Indications of magma movement is evident underneath Europe’s largest ice cap glacier, Vatnajokull. The glacier covers at least three volcano systems with, at least, seven active volcanoes. More than 30 earthquakes occurred rapidly on Sunday, many within minutes of each other.
“Interestingly, the earthquake pattern generally forms into a broad line rather than a random circular pattern. This could be indicative of a magma channel undergoing bulging stress.”
Modern Survival Blog
Most all the earthquakes magnitudes have ranged from 1,5 to 3,7 on the Richter scale. Tremor measurements from nearby stations clearly recorded the activity and is viewable at the Icelandic Met office website.
The Mid-Atlantic Ridge plate boundary passes right underneath the west side of the glacier separating the North American plate and Eurasian plate, where recent very active earthquake activity has taken place near the Bardarbunga volcano and is apparently ongoing at this moment, albeit slightly subdued from yesterday’s cluster.
The very active region is located very near the western edge of Vatnajokull glacier, about 15 km southwest from the Bardarbunga volcano and 25 km northwest from the Grimsvotn volcano.
“Interestingly, the earthquake pattern generally forms into a broad line rather than a random circular pattern. This could be indicative of a magma channel undergoing bulging stress,” the Modern Survival Blog reports.
This means that Iceland remains the world’s hot spot for volcanic activity.
With the recent eruption of Eyjafjallajokull during April this yer, causing disruptions in European air travel and European economies, all eyes have been on the north side of Iceland, watching for signs of a dangerous eruption at Katla – which historically usually follows a Eyjafjallajokull eruption within months thereafter.
Now we have this new suspicious activity beneath the gigantic Vatnajokull glacier.
The Superstar of Glaciers
Vatnajokull is one of the worlds superstars when it comes to natural phenomena.
With an area of 8,100 km², it is the largest ice cap in Europe by volume (3,100 km³), and the second largest after Austfonna on Nordaustlandet, Svalbard(Norway) in area.
(Not counting the still larger Severny Island ice cap of Novaya Zemlya, Russia, which may be regarded as located in the extreme northeast of Europe).
It is located in the south-east of the island, covering more than 8% of the country.
The average thickness of the ice is thus 400 meters, with a maximum thickness of 1,000 meters.
The glacier was used as the scene for the opening sequence (actually set in Siberia) of the 1985 James Bond film “A View to a Kill”.
A Source of Disaster
Under the ice cap, as under many of the glaciers of Iceland, there are several volcanoes.
There was also a considerable but short-time eruption of the volcano under these lakes at the beginning of November 2004.
During the last ice age, numerous volcanic eruptions occurred under Vatnajökull, creating many sub-glacial eruptions.
These eruptions formed tuyas, such as Herðubreið which was beneath Vatnajökull during the last ice age.
Related by the Econotwist:
- Iceland volcano yields ash clues (bbc.co.uk)
- Scientists Will Drill Deep Into Active Volcano (newser.com)
- After the Blast: Iceland’s Smoldering Volcanoes (wired.com)
- Fire & Ice (sciencenews.org)