The eruption continues at Iceland’s Bardarbunga volcano amid fears that lava from a new fissure could flow into a two-mile-long depression, causing widespread flooding and generating the event’s first ash clouds.
As CBS News relates, the depression is called a rift valley and extends a half mile in front of the glacier covering Bardarbunga. Fully one and a half miles of the valley are underneath the ice sheet, according to Iceland’s Met office. Scientists fear that magma could enter the volcanic formation, reaching the glacier and triggering a devastating reaction.
So far, lava has only emerged in areas not covered by the glacier, preventing the formation of an ash cloud. The surface eruption, which began August 28, has occurred in Iceland’s Holuhraun lava field, situated between the Bardarbunga and Askja volcanoes.
— Telegraph Travel (@TelegraphTravel) September 4, 2014
Einar Heidarsson, a spokesman for Iceland’s Civil Protection Department, related that it was possible that lava could trigger an ash cloud.
“It hasn’t reached the glacier yet and hopefully it won’t, but it’s not unlikely that it will.”
As RTE News points out, the new fissure, which formed on Friday, is 4 km from the glacier. Scientists are examining it from the air, although Iceland’s aviation alert remains at orange. As The Inquisitr previously reported, Icelandic authorities raised it to red last week when it was believed a sub-glacial volcanic eruption had occurred, before dropping it once again.
— NBC News Pictures (@NBCNewsPictures) August 29, 2014
Basalt lava now covers 2.8 square miles, and is emerging at a flow rate of 3,530 cubic feet per second, according to Iceland’s Met Office. Scientists are also watching the area for any signs of new volcanic activity after GPS measurements determined that more magma is entering the lava field than is being expelled during the eruption. On Wednesday, September 3, a new flurry of earthquakes around the volcanoes forced scientists to seek shelter, rather than be caught in a possible new eruption.
Iceland volcano alert downgraded from red to orange after minor eruption pic.twitter.com/DAGZbK2zLv
— ITV News (@itvnews) August 29, 2014
While the 2010 eruption of another Icelandic volcano snarled European air traffic for six days, the Bardarbunga event has already proven to be a tourism boon for the country. Sightseeing flights are booked for days in advance. As the Daily Mail reports, an Icelandair pilot has received nothing but praise for diverting his plane so passengers could enjoy a spectacular view of Iceland’s Bardarbunga volcano.
[Image via CNN Travel]