Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Seismic activity related to the 2000 eruption of the Hekla volcano, Iceland

  • 319 Accesses

  • 27 Citations


The 2000 Hekla eruption took place from February 26 to March 8. Its seismic expressions were a swarm of numerous small earthquakes related to its onset, and low-frequency volcanic tremor that continued throughout the eruption. A swarm of small earthquakes was observed some 80 min before the onset of the eruption, and the size of the events increased with time. Low-frequency volcanic tremor, with a characteristic frequency band of 0.5–1.5 Hz and dominant spectral peak(s) at 0.7–0.9 Hz, became visible at 18:19 GMT on February 26, marking the onset of the eruption. The tremor amplitude rose quickly and was very high in the beginning of the eruption. However, it soon began to decrease after about an hour. In general, the seismic activity related to the 2000 Hekla eruption was very similar to what was observed in the previous eruption in 1991. Based on knowledge gained from seismicity and strain observations from 1991, this was the first time that a Hekla eruption was predicted.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig. 10
Fig. 11
Fig. 12
Fig. 13
Fig. 14


  1. Ágústsson K, Linde AT, Stefánsson R, Sacks IS (2000a) Borehole strain observations for the February 2000 eruption of Hekla, south Iceland (Abstract). AGU 2000 Spring Meeting, p 442

  2. Ágústsson K, Stefánsson R, Linde AT, Einarsson P, Sacks IS, Guðmundsson GB, Þorbjarnardóttir B (2000b) Successful prediction and warning of the 2000 eruption of Hekla based on seismicity and strain changes (Abstract). AGU 2000 Fall meeting, p 1337

  3. Aki K, Fehler M, Das S (1977) Source mechanism of volcanic tremor: fluid-driven crack models and their application to the 1963 Kilauea eruption. J Volcanol Geotherm Res 2:259–287

  4. Benoit JP, McNutt SR (1997) New constraints on source processes of volcanic tremor at Arenal volcano, Costa Rica, using broadband seismic data. Geophys Res Lett 24:449–452

  5. Böðvarsson R, Rögnvaldsson STh, Slunga R, Kjartansson E (1999) The SIL data acquisition system—at present and beyond year 2000. Phys Earth Planet Int 113:89–101

  6. Chouet B (1992) A seismic model for the source of long-period events and harmonic tremor. In: Gasparini P, Scarpa R, Aki K (eds) Volcanic seismology. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York, pp 133–156

  7. Chouet BA (1996) Long-period volcano seismicity: its source and use in eruption forecasting. Nature 380:309–316

  8. Einarsson P (1991) Earthquakes and present-day tectonism in Iceland. Tectonophysics 189:261–279

  9. Einarsson P (2000) The seismograph station on Litla-Hekla and the 2000 eruption (abstract, In Icelandic). Geosci Soc Iceland Spring Meeting 2000, p 41

  10. Einarsson P, Björnsson S (1976) Seismic activity associated with the 1970 eruption of volcano Hekla in Iceland. Jökull 26:8–19

  11. Einarsson P, Sæmundsson K (1987) Earthquake epicenters 1982—1985 and volcanic systems in Iceland. In: Sigfússon ÞI (ed) Í hlutarins eðli, Festschrift for Þorbjörn Sigurgeirsson. Menningarsjóur, Reykjavík (map)

  12. Ferrick MG, Qamar A, St. Lawrence WF (1982) Source mechanism of volcanic tremor. J Geophys Res 87:8675–8683

  13. Grönvold K, Larsen G, Einarsson P, Þórarinsson S, Sæmundsson K (1983) The Hekla eruption 1980–1981. Bull Volcanol 46:349–363

  14. Guðmundsson Á, Óskarsson N, Grönvold K, Sæmundsson K, Sigurðsson O, Stefánsson R, Gíslason SR, Einarsson P, Brandsdóttir B, Larsen G, Jóhannesson H, Þórðarson Þ (1992) The 1991 eruption of Hekla, Iceland. Bull Volcanol 54:238–246

  15. Höskuldsson Á, Óskarsson N, Vogfjörð K, Grönvold K, Pedersen R (in prep) The millennium eruption of Hekla in February 2000

  16. Jakobsson SP (1979) Petrology of recent basalts of the Eastern Volcanic Zone, Iceland. Acta Naturalia Islandica 26:1–103

  17. Johnson JB, Lees JM (2000) Plugs and chugs—seismic and acoustic observations of degassing explosions at Karymsky, Russia and Sangay, Ecuador. J Volcanol Geotherm Res 101:67–82

  18. Klein FW (1978) Hypocenter location program HYPOINVERSE. US Geol Surv Open-file Rep 78–694, 113 pp

  19. Konstantinou KI, Schlindwein V (2002) Nature, wavefield properties and source mechanism of volcanic tremor: a review. J Volcanol Geotherm Res 119:161–187

  20. Kumagai H, Chouet B (1999) The complex frequencies of long-period seismic events as probes of fluid composition beneath volcanoes. Geophys J Int 138:F7–F12

  21. Lacasse C, Karlsdóttir S, Larsen G, Soosalu H, Rose WI, Ernst GGJ (2004) Weather radar observations of the Hekla 2000 eruption cloud, Iceland. Bull Volcanol 66:457–473

  22. Linde AT, Ágústsson K, Sacks IS, Stefánsson R (1993) Mechanism of the 1991 eruption of Hekla from continuous borehole strain monitoring. Nature 365:737–740

  23. Ólafsdóttir R, Höskuldsson Á, Grönvold K (2002) The evolution of the lava flow from Hekla eruption 2000. The 25th Nordic Geological Winter Meeting, Reykjavík, 6–9 Jan 2002, p. 149

  24. Seidl D, Schick R, Riuscetti M (1981) Volcanic tremors at Etna: a model for hydraulic origin. Bull Volcanol 44:43–56

  25. Soosalu H, Einarsson P (1997) Seismicity around the Hekla and Torfajökull volcanoes, Iceland, during a volcanically quiet period, 1991–1995. Bull Volcanol 59:36–48

  26. Soosalu H, Einarsson P (2002) Earthquake activity related to the 1991 eruption of the Hekla volcano, Iceland. Bull Volcanol 63:536–544

  27. Soosalu H, Einarsson P (2004) Seismic constraints on magma chambers at Hekla and Torfajökull volcanoes, Iceland. Bull Volcanol 66:276–286

  28. Soosalu H, Einarsson P (submitted) Seismic character of the Hekla volcano, Iceland. Submitted to Jökull

  29. Soosalu H, Einarsson P, Jakobsdóttir S (2003) Volcanic tremor related to the 1991 eruption of Hekla volcano, Iceland. Bull Volcanol 65:562–577

  30. Stefánsson R, Sacks IS, Linde AT (1981) The Hekla eruption of 1980 – the mechanism of a ridge volcano. Carnegie Inst Yearb 80:511–514

  31. Stefánsson R, Ágústsson K, Guðmundsson GB, Þorbjarnardóttir BS, Einarsson P (2000) A successful prediction and warning of an eruption in the Hekla volcano, Iceland (Abstract). AGU 2000 Spring Meeting, p 442

  32. Þórarinsson S, Sigvaldason GE (1972) The Hekla eruption of 1970. Bull Volcanol 36:269–288

  33. Þorbjarnardóttir BS, Bjarnason IÞ, Einarsson P (1997) Seismic tremor in the Vatnajökull Region in 1995–1996. Science Institute, University of Iceland, Report RH-03-97, 37 pp

  34. Wessel P, Smith WHF (1998) New, improved version of Generic Mapping Tools released. Eos 79:579

Download references


The Icelandic Meteorological Office provided the digital SIL data. The National Power Company of Iceland funds the analogue seismograph network. All the figures were made using the GMT public domain software (Wessel and Smith 1998). Constructive criticism of Jeff Johnson, Stephen McNutt and the editor John Stix improved the manuscript.

Author information

Correspondence to Páll Einarsson.

Additional information

Editorial responsibility: J Stix

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Soosalu, H., Einarsson, P. & Þorbjarnardóttir, B.S. Seismic activity related to the 2000 eruption of the Hekla volcano, Iceland. Bull Volcanol 68, 21–36 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00445-005-0417-7

Download citation


  • Hekla eruption 2000
  • Earthquakes
  • Volcanic tremor
  • Low-frequency earthquakes