The Woolly Mammoth-Sized Eruption Poll – One Year On

It’s been one year, yes one whole year of DNA damage and telomere shortening, since the last poll and we’re all still waiting to see who’s going to go first. We’ve seen activity increase in some areas and decline in others. Will that have swayed your opinion or will you stick to your previous vote (if you can remember)?

Try to base your vote on information from official sources, trained experts in the field and your own personal knowledge and discussions on VC.

I know there’s a lot, but in addition to the major central volcanoes, I also wanted to include the ‘little’ volcanic features or large shield volcanoes that are often discussed in this blog. This was originally one big long list with only one vote, but we decided to split it and add three votes to the second poll to give a better gauge of public opinion.

For more information on the majority of the candidates, please refer to the Woolly Mammoth guides from Carl:

An older version with more of the candidates listed:

Updated version that covers the Reykjanes Ridge and Eldey-Geirfuglasker Volcanic Belt:

A Woolly Mammoth-sized map of Iceland with (I think) all the candidates can be found here:

Click for a mammoth-sized version. This is an optimised ~2 MB JPEG image, the full uncompressed version is currently parked on the Moon to free up space. Map by Beardy Gaz.

If you’re still not sure about some of the candidates, you should be able to find more information by searching the blog using the search widget in the right-hand column.

Please vote only once on the first poll with the ten main offenders, you can vote three times in the second poll. You can view the results at any time using the link below the voting button. The poll will close on Friday evening (or Saturday if I’ve been out all day on Friday with the kids and my mind and body are swimming in ale by the evening) and the final winner will be announced then, along with the runner-up and black-swan awards. Hilarious new headlines in the tabloids will be available on Saturday morning in paper-form for you to use during your morning ‘visit’.

Note: The following are to include the central volcano and associated fissure swarm and volcanic features unless otherwise stated.

Out of the main central volcanoes, who's going to erupt next?

  • Grímsvötn (not including Thordarhyrna or Háabunga) (51%, 87 Votes)
  • Hekla (27%, 47 Votes)
  • Katla (9%, 16 Votes)
  • Öræfajökull (6%, 10 Votes)
  • Askja (3%, 5 Votes)
  • Bárðarbunga (not including Hamarinn) (2%, 3 Votes)
  • Torfajökull (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Þórðarhyrna (Thordarhyrna) (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Vestmannaeyjar (Surtsey, et al) (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Eyjafjallajökull (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 172

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Who else might erupt next? (Pick three)

  • Herðubreið (14%, 52 Votes)
  • Greip (unknownabunga) (12%, 43 Votes)
  • Hamarinn (11%, 41 Votes)
  • Deadzone (of unknown origin) (8%, 30 Votes)
  • Reykjanes and Svartsengi (7%, 24 Votes)
  • Krafla (6%, 20 Votes)
  • Goðabunga (4%, 14 Votes)
  • Vatnafjöll (4%, 13 Votes)
  • Kistufell (3%, 10 Votes)
  • Hengill (3%, 10 Votes)
  • Kverkfjöll (3%, 10 Votes)
  • Loki-Fögrufjöll (3%, 9 Votes)
  • Tungnafellsjökull-Vonarskarð (3%, 9 Votes)
  • Beerenberg (3%, 9 Votes)
  • Upptyppingar (2%, 8 Votes)
  • Eldey and Geirfuglasker (2%, 8 Votes)
  • Háabunga (2%, 6 Votes)
  • Þeistareykir (Theistareykir, inc. Theistareykjabunga) (2%, 6 Votes)
  • Nafir-Skjálfandadjúp (1%, 5 Votes)
  • Trölladyngja (1%, 5 Votes)
  • Grímsnes (1%, 5 Votes)
  • Langjökull (1%, 4 Votes)
  • Krýsuvík-Trölladyngja (1%, 4 Votes)
  • Tindfjallajökull (1%, 3 Votes)
  • Ok (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Esjufjöll (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Eldey (1%, 2 Votes)
  • Eldeyjarbodi (0%, 1 Votes)
  • Skjaldbreiður (0%, 1 Votes)
  • Fremrinámar (0%, 1 Votes)
  • Snæfell (0%, 1 Votes)
  • Snæfellsjökull (0%, 1 Votes)
  • Ljósufjöll (0%, 1 Votes)
  • Heiðarsporðar (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Hrómundartindur (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Skerjadjúp (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Hofsjökull-Kerlingarfjöll (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Prestahnúkur (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Brennisteinsfjöll (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Helgrindur (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 154

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So, here is the result of the VC Volcano Festival. First the result of the 2018 elections, followed by the 2019 one, for the two groups separately

The voting order

of the usual suspects

1. Öræfajökull (39%)
2. Hekla (30%)
3. Katla (14%)
4. Grímsvötn (not including Thordarhyrna or Háabunga) (10%)
5. Bárðarbunga (not including Hamarinn) (3%)
6. Askja (2%)

1. Grímsvötn (not including Thordarhyrna or Háabunga) (51%)
2. Hekla (27%)
3. Katla (9%)
4. Öræfajökull (6%)
5. Askja (3%)
6. Bárðarbunga (not including Hamarinn) (2%)

Of the also-rans

1. Reykjanes and Svartsengi (13%)
2. Herðubreið (12%)
3. Goðabunga (9%)
4. Hamarinn (6%)
5. Vatnafjöll (5%)
6. Deadzone (of unknown origin) (5%)
7. Krafla (5%)

1. Herðubreið (14%)
2. Greip (unknownabunga) (12%)
3. Hamarinn (11%)
4. Deadzone (of unknown origin) (8%)
5. Reykjanes and Svartsengi (7%)
6. Krafla (6%)
7. Goðabunga (4%)
8. Vatnafjöll (4%)

Of the major volcanoes, Grímsvötn has leaped into the front, while Öræfajökull has badly faded. Hekla remains in a strong second place. Bardarbunga and Krafla might as well withdraw from the competition.

Of the minor ones, the performance of Greip is most notable, from out of contention to a strong second place, not bad for a volcano that may be going for its first eruption (or show itself to be the hidden vent, once the icecap melts).

54 thoughts on “The Woolly Mammoth-Sized Eruption Poll – One Year On

  1. Well I doubt it will be Heidarspordar (or, as I like to call it: HideASpider) 😀

  2. Why are the 1st 10 not listed in the 2nd list? That would have made sense, wouldn’t it?

    • I second this. Thought of Grims in the 1st poll, but then Herdubreid, Torfajökull and Hekla.
      Also would love to see a continuation of the new guide, which was supposed to go further North I guess

    • Yes, I was just looking at this. It’s rigged! Rigged I say! I was going to vote Grimsvotn in my second lot. Perhaps a moderator can rise from the deeps and put me a plug for 2nd vote Grimsvotn, before it blows its plug.

  3. I voted Grimsvotn, but, though it’s not high up, hekla and Katla wouldn’t surprise me.

  4. It’s no secret that I am a fan of the dead zone. My logic is that it’s been a few hundred years since that area has had its strain released. …yet it still shows little seismic noise.

    • Very true. Based on my estimates using accounts of the time, I’m thinking a series of Mag 5.0+.

      • Is the dead zone capable of quakes that big? I thought it was too gooey for quakes…?

    • I’ve read all the interpretations here of this. I think the reason is pretty simple, the dead zone is not a volcano in itself, and does not have an active magmatic system. So from this alone, there is very little reason to expect that there would be ongoing seismic activity as we see under Vatnajokull.

      The other important distinction is that while the dead zone is a tectonically active zone, it is a spreading zone. Smaller earthquakes occur in other tectonic areas of Iceland because the rock is literally grinding past in a strike-slip fault of some sort. Spreading zones do not tend to be very noisy from a tectonic perspective unless you get a sinking block, where the “noise” is from the block sinking down. The dead’s spreading actually causes lower tension, which if anything, would be a prime reason as to why it’s normally so quiet.

      This obviously changes during the rifting episodes, but this is likely a result of magmatic intrusion down the rift line. We can debate all we want about the dynamics of this, but the odds are fairly likely that this behaves pretty similar to what we saw during the Holuhraun eruption, just on a larger scale.

      • The 2005 Manda Hararo intrusion in Afar included about 20 earthquakes of M 5-5.5. The dike had a volume of 2 km³ which I imagine is less than Laki, so probably there was more energy released in earthquakes during the intrusion back in 1783. Plus if remember right a ~7.5 took place in the SISZ in 1784 probably related to Laki.

        • It is listed as M7-7.1, similar to the 1912 quake. Of course the SISZ is not the same zone as the ‘dead zone’, and it does have frequent quakes.

        • Right, I’m not implying there are no earthquakes in the dead zone during eruptive phases (or pre-eruptive phases). Just trying to state that there isn’t some particularly special reason as to why it’s normally very quiet and aseismic.

          The dead zone itself is just a relatively aseismic region where the distal central volcanoes tend to push their eruptions out into.

          • In the heat models I ran, there is still a LOT of rock still in the plastic phase down there.

  5. I’m always a fan of brand new baby volcanoes popping up (like Paracutin (spelling?) in Mexico), so the Dead Zone or Greip popping out a new one would be great!

    • For all. Despite the common name of “Laki” for the 1783 event, Laki itself did not erupt. It just happened to be a previous volcano sitting on the fissure line. The 1783 event drifted right up to Laki, then continued on the other side.

      • A pre-existing weld, so to speak?

        If a new rifting event in the dead zone were to happen now, we’d end up with a very good view to what the precursors to such an eruption would be. The last time it happened in that area there was not much instrumentation around, so it would be interesting to see how similar it would be to Holuhraun in its development and progress.

        • The interesting bit about Holuhraun is that it was a close match to a theory discussed on this board several years ago.

  6. Grímsvötn for me. Can’t see anything else predictable winning that race at this point. As for the second poll, Loki-Fögrufjöll/Hamarinn or Vatnafjöll is my guess for a less predictable ‘major’ eruption.

  7. I went for Thordahyrna – on the basis that the Grimsvotn activity might take a sudden turn ( a bit like Bob and the restingolitas) – and as I recall Thordahyrna and Grimsvotn are linked in some way

  8. I voted Grimsvötn
    Thats where the Iceland Hotspot is
    And almost all historical Iceland eruptions have come from Vatnajökull arera.

  9. Grimsvotn for me from list 1. It seems to be getting gradually more and more noisy.
    Herdubreid and Mount “Dare-not-name-it” from list 2, because I’m hedging my bets as to where magma might break through. And Godabunga, because.. because I can’t remember why 🙂

    • Pågår detta nu?
      Ska Bogoslof Island blien nice stratovulkan som exempel Augustine så får den sätta fart med konstruktion av vulkaniskt material.

      • … interesting, so “fart” means speed. I guess that makes a lot of sense if it has a frequency component indicating fluid movement.

        • Forgot to quote the synopsis: “We model the low-frequency signals as overpressurized gas bubbles that grow near the water–air interface, which require bubble radii of 50–220 m. Bubbles of this size and larger have been described in explosive subaqueous eruptions for more than a century, but we present a unique geophysical record of this phenomenon.

        • When I lived in Norway as a teenager expat, my siblings and friends always laughed driving around Stavanger and seeing the “Farts Dempere” speed bump signs.

  10. I voted Grimsvotn.
    And Hamarinn, Loki-Fogrufjoll and Eldey and Geirfuglasker (near Reykjanes)

    Other than these my next likely culprits are Hekla, Askja and Oraefajokull.

  11. Beardy Gaz: your map is absolutely stunning!

    It is the most complete map of Icelandic volcanoes that I have ever seen.

    And for me to say this (as I am very aware of the Icelandic map), it’s a great compliment for you!

    It is 95 to 99% complete.

    There are a few potentially (but unconfirmed) Holocene eruptions in the SISZ, minor mountains that might have had an eruption in the early Holocene or late Pleistocene, which still could be technically active/dormant and not extinct yet.

    In addition, there are a few features not marked in the southern region of the Langjokull volcanic swarm, and especially the volcanic complex near Geysir, which may even be a separate volcanic feature by itself.

    But other than this, your detail in the Reykjanes peninsula, on the dead zone, and under Vatnajokull, is absolutely brilliant!

    • It’s fab! But is the eastern part missing? There’s a vertical line / cut off at the eastern edge.

    • Irpsit comment is seconded. This map is well worth while seeing at full resolution

  12. I wonder how many would have picked NONE? I’d say that even though Bard is my favorite. And does offshore count?

    • Question about the formation of Torfas old caldera
      Is that an explosive caldera or effusive one?
      That old event that formed it must have been extremely large!

      • I followed the link, I think the answer is there.
        “Torfajökull is notable among Iceland’s volcanoes for discharging relatively rare rhyolitic lava, which is rich in silica.”
        That would seem to indicate a volcano shattering Kaboom.

        • Coud be Icelands largest holocene event with that caldera size?
          Torfa was a good VEI 6 when it formed its caldera ?

          But Sakursunarvatn tephras from Grimsvötn coud been much larger

          • The caldera is 12×18 km, by comparison to other calderas aroumd tje world that should have been a mid-sized VEI 7 if formed explosively.

            But if I have to guess I think it didn’t go that way. You mainly have 2 ways of collapsing a caldera, a big blast or a big dike (with associated effusive eruption or not), but there is actually a combined mode which I only know one example of, Askja 1875.

            Torfajokull may have collapsed this way, meaning that the bulk of the collapse is due to magma intruding laterally through the rift (the Dead Zone) and smaller amount of felsic magma from the shallower magma chamber the erupts upwards as the system collapses. But this is just a guess.

          • In 1477 Bardarbunga sent a large basaltic dyke intrusion south towards Torfajökull where it cut into Torfajökull.
            The intrusion vent into an old chamber of gas poor stale Ryholite magma pushing out that and producing the ryholite flows at Landmannalaugar.
            Two magmas of very diffrent viscosities and temperatures met and mixed.
            Since this happened, maybe Grimsvötn and Bardarbunga or Katla and Eyfjallajökull sometimes intrude each other and maybe share magma chambers or dykes at deep depths?

        • …so basically it’s what Katla would look like without the ice… Katla is a prolific high silica eruptor.

          SILK-A1 Average silica 68.76%
          SILK-A7 Average silica 67.17%

          Data derived from: Wastegard, S. (2002) Early to middle Holocene silicic tephra horizons from the Katla volcanic system, Iceland: new results from the Faroe Islands. Journal of Quaternary Science 17, 723-730.

          Accessed via

          As for the age…

          Grain characteristics of silicic Katla tephra layers indicate a fairly stable eruption environment between 2800 and 8100 years ago, Thorsteinsdottir, Larsen and Gudmundsdóttir; (Jokull 66:69-82 · January 2016)

          And if you look into the various Katla tephras, you’ll see why I equated Katla to a regularly scheduled bus line in comparison to Eyjafjallajökull back when the Eyjaf-Katla connection theory was bouncing around the forum. To reiterate (aka; “beat a dead horse”), there appears to be a connection because Katla is almost always within a few years or had just finished erupting when Eyjafjallajökull goes off. In fact, the statistical oddity is that Katla hasn’t gone off yet and doesn’t really seem to be highly motivated to do so. In the world of Katla, that is more of a Black Swan as far as volcanoes go.

          Of course, Katla being Katla, it could just pop in the next hour or so, that would be well within normal behavior for her. She is renowned for being unpredictable, and vicious. Warning, anthropomorphism; She gets that trait from her brothers over under Vatnajökull. (and her cousin, Hekla, is even more unpredictable, though IMO is making their best effort) Rumor has it that the successful Hekla 2000 prediction was due to a rather fortunate cup of coffee. Glance over at the strain gauge readout… F#@$@$!!!.

          Dunno if it’s true or not, but that would be a strong motivation to automate the systems as much as possible and then go back to verify what the automatic systems state. Pretty much what we see every day as we watch the IMO quake lists.

          Unlike most government entities, IMO learns and takes corrective action. That is why they are generally considered to be top rate as far as geophysical agencies go. Others follow their example and are also top of their game, but others can’t care less and downplay any activity that occurs within their realm of responsibility. That’s how you get lame arsed bureaucrats suggesting amateur photography contests of an erupting submarine cone in water that is running about pH 5.0 near the vent. At least in Hawaii, people were told to stay away from the hazard. Thank you USCG! 🙂 “Semper paratus” indeed. {I’m a “Blue Water” guy, but really appreciate your readiness}

          OT: True story. Two of my childhood freinds joined the military after I did. One went USCG, the other went USAF. The USAF guy was specialized in telephone systems. We met up a couple of years later, and it took me (USN) and the USCG guy all night long to convince the USAF guy that yes, you could indeed have a sound-powered telephone circuit with no batteries. In fact, the T&D line on two ships performing underway replenishment is a sound-powered circuit. Loose power? Still talking. Probably quite excitedly, but you can still communicate what is going on to the other ship. (I’ve only seen that happen once when we were hooked up with another nations replenishment ship. Not stating the country, because that can happen to anyone. It snatched the fitting for the high line right off the bulkhead when they went “cold and dark”) They retrieved the rig and we shifted to the station on the other side of the ship and got our fuel. No, no excess water in the line that I know of, but a boiler doesn’t really care. (a benefit of a boiler over a gas turbine) As long as it makes fire, the boiler is happy with it. On another ship I was stationed on, we even used former aviation fuel in the boiler because some twit had fouled one of our cargo tanks and it was no longer fit for aviation usage. It got rid of it and we didn’t have to haul it back for disposal. {Aviation fuel is not very different chemically from deisel fuel marine. Aviation fuel has a higher certified purity} → Water in the fuel is prone to causing icing problems in the fuel system at altitude. If your bopping along at several hundred knots way up in the sky, the last thing you want is for your fuel lines to suddenly have blockage from ice.
          OT from my OT… Opinion: I think the water issue was the main hurdle that had to be overcome for getting a usable bio-fuel into jet service. The methanol/ethanol used to make biofuel is an alcohol, and like all alcohols, is hydrophilic. (loves water, will pull it right out of the air in the tank to get it)

          Caveat: I’m not a chemist. I don’t know how hydrophilic the alcohols used in transesterification are after the process. I do know that virtually any alcohol blend gasoline (not biodiesel) will trash a small engine in short order unless it is specifically made to use it.
          And that is not counting the 95.98% heat energy per unit volume of E10 compared to regular gasoline. On the plus side, E10 does eliminate the need for tetraethyllead (TEL). (note, TEL is used to slow down the flame propagation in an engine cylinder to reduce knock. High octane fuel burns slower than low octane fuel. Alcohol/water injection can achieve similar results.) A benefit of TEL was that it lubricated engine valves and kept them from impact welding fragments of the valve on the valve seats. Re-engineering the engine block and valve materials reduced/eliminated that problem in modern engines… so the engine wear argument against ethanol blended fuel is moot. (For vehicles) It is even possible that TEL gasoline (leaded fuel) may be harmful for modern engines due to increased fouling of the valve seats.

  13. Katla and Griep are my votes.
    In other news, the recent Ridgecrest earthquakes (Calif.) have apparently starting unlocking the Garlock fault which runs over 180 miles mostly W_E across much of SCent California. The southern tip of the Ridgecrest quake(s) terminated just a few miles north of the Garlock……and now a creeping segment (close to an inch of movement measured so far), surface bulging, and a couple of earthquake swarms (highly localized) have been detected both on the ground and via satellite at various locales along the Garlock, which has not seen activity of any kind for at least 500yrs., and most likely longer than that.
    Should the Garlock release it’s stored energy in a single event, it could generate a major quake in the 8.0 Mw range….and given it’s proximity to major population centers, the potential for a catastrophic event exists.
    Shortly after the complex series of Ridgecrest event(s), stress transfer/shadowing models were indicating an increase in stress on sections of the Garlock would result, and it now appears that hard data is now confirming that indeed the Garlock is coming to life.
    Now, whether the fault let’s loose in a large single event, or in a series of smaller segmented events is totally unknown….including nothing of consequence should the Garlock remain locked.
    Here’s a couple of authoritative articles to ponder.

  14. Blast! Too late…




  15. The results are available in the post above. There are some remarkable changes compared to last year.

    And interesting: if I draw lines between volcanic centers, there is one line that runs from Grimvotn to Katla, one fline rom Bardarbunga to Eldfell, and one line from Tungnafellssjokull to Hekla. The highest scoring volcanoes are on the first and third line, with the middle one not doing as well.

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