Unrest at Torfajökull

Torfajökull at Landmannalaugar. Photograph by Chris 73, wikimedia commons.


This is just a short piece about mounting unrest along the extension of the Veidivötn Fissure Swarm as it is running through the Torfajökull volcano.

Earthquake lineament of Veidivötn transecting Torfajökull. Image by IMO.

Torfajökull has two known magma reservoirs, one on the south east side that is mainly andesite-basalt, and a rhyolite chamber towards the south-west.

The current lineament is having the rhyolite reservoir at the southern tip. The rhyolite is believed to be gas poor, but an intrusion of fresh basalt from depth might reactivate the magma.

This is obviously very early, and quite likely to end up with a whole lotta nothing happening, but this is Iceland so you never know.

What we think we can see in this early stage is the start of a deep root filling with fresh basalt, combined with shallow tectonic activity as the southern tip of Veidivötn is moving slightly.

That´s all folks. I will let the plots of Andrej Flis and graphics from IMO talk instead.

Torfajökull, Andrej Flis.

Updates will be provided if needed and as we go.


Update 1:

This is still very early. The only thing meriting writing about this is the location, it is a risky place that could mean that an eruption would come. But, this is so early that we are still lacking a lot of things before an eruption could occur.

Before an eruption here we will see quite a bit of change on the nearby GPSes surrounding the aseismic area containing Veidivötn, Eldgjá and Lakí fissure swarms, colloquially known as The Dead Zone. And when I say changes I mean quite a bit, several meters.

Also, there would be a lot of seismic activity. Thousands of earthquakes, some ranging into the M5 range. Tearing apart one of the major seams of the planet would be a noisy thing indeed.

Also, we would see major seismic activity at Bardarbunga.

So far we have not seen any of this. Only a minor smattering along the southern tip of Veidivötn as it transects Torfajökull. It is also possible that even if an eruption happened (still small risk), that it would be a lazy slow extrusion of a slow sticky rhyolite flow.

So, no need to run screaming to tip of the Daily Fail.

Andrej Flis

Andrej Flis.

Andrej Flis

Andrej Flis

Andrej Flis

Beardy Gaz

141 thoughts on “Unrest at Torfajökull

    • This is more where the Dead Zone connects to Torfajökull via Veidivötn towards Bardarbunga. This is more likely to be a fizzle out or go.

      So, most likely not a cute and cuddly tourist eruption if it goes. Instead we are talking about the Main show at Lavapalooza on an almost Jesperian level.

        • This is technically Veidivötn Fissure Swarm and not Torfajökull proper. But it could be either effusing rhyolite flows, large flood basalt, or an explosive rhyolite eruption.
          Veidivötns southern end has done all of them.

          • Worst case scenario would be a VEI-6 eruption followed by 5 to 35km3 of lava gushing out. Veidivötn is kind of the motherload in the dead zone.

      • Carl, Carl
        Jesper wants a Central Atlantic Magmatic Province flood basalt LIP to
        Simply appear in the dead zone …
        wants the whole Iceland to split open with many kilometers high lava fountains all along
        That woud also be the end for Vatnajökull icesheet
        As par request to Earth forces
        Give me Jesper Traps

        • Jesper has spoken.
          I promise that the last thing I will do if that happens would be to name it the Jesper-traps, before I gasped a final time and died.

          • Its threat level is zero, which is the lowest on the Torino scale. At this level, no detailed monitoring is required. The thing is about 300 meters diameter, so if it were to hit (it isn’t) it would leave a crater about 5 km across. Bit of a bummer if that happens to be your home, but hardly an extinction event. We have had worse volcanoes.

          • I hate non zero odds. Those are the things that Black Swans are born from.

            For them that don’t know.

            Nassim Nicholas Taleb wrote a book some time back titled “The Black Swan” which examines the phenomena in some detail. At the core definition of a true Black Swan, there are three criteria.

            1) Extremely low odds of the event occurring. So low that the risk is erroneously assumed to be zero.
            2) Profound in it’s effect when it does occur.
            3) Logically explained away after the fact. ‘If only we had known about (this) or had known about (that)’

            The main focus of Taleb’s work was on the unsuitability of the Gaussian curve (Normal Distribution) in analyzing risk primarily with financial instruments. Out towards several standard deviations from the mean, the curve drops to near zero quite fast, giving you an unrealistic estimate of risk.

            Since I am mainly focused on natural phenomena, I think the curve is quite sufficient, AS LONG AS YOU ACCOUNT FOR THE HIGHLY UNLIKELY. You see, Carl noted something awhile back that I have since become enamored with. That is the idea of infinite probability. If you treat the distribution as a continuous function, and sum all of the area under that low probability region, you will wind up with something much larger that the expected events closer to the mean. This is a variation on the “Law of Large Numbers” idea. Basically what it means, is that no matter how low the probability of an specific event is, if you test for it enough times, you WILL find it eventually, almost without question. One aspect of this that trips up gamblers (the Gamblers fallacy) is that a typical gambler only has a finite amount of funds and can not play an infinite number of games. It is only when the number of trails (tests) approach infinity that this probability correction occurs. It is a large scale phenomena.

            As for the asteroid thing… sure the probability is quite low. But if you have enough low probability passes (events) like that, eventually one will hit. The big caveat with the whole scenario, is that there is a non-zero chance of it occurring. That basically means it will happen… eventually. (It could be several million years until then, but it will happen)

            A really good side article that illustrates what Taleb was talking about with the Gaussian distribution: Recipe for Disaster: The Formula That Killed Wall Street Spoiler Alert: It was a Gaussian Cupola. A way of combining multiple normal distributions into one single risk estimator.

          • But I know the real black swan is the one we really don’t see coming. I’m not expecting one but then who is 🙂

          • @Squonk

            I’ve poked around with this more as a hobby than anything else, but the “1 in 1.4 billion” event is essentially between 5.5 and 6 sigma.

            Not trying to jinx anyone, but extremely low probability… virtually zero. {wink}

            And as Albert notes, we’ve had much worse volcanoes try to wipe us out.

          • Ironically, actual black swans are actually fairly common in some parts of the world.

          • Sunburn. While seeing a white swan in Australia is a black-swan event.

          • Yep. The very thing that brought home the idea of black swans being much more likely than assumed.

          • It is not swarming anymore but continuing. The swarm was made up of very weak shaking, around M1 (there were two swarms a day apart) which ended Monday evening. Since then we have a few individual quakes but stronger, around M2, including one an hour ago. These are around the old caldera wall. That might well be it for now. So far the events have all been on the edge of the Torfajokull caldera – of course the caldera rim is always the weakest spot where the new volcano will normally form (I just mention it..). I think this is probably a bit of rifting, starting at the weakest link. Most likely it will end here. If it moves beyond the caldera. it may be time to dust off the links to the webcams and relocate the holuhraun dalek. But that is not currently happening.

      • Revised list of eruption styles:

        Hawaiian, Strombolian, Vulcanian, Surtseyan, Peléan, Plinian, Jesperian.

    • Side note from the peanut gallery. Campi’s 40kyr event affected the Neanderthal “home range” the worst and drastically stressed the population. It did not directly cause their extinction, but it didn’t help.

    • Now that’s interesting. If you include the Green Tuff from Ischia, dated to about 55Ka, that means there have been paroxysmal eruptions in that area at 55, 41, 29 and 15 thousand years BP with intervals between them of 14, 12 and 14 thousand years.. ..and 15000 years since the last, one. FFS don’t tell the Daily Fail

      • Nice…. that means that their population instability was a recurring chain of events.

        Dunno if this caused them to be prone to breeding with anything that came along like our genetic cousins the Bonobo {Pan paniscus} but it does point in that direction.

        Side note for all: In general, actual extinction comes about from a cascade or an unfortunate collection of bad events that taken singly, a population would be able to survive. In a way, it is similar to the idea that most catastrophes are a chain of seemingly inconsequential problems that together, make for a really bad situation.

        • See the recent finding of Denisovan remains in Tibet, at high altitude. The paper states this proves that they lived on the high plateau, 160,000 years ago, benefiting from a gene that allowed them to cope with low oxygen levels. You do wonder why they would live there. The most likely reason is that they lost out in competition at more hospitable altitudes, i.e. there were other but similar species around. I see them as a kind of Orangutan, smart but closer to an ape than to homo stultus.

          I might want to reconsider that last statement..

          • BTW, the USAF is still crashing F-4s down at Tyndall AFB. They convert them into drones for exercises out over the Gulf of Mexico. Sometimes they don’t make it that far. On a trip down to Parker Florida a couple of years ago, the radio noted that Hwy 98 was shut down south of where I was going because one of them didn’t quite clear the runway… and that one of the City Council for Parker had been arrested for purchasing Meth. (Later replaced after a special election)

            Redacted since I can’t find an applicable link. It’s based of what I heard on the radio at the time; WFLA.

            In a nutshell, Florida can be a REALLY interesting place to live. 😀

  1. Ref the “Mag 5” statement above. This is a fairly accurate estimate of what the “unzipping” will be like when it goes. That is what 1783 Laki did. Working backwards through the USGS derived “did you feel it” equations using the eye witnesses statements about quakes felt at the time yield M5s at the Deadzone to produce that shaking. I’m not saying that is what will happen, just that the math works for it having happened before.

    And you know how volcanoes like to rhyme. They may hate schedules, but prose is their thing.

  2. Speaking of Torfajokull, how close is this earthquake swarm on the NW caldera rim to the Dead Zone? What about the heat flux and emission of gases like SO2 – any changes, or is that too early to tell for sure?

    • It is hooking directly into the dead zone, this is actually the lineament of Veidivötn as it enters into Torfajökull, so it is a bit into the unknown if this would be Torfajökull proper, or if this is some sort of semi-permanent remnant of old Veidivötn-eruptions.

      It would be way to early for that, I guess that IMO will meander out and measure if this continues. And any reliable GPS-signal would be about 5 days away unless it is something massive happening. And even then I would wait at least five days before I felt comfortable to scream wolf.

      Once again, this is a whisker of a wolf, we are waiting for the rest of the wolf before we say that a wolf is eating your pet coyote.

  3. I would think Torfajokull can sometimes erupt on its own even though it appears to be triggered by Veidivotn/Bardarbunga most of the time. Otherwise it would be just another part of Bardy’s system and not one of the 30 individual systems (IMO’s list minus Thordarhyrna (Grimsvotn system) and Snaefell (no Holocene activity)- my attempt at diplomacy in the endless debate over the actual number of volcanoes in Iceland- my list only contains uncontested entries!).

    • Oh and maybe get rid of the jokull in the names whilst we’re in “keeping ahead of the game” mode. #RamblingMadmanChronicles 😁

    • I am all for the eternal contest of how many volcanoes does Iceland have, it is a good way to keep warm while waiting for something to go boom there. Problem is what is contested? And the definitions? Much fun to be had indeed.
      Just remember the golden rule: “There is absolutely no eruption at Thingmuli”.
      Thingmuli is a very well researched volcano, but you will not see it on the official lists since it has gone pining for the fiords…

      Hm, Torfabunga? 🙂

  4. If this turns into something I might have to put the rest of my series on hold until it ends, quite an ironic way for my year of convincing kilauea is awesome, and finally actually writing articles on it, to be ended on its 1 year since puu oo anniversary by the real chance of an eruption of Jesperian proportion in iceland… lol

    All I can say is that if this really does go full 100% Jesper-level then I want to see someone take a nice picture of it from the road that goes up the thorsja valley, or from burfell mountain, with hekla in the foreground. Or take a picture from on top of hekla but maybe thats not a good idea 🙂

    Also if whatever this turns into gets called jesperhraun then the next 1959-type eruption from kilauea gets to be called the honumanukane tephra member 😀
    (Honu= turtle, I think you get where this is going)

  5. Rhyolite ? I keep forgetting how so much silica got into a basaltic system, I know there were articles, funny thing is I just got done watching a YouTube video about super volacanoes of he Pacific nothwest, ( actually Yelowstone volcanos) they described three types of volcanoes, basaltic, dalcite and rhyolite, guess which ones super volcanos favor.

    • Almost all volcanoes start out as basaltic, but over time the lava will start to fractionate into more high silica products venturing via andesite into dacite, and from dacite to rhyolite, unless experimenting a bit with phonolite. At least if left to their own devises for a long enough time.

      • Do you know much about the rarer types such as trachydacitic?

        That sounds nasty and Smithsonian site mentions a few volcanoes with this rock type, but am not aware of any historic eruptions with this one.

  6. If this really goes big in the same way skaftar fires did, this is what the 1500 meter tall curtain of fire would look like from the top of hekla.

    And this is from the top of oraefajokull.

  7. Since Carl mentioned major seismic activity at Bárdarbunga as one of the signs to look for, I might add that a small swarm of a few M4+ quakes does not count as major seismic activity. There’s a high probability that one of those swarms will happen in the next few days or weeks, so no need for panic if you see stars at Bárdarbunga – it’s just doing the same thing as it has for the last couple of years. However, if there’s sustained seismic activity, like what we saw before Holuhraun, then hold on to your hat…

    • This recent Torfajökul swarm goes down only to 14 km. If there was a delivery of new magma, should we not have seen some activity at below 20 or 25 km?

        • I think that is probably a good assumption, torfajokull is between hekla and katla and both of them are pretty active so it would ve assumed the area underneath is pretty hot, even if not 1500 C like the base of the crust under vatnajokull or hawaii.

          If this is a local intrusion derived from torfajokull itself then I think the eruption could be really scary, big rhyolite plinian eruption followed by voluminous lava flows of varying composition. If ultimately derived from bardarbunga it will be explosive at the start from all the groundwater but then like holuhraun and with lots of very hot fluid lava flowing potentially very long distances from the vents. Even though this is on bardarbunga swarm though it doesnt look like it is related to bardarbunga itself and is a local deep event though carl probably knows more about that.

          In any case, a sheet of fairly strong earthquakes inside an a dormant volcano, especially on in an area known for being very aseismic and making huge eruptions is definitely a game changer…

        • This is Veidivötn so there is probably quite a bit of residual heat left after 1477. If one look closely at the long term plots that Andrej did you can see a deep conduit coming in, but there are few quakes at depth, so it is most likely pretty open since it is a spread center.

        • Something on the topic

          Magma mixing and hybridization processes at the alkalic, silicic, Torfajökull central volcano triggered by tholeiitic Veidivötn fissuring, south Iceland

          And the third panel is probably a reasonable assumption of the conditions at depth, assuming no new intrusions and just sticking with normal heat loss from it’s last active period. The assumption of 50°C/km for a background thermal gradient is fairly arbitrary, I did not have a good reference for that when I ran the model. It’s been 542 years since Veidivötn 1477, and Carls note about it still being quite hot down there fully fits with my modeling. I’m guesstimating at least 600°C in the residual dike. That’s not liquid by any measure, but it’s not fully rock hard cool. Think of it as “goo.”

          • I think of their function as rubberbands. They silently stretch, up until the point that the snap and it could become noisy.
            It is this rubberbandy effect that makes the Dead Zone so silent.

  8. New quake in the “line of fire”:

    30.04.2019 10:14:42 63.955 -19.294 2.9 km 2.0 99.0 11.1 km NNW of Álftavatn

  9. HVO has issued its latest overview. Two points to note

    GPS stations and tiltmeters continue to show motions consistent with refilling of the deep East Rift Zone magma reservoir.” The lack of SO2 emissions shows that this is fairly deep, They don’t say where this magma reservoir is supposed to be, sadly. The GPS motion to me suggest it could be between Kilauea and defunct pu’u’O’o but that is guessing. A bit of the signal may also be due to Mauna Loa’s inflation (which is now quite pronounced but remains slow).

    A GPS station on the north flank of Puʻu ʻŌʻō has been showing steady slumping of the craters edge, and the motion has continued this week. This motion is interpreted to be sliding of the unstable edge of Puʻu ʻŌʻō cone” In other words, there could be a bit of a collapse coming.

    • Deep east rift is from mauna ulu to highway 130, it connects to the south caldera magma reservoir and the top is about the same depth but it isnt clear exactly how the connection works, most likely it is quite deep and diffuse as there have been very few eruptions between mauna ulu and the outer caldera fault in the past few hundred years so there is no shallow magma there.

      The bit they are talking about is between puu oo and highway 130, JOKA station is in tge middle of this.

      Puu oo has changed quite a bit since this time last year, the crater has filled in about 50 meters with stuff falling in, a big collapse of the north side would be expected as this side is tephra still, and evidently it is moving slowly so probably it will collapse or otherwise fill in more. The bottom of the crater is still the lowest elevation point above the active magma system too and still emits SO2 so it is very probable it will see more lava in the next decades even if only a minor component of said eruption.

      • Here is Pu’u’O’o having a bout of instablity

        I think the word ‘deep’ refers to the depth, not the eastiness.. (probably what you had in mind as well, anyway). A number of GPS’s show a touch of eastward motion over the past week(s). That seemed to point at refilling west of Pu’u’O’o. Before the motion was westward. JOKA seems to have stabilized.

        Highway 130 is quite far to the east. There is local motion there, part rebound part new, but I wouldn’t have called this a filling-up. Wait and see. Anything could happen. Mauna Loa seems most attention seeking at the moment.

        • It would make sense if the uprift part is showing inflationary signals now, especially if the part further down that was previously showing such signals has stopped rising now. The last part to inflate would be the summit, but it probably wont inflate as far as it was before last year because the rock is weak in many places and would allow an eruption before it can reach anywhere near that height. It probably took since at least 1840 to get as high as it was last year.

  10. At the same time in Florida…
    Florida Man came home and shanked the mattress believing that his wife was having an affair with it.
    Technically she was sleeping with the mattress at that time, but… 🙂

    I think that the only thing to be learned from Florida Man is that we know the only Floridian that is normal (of sorts 🙂 )


    • It’s bad enough when French Air Traffic controllers go on strike. But major asteroids?

      Seriously, I’m not going to worry. It’s one of those things that is unavoidable and you can’t even ‘not be there’ to quote GL. I’d worry more about tootling around the M25 in the UK.

      Thanks for the link – interesting to read!

  11. OT “private” to Lurk: ok, Your descripton of potato/sausage/corn/ shrimp boil got me hungry… so after a trip to the store and running into a special on whole shrimp (which i did clean (for hubby) ) and after spending $10 on said shrimp and an hour of cleaning (which were beautiful large Alaskan) i couldn’t bring myself to boil them so i cooked the pot/corn/sausage in the boil and pan sauted the shrimp after sesoning with garlic, ginger and old bay and served it all with homemade tartar sauce and butter…………………………….. it was so good i think i have to go to confession now….. think i’ll mention Your name…. ( i’ll let You know what Your share of the penance is).

    • As for cooking the shrimp separately, there is not a thing wrong with that. I usually boil my shrimp separately until they reach that “beautiful” stage in a Zaratains shrimp/crab boil before adding it to my pot. This allows me to steal a few before they go in.

      One side project involved sauteing a few and putting them in a tortilla with an Italian Olive Salad for greenery and rolling it up into a sort of seafood burrito. Also a primo midnight snack 😀

  12. Anak Krakatau as of April 25. There is a nice crater lake – and absolutely no volcanic activity. It wil be a shock when it comes back to life. Especially if this is after life has come back to it.

  13. Iceland Activity – Looks like a general pick up in activity with a number of simultaneous swarms occuring.
    The following is based on iceland met reported quakes
    Myvatn 6-7 quakes shallow
    Torfajökull (and perhaps Bardy) continues but perhaps declined
    Vatnajökull (looks interesting)


    • The winds have been generally lighter over the past few days, this allows the system to pick up the smaller quakes that are usually masked when the winds are roaring.

    • Herdubreid is also at it again. 109 quakes since Wednesday evening. Haven’t seen that depth (from 2.4km all the way up to 0km) before. Is it finally sticking it’s head out of the sand and snow?

      What I’m always wondering: is the 0.0km (depth) based on sea-level, or is that in view of the seismometer which is probably at about +1.500m height? If that last one’s the case we could reach ‘depths’ of negative amounts? Like -0.5km, which is still about 1km under the the top of Herdubreid?

      Looking forward to the post and analysis this coming weekend.

      • Technically the network measures at instrument height, but it is then normalized to ocean level, and yes, you get negative quakes, but normally only during eruptions on tall volcanoes as the conduit opens up.
        Eyjafjallajökull was particularly adept at the flying Earthquake game.

    • This has been known for some time, the first report came when it was still erupting even that the lava at fissure 17 was very evolved, on May 18th. One of the early 19th century eruptions on the southwest rift also erupted something closer to andesite than normal basalt, it was probably a very similar eruption

      As a side note May 18 seems to be quite a notable date in volcanology, both the 1924 and 2018 collapses had their biggest explosion on that day (or close enough) and new lava started erupting last year at fissure 20, and moving away from hawaii we cant forget about mt st helens… Same regarding the ’83 year of the last 3 centuries, 1783 skaftar fires, 1883 krakatoa, 1983 puu oo. All of these had a big impact on the world scene too. Interesting coincidences. By this logic May 18 2083 will be when we get puu oo 2 and jesper traps at the same time and also when iwo jima erupts :>

      • I’m wondering if there’s been older eruptions in the state of Hawai’i in the past before 2018 and including that early 19 Century one you mentioned which have also erupted andesite/basaltic andesite or even more silicic in the past, either historically or before 1790. There’s Pu’u Waawaa, a lava dome on Hualalai, which is trachytic in nature.

        Same goes for prehistoric times outside the Big Island – I’m aware of outcrops in O’ahu in the Wai’anae volcano (SW O’ahu) which have rhyodacite flows in them, but I wonder if there are also others as well.

        • Most of the other hawaiian volcanoes erupt evolved lava, mauna kea actually erupts lava that is basically andesite, except it is more alkaline so it is called trachybasalt, or hawaiite if there is more olivine (mauna keas eruptions would be like fissure 17 but much bigger). of the older volcanoes only hualalai still erupts primitive lava, though it has erupted evolved lava before as with pu’u waawaa.

          It is because kilauea and mauna loa are in their shield stage that it is a rarity to erupt anything other than tholeiite basalt. Mauna loa is about at the very end of its shield stage and will probably slowly decline and turn more alkaline as it becomes a post shield volcano.
          Kilauea is just getting into its massive growth stage and so it is unusual for it to be erupting evolved magma, which is why the places evolved magma does turn up is in areas where eruptions are infrequent – southwest rift next to koae faults, and the east rift below highway 130.
          The early 19th century eruption that erupted basaltic andesite was the kamakaia hills eruption that was in this area of the rift, next to the koae fault zone, it happened some time between 1790 and 1823 but probably closer to 1823 as some older flows beneath it also overly 1790 ash and there was probably at least a few years between them. That is about it on the surface on land now, but given it has happened twice in the past 250 years it is pretty likely similar things have happened before. The kamakaia hills are also made by multiple eruptions so another eruption is likely there in the future.

          • The only volcano that currently erupts predominantly evolved lavas is Mauna Kea, its last eruptions being alkaline equivalents of basaltic andesite and andesite. Mauna Loa and Kilauea erupt tholeeite basalt, Hualalai erupts weakly tholeeitic or weakly alkalic basalts, Haleakala mostly erupts basanite (a strongly alkalic equivalent of basalt) and the rejuvenation volcanoes (Koolau, the North Arch Volcanic Field and others) erupt nephelinite.

            I think that you meant to say that the old volcanoes usually go through postshield stage during which they erupt evolved magmas, and it is true that hawaiian volcanoes which have had a postshield have erupted a varying amount of intermediate or felsic lavas, but currently only Mauna Kea has a predominantly silicic volcanism, some of the other active volcanoes like Kilauea have erupted it rarely. The hawaiian volcano that probably erupted the largest amount of felsic lavas was West Molokai which still has some nice trachyte lava domes exposed in its SW flank.

          • Speaking of those trachytic domes/flows on the SW flank of West Maui Volcano – I think I’ve likely seen those quite a few times myself (I’ve been taking trips to Maui every year since circa 2013). If you look on Google Maps, these may be those bunch of hills right by Highway 30 on the coast just before Highway 3000 branches out. Just NW of Olowalu, where there’s a great place (Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop) where I once had one of those massive pork sandwiches so big that it took me two meals to finish it all off. Those hills do indeed look like eroded domes/flows from above.

          • Yes, those are the ones I was referring to. Trachyte used to mantle West Maui volcano but erosion has removed it from most places, it is best preserved in the northeast of the volcano, easily discernible as it is white. Some domes are visible here and there, like the flows next to Highway 3000, Eke Crater or the hill that towers at the east end of Kahakuloa Bay

        • Yes that is probably more correct.

          Puu waawaa was also preceded by a VEI 5 plinian eruption as big as if not bigger than the 1980 eruption of mt st helens, it is the biggest single explosive eruption known in hawaii, about twice as big as the highest estimates I coukd find for anything kilauea has done and none of the other recent volcanoes have a lot of evidence of tephra showing up that can be mapped.

          It actually surprised me after looking at the 2005 map and finding out how huge some recent eruptions of mauna kea and hualalai were. The last 3 eruptive episodes on hualalai probably erupted about 1 km3 of lava each counting losses to the ocean, making each eruptive episode similar to last years eruption. Some of mauna keas lava flows are also huge, over 20 km long despite having similar composition to fissure 17, and like hualalai it seems like mauna kea has eruptive episodes with several eruptions over about 200 years, up to a few decades apart then millennia of silence. In both cases the volume is quite high and could be very damaging as well as potentially a lot more dangerous, some of mauna keas eruptions are probably like the huge explosive 1 km tall lava fountains on mt etna, fissure 17 on steroids. Mauna kea could be a good subject of a future article, theres a lot of information on its current status as well as historical impact and astronomical stuff but not so much on its holocene eruptions which have been far from insignificant.

          • just wait until vatnajökull does a Laki sized event under the glacier
            The start of the death of Vatnajökull with the man made warming

        • I didnt, it says it all right there 🙂

          I still find it pretty incredible coincidence that ignoring the eruption how similar 1924 and 2018 were. Intrusion to nearly the same place, explosive activity starting and ending on basically the same days for the same reason, biggest explosion on the same day, even the pictures look almost the same except recent ones have colour. Of course last year was already a major eruption even before fissure 8 got going while 1924 didnt erupt at all, but still…

          Then we get another completely different coincidence of fissure 8 going flood basalt mode and causing the start of full scale caldera collapse on May 28, within 2 days of the 178th anniversary of the 1840 eruption, a similar flood lava event only a few km away that also caused a caldera collapse.

          Even further, the lava lake overflows at halemaumau before were almost exactly 3 years after the 2015 flows…

          It is things like this that keep me interested even if they dont mean anything 😀

    • At least it looks like he’s going to live. I presume this wasn’t part of the training mission.


      A US soldier in Hawaii was critically injured after he fell 70ft (21 metres) into one of the most active volcanoes on Earth, parks officials say.

      Rangers rescued the 32-year-old man, who they say climbed over a metal guard rail overlooking the Kilauea caldera in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

      Witnesses say the ground crumbled away beneath the victim’s feet, causing him to plunge down the 300ft cliff.

      He landed on a ledge, stopping him for falling into the crater.

      …On Thursday, the unidentified man’s condition was upgraded from critical to stable.

      Army officials told KGMB-TV that the man is a soldier from the Schofield Barracks who had been on Big Island as part of a training mission.

    • According to my grandson who had become a bit of a Hawaii fanboi; “Ya i seen that and another fell off wiamea.”

  14. You will all get Jesper – Traps soon enough
    When the African Superplume finds a way through the cratons in East Africa
    The largest mantle plume for now.

    Soon magmageddon breaks out

      • Technically it has already started, that is why nyiragongo erupts 1300 C ultra low silica lava, because even the very low degrees of melting to make alkaline nephelinite happen on such a massive scale in the plume there that it still gives the area a supply rate an order of magnitude higher than an average subduction arc, and comparable to hawaii and iceland that are mostly tholeiite basalt which is formed by the mantle almost completely melting. It might be worth noting that nyamuragira did an eruption of 0.4 km3 of lava in 2011-12, and eruptions over 0.1 km3 of lava 9 times since 1977, it also has been erupting near non stop since 2012. As such it is already a very active volcano and it is technically still a baby, it is still very alkaline magma.
        When the virunga area starts becoming tholeiite basalt (possibly within the next 10,000 years) which indicates extensive melting of the plume things are going to get really scary, think holuhraun up to bigger than laki sized eruptions and then eventually proper full sized flood lavas like deccan traps after a million years. If the plume starts melting then it will absolutely dwarf hawaii and iceland which already have melt rates of multiple km3 per decade.

        Given that in this timescale the eruptions could begin before anthropogenic climate change has been fully recovered (200,000+ years to fix the sea level if the big melt happens) this could be a great dying level event. A big doom and gloomy but just sometimes the reality actually is as bad as the fake news says it is…

        • Turtle its going to be ( spectacular ) African Suerplume
          This Mantle Plume is enromous when it starts decompress it will be lavaly.
          Its upper Super Plume head extends from Malawi to Etiophia border 3000 km wide
          Its fuled directly from the outer core. The deep mantle Plume Stem is 100 s of km wide alone. This will very likley be the next major land based LIP since CAMP

          The whole east africa have doomed and uplifted over the last 10 million years
          Its signs whats to come. In Albertine Rift it as you say MAY break out in the future
          and in the Kenya Rift too.

          Imagine fissures… many 100 s of kilometers long in very largest cases
          With many kilometers high fountains of super hot thoelite all along….
          Whole savannahs and nature game reserves buried under state sized lava flows.
          Whole countries evacuated as the Aa lava walls move in

          Extreme global warming and gas pollution and sun dimming is result
          Out flows sheets of channlelized Aa pooled lava that maybe the size of Sweden or Italy. ( more than 1500 Laki volumes per flood basalt sheet in some cases )
          ( But mostly many 100 s of laki volumes per flow )
          and many majority flows flows just 10s of Laki volumes per flood basalt flow )
          Old dykes from Mackenzie Large Igneous Province
          ( Mackenzie dike swarm beacuse the flood lavas are eroded away )
          These basalt dykes are in excess of 500 km long
          And one dykle in Karro Ferrar flood basalt province is over 1000 km long I think tracked compositionaly and geological mapping.
          Souch dykes are proof magmas can travel and intrude in enormous ammounts in the crusts. And are a clue thats sometimes very large LIP events reached terrfying propotions as eruptions. Siberian Traps is still very visible despite millions of years of erosion suggesting the LIP s volume may been much larger than previous estimates.
          Deccan Traps already did lava flows 1500 kilometers long.
          Now imagine what the African Superplume is capable of when its time comes,

          Its a odd tought as I told before
          Its an odd tought of some day lions, leopards and elephants and zebras running away from a 50 meters high glowing Aa wall that advances at good walking speed
          And Kilimanjaro and Mt Kenya becomes islands.. in a glowing lowland sea of fast moving lava… Kenyan peaks transformed into safe Islands in a glowing hellsea that slowly advances towards the easten sea coast.
          And sheet after sheet flows out ultimately burying the African peaks
          The crust depresses too under the enromous load.

          East Africa may become one huge igenous plateau IF African Superplume reallly decides to do a major flood basalt.

        • IF the African Superplume started its major LIP phase tomorrow ( it wont ) but will later
          The effects woud be potentialy very severe
          Extreme Global warming and also volcanic winter from all gases
          many repeated Fissure events with many many 100 s of laki volumes per flow will cause extreme bad air quality and our fragile society will collapse.
          All the worlds ice will melt as the Africa LIP raise co2 to thousands of ppm
          The holocene world bouched back to Eocene Thermal maxium.
          Growing and farming things will be diffiuclt under a major LIP phase.
          Lakis 15km3 was bad and Africa Superplume potential with many 100 s of times larger per flow is a scary thought.
          Suddenly it becomes hard to breathe on earth.
          Eeeek just imagine ngorongoro filled in by lava floods in matter of weeks IF it goes big and African tall peaks buried

          Deccan Traps already did the 1500 kilometers long Rhajamundry flow
          And thats a TINY hotspot compared to African Superplume thats the largest plume for now.

        • Africa will become the next major LIP
          Knowing how large the African Plume is
          Woud not supprise if that becomes the next Siberian Traps and maybe even larger than ST eruptions
          we simply dont know but huge it is.
          All geochemical and earth seimsic interior data and deformation shows a single large mantle plume below East Africa.
          African Superplume is probaly very young.
          Old thick and large continets are good at insulating and overheating the mantle
          Thats why Supercontinents for example cause superplumes

          Erta Ale and Cameroon are smaller plumes thats acossiated with Arabian Rfiting tripple junction and old rifting in west africa in meosoizc

        • We will never know when Africa will go full flood basalt
          But when the Superplumes head starts to decompress on large the scale
          The magma production will be insane.
          Its the largest mantle plume on Earth for now

        • Imagine fissures many 100 s of kilometers long and lava flows with maybe 970 Laki volumes per lava flow flowing out quickly.
          It all starts with a hellfire of plinian ligthing filled glowing collums like nothing the world have ever seen in cenozoic era
          Then huge many kilometers tall lava fountains open up all along for 500 kilometers lenght.
          The superhot thoelite spreads out in Aa sheets and channelized flows and pools thats size of Scandinavia if we really take it far … knowing far smaller plume events made 1000 km long flows.
          African Superplume will get enormous once that plume starts to decompress in large ammounts

          • I dont think plume size necessarily translates to the size of the eruptions exactly, the afar flood basalt 30 million years ago was not deccan traps level, however it was rather smaller than the big plume now. It is interesting to wonder whether the majority of rifting has moved to the west rift, the east rift has more volcanism and big volcanoes like kilimanjaro that are probably still infrequently active but it is not very active area in general during recent time, only ol doynio lengai has erupted recently and even then it has not done a really high volume eruption probably ever. In contrast nyamuragira is going at least 1 km3 in the last 20 years and probably more, and both the volcanoes there are serial lava lake volcanoes. The west rift is mostly volcanically inactive evident with the big lakes, but that has started to change. At the rate of eruption now nyamuragira could be younger than 20,000 years, and almost certainly less than 50,000 years, nyiragongo is probably similar age. Both volcanoes as far as I know are entirely too young to date with K/Ar dating, which is a test to their youth. These volcanoes probably change very rapidly over century timescales.

          • The African Superplume is the largest mantle plume on Earth
            Plume head extends from Malawi to Africas Horn

          • If African Superplume was oceanic it woud do something like a oceanic LIP massive oceanic flood basalts or oversized shield volcanoes like Tamu Massif

          • There are mantle plumes
            And Superplumes

            Africa is far more than a mantle plume its a Superplume
            A specialy Big deep mantle plume
            Superplumes are resposible for the very largest basaltic outpourings

            The African Superplume is much much much much much larger than an odinary mantle plume like Galapagos

  15. Following up on Chris’s note from a couple of days ago, multiple data is showing another significant uptick in activity near (NE) Askja. Low frequency/lowpass (0.7Hz) appears to be increasing in the last few hours, plus a well defined earthquake swarm between 7km to the surface that appears to be either a dyke forming, or maybe a conduit starting to re-activate? Drumplots for ASK seem to be showing rock-fracturing quakes, which to my eye don’t appear to be tectonic in origin (but I certainly can be mistaken).
    Wish I had the expertise to say whether or not an eruption is imminent or this is just another “interesting” but mundane event? The area has been on/off very active for years now, so I’m not overly alarmed…but then again the data sure does seem more anomalous than usual?

    • Sorry, please note I was referring to Richie’s comment, and not from Chris. My goodness but my shorterm memory is getting bad. Thought I could last longer than 67 yrs before having to re-confirm my “recollections”.

    • I will try to answer all of the question in one go here, and hope that people read it before the Greip article launches later in the evening today.

      @Craig Heden
      The current activity at Askja is concurrent with the minor root-infill that has been going on for a few years now. Such infills increases the level of seismic activity and is mainly seen as an increase in deep earthquakes as magma enters into, and widens, the deep root-feeder into the system.
      Some brittle quakes at the magma reservoir is to be expected.
      There is currently no tremor associated with movement of fluids.
      No eruption is imminent, the level of activity needed for a run-up to start is far higher than the current levels.
      So, slightly interesting, and not that much more. That being said, Askja seems to be entering into a new longterm cycle of inflation and may erupt in a not to distant geological future.

      @slab dyno
      That plot is situated above Grimsvötn, Iceland’s largest volcano. It is normally showing a combination of earthquakes, tremor related to fluid movements, hydrothermal activity and events, glacial movements, and things that Grimsvötn does just to confuse geophysicists (like learning to play the trombone).
      In other words, it can be far more noisy compared to this without implying that there is an eruption coming around the bend.
      But, in this specific instance the noise is far more mundane. GRF is in need of service after having been punished by the harsh winter weather. This causes the apparatus to switch on and off, creating power spikes.
      In other words, that is static electronic noise.

      • Agree, nothing to get excited about. Grimsvotn is building up though

        In the plot, note that for the red line, the slowing down from day 2400 has fully been recovered. You can draw a line through the curve between days 2000 and 2400, and it follows more or less the current points. Comparing the slope to the other lines suggests that an eruption may be 600 days away – if (a big if) it follows the same pattern this time. So there is some excitement brewing.

        • Thanks Albert. It looks like the current pre-eruptive pattern is showing more/higher amplitude “step-changes” than the previous two eruptions. Probably not important, but then again?

          • Part of that is the recovery from he few years of suppressed activity, which now seems complete. More ‘steps’ are possible but now less likely. The reduced activity was likely due to the Bardarbunga eruption, after which the stress in the area was reduced.

      • Thank you Carl and Albert (below) very much for your comments!
        Were it not for the anomalously rapid onset of the seismicity with earthquake focii progressively moving UP from an initial depth of only ~7km (per 3-D Bulge), I wouldn’t have paid that much attention. Agreed, the ASK drumplots indicated rock fracturing and did not indicate magma movement/tremor, but that doesn’t rule out possible pressure increase from in-situ mush starting starting to rejuvinate and degas….hence while magma may not be technically moving, the earthquake pattern did suggest the activity was concentrated/limited to where magma (conduit?) might have experienced a sudden and highly localized pressure spike. Since we did not (and still don’t) see any tremor suggesting new magma moving up from depth, the pressure increase in the upper chamber is likely gaseous in nature that’s being driven by a temperature spike, and not necessarily from a volumetric increase in magma. IMHO, I think such a scenario would result in quakes being dispersed over a wider area of the chamber roof than what actually occurred….and more similar to the previous swarms we’ve been seeing for several/many years now in the area.
        So, in a nutshell, I’m visualizing the floor of the upper magma chamber getting heated via conduction from below….not unlike turning on an electric burner under a pot of water….hence we’re now seeing pressure increasing due to changes in the thermal flux rather than magma intrusion(s) at depth?
        If this is indeed happening, then the magmatic system must now be full (i.e. put your finger over the end of a straw), so all it’s going to take from here on out is some additional heating from below to increase pressure enough for magma to break through/erupt to the surface…..sorta like the pot is full but it ain’t boilin’ yet.

  16. Deep quack under Hekla:
    04.05.2019 04:41:04 64.013 -19.691 15.6 km 0.5 99.0 2.6 km NNW of Hekla

  17. Hey Folks, I’m lucky enough to currently be in Sicily but the INGV site seems to be down. Anyone know of a parallel site that shows the drumplots, etc? Thanks

  18. Quite interesting Carl, nice update! Is there anyway of having these updates from IMO directly by e-mail (or something)? I’m working with Torfajokull measurements and would be great to be updated whenever something like this happens. Many thanks in advance!

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