Another Iceland Volcano Nearing Eruption?

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It’s happening again. Because YourWeatherBlog has followed the rumblings and eruptions of significant volcanoes in the past and, specifically, Icelandic volcanoes, we wanted to post about the most recent activity.

This time, it’s the stratovolcano volcano Bárðarbunga on Iceland that resides in the same neighborhood as the Eyjafjallajökull volcano which shut down trans-Atlantic air travel and much of western European airspace nearly a year ago. Though Bárðarbunga is an infrequent erupter, its frequent earthquakes keep geologists (and residents) alert to any possibility.

Image: Wikipedia

Geologists on Iceland are warning of the increased risk of a fresh volcanic eruption after measuring an increased swarm of earthquakes around the island’s second largest volcano. Experts are warning that the sustained earthquakes are the strongest recorded in recent times. Oddly, detailed information is not available due to the lack of seismic sensor devices. Further complicating the problem, most of the area lies under layers of glacial ice.

Though the last major eruption of Bárðarbunga is thought to have occurred in 1477, a more recent eruption occurred in 1910. The volcano happens to be the source of the largest lava flow on Earth within the past 10,000 years. As if that wasn’t enough, it’s the second largest mountain on Iceland and sits directly above the mantle plume of molten rock. In terms of size and potential, this volcano dwarfs Eyjafjallajökull.

YourWeatherBlog has written about Eyjafjallajökull previously and you can read a few of those posts here and here. We’ve also posted on other Icelandic volcanoes; you can read about Katla here and Grímsvötn here.

Seismic activity in May of 2010 was thought to be the lead-up to a Bárðarbunga eruption, but none occurred.

Note: You’ll notice there are no photos of this volcano within this posting. Why? This peak — again, the second tallest in Iceland — lies under the Vatnajökull Glacier — not much to photograph.

Update, 2/11:
It seems the media got a bit carried away with some of the comments made by the Icelandic scientist Pall Einarsson. In fact, it was a translation issue. He said in the interview that he could hardly believe how much information had been jumbled in its translation. RUV, the Icelandic broadcaster, interviewed Einarsson in his native Icelandic to clear the air about the controversy. When asked about his predictions for the volcanic eruption, Einarsson vehemently denied that he had ever predicted any such thing. He said to RUV during the interview, “It is really strange how this news came into existence. I wasn’t even warning of a likely eruption at Bárdarbunga. The things I emphasized in my interview with RUV’s Bjorn Malmqvist were that the earthquakes at Bárdarbunga and Kistufell last week are not unusual, there are often movements there, and sometimes much bigger than this. In the long-term, we can see an increase in earthquake intensity at Bárdarbunga. But it is still a lot less than between 1974 and 1996. And finally that Bárdarbunga is an active volcano and could of course prove dangerous, which is why there is always reason to monitor it closely; which is why we do,” Einarsson clarified.

The Vatnajökull Glacier lies atop the Bárðarbunga volcano. The glacier is indicated as white in the lower right corner of this image. Image: Wikipedia

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