Þorbjörn’s Tormented Tribulations

Mount Þorbjörn in the mist. Photograph from Icelandmag.

As Þorbjörn rumbles on it seems ever likelier that it will erupt. So, to explain what is happening I decided to pull out all the stops and produce a more definitive article explaining the news and a possible future now that Albert has put things into context.

So, without further ado, I would like to welcome you to a bonanza of all things Þorbjörn.


A brief background of Þorbjörn

Kinematic solution for Þorbjörn. Image from University of Iceland – Institute for Earth Sciences.

First, I would like to explain how Þorbjörn is pronounced for our Irish-speaking friends around the globe. Scandinavian languages after all tend to cough up words that generally causes sprained tongues amongst our linguistically challenged brethren.

Let us begin with the Þ. It is pronounced as in Thing. Problem arrives right after that since Scandinavian languages has two ways of pronouncing the letter O, in this case it is not pronounced as in London, instead it is pronounced in an open manner as in Ogle. We also pronounce the letter Ö in two ways, in this case it is pronounced as in the Irish word Burn. In other words, you just simply say Thorbjurn and remember to look ogly while doing it, and no need to rush the word, remember that Scandinavians are laidback.

Now that we have gotten the pronunciation out of the way we can return to what Þorbjörn is doing, and how it is doing it.

Þorbjörn is located on the Reykjanes Peninsula, and it is only minutely affected by the Icelandic mantleplume. The lavas are close to MORB (Mid-Oceanic Rift Basalt) and contain just a little of the plume-derived basalt that the rest of Iceland contains.

The Reykjanes Peninsula is where the Mid-Atlantic Rift enters into Iceland and contains fairly thin crust. The volcanoes here form volcanic fields more often than central volcanoes, and the eruptions are caused by rifting causing spread-centre melt instead of plume derived intrusions.

These volcanic fields often transect the continental divide and are elongated at an angle across the divide. In other words, welcome to the land of rift-volcanic eruptions.

Most volcanoes are mono-genetic, in other words, they only erupt once. They are also discrete and do not feed from a central magma reservoir. That being said, eruptions still tend to lump together where the resistance is least, like at Þorbjörn.


Þorbjörn so far

SKSH GPS-station 100-day plot. Image from the University of Iceland – Institute for Earth Sciences.

The earthquakes are forming a uniform stack from the boundary between the crust and the upper mantle. These earthquakes are evidence that a conduit has formed, in turn this conduit has been filled with magma moving upwards.

There are also earthquakes associated with rifting, these have among other things caused surface cracking in an area north of the Town of Grindavik.

The intruding magma has so far caused a localized uplift of 60mm. If we put everything together we see that there has been an episode of decompression melt and that a volcanic conduit has formed above, and that it is leading to an area very near Þorbjörn, and that about 5 to 2.5km depth a lateral dyke has formed trending towards Grindavik as tectonic earthquakes crack the ground.

Volcanic features like this has a tendency to be cyclical as they evolve towards an eruption. First you get a marked tectonic earthquake swarm, then things calm down a bit and the inflation calms down. This is caused as the tectonic earthquakes form new fertile ground for the magma to move into, and that in turn causes a drop in magmatic pressure which in turn causes a lowering of the upwards component on a GPS.

But, since magma is constantly moving upwards the pressure will after a while increase again, upwards motion increases, and you will start to see more volcano-tectonic earthquakes and charging tremors (tornillos). At this point there will be few purely tectonic earthquakes.

As the pressure reaches the threshold of what the bedrock can take another tectonic swarm will start. And this is exactly what happened in the last couple of weeks. I love Þorbjörn since it is so well behaved for being a volcanic feature.


Last weeks earthquake swarm

Reykjanes Earthquake Plot, showing ongoing low level swarming. Image from the Icelandic Met Office.

Few who are interested in Icelandic volcanism missed that Friday last week was a bit memorable due to a short, but very intense, earthquake swarm that took place. It was followed by a more prolonged less energetic swarm that is still ongoing.

It came after a day of increasing signs of magmatic pressure increase. The Icelandic Met Office has previously stated that the pent-up energy potential in the area is equivalent to a potential M6 earthquake (or two).

So, it is not surprising that we get fairly large earthquakes for the area. I will concentrate on the two largest, an M4.3 and a follow-up M4.0.

Both indicate that they were of the spreading type of earthquakes, so it is safe to assume that they created new fertile ground for magma to enter down the line. Both they also showed an intriguing low frequency signal that was larger than normal for earthquakes of this size, but that is often associated with spreading faults.

Right after the large swarm there was a marked drop on the GPS-system around Þorbjörn. For several days it looked like the volcano was deflating, but that is not actually true, instead it was the magmatic pressure that dropped as magma found new and fertile cracks to gush into. By now the pressure is back up again and Þorbjörn has risen past its former level.


Signs & Portents for the future

Grindavik with Þorbjörn in the background. Photograph from Icelandmonitor.

Since the crust is shallow it can’t take a lot of inflation and earthquake activity. This is why eruptions in this area are small for being at Iceland. So, I do not see any need for a that many cycles of magmatic charging causing tectonic earthquake swarms.

Question is more what will happen first? The rift runs out of pent up energy and the swarm’s loose power? Or, will the rising magma find a way up to the surface?

Right now, the topmost M2+ earthquakes are located at 2.1km, but with the bulk at 5km. At full regular speed that means that an eruption would be possible at roughly 2 – 15 days. But that is a figure to be taken with a huge pinch of salt and is entirely depending upon if we will see a return to signals indicating increasing magma pressure, and that there is enough tectonic energy remaining.

I do not think we need to worry about the amount of pent up tectonic energy, but the amount of available magma moving upwards is a big unknown in the equation.

In my opinion we are currently hanging evenly balanced on the fulcrum between everything dying out, and an eruption. It takes quite a bit of magma to fill the voids created by larger earthquakes and swarms. If that happens, we most likely will have an eruption, if not things will slow down in the next couple of weeks.

This is where I play the Devil’s Advocate and do ponderous musings about how the eruption would be if it happens. This is entirely dependent upon how the dyke evolves.

If it mainly progresses upwards slightly west of Þorbjörn all is well and there is ample time to take measures to evacuate people if needed, and to close affected infrastructure. This is the best-case eruption scenario.

Problem is that it seems like the dyke is slowly progressing laterally towards Grindavik, as evidenced by the cracks that has formed in the ground. If this is the case, we may end up with a situation similar to the 1973 eruption of Heimaey in the Vestmannaeyjar.

There is though a third option that is so far the least realistic, and that is that the dyke propagates beyond the coastline. This would create a fairly ashy eruption more akin to Surtsey.

If I lived in Grindavik I would be hoping for alternative 1 and 3 instead of option 2 for obvious reasons. After all, lava gushing forth in your basement would be unnerving even for a mentally sturdy Icelander.

Unless something happens this week, or new and improved data arrives, I will leave Þorbjörn be for a little while. You may see this as a sign that we are in for the long-haul if you wish, because that is what I believe.


88 thoughts on “Þorbjörn’s Tormented Tribulations

  1. Great Article, like every time. Thanks for an new update !!!

    • Not necessary, the relevant authorities will do that when magma is about to come out as lava, and that is not really near yet.

  2. Great summary of what is to come, Carl! Obviously without a definitive answer. It is a volcano, after all.

    • Thorbjörn is a most well behaved little volcano, so it will tell us what to expect as things progress. 🙂

  3. Great Article Carl…, like every time too! and is getting into volcanoes too
    ( but Im not as addicated as you or my brother )

    If thors – bear growls to life… I think it will be much colder than Holuhraun as you say.
    Me and my brother think only a few 10 s of milion cubic meters maybe erupted. ( maybe even smaller ? )
    Him and me propose it will be a small channel feed aa flow with some spatter cones.

    How much diffirent in composition is the Reykjanes lavas to Vatnajökull?
    Less gas? and how much cooler?

    • The Reykjanes- Svartsengi lavas is around 100 C
      cooler than Vatnajökulls with less sulfur content …
      The viscosity maybe 100 PAS higher at Reykjanes (but its still very fluid at thorbjörn )

      The Reykjanes lavas lacks the temperature and
      Some of the fluidity that the plume Iceland lavas haves.

      Mostly is a temperature and gas – diffrence
      Both are Thoelitic Basalts with some chemical diffrences for MORB and Plume based Icelandic Basalts.

      • 1100 C for Reykjanes and Svertsengi lavas
        and 1200 C for Vatnajökull lavas

  4. Nice update, Carl. Thank you! There could soon be a few hot bottoms in the Blue Lagoon, eh?

    • I wonder if the blue lagoon temperature has increased!

      • The Blue Lagoon does not really operate that way.
        Only way the temperature would rise would be if the ground directly below the lake was filled with magma, and it is not.
        The Blue Lagoon is residual cooling water from the nearby geothermal plant, and the temperature of that does not change.

        What may change would be the temperature and chemistry of the supercritical steam that is blasting out of the boreholes at the plant that feed dry steam into the turbines. And even that is not that likely since the production is made from another volcanic fissure called Eldvörp.

        • The first thing you’d see change is the acidity, if the cooling water comes in touch with volatiles escaping from the magma. No worries though. They will be monitoring it closely for the unlikely case this is beginning to happen.

          • Cooling water is separate from the residual water coming out of the boreholes. The residual water is pumped back down. This means that the acidity will not change.
            If they pumped out the residual water the lake would be about 0.5Hp…

          • True. But if the temperature of the lagoon increased, that could indicate another source of hot water reaching the lake.. Now that would be interesting. Hasn’t happened.

      • Since the dyke is currently tracking in the other direction that would be surprising 🙂

  5. Thanks, Carl, for a typically informative, interesting, helpful and tantalising analysis. But then volcanoes love to tantalise.

    Just before reading your sentence about “a mentally sturdy Icelander” with lava gushing from a warmer than usual floor, I was thinking about what a close run thing it must have been for the farmer on the Westman Islands to be woken by an eruption a few hundred metres from his back door (iirc) – Grindavik could be an even closer run thing.

    • Not a lot of farming on Heimaey – the economy is mostly based on fishing. That’s why they were able to evacuate almost the entire population on the night of the eruption. The fleet was in port.

      • Thank you for the reply.

        I have now had a chance to check Þordarson and Höskuldsson, “Iceland” (in the Classic Geology in Europe series, p. 105), and they report that “Just before 2 a.m. there was a telephone call to the local police station informing the officers on duty that an eruption had started 200-300 m east of the farm, Kirkjubær…”

  6. So in some respects a reasonable analogy for one of the scenarios outlined here would be an Icelandic equivalent of Leilani Estates where a basaltic fissure eruption comes up in the middle of housing and proceeds to destroy some or all of that housing. One difference is that the time since the last eruption in this area is vastly greater than around Leilani Estates, so any pockets of magma left over underground will have probably solidified completely, or be so evolved that only a tiny fraction of them is mobilised by an eruption.

    • A major difference is that the Leilani fissure event had several million metric tonnes of very fluid magma sitting in a pool up on the side of the mountain much higher than the fissures that opened up. Once a path opened up, gravity took over.

      Effectively… a Sword of Damocles held over the estates.

    • Yes, if an eruption would happen here it will proceed much faster than Leilani, instead of several days of warm-up a fire curtain will probably form right from the onset.

    • The Lower Puna eruption of 2018 resembled that of Holuhraun of 2014.

        • Actually, the amount of lava was not that different – a factor of a few smaller perhaps. Leilani was a significant eruption, even if Iceland could do it better and safer.

          • Leilani erupted over 1km3 of basaltic lava Carl ( Hawaiis Holuhraun almost )

            1,2 km3 / 1,1 km3 is the USGS estimates for Leilani episode

          • I am actually sceptic of that figure, it has a bad provenance.
            But, if anyone could find an actual link where the USGS for realz state that it was that I would be happy to concede the point.
            It would though still be half of Holuhraun. 🙂

            There are two reasons I am sceptic.
            1. Holuhraun created a 50+ meter high area the size of Manhattan. Leilani produced a narrow channel roughly ten metres high that was shorter than Holuhraun. Nobody has explained that mathematics to me.
            2. USGS gave the figures for the entire eruption, and not just for Leilani, at least when I have looked at actual USGS figures and not figures from someone with an active imagination.

            So, guess why I am sceptic?

          • Leilani lava channel system is 15 km long the bird – way and up to 300 meters wide
            For 2 months lava from Fissure 8 poured Into the Pacific ocean
            non stop at 100 cubic meters a second.
            It produced enormous steam plumes and cumulus – lava made rain .. and dead boiled turtles and fishes

            Loots of lava ended up in the sea
            Around 0,7 to 0,8 km3 remains on land

          • https://science.sciencemag.org/content/363/6425/367

            “On the basis of a combination of topographic differences and fissure 8 vent flux over time, we estimate a preliminary bulk erupted volume of ~0.8 km3 to possibly greater than 1 km3 of lava.”

            That would be the most official source. The caldera volume is 0.825 km³, which would be taken as the approximate DRE volume of the eruption. One article that I have read (not open access) does give the erupted as >1 km³ and I think this is reasonable.

            It has to be considered that the majority of the volume went into the delta at Kapoho which is up to 280 m thick according to a map released by HVO (https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/observatories/hvo/hvo_volcano_watch.html?vwid=1402)

            There was only a break of a few days between Pu’u’o’o draining and the first fissure at Leilani opening so if both are considered as being 1 eruption the total volume would be of around 5.5 km³ (the volume erupted from Pu’u’o’o was 4.4 km³ according to HVO).

          • Loots of lava flowed into the ocean during these 2 months
            The kapoho lava flow fields that filled the shallow bay are
            almost 300 meters thick.
            That will take 100 s of years to cool down.
            Very thick lava accumulations in the bay during the leilani eruption.
            And lots where lost to the deep sea.

            Little over 1km3 is very likley as many papers I read recently but forgot where I seen it.

            Here is leilani lava flow thickness

        • Hi .. Carl Im getting worries that Blue Lagoon Maybe eaten by an Aa flow soon
          Chomp chomp chomp! and lava eaten it
          chomp and burp inside a volcanos stomach

          How hard woud it be to make a new Blue Lagoon? How long woud it take to rebuild this of my most favorite spots in Iceland ?

          • If it goes away it will never be rebuilt.
            It was an industrial accident, and digging something like it out would cost to much. At best they would build a swiming pool.

          • The Blue Lagoon is a major source of tourist income and a phenomenal success, and I get the impression that for some people it’s the best known tourist feature of Iceland. So I wonder whether investing in developing a new Lagoon, if this one does get damaged/destroyed, might actually be seen as a worthwhile investment.

            But, as the wonderful recent headline put it, “Most likely nothing will happen.” Doncherluv Iceland and Icelanders?!

  7. It seems we are in the same situation as with Taal, we expected it to pop sooner but we ended up in the situation of waiting what will happen.

    • Except Taal did a very large pop almost a month ago and erupted over 3 days.Perhaps it has already served up it main course for the time being.

      • Although not a very large pop by Taal standards

        Latest update


        TAAL VOLCANO BULLETIN 09 February 2020 8:00 A.M.

        Activity in the Main Crater in the past 24 hours has been characterized by moderate emission of white to dirty white steam-laden plumes rising 200 to 300m high before drifting southwest. Weak steaming from fissure vents along the Daang Kastila trail rising 10 to 20m high is currently ongoing. Sulfur dioxide (SO2) emission was measured at an average of 116 tonnes/day on February 8, 2020. The Taal Volcano Network recorded one hundred fifteen (115) volcanic earthquakes including two (2) low-frequency events and five (5) harmonic tremors having durations of one (1) to four (4) minutes. These earthquakes signify magmatic activity beneath the Taal edifice that could lead to eruptive activity at the Main Crater.

        Alert Level 3 is maintained over Taal Volcano… (cont at link)

        All the previously public (and apparently also the less public ones) PHIVOLCS seismo feeds and webcams remain hidden from view. The raspberry shake seismo, that was less than 30km away, also remains silent.

        • About one hour before the next update will be published:

          “TAAL VOLCANO BULLETIN 10 February 2020 8:00 A.M.

          Activity in the Main Crater in the past 24 hours has been characterized by weak emission of steam-laden plumes rising 20 to 50m high before drifting southwest. Sulfur dioxide (SO2) emission was measured at an average of 116 tonnes/day on February 8, 2020. The Taal Volcano Network recorded seventy-seven (77) volcanic earthquakes including eleven (11) harmonic tremors having durations of one (1) to four (4) minutes. These earthquakes signify magmatic activity beneath the Taal edifice that could lead to eruptive activity at the Main Crater.

          Alert Level 3 is maintained over Taal Volcano…” (cont at link)


  8. Meanwhile…

    47 quakes on USGS in Pahala area last 24 hours. 235 last 7 days.

    • Sorry 235 for entire island 7 days. 184 in Pahala area last 7 days. All 47 quakes on Island last 24 hours recorded in Pahala area.

      • There have also been 3 tremors lately, the biggest one at 07:42-08:09 Feburary 7. And 2 smaller ones: the 8th at 1:30-1:45 and the 9th at 00:32-00:41. These are probably from the Pahala area but probably not directly related to the ground cracking above

      • Will this slug of magma be the one that pushes Mauna Loa over the edge? The mind boggles 🙂

  9. Is it the hill near Grindavik thats the proper Þorbjörn volcano?
    Is that the edifice ?… but you also writes that no central volcanoes exist there

    • Central volcanoes have their own magma feed systems and dominate the fissure swarm associated with them. For example, Þórðarhyrna is a defacto volcano, but sits within the Grímsvötn fissure swarm. Grímsvötn is the dominate volcano and Þórðarhyrna could be considered a satellite feature of Grímsvötn. Reykjanes peninsula features tend to be monogenetic and don’t stay active enough to form a central magma feed system.

  10. Will a potential Þorbjörn eruption be like Krafla fires?

    • Depends on magma availability. In my mental model of it, yes, it could happen if there is enough magma under moderate pressure to do so.

      An important note that though this is an on-land feature, it is still part of the mid oceanic ridge system. That means that decompression melt could be readily available.

      Current data does not point towards anything of that scale. (Plus the plate boundaries at Krafla are moving tangental to the rift…. directly away from it. At Reykjanes, the motion is dominantly strike slip with a few Reidel sheers showing up at the surface. By their nature they have nowhere near the riftable length possible over at Krafla. The geometry just will not support that.

  11. Any chance agencies allows tourists to visit the eruption if it happens at Thorbjörn?

    • Eruptions are spectator sport and (potential) source of income – check out the videos of Eyjafjallajokull: there’s a track up from Skogar. Holuhraun was dangerous because of the particularly high SO2 levels, iirc, and it was easy to control vehicle access.

      Grindavik/Thorbjorn is different because it’d be easy to walk to, so if gas levels were high it’d be hard to keep people out other than by warning them. The greater problem for “tourists” might be getting to Keflavik if the airport has to be closed.

      On a side note, when we went to the Krafla fires in 1980 people in Reykjahlid gave us this advice: “Walk NW from Krafla works and you’ll then be able to see the eruption site. And it’s OK to walk on the lava; don’t worry if you sink down a few inches.” Both were true – amazing, unforgettable experience.

      • I had that experience in 2010, 1 month after Eykafjalljokull was over.

        I asked the mountain hut warden and this is what she told me:

        Me: Can I hike to the volcanic vent?
        Warden: Yes, in fact we just opened the track yesterday. Just be careful, lava is hot bit ok to walk over it.just follow the walking track.
        Another hiker: I have been there yesterday, I saw the lava pool there, its amazing.
        Warden: Takes 12h to hike there and back, start very early if weather is good
        Me: Will do it!

        Me, next day, 5 hours into the hike: Wow this is dangerous, I can see lava running 2 metres beneath my shoes through this tiny crack. And my shoes soles are melting now! I don’t think I can reach those last 20meters to the edge of the lava pool. Absolutely impossible. How did the other hiker did this yesterday?
        Me, 15 min later (a ice shower arrives). Holy moly, so much steam just appearing everywhere. Let’s get the hell out of here.
        Me, 8 hours later. I can now sleep peaceful. But t has been a crazy and.unsafe hike.

        • Indeed lava is an amazing insulator
          The really really thick parts of holuhraun and Kapoho lava flow fields will be glowing hot for many decades!
          The deep inside of the Fimmvörðuháls cinder cone is likley still red hot even after 10 years

        • Ha! Yes. Just like our experience. Thanks for your story.

          In our case the eruption had finished 24 hrs before we began our day long walk to the area of the eruption. And walking over the fresh but solidified lava, the red hot, molten lava looked through the cracks to be only a few inches below the surface. Unfortunately there was no lava pool to be seen but seeing fresh, steaming black lava, stretching as far as the eye could see was a very impressive sight.

          After a night camping on the highest ground we could find (lest there be another, unexpected eruption), I climbed up the vent through which the fissure had erupted – about 30 metres. I took one look, and one photograph, and quickly turned away: I was coughing and spluttering, and the soles of my boots were just beginning to melt.

    • Thornbjorn?

      I estimate 0,01-0.1km3 and a short-lived VEI2-3 (at most) if it ever turns explosive, which is very unlikely. Most likely a largely efusive-only eruption, lasting possibly anything between a few weeks to a few months. Perhaps slow-erupting along a fissure.

  12. Whats the inflation now in Reykjanes Penninsula in centimeters ?

  13. In other news, a new eruption has started at Reunion’s Piton de la Fournaise volcano at 06:40 UTC on February 10, 2020. The last eruption of this volcano took place in October 2019.

    Looks like a largish fissure eruption on the flank with long lava flows.

  14. Here is an area that I personally find interesting. As earthquakes happen in south Iceland, strain release propagates slowly as elastic deformation in the E-W direction. At certain longitudes the motion gets locked up in N-S striking faults, where strain accumulates until eventually it is released in the form of larger earthquakes. After the large earthquakes in 2000 and 2008, one of the locations where strain builds up is exactly where this little swarm is happening. I’m not saying that a large earthquake is imminent, only that this is an area to watch a bit more closely.

    11.02.2020 06:37:37 64.024 -20.030 4.4 km 0.4 99.0 10.9 km E of Árnes
    11.02.2020 02:08:16 63.961 -19.992 7.0 km 0.8 99.0 15.5 km SE of Árnes
    11.02.2020 01:11:19 63.964 -19.992 7.1 km 2.7 99.0 15.3 km SE of Árnes
    11.02.2020 00:57:47 63.966 -19.993 6.3 km 1.0 99.0 15.1 km ESE of Árnes

  15. Latest update from IMO

    Specialist remark

    At 18:46 this evening an earthquake of M3,1 occurred 5 km WSW of Grindavík. The earthquake was felt in Grindavík and the Blue Lagoon. Two minutes later an earthquake of M2,6 occurred in the same location.

    In the last days the earthquake activity has decreased near Grindavík. Small earthquakes are still being detected there.

    Indications are that the crustal deformation pattern has changed, however uplift has slowed down. In total the uplift is about 5 cm since the 21st of January.

    The most likely explanation of the uplift and earthquake activity is that a magmatic intrusion is located at 3 to 5 km depth just west of Þorbjörn. It is most likely that this activity will stop without an eruption. The next meeting of the scientific council of Civil Protection will be next Thursday.
    Written by a specialist at 11 Feb 19:31 GMT

  16. Interesting activity tonight near Hengill and at the volcanic unrest spot at Blue Lagoon.

    I wonder how many dike intrusions and magmatic swarms really result in an eruption, and what is the percentage of false alarms (of strong swarms that do not evolve into anything)

    Without looking at data, In would estimate that we kind of have a strong swarm in Iceland every month,

    And about the episodes that seems to be heading to an eruption but then stops short of it, about one per two years – episodes like the current one, where inflation or tremor is recorded, alongside a clear stack of magmatic quakes. A few episodes in the last years come to my mind, Katla in 2011, Askja some years ago, Hekla in 2013, Thorbjorn now…,

    Considering a well-established average of one eruption in Iceland every 5 years, I reached the following conclusions:
    About 1 in 60 strong swarms (of those that happen once a month) result in an eruption (thats about 2%)
    About 1 in 3, of strong volcanic unrest episodes like the current one, result in an eruption (thats about 30%)

    Therefore, Thorbjorn has an estimated change of 30% of erupting.
    Thats quite high.

    • There was a star near Hengill on Sunday morning. M3.6 if I remember correctly. Near Litla Kaffistofan, right at the tip of the Brennisteinsfjöll fissure swarm (as mapped in the futurevolc catalogue). Not sure about your 30% estimate. Sounds a bit high.

    • Katla and Oraefajokull were getting us excited in, I think it was, 2017. The former with lots of shallow EQs and “hot spots”; the latter with a lot of deep EQs, cauldron, and a yellow warning (again, iirc). Then both have gone quiet, though it looks like Oraefajokull is still inflating. Any thoughts about where they might fit in your pattern?

      • Katla can hide minor eruptions, if they don’t break the ice. That may have happened in 2011 or so.

  17. Is it me or is the activity near Katla increasing?
    There are all kinds of small ticks (and smal eqs) in the drumplot:

    • Ice quakes? A suggestion on my part rather than analysis – that i will leave to the others on here with knowledge of interpreting such plots. It was rather mild there over the weekend.

    • Looks not anxious to me. Part of the signals come from the Hekla area


  18. So how long can Hawaii go without an eruption? Unusual level of activity at Pahala, continued inflation at Mauna Loa, continuing DI’s at Kilauea, continuing slippage of Hilina fault… something’s going to give soon. Maybe the best bet is Loihi! It’s already 3000 meters high. 975 meters before there will be a new island. Maybe all that Pahala action is headed towards Loihi:

    • From what I see the quakes are very deep and not really moving up in the system. Might be quite sometime.

  19. There are a lot of unknowns regarding the activity at Pahala and its relation to the volcanoes. There was a previous hotspot surge that peaked in 2005 and increased supply to both Kilauea and Mauna Loa, while the event was well studied in every other aspect there was sadly no study looking at a possible connection to deep seismic activity. But if Mauna Loa and Kilauea would get the kind of influx they got in 2005 (which is a realistic posibility) both would probably erupt within a year but as I mentioned there are a lot of unknowns regarding Pahala, hopefully the conclusion to this situation will show how the whole thing works.

    For the time being it seems things will probably be quiet, both Kilauea and Mauna Loa have slowed down inflation starting around December. Kilauea keeps throwing DIs, but these do not seem to be precursor to eruptions. Loihi is a bit of a mystery since it is underwater and therefore hard to monitor, even if it erupted would we notice?

  20. The dimming of Betelgeuse has been traced to a cloud in the southern half of its atmosphere. It is not related to anything going on inside.

    • Betelgeuse is souch a low density in general that its like a hot vaccum… a space ship coud easly fly through its outer layers .. without overheating
      But the radiation heating will be the big problem.
      Red Supergiants are very dense in the middle
      But most of it is .. flismy
      Vy Canis Majornis haves souch a low density that if we where close There woud be no sharp edge of the star

    • Oh. How mundane and (if I admit) a bit disappointing. Thanks for the news, Albert. Perhaps Storm Dennis is affecting it!

      • I actually find this more interesting! Supernovae are so last century. Nowadays we do stellar mergers, planetary cannibalism and stellar superwinds.

        • In the 20th century, star collisions were considered extremely rare !
          My favorite theoretical collision remains the transitory phase of the sinking of the neutron star into a red giant to become an object of Thorne-Żytkow
          Collisions in the accretion phase of very massive stars also seems to me to be underestimated.

          In the absence of a colossal eruption, a nearby supernovae would brighten my smile.

          • Yes, Thorne-Żytkow objects are amazing, assuming they actually exist.

      • The Universe has cooled to -269C and it is still getting colder. Formation of new stars is only a few percent of what it was 10 billion years ago. Cosmic winter is all around you. Enjoy.

        • Running out of gas to form new stars
          Heat Death awaits 🙂
          We will all freeze to death if we colonize Milky way and surivive our suns death

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