Eruption on the Brain (ESA)


Eygló Svala Arnarsdóttir's picture

Things have been totally chaotic. I’ve been trying to think about something other than the eruption but ever since I woke up this morning, it’s been on my brain.

Eruptions have the nasty habit of starting on weekends or in the middle of the night when we’re usually preoccupied with other stuff than writing news stories—sleeping, for example. Fortunately, not everyone on the IR team goes to bed early.

Last Saturday when a sub-glacial eruption was announced, the whole team was called in from their weekend breaks to cover it.

Excitement running high, story after story was posted online so when scientists retracted their earlier statement in the evening, we felt a little silly.

But now it turns out that the eruption happened for real, melting glacial ice and causing the cauldrons observed near Bárðabunga in Vatnajökull glacier the day before yesterday.

It was a minor event, apparently, as it died down quickly. Yet a substantial amount of ice melted and no one seems to know where all the water went. Will there be a flood somewhere? Isn’t the water bound to burst out from under the glacier at some point?

Then the magma, which caused the sub-glacial eruption, seems to have flowed into the intrusive dike and erupted as the spectacular lava fountains in Holuhraun that could be observed on Míla’s webcam shortly after midnight.

By then I was sound asleep and missed the live broadcast, and now, the only thing visible, is white steam.

So, is this it?

According to scientists, there is much more magma underground than what erupted in Holuhraun. So maybe this was just a teaser for a much bigger event?

No one can predict with any certainty what will happen next and scientists are speculating about several different scenarios.

A continued eruption in Holuhraun is one possibility and a larger sub-glacial eruption cannot be ruled out. I’ve even heard speculation that it might trigger an eruption in Askja volcano as the intrusive dike now stretches into its fissure system.

Maybe—and this is me speculating now—the massive rockslide that caused a tidal wave in Öskjuvatn, the lake inside Askja, last month is even linked to these events somehow.

If anything is certain, it’s that volcanoes are unpredictable. From what I gather, scientists have never experienced a development like this before.

It’s exciting to observe mother nature’s whims, as long they don’t interfere with our lives too much. I’m probably not going to get the eruption off the brain any time soon.

Eygló Svala Arnarsdóttir – eyglo(at)

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