Grímsvötn Begins to Erupt

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Though it seems like it’s been a while since we’ve heard anything about the volcanoes in Iceland, don’t judge a book by its “quiet” cover. Iceland remains a geological hot spot and vulcanologists are still expecting an eruption of likely global climate-changing proportions in the not-too-distant future. While we wait, lesser volcanoes will continue to keep residents and scientists on alert.

Grímsvötn in summer repose. Photo: Wikipedia.

Case in point: the Grímsvötn volcano which possibly erupted yesterday. Located just outside the East Volcano Zone of Iceland, Grímsvötn is not far from volcanoes YourWeatherBlog has already written about:  Katla and, of course, Eyjafjallajökull.

Found within the Vatnajokull glacier, the vent of Grímsvötn lies beneath 650 feet of ice. I say “possibly erupted” because the eruption has, thus far, only been identified by localized flooding resulting from the massive melt of ice. The town of Gigja, in Southeast Iceland, began seeing increased river volume last Thursday and began flooding yesterday; experts estimate the flood may reach its peak in another couple of days. As of this morning, the massive underground tremors indicating an explosive eruption have not occurred.

Grímsvötn is located in southeastern Iceland. Image: Wikipedia.

It’s not surprising that Grímsvötn has erupted. Iceland is one of the most active volcano zones on Earth and Grímsvötn is the most active volcano on Iceland. Prior to, and following the eruptions earlier this year of Katla and Eyjafjallajökull, the region is highly susceptible to eruptions.

Grímsvötn previously erupted in 2004. The week-long eruption disrupted air travel but  not to the scale of the disruption in April due to the Eyjafjallajökull eruption. Another week-long eruption occurred in 1998. Strombolian in nature, ash from Grímsvötn’s eruptions typically remain below 25,000 feet and therefore don’t typically interfere with air traffic on such a scale as ash that exceeds 30,000 feet would.

Iceland Volcano Zones. Image: Wikipedia.

Other eruptions that have occurred over the past week include the Sheveluch volcano on the Kamchatka Peninsula (eruptions began on 10/26, have continued most of the past week and volcanic ash has reached 29,500 feet), as well as the Klyuchevskaya Sopka volcano also on Kamchatka. Mount Merapi in Indonesia Central Java erupted on 10/22. The Anak Krakatau (Krakatoa) volcano of Indonesian Archipelago posted 117 small eruptions on Thursday, 10/29 while another volcano, Dempo, at Pagaralam (province of South Sumatra), is showing signs of increased activity.

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