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Compared to previous nights, last night was rather quiet as far as seismic activity goes in the area around Bárðarbunga. The largest earthquake was of 4.1 magnitude. Almost 400 quakes were picked up by sensors, most by the northern tip of the intrusive dyke. There were also some minor quakes near Askja volcano.
Four calderas, also known as lows or cauldrons, were seen in the glacier east-southeast of Bárðarbunga during an observation flight yesterday, indicating melt caused by great geothermal activity or possibly a sub-glacial eruption.
Geophysicist Magnús Tumi Guðmundsson told ruv.is this morning that a significant amount of ice has melted, yet earthquake monitors show no signs of a big eruption.
#Bárðarbunga has orange aviation code and #Askja yellow. Interesting development.
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.
Cauldrons in Vatnajökull glacier that is on top of Bárðarbunga volcano have not grown during the night. The water seems to be flowing into Grímsvötn (Grímsfjall volcano) lake. It has risen close to 15 meters in the past few days.
Earthquake activity is high.
Both in the main volcano were a magnitude 5,4 earthquake (EMSC magnitude, USGS magnitude) took place today (28-August-2014) at 08:13 UTC. The earthquake took place in the caldera rim as most of the large earthquakes have happened.
Over 1300 earthquakes happened yesterday in the north end of the dyke swarm. Cracks have started to happen in the crust above the dyke. This means the dyke is getting wider and is higher up in the crust then suggested by earthquake activity.
There are reports of small cauldrons in Dyngjujökull glacier in the area, in the place were the glacier is thinnest and ending.
Harmonic tremor remains high on all SIL stations around Bárðarbunga volcano. The situation is extremely dynamic and is going to change fast in next 24 to 48 hours.
I am not 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.
If I am right this will most likely lead to an increased risk for a flood basalt event.
A possible scenario is that a single flood basalt eruptive event - more than 1000 cubic km - would erupt a very large mass of sulfur dioxide gas and aerosol, some of which would enter the lower stratosphere. This would reduce the amount of light reaching the Earth's surface (e.g., Thordarson and Self, 1996; Self et al., 2006).
As a result, not only is the lower atmosphere cooled, but also photosynthesis could be reduced or even stopped if light transmission is sufficently impaired. A volcanic winter may ensue, lasting for the duration of the eruption (decades?) (Rampino et al., 1988).
The water level in Grímsvötn Lake has been surveyed and has likely risen by about 5-10 m in the last days, which corresponds to an addition of 10-30 million m³ of water in the lake. A slight increase in conductivity in Köldukvísl River was measured this morning, but the cause is yet unknown. No change has been measured in the Hágöngulón lagoon, Jökulsá River and Skjálfandi River. It is assumed, that the water from the cauldron has flowed into the Grímsvötn Lake or the river Jökulsá á Fjöllum.
Scientists from the Icelandic Meteorological Office and University of Iceland took a number of flights over the region to observe these features that have come to two main preliminary conclusions: (1) these depressions are likely caused by melting of the ice from below and (2) these depressions lie along the water divide Jökulsá á Fjöllum River, which flows beneath 400-600 meters of ice. Now, this water from melting can’t just disappear, so the IMO scientists have been surveying potential places where water drains from the caldera and found that Grímsvötn Lake has risen 5-10 meters over the last week, so that seems like the destination of the 30-40 million cubic meters of meltwater.