What’s The Deal With The Icelandic Volcano?
In case you missed it last night, the Icelandic volcano named Bardarbunga we’ve been talking about for the last week began erupting (and yes, I’m tired of updating our other post on it, so welcome to a new page).
But don’t freak out! The eruption that began last night included mostly basaltic magma, which does not produce significant amounts of ash and therefore does not affect air travel — if anything, it makes flights less likely to be affected because of reduced underground pressure on Bardarbunga. Though the Icelandic Met Office raised the aviation threat level in the area near the volcano to red — it’s highest level — last night, it’s already back down to orange today.
I’ll let people much more qualified than I explain that. Penn State geosciences professor Dr. Kevin Furlong was once again quite informative on the issue:
“The eruption that occurred last evening is a small eruption. It blew out some stuff and so there’s lava exposed on the surface, but it’s the type of that we get a lot of in Hawaii at Kīlauea,” Furlong said. “That’s the type they have there…they put out lava but not a lot of ash.”
“[The eruption] certainly is not bad news,” Furlong said. “There’s no evidence or expectation that anything is building up to a big crescendo. We never know, things can happen suddenly, but the assumption of Iceland is that this will not erupt in the next 12-24 hours…unless something changes soon, it’s unexpected that there will be any problems at all over the next several days. It’s not like an earthquake that occurs with no warning.”
Here’s more from international tweeters:
A basalt fissure eruption, as #Bardarbunga seems to be, is best case eruption scenario for flights. Lots of lava, not much ash.
— John A Stevenson (@volcan01010) August 29, 2014
.@scottmerilatt Not if its like this fissure eruption that occurred tonight.
— Erik Klemetti (@eruptionsblog) August 29, 2014
The eruption that started at midnight ended at aprox. 04:00 in the night. Though the eruption has ended, the seismic acticity is as before! — Almannavarnir (@almannavarnir) August 29, 2014
The reason this still matters to us, of course, is for travel back to the United States for Penn State and the thousands of fans in Ireland. According to the Icelandic Met Office, three scenarios are now likely:
- The migration of magma could stop, resulting in a gradual reduction in seismic activity and no further eruptions.
- The dike could reach the Earth’s surface north of Dyngjujökull causing another eruption, possibly on a new fissure. Such an eruption could include lava flow and (or) explosive activity.
- The intrusion reaches the surface and an eruption occurs again where either the fissure is partly or entirely beneath Dyngjujökull. This would most likely produce a flood in Jökulsá á Fjöllum and perhaps explosive, ash-producing activity.
There are no indications of seismic activity decreasing, but a major eruption would need to occur soon for Bardarbunga to have any effect on the majority of Penn Staters in Dublin. As always, we’ll keep you updated if anything…explosive…happens.