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Report on Krafla (Iceland) — July 1978


Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 3, no. 7 (July 1978)
Managing Editor: David Squires.

Krafla (Iceland) New deflation 10-13 July; magma intrudes fissures N of the caldera

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1978. Report on Krafla (Iceland) (Squires, D., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 3:7. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN197807-373080



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

"Krafla deflated again 10-13 July. After the deflation event of 6-21 January, the Krafla area inflated again at the previous rate of about 6-7 mm/day. About 10 June, the inflation slowed down and became somewhat irregular, as had happened shortly before most previous deflation events. Earthquake activity remained low. A new deflation event was anticipated in late June or the following weeks.

"On 10 July at about 1400 slow deflation was recorded at the tiltmeters. The deflation rate increased markedly shortly before 1700 and continuous tremor appeared on seismographs a few minutes later. Maximum deflation rate (11 µrad/hour) and tremor amplitude were reached about 2000. Earthquake activity increased and epicenters migrated northward along the Krafla fault swarm. Maximum earthquake activity occurred early 11 July in the uninhabited area 10-30 km N of Krafla caldera. The largest earthquakes reached magnitude 4.0 and only a few earthquakes were felt.

"The deflation rate decreased gradually during the next two days, and by 2000 on 13 July inflation had resumed. Total subsidence at the center of deflation (Krafla caldera) was about 60 cm. This subsidence is caused by movement of magma from the magma reservoir below the Krafla caldera to a fault swarm to the N. The amount of rifting in the fault swarm remains to be measured but movements on faults of the order of 0.5-1.5 m were observed. No new steam fields were formed but a very substantial increase was observed in the emission of a steam field formed in 1976. The increase occurred in the time interval 0300-0600 on 11 July.

"Inflation now continues at a similar rate as before. Based on previous experience, the next deflation event can be expected in late October or the following weeks."

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.