Holuhraun – an eruption in the Bárðarbunga volcanic system
At the end of August 2014, an eruption started in Holuhraun lava field north of Vatnajökull ice cap. The eruption is linked to seismic activity in Bárðarbunga caldera. Below is a brief description of how events have unfolded until now.
A series of earthquakes was recorded in Bárðarbunga at 3am on August 16, 2014. Scientific monitoring equipment indicated that magma was on the move underground and a dyke forming towards northeast, underneath Dyngjujökull, an outlet glacier from the Vatnajökull ice cap.
On August 23 at noon, monitoring equipment suggested that an eruption had started underneath the ice cap of Bárðarbunga. Later, a depression in the ice cap was spotted, further supporting the speculation that magma had reached the surface of the ground underneath the ice. Meltwater would then have been collected by Grímsvötn, a volcano in its own right and a sub-glacial lake in Vatnajökull.
At midnight on the eve of August 29, a fissure eruption started in Holuhraun lava field north of Dyngjujökull outlet glacier. Lava poured from a 600 m long fissure, about 5 km north of the glaciers margin. The eruption lasted for only four hours with little volcanic material surfacing.
At 4am on August 31, the fissure in Holuhraun erupted again. This time the fissure was 1,5 km long with a lot more volcanic material surfacing than in the eruption a couple of days before. And five days later, early morning September 5, another fissure opened further to the south. At the beginning it was 400 m long but quickly retracted to 150 m.
Lava and gas kept pouring to the surface, with most of the lava flowing to the northeast. It reached the westernmost fork of the river Jökulsá á Fjöllum, diverting its water further eastwards. The eruption slowly faded and on February 27 no lava glow could be seen at the site of the eruption. The end of the eruption was announced the next day but access to the area still remains restricted.
Access restrictions at Dettifoss lifted
Due to the end of the Holuhraun eruption and decreased seismic activity in Bárðarbunga, the police commissioner in northeast Iceland has decided to lift access restrictions at Jökulsárgljúfur by Dettifoss. People are still encouraged to be careful and keep within mobile coverage. It is also advisable to avoid spending long time down in the canyon itself.
Access to Holuhraun itself is still restricted and will remain so until further notice.
Updated: March 5, 2015
Updated information about developments
The National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police is monitoring closely events in Bárðarbunga volcano, where unusually frequent seismic activity has been recorded in recent days. Updates on the situation are available on the Commissioner´s website: http://almannavarnir.is/
The Icelandic Met Office is also providing information about events:http://en.vedur.is/
The Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration has a map of areas that are closed due to these events:http://www.vegagerdin.is/media/umferd-og-faerd/Halendi.pdf
Vatnajökull National Park will seek to provide information about regarding the park´s operation, but for real-time updates about events we recommend other sources, for instance the ones mentioned above. It is also worth checking out The Icelandic National Broadcasting Service website: www.ruv.is/volcano