The unusual activity that was picked up by sensors in the volcano Hekla in south Iceland during and before last weekend has now mostly subsided. Even so, travelers are warned about hiking on the volcano.
Hekla seen from air. Photo by Dagbjört Oddný Matthíasdóttir.
Gunnar B. Gudmundsson, a geophysicist at the Icelandic Meteorological Office, told Fréttabladid that the movements registered were between ten and 20 millimeters, which isn’t considered to be of any significance.
“However, there is some activity in the volcano’s depths. One can say it is ready to erupt, but whether it erupts tomorrow or in 20 years, we don’t know,” he explained.
Hekla has erupted in ten-year intervals in the past decades and the last eruption was in 2000. Gudmundsson said that earthquakes usually indicate an imminent eruption one or two hours before it begins, and in such a case the seismic activity would be much stronger than what was measured last weekend.
However, according to Morgunbladid, the pressure level of the magma measured in Hekla strongly indicates that it has exceeded the pressure measured before the last eruption in 2000.
Because scientists only knew about the last eruption one hour before it began, people are asked to be careful about traveling on the volcano or in Hekla’s immediate vicinity.
“We advise people against hiking up Hekla for the time being,” Valgerdur Brynjólfsdóttir, who runs the Hekla Center at Leirubakki, told Fréttabladid. “That said, it’s only been two or three days since people hiked there last.”
Brynjólfsdóttir added that it is also uncertain which of Hekla’s craters would erupt; the volcano has many craters.
A declaration by the Civil Protection Department says that Hekla and the surrounding area are popular for outdoor recreation; the view from the volcano’s peak is magnificent in clear weather, visir.is reports.
Those who plan to hike up the volcano are advised to notify their friends and ask them to monitor the news. If there are indications of an imminent eruption, they can alert the hikers, the Civil Protection Department advises.
The Civil Protection Department stresses that although there are no current indications of an imminent eruption, the volcano is ready to erupt. Its eruptions usually start without much warning and therefore there is full reason for travelers to be careful.
Click here to read more about the recent activity in Hekla.