Logo link to homepage

Report on Krafla (Iceland) — September 1977


Natural Science Event Bulletin, vol. 2, no. 9 (September 1977)
Managing Editor: David Squires.

Krafla (Iceland) Deflation accompanied by a basaltic eruption and fault movements

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1977. Report on Krafla (Iceland) (Squires, D., ed.). Natural Science Event Bulletin, 2:9. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.NSEB197709-373080



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Krafla caldera deflated on 8 September, accompanied by a short basaltic eruption and large scale movement on faults S of the caldera. Since the 27 April deflation (2:4) the center of the caldera had inflated about 6-7 mm/day, and by 8 September had returned to approximately the pre-27 April elevation. An increase in the number of earthquakes within the caldera, which had preceded earlier deflation events, did not occur prior to the 8 September deflation.

Chronology of [8 September 1977] events. 1547: First appearance on seismographs of continuous harmonic tremor, coinciding with the beginning of deflation.

1800: Effusive eruption began from a 900-m fissure N of the caldera rim, just N of the 27 April eruption site. By just after 2000, lava flows had reached their maximum extent, covering about 0.8 km2. The eruption had ceased by [2230].

[2240]: Beginning of movement on faults in the Námafjall area, S of the caldera and about 14 km from the eruption site. The earthquakes were centered 3-4 km closer to the caldera than during the 27 April event, but many of the same faults were active. A few cubic meters of extremely glassy vesicular scoria were erupted from an 1,134-m drillhole in the Námafjall area during the earthquake swarm.

After two days of deflation, inflation of the caldera resumed and was continuing in late September at the pre-deflation rate. The fault zone in the Námafjall area has widened more than 1 m since August. Old thermal fields show increased activity and new fields have developed. Parts of the diatomite factory near Námafjall were severely damaged and some of the steam drillholes were seriously affected, but there were no accidents or injuries.

Further References. Brandsdottir, B., and Einarsson, P., 1979, Seismic activity associated with the September 1977 deflation of the Krafla central volcano in northeastern Iceland: JVGR, v. 6, p. 197-212.

Larsen, G., Grönvold, K., and Thorarinsson, S., 1979, Volcanic eruption through a geothermal borehole at Námafjall, Iceland: Nature, v. 278, p. 707-710.

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.