Latest on Bárðarbunga Volcano

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Latest on Bárðarbunga Volcano

By Zoë Robert
The Icelandic Met Office setting up measurement equipment in the area near Bárðarbunga.

The Icelandic Met Office's staff putting up earthquake monitors on Hamarinn, near Bárðarbunga. Photo: Þorgils Ingvarsson/Icelandic Met Office.

Scientists from the Icelandic Met Office, Institute of Earth Sciences and representatives of the Civil Protection Department attended a meeting at 10 am this morning.

The following information, from the website of the Icelandic Met Office, was presented at the meeting:

Intense seismicity continues. Over 700 events have been recorded since midnight.

Seismicity continues to migrate northward. Seismicity is now concentrated on the 10 km long tip of the dike extending 5 km beyond the edge of the Dyngjujökull glacier.

At 20:39 last night an earthquake of magnitude ~5 was observed beneath the Bárðarbunga caldera. Since then earthquakes in the caldera have been smaller.

The dike beneath Dyngjujökull is now thought to be close to 35 km long. Modeling of GPS data indicates that it contains about 300 million cubic meters of magma.

Additional stations for continuous GPS monitoring will be installed north of Vonarskarð and on Urðarháls within a few days.

There are no indications that the intensity of the activity declining. Currently, three scenarios are considered most likely:

- The migration of magma could stop, attended by a gradual reduction in seismic activity.

- 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.

- 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 Bárðarbunga caldera is possible but presently considered to be less likely.

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