Iceland Mag

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Iceland Mag

Geology

Powerful earthquake in Bárðarðarbunga, one of Vatnajökull's monster volcanoes

By Staff

  • Ice cauldron in Bárðarbunga The volcano is hidden beneath the ice cap of Vatnajökull glacier. Photo/Tómas Guðbjartsson

The monster volcano Bárðarbunga, one of the most active and powerful volcanoes in Iceland and Europe, trembled yesterday afternoon. A sharp 3.9 magnitude earthquake was detected at 16:13 on Sunday afternoon, followed by a handful of smaller quakes.

The volcano has been relatively calm in 2018, with only a handful of 3+ magnitude quakes. The relative calm comes at the heels of relatively high levels of activity in 2016 and 2017. Since the largest earthquake to hit Bárðarbunga at the end of January, a 4.9 magnitude quake,  

Read more: Bárðarbunga continues to tremble: Most powerful quake since end of 2015 eruption  

Vatnajökull quakes 30.4.18
Quakes in the past 48 hours The quakes in Bárðarbunga are marked with a green star. Photo/IMO

A 3.9 magnitude quake is considered a significant seismic event, as any quake in an active volcano which is larger than 3 on the Richter scale is considered a powerful quake. Quakes larger than 4 in volcanoes are relatively rare. 

Read more: Quick primer on Bárðarbunga, Iceland's most powerful volcano

According to the Seismic Monitoring System of the the Icelandic Meteorological Office the epicenter of the 3.9 magnitude quake was 5.9 km (3.7 mi) Northeast of the center of the volcano's caldera at a significant depth of 3.3 km (2 mi).

Volcano is filling up its lava chambers 
Bárðarbunga has been showing significant level of activity in recent months. The quakes are connected caused by magma being thrust from the earth's mantle up into the lava chambers of the volcano. The volcano has been re-filling it's lava chambers since the end of the 2014-15 Holuhraun eruption. 

Read more: Why the constant earthquakes? Iceland is slowly being torn apart

Bárðarbunga, which is one of the most powerful volcanic systems in Iceland, is hidden beneath the north-western part of the ice cap of Vatnajökull glacier. 

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