Photos of the ice cauldrons at Bárðarbunga

A cautious forecast of the development


The following photographs were taken by Morten S. Riishuus in a surveillance flight 21 January 2015. Detailed measurements were made during this flight and preliminary results were presented in the Notes from the Scientific Advisory Board 30 January 2015. Below is an extract:

Cautious conclusions

A forecast based on extrapolating the current developments of the Bárðarbunga subsidence shows that if the caldera keeps subsiding along a similar trajectory then the subsidence will go on for another 5 to 16 months.

The volcanic eruption in Holuhraun could evolve with similar pace and the eruption might last another 4 to 15 months. However, information on the volume of the lava field in Holuhraun is not as accurate as the information on the subsidence of Bárðarbunga.

These assumptions must be viewed with caution. It is entirely possible that the eruption will end sooner than predicted above. It is also possible that the eruption could become stable and go on for years, but with a greatly reduced magma flow rate.

An eruption in Bárðarbunga is still possible, even though the development described above will continue. Even though the volcanic eruption in Holuhraun stops in the coming months it is not certain that the current rifting episode is at an end. It is still possible that an eruption may start on another part of the fissure swarm within the Bárðarbunga volcanic system.


The statements above are based on data on the rate of the subsidence at the centre of the caldera, data on the volume of the subsidence, data on the tectonic movements around Bardarbunga (GPS, InSAR) and data on seismic activity.

The ice cauldrons

Adjacent to the main subsidence of the Bárðarbunga caldera, which is a tectonic event on too large a scale to be visible, there are small ice cauldrons which probably stem from geothermal and/or volcanic activity below.

Photos by Morten S. Riishuus 21 January 2015.

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