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Report on Krafla (Iceland) — May 1979


Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 4, no. 5 (May 1979)
Managing Editor: David Squires.

Krafla (Iceland) New deflation event; 1.5 m of rifting N of the calder

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1979. Report on Krafla (Iceland) (Squires, D., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 4:5. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN197905-373080



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

"Deflation of Krafla took place 13-18 May. The main features are similar to the previous deflation event. Before this deflation, the volcano had inflated for two months beyond previous maximum levels and a deflation event had been anticipated since March. Earthquake activity above the magma reservoirs increased significantly during this time. This earthquake activity stopped with the first sign of deflation during the early hours of 13 May. The deflation rate increased only gradually, reaching a maximum (~5 µrad/hour at the Krafla powerhouse) during the afternoon of 14 May.

"Small earthquakes occurred N of the volcano and the epicenters moved northward along the fault swarm. The seismic activity increased markedly on 14 May, shortly before midnight. The earthquakes were associated with extensive rifting in the fault swarm 10-20 km N of Krafla. Geodimeter lines in this part of the fault swarm extended up to 1.5 m during the event. Some of those lines have now extended 3.5 m in less than 1 year, in three rifting events.

"Total subsidence of the center of the deflation is estimated at 70-80 cm, corresponding to about 40 x 106 m3 of removed magma. Inflation started again at about 1600 on 18 May and continues. Land elevation is expected to reach the previous maximum in 4-5 months."

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: K. Grönvold, NVI; P. Einarsson, Univ. of Iceland.