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Report on Krafla (Iceland) — February 1980


Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 5, no. 2 (February 1980)
Managing Editor: David Squires.

Krafla (Iceland) Small deflation event; magma migrates 7 km S

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1980. Report on Krafla (Iceland) (Squires, D., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 5:2. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198002-373080



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

"The gradual inflation after the minor December event was reversed about 1 February, when very slow deflation began and the earthquake activity associated with inflation stopped. As measured at the Krafla power house, the initial deflation rate of about 0.5 µrad/day increased on 7 February to about 1.3 µrad/day. In the evening of 10 February, a dense microearthquake swarm began near the S rim of the Krafla caldera and started to propagate southward. At about the same time, the deflation rate increased at Krafla, reaching a maximum of 7 µrad/day on 12 February. The rate of deflation decreased gradually thereafter; on 17 February it stopped and on 21 February inflation started again. The total deflation of 40 µrad is somewhat larger than the December deflation but still only about 1/6 of the last major deflation-rifting event in May 1979 (4:5).

"The active zone extended 7 km S from the rim of the caldera. The same part of the fault swarm was activated during two deflation/rifting events in 1977. This time, the earthquakes were significantly deeper in the crust than in the earlier events in that area. No earthquakes reached magnitude 3 but many were felt and heard in villages near Mývatn (~10 km SW of Krafla). Movements of faults over the seismically active area were very minor and the geodimeter lines near the S end of the active zone showed no significant movement."

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.