Eyjafjallajökull

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  • Subregion Name
  • Primary Volcano Type
  • Last Known Eruption
  • 63.63°N
  • 19.62°W

  • 1666 m
    5464 ft

  • 372020
  • Latitude
  • Longitude

  • Summit
    Elevation

  • Volcano
    Number

27 October-2 November 2010

According to a news article from 27 October, a scientist at the University of Iceland Institute of Earth Sciences noted that the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull, that began as a fissure eruption on 20 March 2010 and later continued from the summit caldera on 14 April, was over. Ash was last seen rising from the caldera in June.

Source: Iceland Review



 Available Weekly Reports


2010: March | April | May | June | October


27 October-2 November 2010

According to a news article from 27 October, a scientist at the University of Iceland Institute of Earth Sciences noted that the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull, that began as a fissure eruption on 20 March 2010 and later continued from the summit caldera on 14 April, was over. Ash was last seen rising from the caldera in June.

Source: Iceland Review


23 June-29 June 2010

The Nordic Volcanological Center (NVC) at the Institute of Earth Sciences reported on 23 June that small ash clouds from Eyjafjallajökull's summit caldera were occasionally seen, but dispersed quickly. Water was slowly accumulating in the crater because ice was no longer in contact with hot material.

Source: Institute of Earth Sciences


9 June-15 June 2010

The Nordic Volcanological Center (NVC) at the Institute of Earth Sciences reported that on 9 June rumbling noises were heard at Gígjökull just before a steam cloud rose from the summit crater. The crater area was not visible the next day, but a few small shallow earthquakes beneath the summit crater continued to be detected. On 11 June white steam was mainly confined to the crater, but occasionally a steam plume rose higher than the rim. Heavy rainfall during the previous few days led to flooding along the Svadbaelisa River. The water contained a large amount of mud and flowed over levees into fields. NVC also noted that a lake about 300 m in diameter had formed in the large summit crater. Steam rose as high as 1 km from the rims, especially from the N side. Two small vents above the water level on the W side emitted brown-colored clouds.

Source: Institute of Earth Sciences


2 June-8 June 2010

The Nordic Volcanological Center (NVC) at the Institute of Earth Sciences reported that on 2 June a white steam cloud from Eyjafjallajökull's summit caldera rose to an altitude of 2.5 km (8,200 ft) a.s.l. On 3 June, scientists visited the summit and noted that the main crater remained active, though it was less active than during the previous visit on 27 May; steam rose 200-400 m above the crater rim. The next day cloud cover prevented observations. During 3-4 June remobilized ash drifted over a wide area of S and SW Iceland.

Scientists noted increased tremor on 4 June and a black plume that rose to an altitude of 4.5 km (14,800 ft) a.s.l. Considerable rumbling noises were reported from an area 10 km S. Tremor levels fluctuated during the next three days. Plumes that rose from the summit caldera were mostly white with occasional dark areas at the base following explosive activity. Plumes drifted SW during 4-5 June and S during 6-7 June at altitudes of 3-6 km (9,800-19,700 ft) a.s.l. A new crater was seen in the W part of the caldera at the site of the new explosive activity.

Sources: Institute of Earth Sciences, Iceland Review


26 May-1 June 2010

The Nordic Volcanological Center (NVC) at the Institute of Earth Sciences reported that on 26 May steam plumes from Eyjafjallajökull rose to an altitude of 2 km (6,600 ft) a.s.l. and drifted S. The crater was not seen through the web cameras due to poor visibility from remobilized, blowing ash. Scientists conducted an expedition to the summit crater the next day. They measured the tephra deposits around the E half of the craters, and found that they were about 40 m thick closest to the craters. Steam rose from the crater, punctuated by a few small ash-bearing explosions, and a sulfur odor was strong nearby. On 31 May and 1 June, widespread drifting of existing ash was noted in SW Iceland. Meteorological clouds prevented views of the summit craters.

Source: Institute of Earth Sciences


19 May-25 May 2010

The Nordic Volcanological Center (NVC) at the Institute of Earth Sciences reported that during 19-24 May overall activity from Eyjafjallajökull declined, and deformation measurements indicated subsidence. During 19-20 May gray ash plumes rose to altitudes of 5-6 km (16,400-19,700 ft) a.s.l. and drifted NW, N, and NE. Ashfall was reported in areas to the S, NW, and N. On 19 May heavy rainfall combined with ashfall to cause a mudslide in a local river. During 21-22 May light gray plumes with small amounts of ash rose to altitudes of 3-4 km (9,800-13,100 ft) a.s.l. No ashfall was reported. Some explosions occurred in the summit crater those days, but no lava flows. Seismicity continued to decrease and approached pre-eruption levels. White steam plumes rose from the crater during 23-25 May, though a small ash explosion was seen by scientists visiting the crater on 25 May.

Source: Institute of Earth Sciences


12 May-18 May 2010

The Institute of Earth Sciences at the Nordic Volcanological Center (NVC) reported that during 12-18 May the eruption from Eyjafjallajökull continued to produce ash plumes from the summit vent. Based on analyses of imagery from weather satellites, scientific overflights, and pilot reports, gray ash plumes rose to altitudes of 4-9 km (13,100-29,500 ft) a.s.l. and drifted mainly ESE, SE, and S. Plumes drifted W and SW during 14-15 May, and NE and N on 18 May. Ashfall was reported in multiple areas, as far away as 40 km SE and SW, over 50 km SSE, and in Reykjavík 125 km NW. The meltwater discharge at Gígjökull glacier was low, and deformation measurements indicated subsidence. According to news reports airports in parts of multiple European countries including England, Scotland, and Ireland were closed at times during 16-17 May.

Sources: Institute of Earth Sciences, BBC News


5 May-11 May 2010

The Institute of Earth Sciences at the Nordic Volcanological Center (NVC) reported that during 5-11 May the eruption from Eyjafjallajökull continued to produce ash plumes from the summit vent. Based on analyses of imagery from weather satellites, scientific overflights, and pilot reports, ash plumes ranging in color from light gray to black rose to altitudes of 4-9 km (13,100-29,500 ft) a.s.l. and drifted ESE, SE, and S. The cinder cone in the summit crater continued to build and was near the level of the ice on the crater rim on 8 May.

On 5 and 6 May explosive activity increased and effusive activity decreased, resulting in higher eruption plumes and increased tephra fallout. The lava flow stopped advancing, and very little steam rose from the edges of the flow. Ashfall was reported in areas 55-70 km away during 5-8 May, and was "considerable" on 6 and 7 May. Ash was reported in a few areas within 12 km E and SSE during 9-10 May. According to new articles, ash plumes again caused flight disruptions during 5-11 May in several European countries, including Scotland, Ireland, Spain, and Portugal.

Sources: Institute of Earth Sciences, Reuters, Agence France-Presse (AFP)


28 April-4 May 2010

The Institute of Earth Sciences at the Nordic Volcanological Center (NVC) reported that during 28 April-4 May the eruption from Eyjafjallajökull continued to emit lava and produce steam and ash plumes. Booming sounds in the vicinity of the volcano were often heard. Scientists continued to measure meltwater discharge that flowed down the Gígjökull glacier into the Gígjökull lake basin, then into the Markarfljót River. On 30 April steaming blocks were deposited in the basin, and on 2 May, steam rising from the delta in the lake basin suggested near-boiling water temperatures.

On 28 April the eruption plume was not detected over 4 km altitude (13,100 ft) a.s.l., the level of meteorological clouds. Steam plumes rose above the lava that advanced N down the Gígjöjkull Glacier. Ash plumes rose above the crater; ashfall was seen on the W flanks and in an area about 32 km W. The next day the eruption plume was not visible, but likely did not exceed an altitude of 3.6 km (11,800 ft) a.s.l. Ashfall was reported in areas 1.5 km SW and 12 km SSW.

Steam plumes on 30 April rose to altitude of 4.5-5.1 km (14,800-16,700 ft) a.s.l. Ash plumes rose to lower altitudes, drifted S, and deposited ash in areas 10 km away. Ash plumes rose slightly higher the next day, to an altitude of 5.4 km (17,700 ft) a.s.l. Ashfall was noted in areas 22 km SE. An active lava flow to the N continued to generate steam plumes from interaction with ice.

A report on 2 May stated that during the previous 2-3 days ash plumes had become darker and wider than in the preceding week, explosivity had increased, and tephra fall-out had increased. The location of the steam plume N of the crater indicated that the lava flow had advanced more than 3 km from the crater. Steam and ash plumes continued to rise from the crater. Ashfall was reported in an area 40 km SE. The scoria cone at the crater continued to build. Conditions on 3 May were similar. The largest eruption plume rose to an altitude of 5.5 km (18,000 ft) a.s.l. Ashfall was noted 65-70 km ESE, and ash plumes were seen over the village of Vík, 40 km SE. The eruption plume was seen in satellite imagery as far as 200 km from Eyjafjallajökull on both days.

On 4 May ash plumes rose above the crater and steam plumes rose from the N flank. Lava had traveled 4 km N from the crater, and lava was ejected a few hundred meters from the crater. Ashfall was reported in areas 65-80 km ESE, cutting visibility to less than a few kilometers. An eruption plume was seen in satellite imagery as far as 400 km ESE to SE. According to news articles, airports throughout Ireland were temporarily shut down on 4 May due to ash-plume hazards.

Sources: Institute of Earth Sciences, Associated Press


21 April-27 April 2010

The Institute of Earth Sciences at the Nordic Volcanological Center (NVC) reported that the summit eruption from Eyjafjallajökull continued during 21-27 April. The eruption rate on 21 April was inferred to have been an order of magnitude smaller than during the initial 72 hours of the eruption, having declined over the previous few days. Phreatomagmatic activity with some lava spatter occurred from the northernmost of two craters in the summit caldera, generating plumes to an altitude of 3 km (9,800 ft) a.s.l. that drifted S. The emission of lava flows likely began around 1200 evident by the onset of semi-continuous meltwater discharge, steaming from the N edge of the ice cauldron, and changes in tremor amplitude.

Similar activity continued for the next four days, although plumes sometimes rose to 6 km (19,700 ft) a.s.l. on 22 April. On 23 April changes in the wind direction pushed the plume NW, causing airports in SW Iceland to close. The next day, mild explosive activity ejected spatter 100 m above the crater and shockwaves were detected every few seconds; an ash plume rose 4 km (13,100 ft) a.s.l. and drifted SW. A depression in the ice, formed from lava flows that had advanced 400-500 m N of the crater, was 700 m long and steaming, especially at the edges.

The N crater was active on 25 April. The eruption plume height was unknown due to meteorological cloud cover at 5.3 km (17,400 ft) a.s.l.; minor ashfall was noted at two farms 10 km NW of the vents. Explosions were also heard at locations 10-15 km NW. On 26 April plumes rose to an average altitude of 4.8 km (15,700 ft) a.s.l. and drifted E. Radar data showed a tephra crater or cone continuously building on the N crater. The structure was approximately 150 m high and 200 m wide. According to news articles, flights from Iceland's airports resumed.

On 27 April NVC reported that the eruption plume was seen during an overflight, and rose to altitudes of 3-3.6 km (10,000-11,800 ft) a.s.l. and drifted WNW. Light ashfall was noted in inhabited areas between 32 and 45 km W. Scientists also saw that a new crater had formed in the SW part of the caldera; the rim was about 50 m lower than the surrounding ice surface. Ash plumes rose from the vent and spatter was ejected 100-200 m above the vent. The lava flow front had advanced 1 km N from the vents. Flights from Iceland's airports were again disrupted.

Sources: Institute of Earth Sciences, Associated Press, Iceland Review


14 April-20 April 2010

The Institute of Earth Sciences at the Nordic Volcanological Center (NVC) reported that a new set of craters opened in the early morning of 14 April under the ice-covered central summit caldera of Eyjafjallajökull. This eruptive phase was preceded by a swarm of earthquakes and the onset of tremor. Aerial observations revealed a series of vents along a 2-km-long N-S fissure, with meltwater flowing down both the N and S slopes of the volcano. An ash plume rose to more than 8 km altitude, and was deflected to the E by winds. Jokulhlaups (floods of meltwater) reached the lowlands around the volcano with peak flow around noon, damaging roads, infrastructure, and farmlands. There were no fatalities due to previous evacuations. Tephra-fall was reported in SE Iceland. A second jokulhlaup/lahar traveled down the Markarfljot valley that evening.

On 15 April the eruption plume reached mainland Europe, causing the closure of large areas of airspace. Activity continued during 16 April at a similar level as the previous day, with ash generation and pulses of meltwater causing jokulhlaup/lahars in the evening. The next day there was some variability in seismic tremor and tephra generation, but overall the activity remained stable. A pulsating eruptive column reached above 8 km altitude, and lightning was frequently seen within the plume.

Over the first 72 hours of explosive activity, scientists estimated that the eruption had produced 140 million cubic meters of tephra. An update from NVC on 21 April noted that activity had declined in the previous few days by an order of magnitude, though phreatomagmatic explosions were still occurring, sending plumes about 3 km high. Lava spattering was seen at the craters, and meltwater flows were minor. Seismicity was not decreasing at that time, and samples collected on 19 April were of the same intermediate composition (58% SiO2) as early in the explosive phase, but with more fluorine.

The ash cloud resulted in the cancellation of tens of thousands of daily flights, both into and out of major European cities, after 15 April. Although on 19 April the plume was only rising 1 km above the summit, it was ascending to altitudes of 5-7 km (15-20,000 ft) as it drifted to the S. Beginning on 20 April, after a decrease in activity and a significant dissipation of the plume, many previously closed areas were at least partially opened for limited service.

Sources: Institute of Earth Sciences, Icelandic Met Office, Iceland Review


7 April-13 April 2010

The Institute of Earth Sciences reported that on 7 April the eruption from Eyjafjöll ceased from the original eruption craters and was limited to the fissure that had opened on 31 March. Lava flows covered an estimated area of 1.3 square kilometers and were on average 10-20 m thick. The largest scoria cone was 82 m high. After minor changes in deformation rates during the eruption, on 9 April deformation returned to pre-eruption levels. Eruptive activity was observed on 11 April, but tremor decreased to baseline the next day. Also on 12 April, according to a new article, the Icelandic Civil Protection Department decided to lower the preparedness level by one point, from emergency to danger because of the decreasing activity. Another article stated that a pilot saw no active lava flows, only steam plumes, during an overflight on 13 April.

At 2300 on 13 April, a seismic swarm was detected below the central part of Eyjafjöll, W of the previous eruption fissures. About an hour later, the onset of seismic tremor heralded an eruption from a new vent on the S rim of the central caldera, capped by Eyjafjallajökull glacier. The eruption was visually confirmed early in the morning on 14 April; an eruption plume rose at least 8 km above the glacier. Meltwater flowed to the N and S. News outlets reported that a circular ice-free area about 200 m in diameter was seen near the summit. Scientists conducting an overflight saw a new 2-km-long, N-S-trending fissure, and ashfall to the E. About 700 people were ordered to evacuate the area, and certain flights were banned from flying N and E of the eruption area. Flooding increased throughout the day, causing road closures and some structural damage.

Sources: Institute of Earth Sciences, Icelandic Met Office, Iceland Review


31 March-6 April 2010

The Icelandic Met Office reported that around 1900 on 31 March a new fissure at Eyjafjöll opened NE of the first fissure that began erupting on 20 March. Activity from the second fissure was not preceded by detectable seismicity. According to a news article, the fissure was about 300 m long, and about 200 m away from the first fissure. At the time of reporting by the Icelandic Met Office on 5 April, lava fountains had remained active from both fissures. Lava mostly accumulated near the new vent but some lava flows had entered the Hruná and Hvanná gullies. News outlets reported that two people had died during the journey back from seeing the eruption. The police estimated that 25,000 people had visited the site since the eruption began.

Sources: Icelandic Met Office, Morgunbladid News, Iceland Review, Iceland Review


24 March-30 March 2010

According to news articles, the fissure eruption from Eyjafjöll continued during 24-30 March. On 24 March, steam explosions were seen. A local scientist described four or five active craters and a 200-meter-high basalt lava-fall into Hrunagil canyon. Two days later reports indicated that lava flows had changed course and had entered the Hvannárgil canyon down a 100-meter-high lava-fall; water levels in that drainage increased. From a helicopter on 28 March, scientists saw lava flowing into both canyons and noted fewer jets of lava. The next evening a swarm of earthquakes in the region measuring M 2-2.5 were detected. A geophysicist noted that seismicity was gradually decreasing. The lava covered an area of 1 square kilometer.

Sources: Iceland Review, Iceland Review, Iceland Review, Iceland Review


17 March-23 March 2010

The Institute of Earth Sciences and the Icelandic Met Office reported that a fissure eruption from Eyjafjöll (also known as Eyjafjallajökull) began late at night on 20 March. High rates of deformation and increased seismic activity were noted during the previous three weeks; earthquakes were located between 7 and 10 km below the surface. During 19-20 March earthquakes migrated E and became more shallow, at 4-7 km depth. At 22:30 on 20 March seismicity slightly increased and, within the next two hours, reports of a volcanic eruption were received.

The first reports described incandescence reflected from a cloud above the eruption area, a 2-km-wide ice-free pass between Eyjafjöll and Katla volcano (with its overlying Myrdalsjökull ice cap). Lava fountains, seen from the air on 21 March, were ejected from a 500-m-long NE-SW trending fissure on the NE flank of Eyjafjöll at an elevation of about 1,000 m a.s.l. Lava flowed a short distance from the fissure and a minor plume rose 1 km and drifted W. Tephra fall was minor or insignificant. According to news articles, flights in and out of Reykjavík were diverted, delayed, or cancelled. Some local roads were closed and about 500 people living in nearby areas were evacuated. A steam explosion on 22 March generated a steam plume that rose to an altitude of 8 km (26,200 ft) a.s.l. Lava flowed S of the fissure into a canyon causing steam to rise from where the lava interacted with snow and ice. The eruption continued during 23-24 March.

Sources: Institute of Earth Sciences, Icelandic Met Office, Iceland Review, Iceland Review, Iceland Review


Summary of eruption dates and Volcanic Explosivity Indices (VEI).

Start Date Stop Date Eruption Certainty VEI Evidence Activity Area or Unit
2010 Mar 20 2010 Jun 23 Confirmed 4 Historical Observations ENE flank (Fimmvörduháls) and summit
1821 Dec 19 1823 Jan 1 Confirmed 2 Historical Observations
1612 Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations
0920 (?) Unknown Confirmed 3 Tephrochronology NW flank (Skerin ridge)
0550 (?) Unknown Confirmed   Tephrochronology

The following references are the sources used for data regarding this volcano. References are linked directly to our volcano data file. Discussion of another volcano or eruption (sometimes far from the one that is the subject of the manuscript) may produce a citation that is not at all apparent from the title. Additional discussion of data sources can be found under Volcano Data Criteria.

Einarsson P, 2008. . (pers. comm.).

Gudmundsson A T, 1986b. Iceland-Fires. Reykjavik: Vaka-Helgafell, 168 p.

Gudmundsson M T, Larsen G, Hoskuldsson A, Gylfason A G, 2008. Volcanic hazards in Iceland. Jokull, 58: 251-268.

IAVCEI, 1973-80. Post-Miocene Volcanoes of the World. IAVCEI Data Sheets, Rome: Internatl Assoc Volc Chemistry Earth's Interior..

Jakobsson S P, 1979. Petrology of recent basalts of the eastern volcanic zone, Iceland. Acta Nat Islandica, 26: 1-103.

Johannesson H, 1985. The endless lavas at the foot of Eyjafjoll and glaciers of the last glaciation. Jokull, 35: 83-95 (in Icelandic with English summary).

Johannesson H, Jakobsson S P, Saemundsson K, 1982. Geological map of Iceland, sheet 6, south Iceland. Icelandic Museum Nat Hist & Iceland Geodetic Surv, 1:250,000 geol map, 2nd edition.

Oskarsson B V, 2009. The Skerin ridge on Eyjafjallajökull, south Iceland: morphology and magma-ice interaction in an ice-confined silicic fissure eruption. Unpublished MSci thesis, Univ Iceland, 111 p.

Pedersen R, Sigmundsson F, 2006. Temporal development of the 1999 intrusive episode in the Eyjafjallajokull volcano, Iceland, derived from InSAR images. Bull Volc, 68: 377-393.

Steinthorsson S, et al., 2002. Catalog of Active Volcanoes of the World - Iceland. Unpublished manuscript.

Eyjafjallajökull (also known as Eyjafjöll) is located west of Katla volcano. Eyjafjallajökull consists of an E-W-trending, elongated ice-covered stratovolcano with a 2.5-km-wide summit caldera. Fissure-fed lava flows occur on both the eastern and western flanks of the volcano, but are more prominent on the western side. Although the 1666-m-high volcano has erupted during historical time, it has been less active than other volcanoes of Iceland's eastern volcanic zone, and relatively few Holocene lava flows are known. An intrusion beneath the south flank from July-December 1999 was accompanied by increased seismic activity and was constrained by tilt measurements, GPS-geodesy and InSAR. The last historical eruption of Eyjafjallajökull prior to an eruption in 2010 produced intermediate-to-silicic tephra from the central caldera during December 1821 to January 1823.