Authorities in Iceland lowered their warning level for a possible eruption at the Bardarbunga volcano earlier today, while two powerful earthquakes rocked the region.
Iceland lowered the aviation alert from red to orange, its second highest level, on Sunday. Officials said that there was no sign of an imminent eruption at the volcano, one day after magma was thought to be flowing beneath the glacier that covers Bardarbunga. Scientists at Iceland’s Meteorological Office said the announcement Saturday that the volcano was experiencing a subglacial eruption was wrong, according to CBC, though they cautioned that an eruption was still a very real possibility in coming days. Seismic activity in the region surrounding the volcano has not slowed.
Meanwhile, two of the strongest earthquakes yet reported struck the volcano early on Sunday. Iceland’s Met Office recorded the tremors as measuring 5.3 and 5.1 on the Richter scale. As The Inquisitr has noted, thousands of earthquakes have occurred in the region surrounding the volcano over the course of the last week. “700 earthquakes have been observed since midnight and they are somewhat larger than previous days,” the office said in a statement, adding, “These are the strongest events measured since the onset of the seismic crisis at Bardarbunga and the strongest since 1996.”
— Pete Livingstone APS (@live4science) August 24, 2014
While it was announced that an eruption was taking place under the volcano’s covering glacier on Saturday, an Icelandic Coast Guard surveillance flight failed to note any signs of meltwater in the area. Officials had closed the airspace surrounding the volcano on Saturday, but reopened it on Sunday, according to The Wall Street Journal. Authorities said that “The intense low-frequency seismic signal observed yesterday has therefore other explanations,” rather than a subglacial eruption.
Road closures and other emergency restrictions remained in effect around Bardarbunga. The area directly to the north of the volcano was evacuated earlier in the week amid fears that an eruption could cause widespread flooding in the region. While authorities were also concerned over the possibility that the volcano could disrupt European air travel in much the same way that 2010’s eruption at Eyjafjallajokul did, air travel delays are thought to be unlikely.
A volcano in Iceland has started erupting leaving officials on high alert. Find out why: http://t.co/ZEpFPNvkT8 pic.twitter.com/idgOLkn04t
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Iceland’s national police commissioner said in a separate statement that all aviation restrictions had been lifted. Airspace measuring 140 by 100 nautical miles that had been closed on Saturday over the Icelandic volcano has been reopened.
[Image via The Sun]