Upcoming Eruption in Iceland’s Vatnajökull?

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Upcoming Eruption in Iceland’s Vatnajökull?

By Zoë Robert
The Eyjafjallajökull eruption in 2010

The Eyjafjallajökull eruption in 2010. Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

A level of uncertainty has been declared in Bárðarbunga volcano, located in the northwestern Vatnajökull glacier, Southeast Iceland, due to an increase in seismic activity in the volcano. The largest earthquake of the swarm, 3.8 in magnitude, occurred near Kistufell last night. It could be felt as far as Akureyri in  Northeast Iceland, visir.is reports. The seismic activity continues.

As a precautionary measure, a Code Yellow has been declared in Bárðarbunga. Color codes, which are in accordance with recommended International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) procedures, are intended to inform the aviation sector about a volcano’s status. 

Due to the possibility of a flood in the area, the police in Húsavík have decided to close the Gæsavatnaleið road and other highland roads east of Skjálfandafljót to Askja, as well as part of the road to Herðubreiðarlindir.

Near continuous earthquakes have been occurring in the volcano since early Saturday morning, as stated on the website of the Iceland Met Office. More than 1,000 earthquakes were recorded in Vatnajökull over the weekend, the majority of which were between 1.0 and 2.0 in magnitude. Several earthquakes measured over 3.0 in magnitude, ruv.is reports. 

There is no indication that magma has yet reached the surface.

The statement continues:

“Over the last seven years seismic activity has been gradually increasing in Bárðarbunga and the fissure swarm north of the volcano. This activity dropped down at the Grímsvötn eruption in May 2011, but soon after, the activity started to gradually increase again and has now reached similar level of activity to that just before the Grímsvötn eruption. Earlier this year, in the middle of May 2014, there was a small swarm of over 200 events and now the present swarm has already generated at least 300 earthquakes.

“Since early June 2014, displacements at GPS stations around Vatnajökull (Hamarinn, Grímsfjall, Vonarskarð and Dyngjuháls) show an increased upward movement and away from Bárðarbunga. Together, these two systems indicate magma movements in Bárðarbunga. Due to increased seismicity IMO has decided to turn volcano Bárðarbunga status to yellow. In case of a sub-aerial eruption, an ash plume of potential concerns for aviation will be generated.”

The updated map is available at the link: http://en.vedur.is/weather/aviation/volcanic-hazards/

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