Eyjafjallajökull (Eyjafjöll) Volcanic System

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The volcanic system of Eyjafjöll (or the Eyjafjallajökull volcano) is situated immediately south of the Tindfjoll complex and borders on the Katla Volcanic System. This system can be compared morphologically to the Hekla central volcano which has been described as a volcanic stratified ridge. The complex is partly covered by an ice cap and reaches a height of 1666 m, under which a 2.5 km wide caldera has developed. The Eyjafjöll stratovolcano was built up during the last two glacial periods and last interglacial period. Like many Icelandic volcanic systems, Eyjafjöll has erupted material with a range of compostions from basaltic to acidic. There appear to have been at least 17 basaltic to intermediate lava flows which date from the Holocene. Four eruption centres are covered by ice at the present time. Only three eruptions have occured Eyjafjöll since the Norse settlement, prior to 2010. The 1821-23 eruption in the main crater (caldera) produced intermediate to acid tephra. About 0.006 km3 of the lavas are basalt, 0.24 km3 are basaltic andesites, and approx. 0.02 km3 is acid (one lava flow). Another eruption is known to have occurred in 1612 or 1613. There is also evidence of an eruption around 920 AD.

On 20 March (23:52) a fissure opened in the Fimmvorduhals pass between Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull. This is only the third historically recorded eruption. On the 14th April activity activity switched to Eyjafjallajökull's main crater just after midnight. This subglacial eruption has resulted in jökulhlaups, which have largerly flowed north out of Gígjökull into the Markarfljót valley. 

Tephra production has been very well documented with prominent wind directions causing tephra to be carried to the south and east repeatedly, leading to the closure of much of European airspace north of the Alps and also transatlantic routes. The tephra was relatively fine grained and detailed measurements of fallout close to source and distal locations have improved our understanding of atmospheric transport and depositional processes.

The final activity report on the 23rd June 2010, describes small scale ash clouds and that the ice is no longer in contact with molten material. Since June 2010, Eyjafjallajökull has been quiet.

  • This information is based on the references listed below and the Catalogue of Icelandic Volcanoes. Use the link above to get more detailed information from this excellent resources.

Eruptions described in Tephrabase

Eyjafjallajökull 2010

Eyjafjallajökull 1821

Eyjafjallajökull 1612/1613

This information is based on the following references

Davies, SM, Larsen, G, Wastegard, S, Turney, CSM, Hall, VA, Coyle, L and Thordarson, T (2010) Widespread dispersal of Icelandic tephra: how does the Eyjafjoll eruption of 2010 compare to past Icelandic events?. Journal of Quaternary Science  25, 605-611.

Gudmundsson, MT, Thordarson, T, Hoskuldsson, A, Larsen, G, Bjornsson, H, Prata, FJ, Oddsson, B, Magnusson, E, Hognadottir, T, Petersen, GN, Hayward, CL, Stevenson, JA and Jonsdottir, I (2012) Ash generation and distribution from the April-May 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull, Iceland. Scientific Reports  2, 572. https://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep00572

Jakobsson, S.P. (1979) Petrology of recent basalts of the Eastern Volcanic Zone, Iceland. Acta Naturalia Islandica  26, 1-103.

Larsen, G., Dugmore, A., J. and Newton, A.J. (1999) Geochemistry of historic silicic tephras in Iceland. The Holocene  9(4), 463-471..

Sigmundsson, F, Hreinsdottir, S, Hooper, A, Arnadottir, T, Pedersen, R, Roberts, MJ, Oskarsson, N, Auriac, A, Decriem, J, Einarsson, P, Geirsson, H, Hensch, M, Ofeigsson, BG, Sturkell, E, Sveinbjornsson, H and Feigl, KL (2010) Intrusion triggering of the 2010 Eyjafjallajokull explosive eruption. Nature  468, 426-U253.

Data Sources

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This Tephrabase search was made on 15/6/2024 at 17:01:48 local time, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.