldar. I had also planned to write about the name BallareldarThat will though have to wait for part two of the article since I got rolling with the petrochemical part of life. 

So, in part two we will leave the mantle behind and become crusty indeed. 

CARL REHNBERG 

Sources: 

characterization_of_the_1st_and_2nd_day_of_volcanic_products_from_geldingadalahraun_2021.pdf (hi.is) 

Microsoft Word – trace_isotope_report_v1r2.docx (hi.is) 

MS Template (skemman.is) 

640 thoughts on “The Plume of Ballareldar?

  1. Current RUV via giggle:
    https://www.ruv.is/frett/2021/03/18/eldgosid-i-geldingadolum-i-beinni-utsendingu

    “There seems to be a lot of uncertainty with the burn. The Meteorological Office sent a press release at 11:24 where it was confirmed that the smoke in Geldingadalur, south of the most active crater, was due to burns. Now at 11:32, the news agency received another email from the Meteorological Office that this was not a burn, and it had been confirmed by responders on the scene. The Meteorological Office’s shift is therefore awaiting assessment, and so are the rest of us.”

  2. It seems the pulsing is now happening more frequently…less and less minutes apart

    • Feels like the endgame for the current vent … is the dike seeking a new path to surface or is the eruption winding down?

      • The million dollar question! On one hand I hope it is quitting….on the other I want it to continue….I live on the peninsula and this could affect our living in the long run….thats why I want it to stop. But my volcano nerd would like for it to continue so I can oppserve and learn more about eruptions and volcanoes.

  3. There appears to be a slump scar immediately above the smoking area, and another one further back.
    Not sure if that’s relevant, but such features indicate ground movements so it is possible there is a graben developing in the area.

    • i think it’s been there a long time… i’m reminded of lines made by previous eruptions long after the events. i’ve been fantaszing about a truely ancient volcano and the footprints left behind and thought that might be one. my mind often goes long term. one of my favorite cartoons is scientists looking for dinosaur prints while standing in a hugh one… 😉 so.. the short is : i’ve been wondering about that ridge too.

    • That’s Kópavogskirkja in the foreground – the arched roofs. Just over the bay from Midborg Airport in Reykjavik.
      Wow (low whistle of amazement).

  4. Playing with Skjalfta-Lisa, I noticed this. (It is pretty hard to see on my image, I admit. Set Skjalfta-lisa to march 6 to march 19 yourself to see it better. http://skjalftalisa.vedur.is/#/page/map )

    There was an branched-off earthquake area here roughly from march 6th to march 19th. It seems to have branched off right where Gollum/Smeagol popped up, and run down west parallel to the Reykjanes-Fault. The branch ends right where the smoking area is now.

    If that is the case, this may actually be a side fissure/smoke vent/hot area, while being brittle enough to sneak up without much warning.

    • I noticed this at the time. I remember wondering if the dyke could have changed direction slightly.

    • Yet again, there were no shallow EQs. Speaks against a new fissure (for now), and might be just an outgassing vent (for now). But it does seem to come from below…

  5. It appears that my prediction of fissures has come true 4.5 hrs later, but I wish that there were some way of telling where the new fissures will occur instead of making a general statement.

    • It looks as if the clues were there, It’s just so hard sorting the wheat from the chaff…

    • Another laymen’s opinion: the steam comes from water veins that finally reach vaporization temperatures. Three reasons why this might not be a new vent: 1. color of the clouds: pretty white, 2. we’ve seen such steaming over and over again on different spots close to the lava without becoming vents, 3. it is a bit too far west to be in line with the vents.

  6. Latest RUV via Giggle
    https://www.ruv.is/frett/2021/05/02/gigurinn-theytir-kviku-300-metra-upp-i-loft

    ‘”The activity drops and the surface of the lava field in the crater seems to decrease along with it to some extent. And then the lava flow also decreases a bit, even the lava flow from the crater stops. The eruption then erupts with considerable force and forms magma jets that are higher than we have seen before, probably about 300 meters high. They send magmatic eruptions far from the crater. Some land in the moss southwest of the crater and have started a fire, “says Þorvaldur.’

    • It does look a lot like just smoke, no actual gas. Ah well. Time for F1 at Portimao.

    • So the F1 is done, I made gains in my fantasy league, and the smoking steaming moss is still in exactly the same places as 3 and a half hours ago… Long-life burning moss? Moses would be very intrigued…

      @Lughduniense, can you spot your ‘no snow graben’ in this photo?

      https://imgur.com/gallery/bxdGVd2

  7. From RUV: “There seems to be a lot of uncertainty with the burn. The Meteorological Office sent a press release at 11:24 where it was confirmed that the smoke in Geldingadalur, south of the most active crater, was due to burns. Now at 11:32, the news agency received another email from the Meteorological Office that this was not a burn, and it had been confirmed by responders on the scene. The Meteorological Office’s shift is therefore awaiting assessment, and so are the rest of us. “

    • So it is a New fissure then?
      But the dominant crater vent may have the magma .. until it dies off and gives the magma to the New vent?

    • The thing that’s making me unsure whether I am yet ready to believe IMO etc. on this is that the smoke seems to be staying very localised (eg the area closest to the lava field). If the smoke were caused by moss burning, I’d have thought it’d be spreading faster, and burning itself out, but the smoke is staying in the same area. I don’t think the moss is that thick or dense here, either, so the smoke being caused by steam seems more likely. And then there’s the geological point about a possible second dike in this area.

      • Now that a grass/moss burn-off has occurred (the blackened area in the RUV cam), the remaining smokes seem to be rather consistent with an underground source. They’re not dying away nor moving off and have been there since this started.
        I’m in agreement, am57. This is interesting to watch!

        • I agree about the burn-off, but I’m having some further thoughts: the camera zooms in on the firefront at 11.39 (on the time-stamp) and it definitely looks like there is moss burning along a front. Also, the wind is a NE-erly, which is entirely consistent with what we’re observing.

          However, none of what I’ve just said is inconsitent with sub-surface heating causing the burning moss. Also, the spurts of fire that some of us saw a few days ago E of the active vent were different, I think, from the fire front of burning moss at 11.39…

        • And that didn’t come out where I meant it to, or say what I typed, which was:
          “smoke being caused by steam” – am57 runs for cover and begs for mercy on his disengaged brain!

  8. This is a picture I saw passing by on the 13th of April. I noted how there was a depression that was not filled with snow, like the one to the left. So I circled it as a ‘note to self’. It could be like a graben and warmer than other depressions… It seems more or less the spot where the steaming is coming from!

    • Interesting feature – doesn’t look like a drainage line or a sheep track.

      I think the smoke that we’re seeing now is beneath a line drawn between the first vent and the second snow patch up, on the LHS of the pic.

  9. There appears to be *another* area of smoking ground developing. On the MBL cam, hard to see, but I think it’s where the failed vents from a few days ago occurred, on that little bit of ground in front of the main vent.

    • It’s not the first time smoking has occurred in that area. Just a few hours ago I was looking at some smoke coming out near the lava. Sadly, the camera that covers the area close up is lying face down looking at a metal panel!

      • Definitely something happening, the Langihryggur cam has a slightly closer view

    • I just checked the camera, this smoke is coming up from the area which I mentioned at least 3 times in the past, which needed investigation (IMHO).

  10. The smokes are pretty consistent on that slab of raised ground near the lava, RUV cam. They’ve been there most of the day.

  11. I will stick my neck out. The night that the 3rd vent opened up around midnight, I spent the next 4 hours carefully watched the hydrodynamic gas pressures equalize. Sometimes the vents erupted in unison, other times they were independent, their behavior was complex.
    Much to my amazement I saw sudden flare ups occur along the fissure line. The first time caught me by surprise, but the next time, I was able to snap a picture and write a letter to a certain person who is concerned with safety and told that person to be careful while a fissure opening event occurred.
    I also watched the gas hydrodynamics of the original north vent. We all witnessed the volume of lava drop sudden and the pool lower in level at least 2 or 3 meters. Previous to this I had seen jack-hammering bursts from this vent, they were unusual and I realized that they represented high pressure. So I wrote to a volcanologist about this odd behavior.
    I did notice the fumaroles smoking in the burned ground next to the current active cone. Did the moss catch fire? Yes. But carefully watching the next two hours I saw 3 more fumeroles pop up, confirming my suspicions of a hot zone or underground fissure at that location. Now today the camera view confirmed that what I saw indeed was real.
    Watching the active cone last night (my time) I saw that the ejecta was flying higher and higher indicating more pressure so I said I expect a new fissure soon.
    And yes, I saw the moss burning on the latest event, but something very hot had to catch that moss afire. This hot thermal anomaly would also cause steam.
    In summary, I believe that some fissures might release hot gases and we should be alert for this possibility. We should consider that this might have caused the burnt ground we’ve seen

    • Could it be that the magma pulses have been there all along, but were dampened by the dyke prior to reaching the surface? Therefore the conduit is no longer hydraulically connected to the dyke or any other significant chamber?

      • It wouldnt erupt if that was the case, more likely the path from the mantle is a stable tube now instead of a dike so any pulses are concentrated. This might just be the vent that was closest to the vertical.

  12. After following this volcano since the start of the eruption, lately it has been difficult to find enough time (in between work and studying) to follow the eruption. So last night is seemed not so different than the last two days and I went to bed early, thinking it would last for 6 months anyways. This morning it took me a while before I checked in on the webcams, and I was so disappointed! It seemed like the eruption had ended with the last vent looking inactive and I almost gave up on it right there and then.
    But after some coffee (not the Swedish kind, but still coffee nonetheless) I woke up and decided to check-in with the all-knowing VC community in order to find out why it stopped before the predicted 6 months, because I already missed the orange glow, the creeping lava, the cursed Icelandic weather and people blocking MY view, and the general excitement of it all. And thank the volcano-gods for that!!! I should be ashamed for thinking this volcano let me down, because all it did was fountain even higher (with the occasional pause that almost put me off), rushed lava into Meradalir creating the island of the mbl-cam and if that was not enough it decided that burning some moss and some random place should also be on the menu. Thank you volcano gods, just when I think this is it, you manage to surprise me all over again!

  13. There’s a spot high up on the hillside opposite the steaming area (RÚV Fagradalsfjall upper left hand corner) that’s also steaming/smoking. Would that be an actual moss fire?

  14. What is it with Icelandic people and webcams? Perhaps Reykjavik police should identify them from the camera and issue some hefty fines.

  15. Looking at the smoky stuff on the hillside, and in front of the cone, I get the impression we’re seeing fires caused by ejecta.
    My hopes of a new vent opening are on hold. However, we still have the main gusher to watch until it, sadly, conks out.

    • I’m trying to remember how deep the peaty soil is on the Reykjanes peninsula, but I don’t think it’s anything like as deep as we get in the UK. Next thought: we’ve had recent peat fires in the N of England and they went smouldering on for quite a while – days, so it’s possible that what we’re seeing is deep peat fire following on from the surface moss-burn rather than steam – and the density of the smoke may support that.

      Cause? Though it’s not certainly not impossible, I’d have thought it’s quite a long way for the ejecta to fall from the vent (and the wind this morning when all this started was only 3-4m/s), and we’ve got the weird surface phenomena Randall and others were noticing a few days back – although on that occasion, there seemed to be less smoke. The smoke on the E side of the vent is much closer to it, and ejecta seems a more plausible cause there.

  16. I might be seeing things crosseyed after looking at the screen 🙂 But there is a small spot on top of the mountain on the RUV 1 smokey cam. Just under the red square in the logo to the left that is smoking. Somebody was walking over to have a look a few minutes ago. I had to magnify view 300% to see it so…could be wrong.

  17. How amazing! I just watched a ‘smoke devil’ move across the landscape on MBL’s distant view! It seemed to be the smoke from the vent forming a twister and scurrying from right to left until it dissipated. Quite a sight! It would not have come out in a screen grab, though.

  18. what is causing the pulses? We’ve seen gravity fed periodic pulses, what is the mechanism here?

  19. Might our resident experts please cast some light on the 2-4Hz tremor in this GRV chart?

    I’m more used to seeing this from a standard eruption, but on all three frequencies. I’m assuming it represents a low-frequency vibration from the vent?

    • Or an orange helicopter? It’s too small for me to make out clearly.

  20. I think the periodic activity is caused by a blockage in the active vent. Pressure is building up and when it’s high enough, lava is ejected in a high fountain. When the pressure is released, the activity in the vent diminishes and the cycle repeats itself. The supply from the mantle is quite stable.

    The resistance at the active vent might also cause the fumarole activity close to the first eruption site.
    So it’s basically fluid dynamics we are seeing here, I think. I’m surprised about the high fountaining, though. It’s probably not a simple lid of some sort (that would likely be blown away) but a narrowing of the conduit.

      • Dirks answer is perfect in answering what is happening on the tremor plot up above.
        I just swung in to answer it, but found that Dirk had already done it. 🙂

    • Have been thinking about just that, And was just about to ask if it could be like that.. So thanks. A step closer to trust my thinking 🙂

    • After reading the article on magma erosion abrasively carving conduits, I am not so sure that we have simple clamping on the conduit. Right now I think that we’re in a similar situation as geysers, where the water has to be heated into supercritical and flash suddenly into steam with large pressure impulse, so I think we’re seeing SO2 and other gases suddenly come out of the magmatic froth. I did notice that the tephra from the eruption is filled with vesicles, indicating much gas content, but entrapped in very fine bubbles.

      But I am open for correction here.

      • It could be an air lock, like you have under your kitchen sink, and in the toilet. When magma flows continuously some gas is trapped. After a while there’s so much gas that magma passage is blocked. The pressure increases and suddenly it flushes through, with a lot of gas.

  21. Now over to the steam.
    There has been a migration by a bit of magma to an area that has depressed (small graben) as the ground heaved apart.
    The magma is quite shallow, and it is currectly being busy cooking off an aquifer.

    Some of what came up was either minute amounts of lava, or supercritical SO2, this in turn set the 1cm thick layer of moss on fire. That did though not cause all of the vapour seen, that is gas and steam.
    For now it is a failed vent, unless more magma comes meandering over.

    What caused it? The constant pressure changes described by Dirk S above is putting insane cyclic strain on the system, pretty much like a water hammer. As Dirk S put it, we are seeing fluid dynamics at work. 🙂

    • I like the supercritical SO2, but some vapor definitely had to be hot enough to cause the moss to catch fire.

  22. It is my eyes or there are a big vertival fracture on the mount behind in the vents cam?

  23. Frettir IMO

    Uppfært 02.05. kl. 15:40
    Google translated.

    “There were considerable changes in volcanic activity last night. Magnetic jet activity, which had been fairly stable in recent days, began to fluctuate in such a way that it drops to about 3 minutes and then increases with great force with higher jets than previously seen and lasts for about 10 minutes. These rhythmic pulses have characterized the eruption since 1 o’clock last night.

    The wind was northerly last night but turned to a slow easterly around 6 o’clock this morning. A few hours later, smoke is noticed on the southwest slopes of Geldingadalur. It is possible that hot pyroxene from the eruption eruption has been carried by a wind southwest of the lava field about 300 meters and ignited and is now causing a burn that can be seen on the RÚV webcam.
    It is not clear what causes these changes in volcanic activity, but it can not be ruled out that there have been changes in magma flow, the chemical composition of magma / gas or that there have been changes in the feed system.

    In light of this changed activity, the size of the danger area at the eruption sites is being re-evaluated.”

    A nice pic of IMO’s overall seismometer panel is shown.

    • What stands out is that the intervals of activity have become shorter past hours.

    • I just love this seismographs panel.. now we know that IMO can see fissure volcanoes doing their thing.

      We have much to learn from this very unique fissure eruption, not seen for 781 (or so) years.

      I am enjoying learning new things.

      • I thought it might be but distance and heat haze make it hard to tell. The colour match is perfect!

  24. Quoting Carl above: “The constant pressure changes described by Dirk S above is putting insane cyclic strain on the system, pretty much like a water hammer.”
    Does this mean sooner or later something is going to give? And what’s the likely result, a new vent? Armageddon?

    • I am sad to say that Armageddon is currently cancelled. So, what will give is a new vent(s) sprouting forth.
      I think we will see this quite a bit in the near future, or the not so near future if this turns into a longhaul.

      • Don;t say that it’s cancelled. I’m currently growing some Armageddon chilis – they’re very sensitive..

      • What a beautiful thread a volcano can create. I’m stunned. Nature at its best.

        • We’re all like little kids who love fireworks and things that explode and big showers of sparks and anything that displays sudden powerful energy releases. 😉

  25. The first of a few timelapses from last days and nights events.

    This is the longest (and I think most beautiful) one from the mbl overview camera covering yesterday afternoon to 9 this morning. It’s rendered at 1sec = 2min but half that speed looks great as well (I used 60 fps, so it wil still look good)
    By now everyone knows about the pulses, but the afternoon and evening also showed the growing of the lavafield pretty well. Faster than I expected.

    https://youtu.be/n4m1a64EYp0

    More to follow later

    • Thanks! The phase change from continuous to intermittent is very abrupt.
      And seeing the sequence reinforces the feeling the vent is on its way out.

    • Stellar as always! Indeed a beautiful timelapse. The flow is indeed larger than I would have expected.

    • @Virtual – I have been watching your timelapses since Holuhraun and just wanted to pass on my gratitude. At times it must seem like a thank less task but it is greatly appreciated. You also introduced me to Olafur Arnalds for which I am also most grateful for. If you were to add a musical accompaniment again I would humbly suggest Max Richter. Perhaps you introduced me to him already?! Many thanks again.

    • That’s wonderful, Virtual. Thanks for all your hard work for this and all the others you’ve done.

      I wonder what Meradalir looks like now?

  26. there is no smoke !!!

    It is all degassing / steam !

    maybe unless it is the area where there maybe grass/moss burning.

    you only get smoke when something is burning !

    I do think it is probable that new vents may open where the new degassing has started

    • I love the Giggle translate:
      “We are trying to understand this crap that has gotten into him. I don’t think there is just more gas in it, there are either bottlenecks or bags down there and probably more water in the magma,”

      • “…some kind of choking shit, could be the reason.”
        That being said, the translations Facebook provides of Icelandic, borders on incomprehensible gibberish…

  27. i can just see the “Whatever” on the far side just above the mountain to the left of the main vent on RUV cam that shows the vent and long flow.

  28. On further thought the fountain pulses could be quite similar to the episodes of the Kilauea Iki eruption in 1959. This is the idea of a lava lake plug that was being discussed earlier. The load of the lava lake weighted down the magma column and kept it at bay, the eruption being paused, pressure and gas built up below until they overcame the weight of the degassed cold lava above, then it goes off into a fountain. Such an event can be seen at 11:10 in the following video:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gGPC77Wvd70

    Ragnar seems to behave quite similar: a lava lake has developed within the bottom of the crater by passive ponding and might be acting as a lid that opens and closes the conduit similar to Kilauea Iki, although in a different timescale, with the cycles of later being much longer. This is the possible lid/plug whose existence many have already suggested.

    • Episodic drainback-fountain cycles are somewhat common, they have been reported many times for eruptions of Nyiragongo and Kilauea. There is one phase in which the lava drains back into the vent and the pressure of the volcanic system increases, then is followed by a fountain phase in which the vent erupts and releases pressure from the conduit. I didn’t knew they could be as fast as Ragnar is doing them though, perhaps because the lid here is a very small crater lake it opens and closes faster?

      The pulsing may have started so suddenly because it initiated when the lake reached a critical mass high enough to stop the upward flow. If the lake becomes bigger or smaller it might influence the pulsing cycles and style of the eruption. Drainback is a process that I suspect, from Hawaii eruptions, can result in significant conduit wall erosion, so that widening of the vent might turn out to be important at some point.

  29. And the RUV timelapse from Langihryggur:
    https://youtu.be/AFG3Xgfl-DM

    Thank you for the supportive comments which keeps me going.

    It’s getting to be quite an archive by now.

    Regarding a previous comment about Olafúr Arnalds, thanks to the Bardarbunga eruption when I started this I got to know him. Those timelapses then introduced me to a lot of music as well in search of a soundtrack.

    • Wow, this one was particularly pretty. The pulsing eruption, the creeping lava stream, and the changing colours of the sunrise. That was extra special, thanks!

  30. A line is a line is a line. Or is the wind blowing that way to make it look that way. Or did lava fall over there in a line?

  31. Thanks Carl. I love a “Who Dunnit”…I love getting clues and trying to work out logical explanations and who the culprit is before everyone else……..
    This eruption is a wonderful, ” Keep ’em Guessing” event. Only answerable with yes!……Garnets. My favourite gem stone. I love the deep, mysterious red. The blood of the earth! Oh! To be a young Volcanologist. What an experience! Garnets hold mysteries. Commonly deep red, they can be found to be Green, yellow or lusterously black But there is one, a true royal aristocrat of gem stones with blue blood. Pyrope–spessartine (blue garnet or color-change garnet). Oh! To own this rare gem!
    From these beautiful crystals, the pressure and temperature of their moment of creation can be calculated and the secrets of this unusual eruption will be unveiled.

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