Iceland issues red alert over volcano eruption beneath glacier

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The Bardarbunga volcano recent seismic activity has caused a small eruption under the Dyngjujökull glacier, leading to Icelandic meteorological office issuing a red alert for aviation.

On Wednesday, an orange alert was issued following signs of “ongoing magma movement”, with authorities fearing an eruption similar to that of 2010, when several European flights were cancelled because of giant ash clouds caused by Eyjafjallajökull volcano’s eruption.

Now the Icelandic Met Office has upgraded the alert to red, warning that the small eruption under the country’s biggest glacier, could result in “significant emission of ash into the atmosphere”. It was previously suggested that an eruption could result in flooding north of the glacier.

The police said, “Scientists at the Icelandic Met Office believe that a small sub-glacial volcanic eruption has now started under the icecap of Dyngjujökull glacier in the Northern part of Vatnajökull glacier.

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    “Because of this the National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police has raised the alert phase to emergency phase.

    “The eruption is considered a minor event at this point. Because of a pressure from the glacier cap it is uncertain whether the eruption will stay sub-glacial or not.”

    While the aerial space above the volcano has been closed, Iceland’s airports remain open as usual, with most of airlines saying they are monitoring the situation and flights proceed as normal.

    UK’s air traffic control organisation NATS said in statement, “We are continuing to monitor this dynamic situation, but as there has still not been any volcanic activity above the surface and the size of the temporary danger area in Iceland has been reduced, we are expecting normal operations today.”

    Photo: David Karnå via Wikimedia Commons

    Further reading:

    Iceland raise volcanic eruption alert to orange

    Supervolcanoes the biggest threat to the UK, Cabinet Office report warns

    Tsunami warning after earthquake kills five people in Chile

    Urbanisation amplifies risk of natural disasters, says report

    Iceland’s next renewable frontier: geothermal energy from magma