Iceland raised its aviation alert to red earlier today as a sub-glacial eruption began at the Bardarbunga volcano, which has been rattled by thousands of earthquakes over the past week, according to the country’s Meteorological Office.
“The rate of earthquakes has increased such that they are happening so quickly that it is difficult for the seismologist to discern individual events,” Iceland’s Meteorological Office in Reykjavik said in a statement on its website. “The activity continues and an eruption can therefore not be ruled out.”
Meteorological Office vulcanologist Melissa Pfeffer said that seismic data that they have gathered has indicated that lava from the volcano was melting the ice beneath the Vatnajokull glacier, the largest glacier in Iceland. She added that it was not clear when, or even if, the eruption would melt through the 330-1,300 feet of ice and begin releasing steam and ash into the air.
The Icelandic police said it has closed the Jokulsargljufur canyon and started evacuation of tourists in that area and around the Dettifoss waterfall, but added that “The situation at this stage doesn’t call for evacuation of habitants in Kelduhverfi, Oxarfjordur, and Nupasveit. People in those areas are encouraged to watch news closely and have their mobiles switched on at all times.”
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