Newly released information from the Icelandic Met Office states that yet another of Iceland’s sub-glacial volcanoes, Grimsvotn, has quickly increased the magnitude of its geothermal heat flow. This new volcanic activity substantiates that the Okjokull “Funeral” Glacier should not have been laid to rest due to climate change.
This is acting to melt the thick layer of overlying glacial ice (see here and see here). This increased heat flow is one of many geological reasons why volcanologists stated that the Grimsvotn volcano may erupt soon.
Rather, it should be recognized for what it is, melting of a glacier is the result of another high geothermally active Icelandic volcano.
The Grimsvotn and Okjokull “Funeral” Glaciers have several things in common.
- Located within long linear swaths of extremely high geothermal heat flow.
- Have melted the ice directly above them.
- Are positioned within the 10,000 long Mid-Atlantic Ocean Rift. One of the largest faults on Earth extends into deep molten hot-lava pockets thereby allowing them to frequently pulse hot molten lava upward thereby fueling Iceland’s volcanoes and geothermal hotspots.
This new volcanic activity substantiates that the Okjokull “Funeral” Glacier should not have been laid to rest due to climate change. Rather, the cause of the melting should have been attributed to increased geothermal heat flow.
In an astonishing turn of events, NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) just cosponsored a Climate Change Funeral for an Icelandic glacier positioned atop the Okjokull volcano. This melting is the result of high bedrock geothermal heat flow, not climate change.
Evidence supporting this contention is as follows.
Iceland is one of the most geologically active islands on Earth because it lies along with one of the major fault breaks in Earth’s outer crust, the giant 10,000 miles long Mid-Atlantic Ocean Rift System.
The rift is acting to pull Iceland apart and, in the process, generates a series of deep Earth reaching parallel and tightly spaced south to north faults. These faults provide open pathways for deep inner-earth molten lava to move upward along the open faults and eventually be expulsed onto Iceland.
This pulls apart and lava expulsion process generated Iceland and still to this day is tearing this island at an unbelievable rate of 1 inch per year. As one might expect this dynamic geological system keeps all of Iceland’s rock layers anomalously warm.
In technical geological terms, the Mid-Atlantic Rift is a divergent plate boundary.
Heat transfer and emissions of super-heated fluid from the ocean floor extensions of Iceland’s segment of the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Rift contributed significantly to the May 2010 “Gulf Stream Shutdown.”
This event is a powerful, regional example of the massive, geologically generated heat that is constantly pulsing from Iceland and its segment of the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Rift System.
Next is the story of Iceland’s non-erupting Katla Volcano (see here). A volcano that was deemed slightly active by virtue of recent movement of its deep magma sourcing chamber (molten lava sourcing pool), and supposedly minor emissions of chemically charged steam.
A research study by the University of Leeds involved studying the dynamics and monitoring of Katla’s emissions.
These researchers were shocked to discover that Katla was emitting massive amounts of CO2 into the Earth’s atmosphere as per the following quote: “…Katla is emitting enormous quantities of CO2. The volcano releases at least 20 kilotons of C02 every day. Only two volcanoes worldwide are known to emit more CO2.”
This discovery has major implications and draws attention to how volcanologists currently calculate the amount and percentage of CO2 volcanic features emit into the Earth’s atmosphere.
- Katla is a non-erupting volcano. Most volcanologists had considered emissions from non-erupting volcanoes of only minor consequences relative to the total amount and percentage of CO2 in our atmosphere. This notion must now be reevaluated to include the likely significant amounts of CO2 being emitted from the Earth’s non-erupting volcanoes.
- Very few if any non-erupting volcanoes are emission monitored. So, the above quote by the University of Leeds that only two volcanoes emit Katla like amounts of CO2 is not backed by enough data to be considered correct.
- Defining the isotopic fingerprint of volcanic CO2 or fossil fuel CO2 is a difficult task (see here and here). As a result, there is no 100% reliable way to distinguish between these two sources of atmospheric CO2. This is an extremely important point relative to the contention, as per the climate change theory, that human CO2 generation is 100% proven to dominate recent increases in the total percent of atmospheric CO2 concentration. It is here contended as per evidence from several sources that the isotopic fingerprint of volcanic CO2 and CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels are identical (see here and the following quote from this reference). “Both tectonic and volcanic CO2 are magmatic and depleted in both 13C & 14C. In the absence of statistically significant isotope determinations for each volcanic province contributing to the atmosphere, this makes CO2 contributions of volcanic origin isotopically indistinguishable from those of fossil fuel consumption. It is therefore unsurprising to find that Segalstad (1998) points out that 96% of atmospheric CO2 is isotopically indistinguishable from volcanic degassing.”
- The current loosely estimated rate of worldwide volcanic CO2 emissions comes from a 1991 USGS study by Geologist Terrance Gerlach (see here) and the appendix). His study examined the CO2 emission rate of just seven of the Earth’s 1,500 terrestrial volcanoes and three of the estimated 1,000,000 ocean floor hydrothermal vents. Emissions from these few geological features were monitored for a noticeably short time which is insufficient when knowing volcanic emissions vary greatly through time. Choosing is arbitrary time and a short time is not enough to properly estimate average volcanic emission rates. Gerlach did not examine any of the estimated 500,000 seafloor volcanoes.
- The classification of volcanoes as extinct/dormant/active/erupting is not as absolute as you might think. For instance, an “extinct” volcano in Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula (western border of the Bering Sea) recently erupted catching volcanologists by surprise (see here).
- Very few of Earth’s estimated 1,500 land volcanoes or 500,000 ocean-floor volcanoes are monitored for changes in earthquake activity which is a direct indicator that the sourcing deep-earth magma chamber is moving and becoming more active.
A non-technical characterization of Iceland’s regional geological setting and its associated heat flow is that “one-third of all material that comes from volcanic activities on Earth are generated in Icelandic eruptions. Although Iceland is a small country and the volcanic activity zone is even smaller, 33% of all of Earth’s lava flows through Icelandic volcanic systems.” (see here and here).
Focusing more locally on the island of Iceland geological research studies and large amounts of heat flow data prove that this island is one of the most active “geothermal hotspots” on Earth.
It is home to 39 individual currently active geothermal areas (Figure 2) each containing various numbers of hot springs, geysers, or hot water flowing faults.
These geothermal areas are all located within the currently active portion of the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Rift System. Research has proven that the Okjokull Volcano area has high geothermal heat flow (Figure 2).
The Okjokull Volcano is part of Iceland’s Western Volcanic Zone or sometimes referred to as the Western Rift Zone. It is one of two large splays of the diverging / pull-a-part Mid-Atlantic Ocean Rift System.
The western and eastern splays of the rift are both home to numerous volcanoes, countless secondary faults, high geothermal heat flow areas, and incredibly young lava flows. These features are proof of a continually active geological setting (Figures 1 & 2).
Researchers who compiled the Figure 3 map described Iceland’s heat flow as follows:
“The heat flow map of Iceland generally indicates high values with rather large variations ranging from less than 40 to over 300 mW/m2 (Fig. 3). The highest values generally border or are located inside the volcanic zones. In Borgarfjörður and Breiðafjörður regions in western Iceland is a prominent area with high heat flow that is probably related to the volcanic flank zone of Snæfellsnes. The lowest heat flow is found in the areas farthest away from the volcanic belts. The average heat flow for all of Iceland, according to the map, is approximately 175 mW/m2.” (see here).
This recent satellite image of Okjokull’s funeral glacier absent glacial ice and the adjacent ice-covered Prestahnúkur Volcano (3.7 miles apart) makes an extraordinarily strong point.
Specifically, that it is near impossible that atmospheric global warming would totally melt glacial ice atop one volcano while the glacial ice mass atop an adjacent volcano remains unaffected. Keep in mind the elevation of these two volcanos is roughly the same.
A recent satellite image allows for a comparison of the Okjokull Volcano and the scant remnants of the overlying Funeral Glacier to the adjacent ice-covered Prestahnúkur Volcano which 3.7 miles apart to the southeast makes an extraordinarily strong point (Figure 4).
The geological reason for this differential heat flow is that the Okjokull Volcano has recently increased its bedrock geothermal heat flow while the adjacent Prestahnúkur volcano has not increased its heat flow.
This almost certainly because the Prestahnúkur volcano is positioned on the opposite side of the rift (Figure 4). This type of differential heat flow is common in rift systems.
When evaluating whether a specific volcano is actively emitting high heat flow volcanologists utilize all available data and observations including the following:
- Active Geothermal hot springs and geysers are present close to the volcano which indicates the local area is volcanically active. The Okjokull Volcano is bounded on the southwest and northwest by active hot geothermal areas (see here and Figure 2). Additionally, the summit area of the Prestahnukur Volcano is geothermally active strongly indicating that the summit crater of the Okjokull Volcano is also geothermally. Likely even more geothermally active because they lie along the same heat sourcing Rift Fault Zone as per Figure 2.
- Sudden occurrence of earthquake swarms in the local area of the volcano. These swarms often indicate that the sourcing hot molten lava chambers beneath the volcano or local area are moving/becoming more active. This is true of the Okjokull Volcano area (see here and here)
- The sudden melting of the glacial ice atop the volcano indicates that the volcano is heating up. Obviously true of the Okjokull Volcano area.
- The volcano is located along a known to be a very active major break in Earth’s crust that has recently experienced very large volcanic eruptions from nearby volcanoes. Obviously true of the Okjokull Volcano area.
- Data based heat flow maps show high heat flow. Obviously true of the Okjokull Volcano area.
In summary, Iceland is one of the most volcanically active locations on Earth. It is positioned above and owes its very existence to emissions of hot molten lava from faults associated with the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Rift.
NASA’s failure to at least mention or include in their analysis the proven widespread and extremely active geologically induced heat flow across all of Iceland is extremely difficult to reconcile with proper scientific methodology.