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Eruption & seismic crisis at Bardarbung volcano: updates 29 Aug - 4 Sep 2014

An intense seismic crisis started at Bárdarbunga volcano on 16 August 2014 and led to several volcanic eruptions (as of 3 Sep). On this page, we try to follow the rapidly changing chain of events.
Updates will be posted on top of this page.

Current update - Archived updates (8-18 Aug)

Watch Bárdarbunga live (webcams & seismic / GPS data)

 
Latest status report - eruption continues with little changes
Update Thu 04 Sep 14:47
The intensity of the ongoing eruption in Holuhraun is not declining, the Icleandic Met Office reports in the latest status update:
"Lava is flowing toward ENE and it has been elongated considerably since yesterday. Since this morning, a preliminary estimate of lava field extension is about 10.8 km2.
- Seismic activity is still detected in the northern part of the dyke intrusion, along the eruption site and extending south below Dyngjujökull. Event rates are lower than in recent days, 180 earthquakes have been detected since midnight until noon. Four events larger than M4 have been detected in Bárðarbunga caldera. The largest one (M4.8) occurred last night at 03:09.
- The low frequency tremor seen yesterday disappeared last night but started again this morning, however minor compared to yesterday. The source of the tremor is not certain however possible explanation could be magma-water interaction although this interpretation has currently not been confirmed by other observations.
- There are no signs of a subglacial eruption under Dyngjujökull. No obvious changes such as increased water flow or cauldrons on the glacier surface were observed from scientists on board TF-SIF yesterday. Water meters in Jökulsá á Fjöllum do not show any unusual changes in discharge and electric conductivity.
- The GPS time series indicate slower rate of deformation in the last 24 hours. The current deformation pattern north of Vatnajökull still suggests volume increase in the dyke. No significant signs of deformation are observed around Bárðarbunga.
- There have been no observations of ash-fall away from the eruption site. Ash production is negligible.
- Sulphur dioxide emission continues. Low-wind speed condition is present in the area at the moment. Based on radar images the eruption cloud from today (composed of steam and volcanic gases) has not drifted far away and is mostly concentrated around the eruption site. Stations measuring SO2 further away from the eruption site are showing concentration below health and safety thresholds. Since this morning, the cloud reaches 6 km of altitude. The volcanic cloud will drift towards south in the coming hours due to wind rotation."
GPS measurement show significant horizontal deformation between Aug 31-Sep 2 indicating volume increase in dyke (image: @uni_iceland)
GPS measurement show significant horizontal deformation between Aug 31-Sep 2 indicating volume increase in dyke (image: @uni_iceland)
SO2 plume from the Holorgaun fissure eruption (ESA)
SO2 plume from the Holorgaun fissure eruption (ESA)
Tremor drops, activity might be subsiding
Update Thu 04 Sep 10:46
Earthquakes around Bárdarbunga today so far (IMO)
Earthquakes around Bárdarbunga today so far (IMO)
It is far from clear what is currently happening at the eruption. Tremor (indicator of magma moving) stopped yesterday evening around 21:30 local time and has not reappeared according to the Icelandic Met Office. This could indicate that the eruption is subsiding although webcam imagery suggested it continued with no apparent big change during the night.
Authorities are on alert for a possible subglacial eruption.
Earthquakes both under the caldera of Bárdarbunga central volcano, around Askja volcano and under the intrusion below the edge of the ice continue at reduced intensity.
The biggest event of the night was magnitude 4.8 earthquake in northern Bárðarbunga.
The eruption is currently not visible from cameras because of fog. Around 4 o'clock visibility was better and it activity appeared to be the same as before.
Severe access restrictions
Iceland's Civil Defense has has decided to further restrict access to the eruption site due to increased unrest at the eruption site in Holuhraun: "no one will be allowed into the closed area. Road F910 by Vaðalda has also been closed." (avd.is)
Institute of Earth Sciences, University of Iceland: A map based upon radar images from the Icelandic Coast Guard and GPS measurements from the field by IES, an aerial photo from Loftmyndir ehf and the data base of the National Land Survey of Iceland
Institute of Earth Sciences, University of Iceland: A map based upon radar images from the Icelandic Coast Guard and GPS measurements from the field by IES, an aerial photo from Loftmyndir ehf and the data base of the National Land Survey of Iceland
Map of the extent of the lava flows in the early hours of the morning 3.09.2014 (IMO)
Formation of depression in glacier, worries about possible subglacial eruption
Update Wed 03 Sep 17:54
Radar image of the newly formed depression both under and north of the glacier (Uni. Iceland)
Radar image of the newly formed depression both under and north of the glacier (Uni. Iceland)
Earthquakes around Bárdarbunga today - a significant portion is under the ice cap where also deformation occurred (IMO)
Earthquakes around Bárdarbunga today - a significant portion is under the ice cap where also deformation occurred (IMO)
The eruptive activity at the Holorhaun fissure has remained stable, but ongoing deformation, although slower now, continues to worry scientists monitoring the events.
The output of lava has been estimated to be around 150 cubic meters per second, and the lca flows continue to expand mainly to the ENE, towards the Jökulsá á Fjöllum river. The surface of land covered by the lava flows was reached 7.2 km2.
However, GPS and radar measurements indicate that more lava is being intruded into the dyke at depth than what is erupted at the surface. It is feared that new fissures open, or that the existing one might become longer, and possibly open under the ice cap. In that case, significant ash plumes and floods would be generated as magma would react violently with ice and water.
A graben, i.e. a depression bounded by parallel faults caused by extension stress, has been detected in the area. It is between 500 and 1000 m wide and extends both north of and 2 km into the the Dyngjujokull glacier. Parts of the newly formed depression is in areas where the thickness of the ice is only 150 m.
Fissure eruption decreases, but earthquakes pick up again - what's next?
Update Wed 03 Sep 07:05
View of the eruption this morning (Mila webcam)
View of the eruption this morning (Mila webcam)
Earthquakes near Vatnajökull during the past days (IMO)
Earthquakes near Vatnajökull during the past days (IMO)
Depth vs time of the recent earthquakes
Depth vs time of the recent earthquakes
Satellite image of the eruption yesterday (NASA)
Satellite image of the eruption yesterday (NASA)
Important changes seem to be under way. The fissure eruption with its spectacular lava emission at the surface still continues, but has decreased a lot since the first two days.
At the same time, earthquake and deformation activity that had decreased yesterday have picked up again. This is likely because the internal pressure is no longer efficiently released and intruding magma no longer erupted at the same rate as added underground.
The scenario of a new eruption along new fissures, possibly under the ice, or even at Bárdarbunga or Asjka volcanoes, is considered a possible scenario.

Small explosions
Small explosions were reported to have occurred in an area north of the glacier, but it is unclear what they were caused by. A possibility includes phreatic (purely steam-driven) or phreatomagmatic (magma directly in contact with water) explosions as magma (or surface lava flows) meets and heats up wet sediments.
As lava from the ongoing Holuhraun eruption continues to flow towards the nearby glacial river Jökulsá á Fjöllum, Iceland's second largest river from Vatnajökull, and only approx. 6 km away yesterday, the interaction of lava flows with the river water will likely generate powerful steam explosions that can release dangerous gases.

Earthquakes
A magnitude 5.5 earthquake occurred at 03:09 this night at the northern caldera of Bárdarbunga. GPS data indicate that since the beginning of the crisis, the caldera is slowly subsiding as magma flows away from underneath. This increases the risk of an explosive eruption at the volcano itself.
Earthquakes along the dyke (magma intrusion at depth) NE of the volcano have continued in two clusters: one is in the area of the current eruption,along a 20-25 km long NNE-oriented stretch under the glacier edge, the latest eruptive fissure and north of it. The second cluster is NE of Askja to the north, suggesting that some of the intrusion has even progressed into Askja's volcanic zone.

Status as of yesterday
The eruptive fissure was 1.5 km in length, positioned about 4.5 km from the ice margin of Dyngjujökull. At 14:00 UTC yesterday, the lava flow was 4.2 km2 in area. At 08:00 UTC the edge had extended 1.5 km to the east-south-east.
Images & video of the eruption
Update Tue 02 Sep 19:29
Lava fountains on the eruptive fissure on 2 Sep (Univ. Iceland / facebook)
Lava fountains on the eruptive fissure on 2 Sep (Univ. Iceland / facebook)
Scientists on location studying the eruption posted beautiful images from today's activity on the facebook page of the Institude of Earth Sciences. They show that the fountaining activity is still impressive on at least some parts of the fissure.
The eruptive fissure seen today (Univ. Iceland / facebook)
The eruptive fissure seen today (Univ. Iceland / facebook)

Video:

Update Tue 02 Sep 12:37
Eathquakes near Bardarbunga volcano since midmight (IMO)
Eathquakes near Bardarbunga volcano since midmight (IMO)
Depth vs time of the recent earthquakes
Depth vs time of the recent earthquakes
Deformation at Dyngjuhals (DYN GPS station, IMO)
Deformation at Dyngjuhals (DYN GPS station, IMO)
While effusive activity along the fissure continues, earthquakes have decreased, which is probably due to pressure being released and magma flow towards the surface now established. Also GPS measurements seem to indicate that the ongoing deformation (mostly in form of expansion) for the first time has started to stagnate.
Update Tue 02 Sep 08:01
Webcam image of the eruption this morning (Mila webcam)
Webcam image of the eruption this morning (Mila webcam)
Activity continues with little changes and remains quite intense.
Eruption update
Update Mon 01 Sep 23:20
Aerial view of the eruption on 1 Sep (Icelandic Coast Guard)
Aerial view of the eruption on 1 Sep (Icelandic Coast Guard)
SO2 plume from the eruption (NOAA)
SO2 plume from the eruption (NOAA)
The Icelandic Coast Guard made an aerial survey of the eruption site. According to IMO, the fissure is 1.5 km long, but only erupts from a 600-800 m long central section.
A single crater has been active at its southern end, but little or no lava extrudes from it now. Lava fountains rise to a height of a few tens of meters where the activity is greatest, centrally on the fissure.
The lava flow field stretches 3,5 km from the center of the fissure and is max 1,6 km wide, with a 500 m wide flow front. So far, approx 4.5 square km have been covered by the lava flows. The University of Iceland published an updated map.
At 16:00, a rough estimate gave a total volume of 20-30 million cubic meters of lava erupted so far, meaning that 5-10 million cubic meters had been added in 18-19 hours. Therefore, the average flow is now of the order of degree 100 m3/s.
The two small ice cauldrons in Dyngjujökull, aligned in the direction of the fissure, seemed unchanged since Friday 29 August.
Radar revealed no changes in Bárðarbunga nor in the depressions to the southeast of it.

Gas from the eruption
A significant amount of sulphur dioxide (SO2) is being released into the atmosphere. It is estimated at approx. 20,000 tonnes/day.
View of the erupting fissure (photo: Rob Green / Univ. Cambridge)
View of the erupting fissure (photo: Rob Green / Univ. Cambridge)

View of the lava flow front with the erupting fissure behind (Photo: Ármann Höskuldsson / University of Iceland / @uni_iceland / twitter)
View of the lava flow front with the erupting fissure behind (Photo: Ármann Höskuldsson / University of Iceland / @uni_iceland / twitter)

Lava fountains at sunset  (Photo: Ármann Höskuldsson / University of Iceland / @uni_iceland / twitter)
Lava fountains at sunset (Photo: Ármann Höskuldsson / University of Iceland / @uni_iceland / twitter)
Map of the lava flow field
Update Mon 01 Sep 23:22
Updated map of the lava flow field (1 Sep, Univ. Iceland)
Updated map of the lava flow field (1 Sep, Univ. Iceland)
Video of the eruption
Eruption continues, status update
Update Mon 01 Sep 18:38
The fissure eruption on Holuhraun continues with no signs of weakening. Icelandic press now counts as a relatively large effusive eruption, comparable to the Krafla fissure eruptions in 1980-1984.
The active eruption fissure is now around 2 km long and has erupted an estimated 16-25 million cubic meters of lava, covering approx. 3-5 square kilometers.
Lava flows continue to expand northwards from the vents. The lava effusion rate was re-estimated to 300-500 cubic meters / second for 20:00 h yesterday evening.
It is unclear how the situation will evolve, in particular because intense earthquake and deformation activity continue, suggesting that magma continues to intrude into fissures at depth, a process that could significantly modify the ongoing eruption at any time.

From the latest IMO report:

"In connection with the FUTUREVOLC project, a gas monitoring station has been set-up near to the eruption site. Gas measurements indicate a high level of sulphur dioxide. People could be exposed to highly dangerous gas levels close to the eruption. It is essential that those visiting the eruption site are equipped with gas sensors and gas masks.
"- According to the latest GPS observations, horizontal ground movements continue in response to the dyke intrusion. There is no clear sign of a pressure decrease in the dyke intrusion in connection with the ongoing eruption, although there are irregularities in GPS displacements at nearby stations. The northern extent of the dyke intrusion has not changed to any great extent.
"- When Sunday's eruption began earthquake activity decreased somewhat, although seismicity remains high, with over 500 earthquakes detected since midnight today. Most of the seismicity is occurring on the northern end of the dyke intrusion, covering a 15-km-long region that extends partly beneath Dyngjujökull and north of the ice margin.
"- At 08:58 UTC today, a magnitude 5.0 earthquake was recorded on the Bárðarbunga caldera, and another of magnitude 5.2 at 11:41 UTC in the same region.

"It remains unclear how the situation will develop. Four scenarios are still considered most likely:

1 The migration of magma could stop, resulting in a gradual reduction in seismic activity and no further eruptions.
2 The dike could reach the Earth's surface causing another eruption, possibly on a new fissure. Lava flow and (or) explosive activity cannot be excluded.
3 The intrusion reaches the surface and another eruption occurs where either the fissure is partly or entirely beneath Dyngjujökull. This would most likely produce a flood in Jökulsá á Fjöllum and perhaps explosive, ash-producing activity.
4 An eruption in Bárðarbunga. The eruption could cause an outburst flood and possibly an explosive, ash-producing activity. In the event of a subglacial eruption, it is most likely that flooding would affect Jökulsá á Fjöllum. However it is not possible to exclude the following flood paths: Skjálfandafljót, Kaldakvísl, Skaftá and Grímsvötn.
5 Other scenarios cannot be excluded." (IMO)
Holuhraun eruption continues
Update Mon 01 Sep 08:57
Picture of the eruption this morning (image: Gísli Einarsson / RUV)
Picture of the eruption this morning (image: Gísli Einarsson / RUV)
Earthquakes since midnight (IMO
Earthquakes since midnight (IMO
The fissure eruption is continuing at a stable level with little variation. A curtain of lava fountains up to 70 m high is being erupted above the fissure and pahoehohoe type lava flows are expanding to several kilometers around it, forming a growing flat lava flow field.
The effusion rate along the fissure vent has been estimated to be up to an impressive 1000 cubic meters per second.
Update from IMO this morning:
"No explosive activity is observed, the eruption remains an effusive lava eruption. Visual observation by webcam and low level volcanic tremor on seismometers do not show any obvious changes since evening.

Seismic activity:

Around 250 earthquakes have been automatically detected until now. Most of them are located in the northern part of the magma intrusion, between the eruption site and south to about 10 km into Dynjujökull. Strongest events were up to around magnitude 2. The rate of events has decreased as a result of pressure release due to the eruption, but there is still ongoing continuous seismicity.

Several events have occurred around the Bárðarbunga caldera rim, strongest events were M4.2 at 03:09 on the southern rim and M4.5 at 04:59 on the northern rim. See maps.

In the broader Askja region, most events were located at Herðubreiðartögl, the strongest event there was M2.9 at 02:56. This area is a quite common place for seismic activity, the activity now is not necessarily caused by increased stress due to the intrusion (the tip of the intrusion is about 25 km SW of this cluster). Askja volcano itself was seismically quiet."
The eruption continues
Update Sun 31 Aug 18:44
Lava fountains along the active fissure this afternoon (Mila webcam)
Lava fountains along the active fissure this afternoon (Mila webcam)
The new fissure eruption continues with little changes.
Aviation color code reset to orange
Update Sun 31 Aug 16:58
The Aviation Color Code for Bárðarbunga has been reset to orange. No ash emissions are occurring at the moment.
Airports in Iceland open
Update Sun 31 Aug 15:46
Flight restriction zone above the eruption site (Icelandic Civil Protection)
Flight restriction zone above the eruption site (Icelandic Civil Protection)
At the moment, no significant ash emissions have been caused by the eruption. All airports in Iceland remain open. Current flight delays are due to a storm over Iceland. Only a small local flight restriction zone is in place.
Eruption update
Update Sun 31 Aug 15:40
According to local news, the lava flows have already reached more than 3 km distance from the fissure vent. The eruption is much stronger than the previous one on Friday, with up to 10 times lava output.
Since the start of the eruption this morning, earthquake activity has been lower (which is normal as pressure is lowered).
Lava analysis from the Friday eruption at the University of Iceland showed that the erupted basalt magma is relatively rich in Magnesium (>7 wt% MgO) which suggests that it likely originates from a deeper source, directly connected to the upper mantle, rather than from an existing shallow magma reservoir under Bardarbunga (or Askja) volcano.
In the meanwhile, it is now believed that the 23 Aug event in fact was another (probably the first) eruptive episode, but went unnoticed at the surface because it failed to break through the glacier.
Eruption continues - status update
Update Sun 31 Aug 14:56
Lava fountains along the eruptive fissure this morning (photo: Ármann Höskuldsson / Univ. Iceland / @uni_iceland / Twitter)
Lava fountains along the eruptive fissure this morning (photo: Ármann Höskuldsson / Univ. Iceland / @uni_iceland / Twitter)
According to IMO, "the new eruption started in Holuhraun shortly after 04 AM, on the same volcanic fissure, which erupted earlier this week. The fissure is estimated to be 1,5 km long.
"...Fewer earthquakes seem to follow the event than in the previous eruption, but more lava is being extruded.
At 07 AM the lava flow was around 1 km wide and 3 km long towards northeast. The thickness was estimated a few meters, the flow about 1000 m3 pr second.
Approximately 500 earthquakes were detected in the area and smaller than before. The strongest earthquake, M3.8 was in the Bárðarbunga caldera. Poor weather conditions prevail in the area, which makes detection of smaller earthquakes difficult.
GPS measurements show continued movements north of Dyngjujökull."
"Gas emissions rise to a few hundred meters above the fissure.
Weather conditions make it difficult to follow the progression of the eruption, but scientists are in the area, using every opportunity to acquire information on gas and lava outflow." (IMO status update)
Updated map of the location of the eruptive fissure from 29 Aug (Univ. Iceland)
Updated map of the location of the eruptive fissure from 29 Aug (Univ. Iceland)
Bárðarbunga 16-18 August 2014: All manually checked earthquakes since the beginning of the sequence. Event times are colourcoded, events larger than magnitude 3 are given as green stars. The migration of the activity from the caldera of Bárðarbunga (dark blue, Saturday) to the northern and eastern clusters (light blue, Sunday; orange Monday) can be seen. (Source: IMO)
Bárðarbunga 16-18 August 2014: All manually checked earthquakes since the beginning of the sequence. Event times are colourcoded, events larger than magnitude 3 are given as green stars. The migration of the activity from the caldera of Bárðarbunga (dark blue, Saturday) to the northern and eastern clusters (light blue, Sunday; orange Monday) can be seen. (Source: IMO)
Aviation color code set to red
Update Sun 31 Aug 10:08
Alert statuses for Iceland's volcanoes
Alert statuses for Iceland's volcanoes
Due to the possibility that the eruption increases, in particular if the erupting fissure propagates to the ice, and starts to produce ash plumes, the alert level has been set to red.
The erupting fissure this morning (Photo: Benedikt Gunnar Ófeigsson / IMO)
The erupting fissure this morning (Photo: Benedikt Gunnar Ófeigsson / IMO)

New fissure eruption started

Update Sun 31 Aug 08:07
View of the eruptive fissure this morning (Mila webcam 2)
View of the eruptive fissure this morning (Mila webcam 2)
A new eruptive phase has started at the same fissure that had been briefly active Friday morning.
Location of earthquakes so far today and the new eruptive fissure in the Holorhaun plain
Location of earthquakes so far today and the new eruptive fissure in the Holorhaun plain

The new eruption seems to be bigger than the previous one and located slightly north of the Friday fissure vent. The active fissure was estimated to be 1.5 km long and is located approx. 9 km north of the Dyngjujökull glacier in the Holuhraun lava plain.
At the same time, intense seismic activity continues. More than 200 earthquakes have been detected since midnight, both under the active intrusion under and north of the rim of the glacier NE of the volcano as well as under the caldera of Bárdarbunga itself. The stringest were 7 quakes with magnitudes between 3.0 and 3.8.
The Icelandic Met office has confirmed the eruption this morning, writing that "it is very calm", i.e. there are no tall fountains or ash plumes, only effusion of lava flows.
GPS data show deformation of area - up to 50 cm horizontal spreading so far
Update Sat 30 Aug 23:44
The image shows earthquakes and GPS-displacements together in one picture. The earthquakes have different colours representing how long it's been since they were measured. GPS displacements are shown with green (past 3 days) and red (past day) arrows. The circles around the arrows represent uncertainty in the measurements. The relevant time frames are at the lower left.
The image shows earthquakes and GPS-displacements together in one picture. The earthquakes have different colours representing how long it's been since they were measured. GPS displacements are shown with green (past 3 days) and red (past day) arrows. The circles around the arrows represent uncertainty in the measurements. The relevant time frames are at the lower left.
The Icelandic Met Office has published two maps showing the (ongoing) mostly horizontal deformation, as evidenced by GPS measurements, in the Bardarbunga area during the past 1 and 3 days (first map), as well as since the beginning of the crisis (second map).
Deformation since the beginning of the crisis (not all stations started exactly at the same time, but the overall picture is correct)
Deformation since the beginning of the crisis (not all stations started exactly at the same time, but the overall picture is correct)

The first map allows a judgement of the current day's deformation compared to the previous days, while the latter is a base to estimate the total volume of intruded magma.
In just 2 weeks, the distance between the DYNC station (western side of the rift) and GSIG (eastern side) has increased by almost 50 cm!
Status update - no significant changes
Update Sat 30 Aug 08:07
Location of today's earthquakes near Bardarbunga volcano (IMO)
Location of today's earthquakes near Bardarbunga volcano (IMO)
Depth vs time of the recent earthquakes
Depth vs time of the recent earthquakes
The still intense earthquake swarm and deformation continues with little variation. No further eruptive activity has occurred since yesterday's "blitz" eruption. The intrusion has not changed position and is focused on a 15 km long stretch both under and outside the Dyngjujökull glacier NE of Bardarbunga. Earthquake activity also continues under the volcano's caldera with the strongest today so far being a magnitude 5.4 event this morning.

Summary of the eruption from the Icelandic Met Office:

"- At 00:02 UTC signs of a lava eruption were detected on web camera images from Mila. The web-camera is located at Vaðalda, north-east of the eruption site.
- Around midnight, weak signs of increased tremor were apparent on IMO's seismic stations near to the eruption site. At 00:20 UTC scientists in the field from the Icelandic Met Office, Institute of Earth Sciences and Cambridge University confirmed the location of the eruption.
- The eruption occurred on an old volcanic fissure on the Holuhraun lava field, about 5 km north of the Dyngjujökull ice margin. The active fissure was about 600 m in length.
A small amount of lava drained from the fissure and by around 04:00 UTC, lava flow is thought to have stopped.

- According to seismic data and web-camera imagery, the eruption peaked between 00:40 and 01:00 UTC.
- At the beginning of the eruption, seismic activity decreased, although seismicity has since returned to levels observed in recent days.
- Aerial observations by the Icelandic Coastguard show that only steam is rising from the site of the lava eruption.
- There are no indications that the intensity of the activity declining.

At this moment it is unclear how the situation will develop. However, three scenarios are considered most likely:

1 The migration of magma could stop, resulting in a gradual reduction in seismic activity and no further eruptions.
2 The dike could reach the Earth's surface north of Dyngjujökull causing another eruption, possibly on a new fissure. Such an eruption could include lava flow and (or) explosive activity.
3 The intrusion reaches the surface and an eruption occurs again where either the fissure is partly or entirely beneath Dyngjujökull. This would most likely produce a flood in Jökulsá á Fjöllum and perhaps explosive, ash-producing activity.

Other scenarios cannot be excluded. For example, an eruption inside the Bárdarbunga caldera."

Lava sample from Bardarbunga
Update Fri 29 Aug 15:59
Sample of the newly erupted basalt lava from Bárdarbunga volcano (photo:  Thorbjorg Agustsdott / Twitter)
Sample of the newly erupted basalt lava from Bárdarbunga volcano (photo: Thorbjorg Agustsdott / Twitter)
Some of the world's youngest material - this is what the fresh basalt lava erupted this morning from Bardarbunga volcano looks like, collected by Thorbjorg Agustsdott from Cambridge University.
Update Fri 29 Aug 15:38
Oblique aerial view of the eruptive fissure
Oblique aerial view of the eruptive fissure
Vertical aerial view onto the eruptive fissure showing the new lava flows
Vertical aerial view onto the eruptive fissure showing the new lava flows
Two aerial pictures released by the Icelandic Civil Protection showing the eruptive fissure, the spatter ramparts that formed there as well as the new lava flows. The eruption which lasted only a few hours probably set a record in the ration between public attention (extremely large) versus size (very small). Most sources seem to agree that it is unlikely to be over at this point although it is entirely possible that the intrusion simply stops. Earthquake activity and deformation are continuing and perhaps will give a clearer clue what might be yet to come in the near future.
Flight restrictions around eruption site cancelled
Update Fri 29 Aug 15:08
The 3 nautical mile safety flight area around the volcanic activity was cancelled; there are no more flight restrictions. Obviously, this might change quickly again should another eruption occur.
Alert level lowered
Update Fri 29 Aug 12:56
The aviation alert level has been lowered back to orange again, because no ongoing eruptive activity with ash emissions is present at the moment (this could change quickly, of course).
Map of current alert color codes
Map of current alert color codes
All Icelandic airports are open.
Images of the eruptive fissure, activity update
Update Fri 29 Aug 12:20
Aerial view of the eruptive fissure this night (Iceland Coast Guard)
Aerial view of the eruptive fissure this night (Iceland Coast Guard)
First pictures of the new eruptive fissure, taken from a helicopter of the Icelandic Coast Guard were released. They show a row of spatter cones and small lava flows that were erupted from the fissure, about 900 m long and located 5 km from the northern edge of the Dyngjuköll glacier.
Current webcam images and other sources do not indicate ongoing activity except steaming.
Seismic activity has decreased as a result of the pressure release, however a significant amount of earthquakes is still detected in the magma dike, between the eruption site and south to about 5 km into Dyngjujökull. (IMO)
Small fissure eruption
Update Fri 29 Aug 06:50
Current view onto the small eruptive fissure this night, which currently seems to be steaming only (MILA webcam, livefromiceland.is/webcams/bardarbunga-2/)
Current view onto the small eruptive fissure this night, which currently seems to be steaming only (MILA webcam, livefromiceland.is/webcams/bardarbunga-2/)
An eruption started in Holuhraun north of Dyngjujökull at around 00:02. Seismic tremor was observed on all seismic stations and the web camera installed in the area by Mila has showed some nice pictures of the eruption. It is a small fissure eruption and at 02:40 AM the activity appears to have decreased. (IMO)
Visual observations confirmed the eruption that produced low lava fountains and lava flows.
Aviation color code for Bárdarbunga volcano was raised to red. So far, the eruption has not produced significant ash clouds. The length of the eruptive fissure was estimated approx. 1000 m.

Eruption just a precursor to a bigger one?

Update Fri 29 Aug 08:14
Location of the eruptive fissure this morning (RUV)
Location of the eruptive fissure this morning (RUV)
An exclusion zone 1.5 km above and 15 km around the eruption site is in place.
The circumstances around the eruption are somewhat enigmatic. It is interesting to note that the large intrusion, estimated to contain approx. 350 million cu meters of magma on a length of 40 km only produced a tiny fissure eruption (so far, at least).
There are several interesting facts to observe:

- The occurrence of this night's eruption makes it plausible that during the past days there have in facet been one or several similar small eruptions under the ice that went unnoticed except for the observed ice cauldrons.

- It seems that the vertical obstacle between the intrusion and the surface is very strong and that the fissure eruption was only a small "leakage", -otherwise a much stronger eruption would have been expected to occur. In contrast, lateral movement of the magma at depth appears to be relatively easy.

- On the other hand, the propagation of the dyke in the past 48 hours seems to have stopped and has been stagnating under the Holuhraun plain. It was suggested, from earthquake and deformation patterns, that perhaps the magma even started to flow back southwards towards it source.
It is possible to assume that perhaps older dykes from the Askja fissure swarm stopped the northwards movement, caused an accumulation of magma in this area, and a backward flow, along with a small fissure eruption on top.

- It seems fair to assume that this eruption could only the the start of a larger one yet to come, or to a series of similar events, some of which could well occurr under the other sections of the dyke, i.e. under the Vatnajokull ice cap. In that case, the occurrence of jökulhlaups (melt water floods) is a big hazard.

Source: Culture Volcan
Updated map of the flight exclusion zone (Icelandic Civil Protection)
Updated map of the flight exclusion zone (Icelandic Civil Protection)
Alert status of Askja raised to yellow
Updated map showing the location of quakes since the start of the crisis (IMO)
Updated map showing the location of quakes since the start of the crisis (IMO)
Tremor amplitutde (DYN station, IMO). The latest narrow peak probably corresponds to this night's fissure eruption
Tremor amplitutde (DYN station, IMO). The latest narrow peak probably corresponds to this night's fissure eruption
The intrusion northeast of Bárðarbunga volcano continues. Its advance north has been lower yesterday, but it already has entered the Askja volcanic system. The alert status of Askja volcano status has been elevated to Yellow.
Earthquake plot & dyke propagation marking the 3 eruptive phases so far
Earthquakes during the past days
Earthquakes during the past days
An upgraded plot of Bárðarbunga seismicity and dike propagation based on revised earthquake locations from IMO, circle size represents earthquake magnitude.
The 3 eruptions are marked by orange colored bars. Note how rapid dike propagation northwards coincides with the SE Bárðarbunga flank eruption whereas a slight decrease in dike propagation is associated with the first Holuhraun eruption. (Source: Bryndís Brandsdóttir / Institute of Earth Sciences)
An intense seismic crisis started at Bárdarbunga volcano on 16 August 2014 and led to several short-lived smaller subaerial and subglacial eruptions, before stabilizing in an ongoing (22 Sep) fissure eruption that started 31 Aug at Holuhraun plain north of the glacier. It already now counts as the largest on Iceland in over 100 years. On this page, we try to follow the rapidly changing chain of events.
Updates will be posted on top of this page.

Current update - Archived updates (21 Sep 2014 - 19 Jan 2015) - Archived updates (4-19 Sep) - Archived updates (4 Sep - 29 Aug) - Archived updates (8-28 Aug)

Watch Bárdarbunga live (webcams & seismic / GPS data)


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