An evacuation order went into effect yesterday in the area north of Vatnajökull glacier, in light of ongoing earthquake activity around the Bárðarbunga volcano, reports RÚV.
According to Víðir Reynisson, department manager of Iceland’s Civil Protection and Emergency Management, the evacuation has been a success though he could not be sure that some had not been left behind.
“The evacuation has gone well so far,” Víðir told RÚV last night. “We don’t expect the evacuation to be finished until maybe 3 am… This sort of thing just takes time. There are bad roads and such. What will happen next is that the Icelandic Coast Guard will fly a plane over the area tomorrow to check if anyone’s left. We can’t account for hikers and so on, that could be traveling out there, so we are going to search the area with the help of the Coast Guard and hopefully after that we can be quite sure the area is cleared.”
Since midnight last night, a further 250 earthquakes have been reported around Bárðarbunga volcano.
As a precautionary measure in the event of eruption a number of areas north of the volcano are now off limits; cabins by Kverkfjöll and in Dreki by popular tourist attraction Askja, Hvannalindir and parts of Vatnajökull National Park.
Several roads are also closed to the public, these include:
1. Towards F88 from Route 1 by Hrossaborg,
2. Towards F910 Kverkfjallaleið off F905 by Þríhyrningsleið,
3. F910 Gæsavatnaleið off F84 by Tómasarhagar,
4. From Grænavatn in Mývatnssveit towards Dyngjufjallaleið,
5. From Svartárkot in Bárðardalur towards Dyngjufjallaleið, and
6. From Stóratunga towards the route by Skjálfandafljót east
As reported, the earthquake swarm around the volcano, located in the northwestern part of the glacier, has put the world on high alert as Bárðarbunga is one of Iceland’s most dangerous volcanoes.
The activity means that Bárðarbunga volcano has been classified as Code Orange by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) colour system.
Although there is currently no immediate danger and no signs that an eruption has begun, the Icelandic Met Office reports “very strong indications of ongoing magma movement, in connection with dyke intrusion [and that this] is corroborated by GPS measurements”, pointing to a higher likelihood of a volcanic eruption.
In the event of an eruption, a major flood fed by glacial ice is expected north of Vatnajökull and Bárðarbunga.
In the meantime, as Cowabunga/Bárðarbunga jokes begin to flood social media and Icelandair stocks drop, you can monitor Bárðarbunga volcano via a live feed here and brush up on your pronunciation by watching this video by the Grapevine Team.
Those following the news in Iceland who do not understand Icelandic can stay up-to-the-minute informed through the following links:
(The above image is of the Fimmvörðuháls fissure during the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption.)
See more Eruption Iceland stories.