The biggest volcano in Iceland is set to erupt extremely soon
Bardarbunga is a 6,590 foot tall volcano in Iceland, and it last erupted for seven entire months, from August 2014 until February 2015. The entire time, sulphur dioxide blew out of the volcano in plumes, and ever since then it has built up pressure until its next explosion. This next explosion is expected to happen any time between now and the next two years. Yeah, it's not exactly a perfect science. But experts are predicting that the explosion will come sooner rather than later, since in the past week, four massive earthquakes have rocked the volcano, accelerating its eruption cycles.
Páll Einarsson, geophysicist from the University of Iceland, has said that the earthquakes were caused by the magma pressing against rocks in the chamber of the volcano. He said:
"The reason for the earthquakes in this place is that the volcano Bárðarbunga is inflating, i.e. the pressure of magma in the magma chamber is increasing. It has been doing this since the last eruption ended, in February 2015.
"The volcano is clearly preparing for its next eruption; that may happen in the next few years...The earthquakes last week are just the symptoms of this process - they do not cause the volcano to erupt."
Basically, the magma causes the earthquakes, not the other way around.
Seven years ago, another massive volcano called Eyjafjallajökull erupted, casting a tremendous cloud of ash over the skies of Europe, like an asteroid striking at the end of the Cretaceous period. The ash cloud grounded flights and stalled European travel, as it is unsafe to fly through dark volcanic clouds.
More than 10 million airline passengers got stuck, and the overall loss to the British economy was estimated at around 5.3 billion U.S. dollars. Iceland has over 130 active volcanos, and three others are also due for eruptions sometime soon. The last multi-month eruption of Bardarbunga was a record-breaker, and only two years later, it's now looking to go again.
The Icelandic Met Office has designated the volcano's magma levels as "high". Dr. Simon Day has offered a worst-case scenario, saying that the earthquakes and magma pressure could "precede a large explosive eruption and consequent widespread ash fall". However, don't go cancelling your flights just yet.
Day, who works at University College London, has said that such a massive fallout would be "statistically unlikely". Although, it is true that statistical improbabilities have had a weird track record of coming true in the past year and a half. Still, with 130 active volcanos in Iceland, many of these eruptions are not continent-busters. Some volcanos are relatively peaceful.
What do you think of this? Would you be excited to see a volcanic eruption? The ash clouds do look beautiful, or at least, the pluming clouds from the volcanic eruption have a certain sense of grandeur to them.
Iceland looks so beautiful that it would probably be worth visiting even if all 130 volcanos were erupting at once. Okay, well, maybe not then, but I wouldn't cancel my flight unless magma was streaming into the ocean by the millions of gallons.