Bárðarbunga volcano, Iceland

The Holuhraun fissure eruption 29th August 2014

Holuhraun lava flow

The Bárðarbunga volcanic system, in central-eastern Iceland, comprises a central volcano rising to 2009 m a.s.l. and a fissure system. It is in the Eastern Volcanic Zone and is partly covered by the Vatnajökull ice cap.

The central volcano has a large ice-filled caldera which is about 80 km2, with ice thicknesses from 100-200 m at the rim to over 800 m within the caldera. The fissure system is about 190 km long and up to 25 km wide.

Bárðarbunga is considered to be highly active with at least 26 eruptions in the last 11 centuries. The majority of eruptions from Bárðarbunga appear not to have dispersed volcanic ash far from the volcano, however, it has produced very large explosive eruptions in the past that have distributed ash over large areas. Prior to 2014, the most recent eruption was in 1910.

Bárðarbunga-Holuhraun 2014-2015 eruption

On 16th August 2014, seismic activity at Barðarbunga intensified with near continuous earthquakes at 5 to 10 km depth. The earthquakes were the result of magma injecting into the crust forming an intrusion beneath Dyngjujökull, to the northeast of Bárðarbunga.

At around midnight on 28th August, a small fissure eruption started in Holuhraun, north of Dyngjujökull. On 31st August a lava eruption began in Holuhraun on the same fissure. Effusive lava continued to erupt for 6 months resulting in a lava field covering an area of 84.1 km2, extending to the NE of Holuhraun. On 28th February 2015, the Scientific Advisory Board declared the eruption to be over.

For details on the 2014-2015 eruption, including the Scientific Advisory Board reports, please visit the IMO website.


Contact Dr Sue Loughlin for further information