Video camera and seismic monitoring of water bulge explosion at Strokkur Geyser, Iceland

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Eva P. S. Eibl
Sandeep Karmacharya
Alina V. Shevchenko
Thomas R. Walter
Gylfi Páll Hersir


Eruptions of volcanoes and geysers share many fundamental similarities: for example, they are manifestations of Earth’s geothermal energy, involving the pressure-driven expulsion of fluids from the Earth’s interior. However, while volcanoes can produce spectacular lava bubbles that burst, water bubbles are rarely observed on the surface of geysers. It is still unclear why some of these low-viscosity geyser systems produce none, while others produce them regularly. There is no quantification of the size, speed, and height of these bubbles at geysers, which is the gap we fill here. Strokkur creates a water bulge in its surface pool (bulge stage). When the bulge bursts, water is ejected into the air (jet stage). The steam then continues to rise buoyantly and drift away (drift stage). Here we study the evolution of the three stages using records from video camera campaigns and a local seismic network. We find that larger bulges are associated with larger ascent velocities and cause larger jet heights. As energy is channeled into a high jet, small seismic ground motions are recorded. The bulge formation itself is barely visible seismically. Our work suggests that the 0.74±0.27 s-long bulge stage can be used as a first-order proxy for predicting eruption height. This study might also be relevant for understanding fluid dynamics in volcanic systems.


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Eibl, E. P. S., Karmacharya, S., Shevchenko, A. V., Walter, T. R. and Hersir, G. P. (2024) “Video camera and seismic monitoring of water bulge explosion at Strokkur Geyser, Iceland”, Volcanica, 7(1), pp. 229–245. doi: 10.30909/vol.07.01.229245.
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Received 2023-07-10
Accepted 2024-04-05
Published 2024-05-08
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