Iceland Mag

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Iceland Mag

A 4.2 earthquake strikes Bárðarbunga caldera – No signs of magma movement

By Staff

  • From the 2014 to 2015 eruption Holuhraun's large crater built up close to 100 meters (328 ft.) during the eruption. For scale imagine a 20 story high building. Photo/Morten S. Riishuus, Institute of Earth Sciences

Ten minutes past midnight an earthquake of magnitude 4.2 struck on the northern caldera rim of Bárðarbunga, the huge sub-glacial volcano in Vatnajökull glacier in the central highlands.

According to scientists at the Icelandic Met Office (IMO) it is the strongest earthquake measured in the area since the end of the eruption in February 2015.

IMO reports that around 15 aftershocks have been detected so far, the strongest was magnitude 3.5 at 01.01. No signs of magma movements or volcanic activity are observed. IMO is closely following the situation 24/7.

One of the largest volcanic system on the planet
Bárðarbunga caldera is at the center of a 200 km (124 mi) long volcanic system, one of the largest on the planet. The 10 km (6.2 mi) wide caldera is located underneath a 600 to 850-meter (1,968 to 2,788 ft.) thick ice cap in Vatnajökull glacier.

The large eruption in Holuhraun lava field, that lasted for 181 days (31st August 2014 to 27th February 2015) was directly connected to subsidence in the center of the caldera.

Read more: See the first photos from inside the burnt out Holuhraun crater

The eruption was in an ice free zone about 41 km (25.5 mi) north of the caldera, and it left a new lava covering 85 square km (32.8 sq. mi). For scale, imagine an area roughly 1.5 times larger than Manhattan island covered with new 7 to 30 meters (21–90 feet) thick lava.

Could pose significant challenges for airline travel
The system and fissure swarm of Bárðarbunga has erupted on average once every fifty years, with large eruptions every 250 to 600 years. The largest known volcanic eruption in Iceland after settlement took place in Bárðarbunga in 1477. This eruption, which was one of the most powerful eruptions in the past 10,000 years in Iceland.

An eruption in Bárðarbunga could pose significant challenges for airline travel in the Northern hemisphere.

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