Iceland On Alert, Several Volcanoes Show Unusual Activity Levels


Iceland is one country laden with dormant and semi-active volcanoes.  Recently the country has been put on high alert after some of the volcanic systems showed some activity.

The volcanic systems which are always under observation by geophysicists have of late been showing some expansion in their crust and 4 of the 30 major volcanic systems of Iceland have been unusually active.

The four most active volcanoes of Iceland are Katla, Hekla, Bárðarbunga and Grímsvötn.

Katla Volcano Shows Activity After Earthquake

Iceland's major volcano Katla, located under Mýrdalsjökull glacier, has shown major activity levels following some earthquakes that took place in the area. The latest earthquake was of 4.3 magnitude.

Geophysicist Páll Einarsson said that the amount of activity that has been noted in Iceland's volcanoes indicates that they are in preparation for another eruption.

Einarsson also stated that Katla is the most active volcano currently than it ever has been in the past 10 years.

 "Katla has been unrestful since this autumn," said Dr. Einarsson.

Katla last erupted in 1918 although history states that the volcano erupts every 60 years to 80 years. If that time period is taken into calculation, then Katla is long overdue for an eruption and it is being guessed that the pressure within the volcano is very high.

To keep an eye on the activity of Katla, Department of Civil Protection and Energy Management has called on scientists and observers to issue a prior warning in case the volcano erupts

Other than Katla, Hekla, Grímsvötn and Bárðarbunga volcanoes are also showing major disturbances beneath the surface.

Hekla Overdue For An Eruption

Hekla, in southern Iceland has a history of erupting every ten years and was last active in the year 2000 making this volcano overdue of an eruption as well. The magma chambers of the volcano were seen to be filled up during the summer of 2016, making it clear that the volcano could erupt anytime.

It is not in the habit of these volcanoes to give a prior warning before erupting and causing destruction.

Bárðarbunga And Grímsvötn Volcanoes Gear Up As Well

Both Bárðarbunga and Grímsvötn volcanoes are located under the glacier Vatnajökull. Following the earthquake, it was seen that the magma chambers of Bárðarbunga volcano was quickly filling up. Lately, two earthquakes measuring 4.3 and 4.0 magnitude hit the glacial area, which stirred up the volcanic activity of both the volcanoes.

Levels Of Danger

Eruptions of Bárðarbunga and Katla volcanoes are most likely to pose serious threat to the people of Iceland. The Katla eruption would lead to the melting of the Mýrdalsjökull glacier, resulting in a glacial flood.

The glacial flood is likely to hit areas where large crowds are found at any given point of time, especially the black sand beaches of Sólheimasandur and the village of Vik in Southern Iceland.

Moreover the eruption from both volcanoes emits massive ash plumes which could disrupt and pose serious threat to air traffic.

Photo: Peter Hartree | Flickr 

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