Bárðarbunga Update


It has been a while since I have given an update on the Icelandic giant, but that far from means all has been quiet across the waters, more I have been tied up with other bits.

Holuhraun lava field at night.

Holuhraun lava field at night. 12/09/14

The eruption at  Holuhraun appears to be going strong, with now an estimated 200 million cubic tonnes or more of material being erupted since the start of the fissure on the 31st August. Seismicity is still going strong in the area with most around the fissure swarming at the northern end. There is still a lot of seismicity in and around the Bárðarbunga caldera including around earthquake over magnitude 5 yesterday morning, leading people to believe a major eruption from the main vent is still possible.

2. People are still coming from all over to see observe, often from unsafe distances.

2. People are still coming from all over to see observe, often from unsafe distances.

A volcanic haze has enveloped eastern Iceland, on the 9th a Norwegian radio station even reported that the smell of sulfur could be detected along their coast line roughly 1300 km away from the eruption site. The dangerous levels of SiO2 in the air has lead to warnings being issued and locals urged to stay in doors with windows shut. Saturday night RUV reported ” unprecedented pollution levels” with atmospheric sulfur dioxide reaching a spike at 4000 micrograms/m³ (1526 ppm) around 11.00pm.

Iceland’s Met Office are suggesting one of the following are most likely to occur;

    • Subsidence of the Bárðarbunga caldera stops and the eruption on Holuhraun declines gradually.

    • Large-scale subsidence of the caldera occurs, prolonging or strengthening the eruption on Holuhraun. In this situation, it is likely that the eruptive fissure would lengthen southwards under Dyngjujökull, resulting in a jökulhlaup and an ash-producing eruption. It is also possible that eruptive fissures could develop in another location under the glacier.

    • Large-scale subsidence of the caldera occurs, causing an eruption at the edge of the caldera. Such an eruption would melt large quantities of ice, leading to a major jökulhlaup, accompanied by ashfall.

The last of these is a major cause for concern. Jökulhlaups (translates as glacial run)  is a glacial outburst flood often caused by geothermal activity and are extremely dangerous and damaging to any thing in there path.

Elsewhere in Iceland volcanic activity is also caused a stir as Gunnuhver mud pool of the Reykjanes peninsula has been cornered off as activity stepped up well beyond normal levels with boiling hot clay being thrown meters in to the air.

Figure 1. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/picturegalleries/earth/11090113/Icelands-Bardarbunga-volcano-spews-molten-rock-over-the-Holuhraun-lava-field.html?frame=3035222 Accessed 15.09.14

Figure 2. http://imgur.com/gallery/4oqueAj Accessed 15.09.14

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