Updated: Eruption Progressing

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Oh and the very worst that could just possibly happen?

BBC timeline Killer Cloud Laki eruption Iceland

Is it nearly Bunga Bunga time for Bárðarbunga?

Some professional volcano watchers are getting very interested. Seems they’d like it to erupt quite soon rather than build pressure for weeks or months.

Some links





More to follow as events develop.

101 thoughts on “Bárðarbunga

  1. “Twenty-four-year-old Icelandic programmer Bæring Gunnar Steinþórsson at CCP has set up a webpage showing the seismic activity under the Bárðarbunga volcano, located under Vatnajökull glacier, in 3D.

    Bæring uses the data from apis.is, visir.is reports. The data gives the depth and magnitude of each earthquake as well as the GPS coordinates. “This makes it easy to work with the data,” Bæring said. His 3D graph shows the activity hour by hour and can be rotated to show the activity from different angles.”


    The earthquakes have been continuing since the weekend and show no signs of letting up but there is also no sign of an eruption yet. The earthquakes have been below a magnitude 3.0 during the last 48 hours but before that there were some between 3.0 and 4.0.

    A Code Orange was issued on Monday in light of increased likelihood of an eruption after continued earthquakes in the area.

  2. http://volcanocafe.wordpress.com/2014/08/23/bardarbunga-on-the-move/

    Bárðarbunga on the move

    This is just a brief update due to the current violent activity at Bárdarbunga. In the last hour the recorded levels of tremor at Bárdarbunga has set a new record. There is as far as I know no recorded dataset that has shown this much tremor, not even during the large 2010 Eyjafjallajökull or the 2011 even larger VEI4 eruption of Grimsvötn. There is still no sign of an actual eruption taking place, but there is an intriguing development.

    The magmatic intrusion that left Bárdarbunga central volcano and meandered off to due east of Kistufell has now rapidly in an hour formed a fissure extending from 20km depth all the way up to 2.5km from the surface. This means that if an eruption starts the eruption could draw more material directly from the mantle as decompression melt sets in. This would follow the formula from the Lakí eruption pretty well.

  3. I hope there is no significant methane under that ice, AA. It’s disturbing that they reckon it greater than the 2011 eruption.

  4. If I can interrupt “normality” for a moment….

    The possibility that this could be a monumental scale life changing eruption for the entire planet is now being discussed openly by some experts.

    No they are not saying that’s what is going to happen. They are saying they are in uncharted territory with what they are seeing going on below ground right now.

    Right now everything from no major surface eruption through to cataclysmic is possible.

    Stay tuned…

  5. Mary,

    The reason the alert has dropped back to Orange is only because it was mistakenly moved to Red when IMO (Icelandic Meteorological Office) thought that it was erupting at the surface under the ice. They have now new data that says it hasn’t broken through yet but is spreading into neighbouring volcanic systems underground. The underground lava river (dyke) is about 40km long now.

    So don’t be fooled by the change back to orange. There is far more energy in the quakes now than there was when it was at red but as long as it is not erupting above ground the alert is orange.

  6. I was not doubting you at all Squonk. Just saying that Auntie tells us not to worry our little heads.

  7. In the worse case scenario (caldera collapse) you’ll possibly hear the bang at home. Then it will be time to worry 🙂

    For now it is just fascinating to watch and see what develops. Most likely any eruption will not be life changing but…

  8. Another act of natural phenomena we don’t understand sufficiently, AA.

    I don’t worry about such things, I prepare for survival as well as I can then have a beer. 🙂

  9. http://volcanocafe.wordpress.com/2014/08/24/bardarbunga-nature-of-the-beast/

    Bárðarbunga – Nature of the beast

    First let me write one thing, and that is that we are not in Kansas anymore. And with that I mean that we are in totally unchartered country. Icelandic Met Office has the best volcanologists on the planet, and they pretty much never make a mistake. They are quite simply the best and their reputation at this site is set in solidified lava.

    So, when people like that in an hour first states that a small eruption has started and an hour later recant on the statement it does not hamper our confidence in their abilities, it is instead a sign of how “out there” what we are seeing right now really is.

    What is happening now is really like if you walked down a familiar street and turn a corner and find yourself in the fabled Land of Oz.

    Rifting fissure eruption

    Let me be clear about what this is, it is about as large as an eruption is likely to be in this geological era. Only full scale trap formations and supereruptions are larger.

    But let me start with why I think this is an option. Foremost the length of the fissure, at 40km it is definitely long enough to be able to sustain a large eruption. The fissure is also showing signs of having opened up down to the mantle at places, and that would mean that it is possible for rapid decompression melt to occur, and that is a necessity for a large rifting fissure eruption to access large enough quantities of magma.

    …Above I have touched on the worst case scenario. If that happens we will face temperature changes, ash and voluminous gas clouds. But one thing is certain, it would not in any way threaten life on earth, it would not even put a big hindrance on your daily life. Get real, the world will not end like this. But, expect a bit of nuisance.

  10. Thanks for that hopeful, yet typical scientific skepticism, AA.

    Now try this….

    “The most surprising sign though is that this rifting fissure is not following a single fissure swarm. This is totally unsuspected behavior that nobody has even guessed at in their most feverish fantasies. The initial intrusion charged straight out of the Bárðarbunga fissure swam, passed barren land in between fissure swarms and connected with the Grimsvötn northern fissure swarm, followed that downstream and then once again changed trajectory and entered the fissure swarm of Askja.

    This means that potentially the intrusion might be feeding on the 3 largest Icelandic volcanoes if the fissure evolves a bit more. If this actually happens all bets are off and we would be most likely talking about a rifting fissure eruption with explosive components.

    If the intrusion continues to move forward in this direction it will enter the caldera of Askja in 4 days. Problem here is that Askja is known to have pockets of rhyolitic explosive magma, and if those pockets suddenly reheat from the new hot magma things could get interesting fast.”

  11. Quick update.

    Things are a little bit calmer today so far. It is possible that activity dies down now for some time (possibly even months to years) or it might be about to pick up again over the next few hours as there does seem to be a cyclic component to the tremor magnitude. Low frequency tremor amplitude does appear to be on the way up again.

    Still no surface eruption detected.

  12. http://en.vedur.is/earthquakes-and-volcanism/articles/nr/2947

    25th August 2014 16:00 – status report

    Overall assessment from the joint daily status report 250814 of the Icelandic Met Office and the University of Iceland, Institute of Earth Sciences:

    There are no indications that the intensity of the activity is declining. Currently, three scenarios are considered most likely: 1) The migration of magma could stop, attended by a gradual reduction in seismic activity. 2) The dike could reach the surface of the crust, starting an eruption. In this scenario, it is most likely that the eruption would be near the northern tip of the dike. This would most likely produce an effusive lava eruption with limited explosive, ash-producing activity. 3) An alternate scenario would be the dike reaching the surface where a significant part, or all, of the fissure is beneath the glacier. 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 is possible but presently considered to be less likely.

  13. I linked to this on CM Squonk.

    Had you heard this today?

    26 August 2014
    Iceland volcano: Bardarbunga hit by 5.7 earthquake
    Local authorities on patrol in the area close to area hit by recent powerful earthquakes in Iceland – 24 August 2014
    Local authorities have closed roads leading to the area and evacuated several hundred people Continue reading the main story
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    Iceland’s Bardarbunga volcano was hit by a magnitude 5.7 earthquake on Tuesday morning, the largest since tremors began in the area last week.

    The country’s Met Office said despite the shock – the fourth magnitude five quake in 48 hours – there is still no sign of a volcanic eruption.

    On Sunday, Iceland lowered the aviation risk to its second highest level.

    Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupted in 2010, producing ash that disrupted air travel across Europe.

    Bardarbunga is in a different range to Eyjafjallajokull, but the intense seismic activity has raised fears that an eruption could cause similar travel chaos


  14. Yes I saw that quake on the real-time monitors at the time. It’s on the caldera rim. Bets are still open on where the magma intrusion might break through to the surface (assuming it does). The caldera (ice covered), dyke leading edge (ice free) and a spot in the middle of the dyke ( ice covered) all seem to be leading candidates right now. But if it finds a weak point it could be anywhere really.

    There’s a suspicious looking trail of quakes that run from the surface down to depths of 20-30km or so that I’m keeping an eye on as well.

    At the moment the magma is finding easier paths to propagate along old fissures than it is to get to the surface. How long that goes on is one of the big questions.

  15. The video at the end of that link refers to Iceland.

    Icelandic officials on Sunday reopened the airspace around the Bardarbunga volcano. An eruption could disrupt air travel to-and-from Europe.

    Will we all be going to hell in the proverbial handcart?

    When we hear of little girls being shown how to use an Uzi and kill someone in the process, one can only wonder. The place is called Bullets and Burgers. Nice irony.

  16. “Or the Minoan, Fred. Worse than Krakatoa.”

    It isn’t a Minoan or a Krakatoa Ben, they were different sorts of animiles.

    There are some uncomfortable similarities to Laki.

  17. “, they were different sorts..”

    True enough, but we don’t really have predictive data, so Laki, even though Icelandic, isn’t exactly a primer for what to expect next.

    But…..Ben had some reflections on the aftermath.

    “Benjamin Franklin recorded his observations in a 1784 lecture:

    During several of the summer months of the year 1783, when the effect of the sun’s rays to heat the earth in these northern regions should have been greater, there existed a constant fog over all Europe, and a great part of North America. This fog was of a permanent nature; it was dry, and the rays of the sun seemed to have little effect towards dissipating it, as they easily do a moist fog, arising from water. They were indeed rendered so faint in passing through it, that when collected in the focus of a burning glass they would scarce kindle brown paper. Of course, their summer effect in heating the Earth was exceedingly diminished. Hence the surface was early frozen. Hence the first snows remained on it unmelted, and received continual additions. Hence the air was more chilled, and the winds more severely cold. Hence perhaps the winter of 1783–4 was more severe than any that had happened for many years.
    The cause of this universal fog is not yet ascertained […] or whether it was the vast quantity of smoke, long continuing, to issue during the summer from Hekla in Iceland, and that other volcano which arose out of the sea near that island, which smoke might be spread by various winds, over the northern part of the world, is yet uncertain.[23] (According to contemporary records, Hekla did not erupt in 1783; its previous eruption was in 1766. The Laki fissure eruption was 45 miles (72 km) to the east and the Grímsvötn volcano was erupting about 75 miles (121 km) north east. Additionally Katla, only 31 miles (50 km) south east, was still renowned after its spectacular eruption 28 years earlier in 1755.)

  18. UPDATE AUGUST 28, 2014. Iceland is shaking as the Bárðarbunga volcano, located under the ice of the country’s large Dyngjujökull glacier, continues to threaten an eruption. This volcano has shown signs for nearly two weeks of a possible eruption, but no eruption yet. If it happens, it could shut down air traffic across Europe. Thousands of small earthquakes, and several moderately strong earthquakes, have occurred in the area in recent days. The Iceland Met Office – best place to get updates on the volcano @ http://en.vedur.is/earthquakes-and-volcanism/articles/nr/2947 – said on August 28 that two earthquakes of magnitude 4.1 and 4 occurred at Bárðarbunga. Late in the day on August 27, they said:

    Scientists from IES and IMO on a flight to Vatnajökull tonight discovered a row of 10-15 m deep cauldrons south of the Bárðarbunga caldera. They form a 6-4 km long line. The cauldrons have been formed as a result of melting, possibly a sub-glacial eruption, uncertain when. Heightened tremor level/volcanic tremor has not been observed on IMO’s seismometers at the moment. The new data is being examined.

    Some more fotos and info @


  19. Signs of activity now at neighbouring Askja volcano. Now is officially at yellow alert status. Perhaps time to raise the shields and call Captain Kirk!


    Update on Bárðarbunga and Askja volcanoes at 13:34 UTC

    Askja volcano

    The dyke from Bárðarbunga volcano has entered Askja volcano. Not the fissure swarm, the volcano it self.

    Askja volcano status has been elevated to Yellow.

    …The situation is extremely dynamic and is going to change fast in next 24 to 48 hours. I am now close to 80% sure that an eruption is going to take place in both Askja volcano and Bárðarbunga volcano, since minor eruptions have been taking place under the glacier already.

  20. ‘Scotty, beam us up’ I think if it’s explosive we’ll all want to be on the ISS. 🙂

    The shock wave from Krakatoa circled the earth 9 times.

  21. A Double Looking Certain

    Gonna be Spectacular, and Ben yes a window on ISS would be just dandy. 🙂

  22. Here we Go

    Squonk that feed jams up a lot… but one can see action is on…

    All we need now is for Yellowstone to rumble…it’s over due i think…

    time for bed ..i’ll pop in for the latest tomorrow…and cheers.

  23. It’s all part of America’s covert government’s efforts to make sure that the Yes vote doesn’t win in the referendum on September 18 – what would deprive the UK of its permanent seat on the UN Security Council, and ruin its military assets, particularly its naval ones, in a questionably unreliable Scotland.

    The naval bases have been assisting either the USS Connecticut and/or the USS Jimmy Carter stoke up its magma by laser beams on the ocean floor so that the glacier on top of Bardarbunga melts, and explodes, making a disaster for Sotland comparable to the Laki one.

    In the process, the Boeing X-37B spy plane has been monitoring the glacier’s melting for the sub, like in the melt down of Fukushima in March 2011.

    Scotland seems to be heading for an overwhelming No vote.

  24. Can’t get any of the live feeds for some reason. It’s seems to be fizzling. Let’s hope it doesn’t get to a rolling boil.

  25. Ben

    At the moment the break through to the surface is just a small affair. There was just another 5.3 right under the caldera a short time ago and if the magma action moves to the surface there then things get much more interesting – with or without Trowbridge’s postulated lasers 🙂

    I’d imagine that if clouds of poisonous gases are drifting across Scotland by referendum day then it will be postponed. However we are still a long way from that scale of eruption yet and the experts are divided on the probability of if or when it will get there.

  26. “I’d imagine that if clouds of poisonous gases are drifting across Scotland by referendum day then it will be postponed”

    If the presence of gas were a problem for the vote, it will be postponed indefinitely. 🙂

  27. Don’t Know Where Trowbridge Lives, And Ben, you should be ok, But Sqounk and myself…Perhaps time to buy up some Gas masks…Before there’s a Mad rush, and advise dear ones to do the same, As a precaution ye understand, YIKES.

  28. Amazing video. Hat tip to the Cessna pilot for sheer guts.

    AA; How does the caldera compare in size (cubic feet) to Laki, if you know?

  29. Ben,

    Although a partial (or total) caldera collapse would create a huge bang as the glacier fell into the magma chamber that’s not the worst case any more. The risk now is that over a period of months the surface fissures spread for many miles with lava pouring out over an enormous area for months on end. The volume of sulphur dioxide produced would be enormous and it would go on and on…

  30. Ben Cheers Good Price….and not too Cumbersome…

    Em.. You thinking on Joining the calls for a revolution then Lol… Stay safe man.

    heading to the General D page with a kool new video Regarding IS

  31. Brian; Buy extra filters with it. (almost as much as the gear itself)

    That’s good/bad news, AA. Any literature or observations like Ben Franklins wrt to the UK and wind direction with Laki? Was it Fred who said he was only 600 miles away? Scotland?

    Seems farther than that.

  32. All the speculation about what may happen at Bardarbunga is affecting the Scottish vote no matter what happens.
    People are becoming increasingly worried about what might happen in Scotland over the long run, and that cannot help the Yes vote.
    Perhaps, that has been the plan all along, but it still could get nasty if necessary.
    And I am not at risk from earthquake fallout, only dodging bullets here in New Haven CT on occasion.

  33. “Was it Fred who said he was only 600 miles away? Scotland?”

    I have a hundred mile drive south to get to Inverness Ben.

  34. So much for my geography, Fred. Looked at the map and you guys are flopsweat close to Iceland. It’s about as close to you as the supervolcano (Yellowstone) is to me.


  35. Daily Mail !
    Aviation authorities on red alert for ash cloud after Iceland is forced to close airspace over Bardarbunga volcano
    Skies reopened today after ‘red alert’ overnight sparked by fears of eruption
    Magma has risen to surface on glacier next to volcano, but there has been no ash so far
    There have been more than 400 earthquakes detected between midnight and 6am yesterday
    Fears eruption could cause disruption on scale of Eyjafjallajokull in 2010, which brought European air travel to a halt
    By Matthew Blake for
    Updated: 18:18, 29 August 2014


  36. Trowbridge

    i would dearly like to know more of your insider info..

    cos i see constant indy ref material from Multiple sources…and Not a word re the Volcanoes .. . Compared to Squonk’s feed, Talk of Icelands V’s are at Zero here.

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