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Report on Krafla (Iceland) — April 1977


Natural Science Event Bulletin, vol. 2, no. 4 (April 1977)
Managing Editor: David Squires.

Krafla (Iceland) Fissure eruption on 27 April causes ashfall and lava flows

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1977. Report on Krafla (Iceland) (Squires, D., ed.). Natural Science Event Bulletin, 2:4. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.NSEB197704-373080



65.715°N, 16.728°W; summit elev. 800 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Inflation at Krafla continued irregularly until late April, while 100-130 earthquakes were recorded per day (figure 3).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 3. Five-day running average of the number of earthquakes per day at Krafla caldera, September 1976-April 1977. Deflation events are shown by down-arrows. Courtesy of Páll Einarsson.

Harmonic tremor began at 1317 on 27 April, followed at about 1400 by series of earthquakes centered in a fissure swarm S of Krafla. About one magnitude 3.5-4.5 event occurred per minute during the swarm, which culminated at 1830. An eruption from a discontinuous fissure extending 3 km N from Leirhnjúkur (about 4 km W of Krafla) had begun before 1600, when a minor ashfall was recorded in the Mývatn area (about 10 km SW of Krafla). A 200 x 40 m lava flow was extruded from the N end of the fissure and steam and mud along the rest of its length. Tilt measurements indicate a 1-m subsidence of the caldera bottom in 17 hours, then renewed inflation after subsidence ended. New 2-m-wide fissures opened and fumarolic activity began in the Mývatn area, where more than 1 m of vertical displacement occurred, causing damage at a factory. Earthquakes continued on 1 May, but were declining.

Geological Summary. The Krafla central volcano, located NE of Myvatn lake, is a topographically indistinct 10-km-wide caldera that is cut by a N-S-trending fissure system. Eruption of a rhyolitic welded tuff about 100,000 years ago was associated with formation of the caldera. Krafla has been the source of many rifting and eruptive events during the Holocene, including two in historical time, during 1724-29 and 1975-84. The prominent Hverfjall and Ludent tuff rings east of Myvatn were erupted along the 100-km-long fissure system, which extends as far as the north coast of Iceland. Iceland's renowned Myvatn lake formed during the eruption of the older Laxarhraun lava flow from the Ketildyngja shield volcano of the Fremrinamur volcanic system about 3800 years before present (BP); its present shape is constrained by the roughly 2000 years BP younger Laxarhraun lava flow from the Krafla volcanic system. The abundant pseudocraters that form a prominent part of the Myvatn landscape were created when the younger Laxarhraun lava flow entered the lake.

Information Contacts: G. Sigvaldason, NVI; P. Einarsson, Univ. of Iceland; H. Sigtryggsson, Icelandic Meteorological Office.