Tag Archives: Vatnajökull

Iceland: Volcanic Update

It’s not only the sun that’s heating up, so are the volcanic activity at Iceland. According to the Modern Survival Blog, ash could begin to reach parts of Scotland as early as Tuesday followed by Britain, France, and Spain while a powerful Icelandic volcano named Grimsfjall (“Grimsvotn”) continues to erupt there at the Vatnajökull ice cap – Europe’s largest glacier.

“First estimations show this is 10 times larger than the 2004 eruption.”


One observer says, “There was no warning at all…approximately 20 minutes from first quake to eruption.First estimations show this is 10 times larger than the 2004 eruption.”

There were some expectations that the next eruption at Grimsfjall/Grimsvotn would be stronger, due to increased bulging inflation in the area, but the powerful explosion and ash plume reaching as high as 25 km, caught many out, the ModernSurvivalBlog writes.

A curious observation followed the initial quake swarm and eruption. Once the magma reaches the surface, the quakes typically stop.

With Grimsfjall/Grimsvotn, another earthquake swarm persisted to the east.

There is also renewed earthquake activity to the south, at the Katla volcano region, which itself is a time-bomb waiting to unleash its fury.

Locally, the immediate threat is ash-fall, which this time is of a heavy consistency.

Threats of glacial water flooding persist due to the intense volcanic heat melting the ice.

Further away, European air traffic control are working with Meteorology Offices to determine the path of the ash cloud and the impact it may have on European air traffic this week.

One year ago, much of European air traffic was shut down for 6 days from another Icelandic volcano that blew its top (Eyjafjallajokull), leaving countless stranded travelers and a dent in the economy.

Magnus Tumi Gudmundsson, Professor of Geophysics at the University of Iceland, says:

“We see some signs that the power is declining a bit, but it is still quite powerful,” adding that the eruption was the most violent at the volcano since 1873.

The potential disruption during the upcoming week will depend on the atmospheric wind patterns, and the ongoing strength of the eruption itself.

Related by the Econotwist’s:

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Ups! Another Icelandic Volcano Starts Shaking

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

Vatnajoekull. Eruption 1996.

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.

Vatnajokull: Earthquake Cluster Location, 27 Sept. 2010.

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.

According to Guinness World Records, Vatnajökull is the object of the world’s longest sight line, 550 km from Slættaratindur, the highest mountain in the Faroe Islands.

GWR state that “owing to the light bending effects of atmospheric refraction, Vatnajökull (2,109.6m), Iceland, can sometimes be seen from the Faroe Islands, 340 miles (550km) away”.

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.

The volcanic lakes, Grímsvötn for example, were the sources of a large “jökulhlaup” (glacial lake outburst flood) in 1996 that destroyed roads and bridges.

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.

(Source: Wikipedia).

Related by the Econotwist:

Volcano Ash Can Send The Earth Into “Deep Freeze”

Katla Now Rumbling – Ready To Blow?

Katla Could Be 100 – Not 10 – Times More Explosive Than Eyjafjallajokull

More Mysterious “Monster Fish” Comes To Surface

Low-Oxygen Zones In Oceans Worry Scientists

Earthquake Frequency Up 133% In 2010

Earthquake May Have Shortened Days on Earth

Is The Earth Moving?

The Earth: A Danger Zone

Mother Earth On Crack



Filed under International Econnomic Politics