A group of scientists and amateurs in the Icelandic Glaciology Society drove up onto the Vatnajökull glacier and into the Grímsvötn crater which erupted last year. The Grímsvötn volcano is one of the most active volcanoes in the world with recent eruptions in 1996, 1998, 2004 and 2011. What makes it particularly interesting is that it sits below the mighty Vatnajökull glacier, Europe’s largest glacier. Because of the warmth from the volcano, a deep lake sits inside the crater, deep below (hundreds of meters) the surface. However when it erupts, it melts even more water and breaks its way up to the surface. The craters which you see on the pictures are sort of like islands in this deep lake.
Also check out previous pictures from Grímsvötn and the 2011 eruption.
Scientists maneuver between crevasses at the caldera edge.
Icelanders often drive on the glaciers in specially modified vehicles.
Boiling water high up on the glacier
The boiling lake in the caldera. This is the center of where the eruption was in 2011.
Pretty crazy that this crazy place can be visited. There is even a hut on the brim of the volcano. Naturally to make use of the geothermal energy, there is both a hot shower and a sauna :)
I spent my day walking around on top of the Vatnajökull glacier today, so thanks look look for this submission.
[Update] Read an up to date post of the Grímsvötn eruption.
No it’s not the end of the world, it’s just a routine eruption, probably. The volcano, Grímsvötn, under the Vatnajökull glacier in Iceland began erupting today. Little is yet known about the eruption, as the volcano has not yet broken through the ice. Since the area lies deep beneath hundreds of meters of glacial ice it can take hours or days to break through. However the included picture shows the cloud of steam that has found its way through the ice. This cloud of steam has been seen from great distances all around Iceland. The eruption comes as no surprise as I wrote in November that an eruption might be coming soon and in January I posted about the largest earthquake in Grímsvötn since 1934.
The first group of scientists are on their way to fly over the area. Eruptions in this area are very common. Eruptions have occurred there throughout history, 2004, 1998, 1996, 1983, 1954, 1945, 1938, 1934, 1933, 1922 and 1902, just to name the eruptions in the past century. The eruptions vary a lot in size. The one in 1996 caused the most damage. During this eruption a crazy amount of meltwater flooded the Skeiðarársandur area. What happened then is the volcano melted a great deal of ice, creating an enormous lake under the glacier that could not flow away. At a certain moment the pressure was too much and the water broke its way through the glacier causing a massive flood that washed a way kilometers of roads and bridges. Such an event is not likely to reoccur this time, as part of this glacier dam is still weakened by the 1996 flood. So much water is thus unlikely to build up before it starts flowing.
On the map here you can see an up to date map of all the earthquakes in the area. The stars signify quakes over 3 on Richter and the red points, earthquakes in the last 4 hours. Lots of activity, but earthquakes do normally occur there every day.
Hopefully this will be an interesting eruption and a great sight to see. I know I’d be searching for a pilot to take me there if I were at home at the moment. The picture I put in there is from a sightseeing tour to the eruption in 2004. I’ll keep updating as better pictures and information appear. In the meanwhile, check out pictures and info about last year’s Eyjafjallajökull eruption and watch a video I posted of a flyover Grímsvötn last November.