Biggest Quake to Hit Bárðarbunga so Far

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Biggest Quake to Hit Bárðarbunga so Far

Bárðarbunga volcano in Vatnajökull glacier.

Bárðarbunga. Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

A 5.7 magnitude earthquake, with its epicenter in Bárðarbunga volcano, hit shortly before 1:30 am this morning. It’s the biggest earthquake to occur in the region since the seismic activity began there on August 16.

However, most seismic activity is being recorded in the magma intrusion dike north of Dyngjujökull, a Vatnajökull outlet glacier, and now extends 10 kilometers (6 miles) north of the glacier’s edge, approaching the Askja fissure swarm.

Scientists estimate that there are approximately 300 million cubic meters (11 billion cubic feet) of magma in the dike, mbl.is reports.

According to Icelandic Met Office specialist Páll Erlendsson, the seismic activity remains intense and there are no indications that it’s subsiding. The activity is continuing to move north towards Askja volcano.

When asked why the big earthquakes occur in Bárðarbunga while most earthquakes originate in the dike, Páll explained that the caldera is in fact flipping with the force of the caldera and the dike pulling at each other.

Volcanologist Ármann Höskuldsson stated in an interview with Morgunblaðið that the activity may last years. “If a series has started in this system, similar to the Kröflueldar [eruptions by Krafla 1975-1984], eruptions can be expected in the coming years.”

The civil protection level, which was moved from emergency to alert phase on Sunday, remains unchanged. A status meeting to reevaluate the situation will be held before noon today.

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