A Volcano In Iceland Is About To Blow (Maybe)

A series of earthquakes beneath a volcano in Iceland is threatening to disrupt air travel over the region, much like the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull in 2010, Daily Mail is reporting.

Mercifully, the name of this volcano is much easier to pronounce: Bardarbunga.

Thousands of small but strong earthquakes beneath the volcano have been recorded, escalating fears of an eruption. If that happens, the results could be catastrophic for air travel over Europe; in 2010, the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull caused nearly 100,000 flight cancellations, costing the airline industry that operates in the area nearly two billion dollars (see this Inquisitr article). The flights were cancelled because volcanic ash floating in the atmosphere can cause mechanical problems in aircraft, according to Huffington Post.

According to MSN, Iceland’s Meteorological Office raised its volcano alert to orange – its second-highest alert level – following the rumblings underneath Bardarbunga.

“Presently there are no signs of eruption, but it cannot be excluded that the current activity will result in an explosive subglacial eruption, leading to an outburst flood and ash emission.”

In other words, if this volcano blows, expect another giant ash cloud hovering over Europe for a few days, cancelling more flights in the middle of summer travel season. To make matters worse, the weather system currently over northern Europe would mean that ash from the volcano would be falling on England 12 to 16 hours following an eruption, according to Daily Mail.

According to Volcano Discovery, Bardarbunga is what’s known as a stratovolcano, meaning it’s layered and cone-shaped, like Japan’s Mt. Fuji. It’s erupted several times in recorded history, the last major eruption taking place in the late 1400’s. Its most recent eruption was a minor one in 1903. Interestingly, in 2010 there was a similar series of earthquakes underneath the volcano.

It’s located under the Vatnajokull Glacier. Having a glacier on top means this volcano could erupt in two ways. An explosion outside the glacier could cause any damage to be contained within the area around the volcano – which is sparsely populated. An eruption inside the glacier would spell trouble.

If you would like to see a volcano (maybe) erupt in real time, and don’t mind looking at the same thing for hours at a time, there is a webcam pointed at the volcano here.

Image courtesy of: Smithsonian