Monday Musing: Iceland update, false alarm at Taal and the SI/USGS Weekly Report

Quick hits for a Monday morning (however, the week did have a good start).

Lava fountaining on March 27, 2010 at the Eyjafjallajokull-Fimmvörduháls eruption in Iceland.

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The eruption at Eyjafjallajökull-Fimmvörduháls continues on - the explosive spatter and bomb eruptions at the new central vent (on the second fissure) were impressive all night, making the hikers/cars/aircraft look like mites in comparison. This eruption has, so far, followed the pattern of…
The fissure vent eruption near Eyjafjallajokull in Iceland. Image by Ãorsteinn Gunnarsson, March 22, 2010. It has been hard to keep up with the flood of news from the Eyjafjallajokull eruption in Iceland. Eruptions readers have done a good job with getting new images, videos and info up as they…
Alright, I'm actually in Wisconsin right now for a wedding, but this was too cool to pass up ... the folks from the NASA Earth Observatory sent me this image (Natural-color, 10m/pixel) from the Advanced Land Imager aboard EO-1 of the Eyjafjallajokull-Fimmvörduháls eruption, both taken on March 24…
Busy busy today, so just a brief update on the ongoing Fimmvörðuháls/Eyjafjallajokull eruption in Iceland. The coalesced vent of the Fimmvörðuháls fissure eruption in late March 2010. The eruption is still going, albeit potentially with a little less vigor than before - and you can watch it…

The Yankees bullpen looked shaky. Of course Beckett got knocked around a bit. I stand by my belief that Opening Day means a weekday, daylight game.

Non-volcanic musing: the Baja quake appears to be near the point where the plate boundary goes from transform to extensional and not surprisingly the movement was transtensional. What is interesting is the way the aftershocks have propagated up and down the fault, so overall they've relieved a lot of strain on it.

The eruption in Iceland is chugging along at a fairly steady clip, but the name is sure growing - Eyjafjallajokull-Fimmvörduháls?

I propose just referring to it as E-F.

Erik or EKoh I posted this the control + thing and zoom in. See the different jets?

507 Look at these and blow them up any way you can and then tell me if you do not see several jets....not puffy white wisps but jets.

Posted by: Randall Nix | April 4, 2010 5:06 PM

Randall - Yup, I'd buy that, definitely seems like the vents are coalescing or maybe getting blocked with debris. Pretty normal behavior for a scoria cone like this - most of the cone is made from loose rubble, so different vents can open and close. Boris would have the guess feeling for this type of behavior, though.

And maybe bit of a restart to the most recent yellowstone earthquake swarm too!

Erik thanks! it was a busy weekend;)

By the way that new Yellowstone swarm was kicked off a few nights ago by these:
3.2 2010/04/03 21:15:52 44.601N 111.000W 0.0 11 km ( 7 mi) SE of West Yellowstone, MT

2.4 2010/04/02 18:10:55 44.593N 111.003W 0.9 11 km ( 7 mi) SE of West Yellowstone, MT

Look at the coordinates and depths of both quakes:
4-3 3.2
Coordinates 44 deg. 36.1 min. N (44.601N), 111 deg. 0.0 min. W (111.000W)
4-2 2.4
Coordinates 44 deg. 35.6 min. N (44.593N), 111 deg. 0.2 min. W (111.003W)

Small earthquakes occurring on Alaska volcano
By MARY PEMBERTON (AP) â 13 minutes ago

ANCHORAGE, Alaska â A volcano near Anchorage could be waking up.

The Alaska Volcano Observatory says a series of small earthquakes began occurring early Monday near the summit of Mount Redoubt, about 100 miles southwest of Anchorage.

Scientists do not know if the earthquakes will result in the volcano becoming explosive, but they say there is a heightened possibility. Last year, the volcano was explosive for months, at times producing huge ash plumes and sending mud flows down its flanks.

Rick Wessels, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey, says the Mount Redoubt earthquakes are not connected to Sunday's 7.2-magnitude quake in Mexico just south of the U.S. border because the distances are too great.

Yes, its pretty strong in the south of Iceland. The conditions would be perfect for northern lights this night, but the wind...

I made another time-lapse animation, this time it's a 15 fps movie of activity of the Eyjafjalla volcanic eruption seen from the vodafone web cam. Time is 2010-04-05 hours 03 to 08 GMT (when the bad weather started). One frame per minute. I thought it looked like the volcano was really active in the early morning but that impression may have been caused by poor exposure. You be the judge.

Pretty amazing animation. Vodafone web cam images look different when put in sequence like this. Great work!

7 earthquakes around 6 am Local Time this morning. 4 of them are typical for the Eyjafjallajökull. Those we know - they occur in low depth and can be explained by the actual eruption. But why did the other 3 occured almost at the same time: One under Myrdalsjökull (Katla), one north of the eruption, close to Katla, and one in the south of Eyjafjallajökull? This can´t be coincidence.

By Thomas Wipf (not verified) on 05 Apr 2010 #permalink

Heh. For Taal the mention of lava flows gives away the account as false (unless the volcano changed its eruption tactics). I wish I could remember what book it was that I read decades ago with some historical accounts of eruptions of Taal. It's a nasty little beast. The accounts I can recall start off by mentioning a few earthquakes and an almighty explosion. I do recall lava flows mentioned in one account but that was after the big bang. I think it's worth looking up the volcano on Google Earth or something. There is a large(ish) ancient caldera with the currently active cone poking out of the middle (and with a pool of water in the middle of that more recent caldera - it's reminiscent of a fountain). It sure looks pretty and green. :)

By MadScientist (not verified) on 05 Apr 2010 #permalink

Taal has produced devastating explosive eruptions - many with pyroclastic flows and surges - throughout the historical period. After a particularly large and deadly eruption in 1911 (1300 killed), the volcano remained silent until 1965, when a new violent eruption killed about 180 people. Two minor explosive (hydromagmatic) eruptions occurred in 1966 and 1967, and then in 1968 a new eruption produced Strombolian activity and the first historical lava flow at Taal. A similar eruption occurred in 1969, whereas the latest eruptions - a minuscule one in 1970, a larger one in 1976, and another tiny one in 1977 - were again phreatomagmatic, without lava flows.
So the emission of a lava flow from Taal would not be something entirely impossible, though after 33 years of repose, I would expect something more violent, at least at the start.

Thank you, Philipp!

Or it could just be a slow leak at the current location and no replenishment from below.

Am I the only one who is looking at the earthquakes and tries to interpreting them? There was a very strong earthquake with 3.6 under the glacier of Eyjafjallajökull!!!! And three others around the same time 4.2 km SW of Basar!!! The 3.6 strong earthquake had only a 0,2 km depth. That means that there will appear a new fissure soon under the glacier or there already apeared one and we will see a big new eruption with following flooding. Please experts, tell me if I´m wrong but a 3.6 earthquake never appeared before....

By Thomas Wipf (not verified) on 06 Apr 2010 #permalink

First Fimmvörðuháls fatality.

Yesterday three people -- two women and one man -- attempted to reach the site of the eruption in a Honda CRV (year 1999). Where from, I don't know. They got lost.

The weather was vile -- in fact the whole area had been declared off limits. Noone was up there.

One woman was found on her own, just walking in the wilderness. Shortly afterwards they found the Honda (empty). Then they found the other woman. She was dead. They have yet to find the man.

Never ever leave the car, no matter what. Search parties have a much better chance of finding a car than finding individual people wandering.

Hi Thomas,
From the Seismic data it looks as if the focus of the rising magma has shifted to the north side of the volcano and I would imagine a new fissure will shortly open. Whether or not this will occasion flooding will depend if the fissure opens up under the glacier.

By Richard Oliver (not verified) on 06 Apr 2010 #permalink

OK, the man was just found alive. where he was wandering ca 4-5 km away from the car.

@Richard Oliver Thanks for posting your interpretation of the earthquake. I think something big is going on and I hope it won´t affect peoples live....

By Thomas Wipf (not verified) on 06 Apr 2010 #permalink

Now there are news on Iceland Review Online about the big earthquake:

06/04/2010 | 17:30

Powerful Earthquake at Iceland Eruption Zone

An earthquake measuring 3.7 on the Richter scale hit the eastern Eyjafjallajökull glacier near the crater on the Fimmvörduháls mountain pass at 3:32 pm today.

Photo by Bjarni Brynjólfsson.

Geophysicist Einar Kjartansson at the Icelandic Meteorological Office told that the earthquake is not a sign that the larger and more dangerous volcano Katla, which hides underneath the Mýrdalsjökull icecap, is about to erupt.

Kjartansson explained that the epicenter of the earthquake is in the area where most of the earthquakes that are related to the current eruption have occurred.

Most of these earthquakes have occurred at a depth of ten kilometers but this one is shallowerâits source is at a depth of no more than three kilometers.

The earthquake hit where geophysicists assume the eruption channel lies and it may have been triggered by the heat from the eruption.

The earthquake could easily be sensed in Hvolsvöllur and in the FljótshlÃd countryside.

Do the experts here agree with the interpretation of the earthquake?

By Thomas Wipf (not verified) on 06 Apr 2010 #permalink

"OK, the man was just found alive. where he was wandering ca 4-5 km away from the car."

Sadly, this is incorrect. The man was dead. :(

I am SO glad you didn't do your April Fools joke about Yellowstone this year... Another earthquake swarm started there on that exact day!!! Still looks like nothing much, unless activity picks up in one way or another. Kinda strange that EITHER 1.two swarms would occur within a couple of months in the same place, OR 2.a single swarm would last this long (not sure which one it is).

Folks! watch the valahnjuk cam, very impressive eruption ongoing

The fatalities in Iceland unfortunately are something that is nearly inevitable - we've had this on Etna a number of times, and it happens in all wilderness and mountain areas. On Etna mountain-related accidents (falling, freezing, lightning) are by far the most common cause of death and injuries, not eruptions. It's because there are always people who are not suitably prepared, or they have bad luck. It's like car traffic. We all (at least I hope) try to avoid accidents but they happen, be it material or human failure, that's what makes us human.
Just read on Mbl that the rescue services in Iceland complain that their efforts in protecting the masses of hikers to the eruption are extremely costy and they're about to run out of financial resources.

@Boris: That not the first case, we had a french tourist crossing on e of the glacial rivers in this area earlier last week asking for help when he was cold, wer an exhaustet. I think he was lucky doing this in the wintertime, since the water level is ways higher in the summer. And there was a group of people who tried to get on the glacier with their standard SUV. Not to forget the people who started the five hour hike (one direction) to the volcano only equipped with sneakers and a leather jacket, which became a case for the SAR teams as well.
People simply underestimate the weather and nature here. It is still winter, the mountains and the glaciers are extemely tricky - this was only a matter of time until it happened.

Now this is interesting!

Iceland Met has recently (exactly when?) updated the information on yesterday's big quake and it was not one, but TWO!!

Tuesday 15.32.19 M3.6 at 0.2km 4.2km SW Básar
Tuesday 15.32.24 M3.7 at 4.5km 1.2km SE Goðabunga

The second quake is not shown on the map, but presented on the list (tab "Table")

The second quake doesn't qppear on the map because of the poor quality of the measurement. Only quakes with >90% appear there.

Also, the three vents of two days ago seem to have become one located slightly to the east of the previous three.

Thanks Chris! I should have included the qualities given - 99.0 for the M3.6 SW Básar and 80.37 for the M3.7 SE Goðabunga.

Also, there was a lot of discussion earlier this morning (GMT) on the old thread whether there was a new vent or if it was a persistent lava flow encountering snow. So far, no confirmation on either Nordvol, RUV or MBL, but since the emission has been continuous and appears stationary in all cameras (allowing very poor quality triangulation), a "new" vent seems plausible. It could very well be an older vent reopening.

The more clear Vodafone Cam shows suddenly a little bit of steam on that little snowy hill above the eruption zone. It can´t be lava running up the hill, so I assume that there will be the next fissure firework soon. Or is it just a place where some snow mobiles moving? The little steam is not rising, just moving on the surface. The wind is not so strong, because we have a straight steam from the main vents, so it can´t be snow blown away from the wind...unfortunately Valahnjuk-Cam doesn´t work. Does anybody uses Twitter to get immediate information by visitors there????? I want to follow someone who is there in real time!

By Thomas Wipf (not verified) on 07 Apr 2010 #permalink

We have inflation once again.

It seems to have recovered rather quickly after the high seismicity of yesterday. It looks like it was a rather quiet night. The pressure is building. What will happen next? My guess is that if we do not see another fissure open at the current eruption site, that it will open farther upstream in that 4.5 Km long conduit. That is assuming that we continue to get a influx of magma from below.

Don't you just love the Google translator! Using it to translate the following article it came up with these gems:

"No activity in old cracks"

"but the cracks are formed for the weekend of fun in the two craters"

"Ãrmanns Höskuldsson, organization of export volcano"

Most Pythonesque!

Google translate and Icelandic were made for a good time.

And then this gem from Google translate from the link that Boris put on the old thread. "They went to the wood, which they pledged themselves to return and rescue workers." Volcanologists are a noble sort are they not?

like moths to a flame.


This has probably answered before....
Just how far are those people on the ridges
from the volcano, anyhow??


@Motsfo. As best that I can understand it is over a kilometer(a little over half a mile for me and you)..but the way it is ramping up tonight, I'd have to have a pint of brandy in me before I'd be standing there. Another half a pint after that and be talking Randall into roasting some hotdogs on the lava flows.

So the show is so good tonight, i finally had to
bring my knitting up to the computer....
Couldn't take my eyes off the screen.
Good thing i'm only knitting a lap blanket.
Just straight knits.


Jon, this is dedicated to the people of Iceland. And you especially.

Eyjafjallajokull's Wonder

Wind and snow, an icy wail
Cannot compare with the roaring tale
Of a caldron born of magma deep
And lava's black mountain across the steep.

Radiant streams a canyon receives
Steaming vents that willingly deceive
A blast that rends the rocks assunder
Stabs the heart with the sound of thunder.

I watch the fountains from far away
And frolicking people, too close they stray
To the fissure's glowing red-hot light
One surge would verily end the night.

Ah, the power, how frail is man
When before earth's fire he stands
Insignificant he does appear
And nothing truely calms his fear.

Still I watch in raptured awe
The beautiful, deadly bombs that fall
Approach with caution, do not hurry
O' Icelanders, Ejaf's fury.

Composed by Diane for the people of Iceland.

Indeed! Excellent piece there Diane!

@Diane, that is cool...especially the mention of the frolicking people.

Randall, Henrik, Jon, Gordys, thanks for the kudos.

Jon, if you can, you have my permission to post this to the people in a paper or whatever. It is for them (and you) after all. You can tell them it is from a Northern Californian who has been watching the eruption.

Too bad there are clouds right now. It is now 9:17am PDT and I have to get going.

Thanks again.

@ Diane. You;ve caught the eruption in your poem. Thank you.

Thanks, Parclair. I'm glad you liked it.