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I'm never surprised by the ability of random events to completely derail what I planned to write about. I had a full article written up about all of the major news from the current eruption that accumulated while I was at Airwaves. But then right when it was about 80% done, what comes on the radio but news about this:

Whoa. What. The. Heck. The caldera is suddenly going sharply... up?

Join me below the fold for this, and then the news that I had been writing about!

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We're going to take a little bit of a break from Bárðarbunga and Hraun-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named tonight. Over on your side of the pond, you're all getting ready for the good fight in midterm battles. And in my volcano diaries, I've often gotten remarks along the lines of, "Oh, too bad our political environment isn't like yours."

Are you really sure you want that? If you're looking for a little bit of a break from US politics, join me below the fold for a look at what's been going on over our side of the pond.

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Happy Halloween to you all. Up here, trick-or-treating doesn't generally exist; the holiday is mainly just used as an excuse for teenagers and young adults to throw costume parties.  ;) But nature is certainly trying to help with the ambiance.

In the interest of avoiding treating random field reports as definite fact, when we got a report of increasing gas emissions at the vent, I didn't treat what seemed like increasing number of pollution events to it. When we got the superspike in Höfn the other day, I mentioned the report only in passing. But it just keeps getting harder not to believe that there hasn't actually been an increase in emissions - or at least something, be it weather patterns or whatnot, which is making the pollution problem worse.

It even visibly even looks worse, like it's gearing up for Halloween.

But maybe there's an explanation. Let's pull out the pictures, the news, and the analysis below the fold.

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People have been asking me for a long time for pictures of the caldera. They see the graphs of the great levels of subsidence and often expect to see a giant bowl. But while there've been dozens of meters of subsidence, it's over an area the size of Manhattan - to view the whole thing you have to be so far away that the slope downward is almost imperceptible.

But what's much more perceptible are the smaller sigkatlar, the ice cauldrons which ring the descending plug. And they're concerningly both growing and increasing in number. But first... the aftermath in Höfn.

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Let's recap our SO2-level readings.

600 µg/m³: Highest of the first post-eruption recordings in Iceland; they blew away Iceland's previous SO2 record by 2 1/2 times over. Also the levels which, when I was working on my land painting only caused minor symptoms, but when I switched to heavy fence work with a sledgehammer, developed breathing problems whose symptoms took a few days to go away.
2600 µg/m³: Subsequent record breaker in Reyðarfjörður, described as being like breathing from the tailpipe of work equipment.
4000 µg/m³: Reyðarfjörður's subsequent besting of their previous record.
5800 µg/m³: Mývatn's taking over as the worst-pollution record-holder

So how much did Höfn break the record by? A couple hundred µg/m³? A thousand maybe?

Not exactly. Join us below the fold...

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Busy times. Today I was runninng around from place to place - trying to chase the shadow of my no-show architect, checking on pricing on roof waterproofing, hunting for parts for a 30 year old Swedish welder, etc, all the while looking uncomfortably at the sulfuric blue mist that's back in town. Levels at the meter near my land were only about 100 µg/m³, so even if I had been doing more than surveying, it probably wouldn't have caused serious symptoms; today I only got a minor but persistant headache that I haven't had since the Mist left (connected to the SOx or just random? I have no way to know). Levels are far worse in other parts of the country. But I'm still hoping this Blue isn't going to go back to being a daily event of varying intensities higher than this.

On the other side of the world, however, there's fresh volcanic activities having a more profound, immediate effect on people's daily lives, and there could be more to come.

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Winter has arrived in Reykjavík. The weather is cold and crisp. Snow lies on the ground and winter winds from the last storm are dying down; many drivers got caught unawares and there were a number of fender benders. The northern lights have been shining almost every night.

And the Mist is gone.

It was gone two days ago. It was gone yesterday. And it was gone today. I sincerely hope it stays gone for quite some time. My available daylight to work outside keeps disappearing so it's nice not to have the pollution limiting what I can do. I can't tell you how nice it is to look off into the distance and see little to no blue.

But the eruption is still going. And the pollution is still coming. And it clearly doesn't want us to forget its intensity with how much it's blowing in the east.

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Fri Oct 17, 2014 at 05:41 PM PDT

Bárðarbunga: I Am An Idiot

by Rei

So, yesterday I went out to my land and did some touchups on my crate. Then having another hour or two of light, I decided to do some long-overdue repairs on my windbreak.

Mist - 400-500 µg/m³ at the meter across the fjörd? Meh, I've been painting in the mist for hours when the meter shows a few hundred µg/m³. I get some irritated eyes, a little bit of a sore throat... "I'll deal," I think. So I haul some posts, nails, and my sledgehammer over to the windbreak and start pounding away to re-anchor some posts.

"Strange how easily I'm getting winded," I think to myself, but of course I don't want to credit it to the Mist... I'm always prone to overcompensating against the nocebo effect. But after I fix just a little section, maybe 10-15 minutes of work, it's clear that this isn't just being "winded". I feel like I've just run a marathon with a cold. And stopping doesn't "catch my breath". I reluctantly accept that I have to stop and head back to my car. Where I had a bloody gas mask that I wasn't using. Of course, it was too late for that.

More after the fold.

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Sæl og blessuð. Sorry for the delay! My new hard drive is up and restored, replacing the old one that crashed; I simply missed a bit of Míla recording time.

Black. Those tuning into Míla right now, that's all you'll see; the cloud of Mist and snow is quite effective at shutting out the view. But those who've caught the night glow when it's shown in the past several days have noticed a lack of a lava river in the direction of the camera as we saw many times in the recent past.

That's no illusion; once again, the flow has changed its path. But to where, and where it's going? What's all that shaking going on? And do we get another neat video today?

Join us below the fold  ;)

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(((So, I had a hard drive failure tonight, so rather than write a full volcano diary tonight, I'm resurrecting and updating something I wrote before to save time. Hope it suffices until tomorrow!)))

October, 2014. A massive lava eruption continues on the other side of the island, blanketing the capitol region in a low-level blue mist that just doesn't want to leave. For some people, like my ex mother-in-law who has only 49% lung function, it's seriously impacting her health. But for me, it's just more frequent headaches, sore eyes and the like - not usually enough to keep me from my land.

Stapagljúfur - "Mesa Canyon". 8,35 hectares in Hvalfjörður ("Whale Fjörd"), a patch of plains and mires, grass, moss and berries, steep canyon slopes and cliffs, ravines and brooks, and the river Miðdalsá flowing from the snowmelt from atop Esja and Sandfell. And all this is the site of where I'm working to build an underground eco-friendly tropical steampunk earth home.

A couple people have reminded me that it's been ages since I've written a followup. Well, that it has. Allow me to remedy that. Bárðarbugna junkies, you'll just have to wait for tomorrow for your lava-fix  ;)

Let's dig down below the fold.

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Meet Gosi.


(Credit: Veðurstofa Íslands)

While there have been many reports of dead birds around the eruption site, Gosi ("Jack" - also sounds like the word for "eruption") seems to be taking his new reality in stride. Most nights he comes out of the wilderness to the people working at the eruption site.

Is he a totem? A sign from nature? Does he come bearing some hidden knowledge? Or does it have something to do with the food they keep giving him? We may never know. But this we do know: our readers will get a nice shiny new video of molten rock bursting from the depths of the earth tonight.  :)

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Thu Oct 09, 2014 at 07:13 PM PDT

Bárðarbunga: And Thus The Sky Is Blue.

by Rei

A strange title, but I promise we'll get back to that.

We've been getting bright red sunrises / sunsets from the residual Mist


(Credit: Árni Sæberg)

... though it's mainly blowing to the south now, causing the cancellation of a marathon in Vestmannaeyjar.

But it's the source of the mist that we're going to begin with because we've got some great new imagery. But wait, what's that rumbling?

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