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Bárðarbunga Eruption More Likely, Geophysicist Says

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Bárðarbunga Eruption More Likely, Geophysicist Says

Lava at Holuhraun

The new lava at Holuhraun. Photo: Jóhannes Benediktsson.

An earthquake of magnitude 5.4 shook Bárðarbunga at 7:08 am this morning. That’s one of the largest tremors to hit the area since increased seismic activity was first detected in the volcano’s vicinity on August 16.

The seismicity is mostly confined to three areas: Bárðarbunga, where another quake of 4.6 magnitude hit at 3:30 am this morning, the northern end of the instrusive dike (just north of the current eruption) and in Herðubreiðartögl, to the northeast of Askja, the famous volcano.

The Icelandic Met Office says the Holuhraun eruption is stable. However, depressions have been observed in the glacier. Geophysicist Magnús Tumi Guðmundsson told RÚV yesterday that this means that it is more likely that Bárðarbunga will erupt in the near future. The magma collected under the glacier is now considerably more than in the whole Eyjafjallajökull eruption.

An eruption in Bárðarbunga, which lies under the Vatnajökull icecap, might have much worse consequences than the current lava eruption. An ash cloud might close air space and rivers might flood. Still, since the volcano is remote, no towns are in imminent danger, should an eruption begin under the glacier.

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