Glacial ‘Cauldrons’ Near Icelandic Volcano Point To Eruption

Iceland’s Meteorological Office is reporting the discovery of a series of “cauldrons” along the Vatna glacier, south of the Bardarbunga volcano, which may point toward a subglacial eruption that has either transpired or is in its early stages.

According to Forbes, the meltwater depressions are 30 to 50 feet deep and form a line several miles in length. The holes, also called sigkatlar, are caused by the volcanic melting of the ice sheet, which is between 400-600 meters thick. Formed to the south of the Bardarbunga volcano, the cauldrons were spotted by a coast guard airplane which flew over Vatnajökull today. According to Víðir Reyn­is­son, Iceland’s department head of public protection, the formations were “not there on Saturday at the very least.”

As The Daily KOS reports, Reyn­is­son is attending a meeting between the scientific committee of the public protection services, the Met Office, and the Earth Sciences center of the University of Iceland. The public protection department released a statement in which they said that they could not confirm that an eruption has begun at the Bardarbunga volcano. As The Inquisitr noted previously, Iceland’s Met Office claimed that a subglacial eruption had begun over the weekend, before retracting their statement.

While the volcano has been rocked by intense seismic activity over the course of the last two weeks, prompting fears of an eruption, Iceland’s Met Office reports that about 1,300 earthquakes or tremors were recorded on Wednesday alone. A 4.5 magnitude quake struck near the Askja volcanic system, amid concerns that magma from Bardarbunga could feed into the nearby volcano. Askja is situated to the north of the Bardarbunga volcano.

According to BBC News, 50 million cubic meters of molten magma from Bardarbunga moved in a 24-hour period toward the Askja volcano. “We know there is a lot of molten rock sitting under the ground beneath Askja, which is a major volcanic system,” related Prof Bob White, from the University of Cambridge. “If this molten rock hits that, we know it is likely to trigger it to erupt.”

No water runoff has been observed from the glacier, yet researchers contend that any produced may have drained into subglacial lakes formed by another volcano. According to Reyn­is­son, a plane will be in the air to make another observation at first light. In the meantime, data is currently being re-analyzed by Iceland’s Met Office to determine if they overlooked a seismic event near the volcano.

[Image via The Daily KOS]