Bárðarbunga Volcano Watch: The Afternoon Edition - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Bárðarbunga Volcano Watch: The Afternoon Edition

Published August 20, 2014

Don't panic.

Larissa Kyzer
Photos by
Bárðarbunga LiveCam

Don't panic.

Volcano watch is still in full swing, but no eruption yet. In the meantime, here’s a roundup of the day’s Bárðarbunga news so far:

13:23 – The closure of the area north of Vatnajökull glacier has already lead to significant financial losses for the local tourism industry, reports RÚV. In light of recent evacuations, mountain huts and guest accommodations at Kverkfjöll and Askja have had to close now for the winter, nearly a month earlier than planned, despite nearly full bookings for the remainder of the season.

12:53 – Should this eruption occur, Friðþór Eydal, a spokesman for ISAVIA, which operates all of Iceland’s airports, says that the disruptions to the airline industry could be as significant as they were during the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption, RÚV reports. “There’s really nothing authorities can do but follow the prevailing rules and recommendations, particularly those of the scientific community and international flight authorities,” he said. “[…] I would say that if a similar event occurs, we could see a similar breadth of flight disruptions or changes.” Friðþór continued that the flight industry has certainly have learned from the 2010 eruption, but has not yet been able to apply all of the lessons learned from that experience.

12:16 – Morgunblaðið reports that the seismic activity is still high and continues to move northeast. The Coast Guard will send out its TF-SIF plane today at 13:00 with scientists and rescue workers on board. Víðir Reyn­is­son, the head of Iceland’s Civil Protection Department, stated that it is believed that there are still travelers in the area who are unaware of the closures, but that the department is taking care to find anyone still in the evacuation zone. Notably, there were individuals who registered with SafeTravel.is whose hiking plans indicated that they should be in the area north of Vatnajökull around this time, but that their plans were not very specific and they may have already passed through. ICE-SAR, Iceland’s Search and Rescue, says that they successfully evacuated the area around Dyngju­jök­ul last night, but will continue searching for people still in the area today.

12:15 – RÚV reports that a team of researchers using the Coast Guard’s radar-equipped TF-SIF surveillance plane, were flying to the glacier yesterday to assess the situation there, only to be called home when the evacuation order was issued. The plane was also needed to search the evacuated areas around the Bárðarbunga flood zone for hikers and tourists who may still be in the area.

11:11RÚV reported a considerable increase in seismic activity just northeast of Bárðarbunga, adding that roughly 170 earthquakes measuring 2 or 3 on the Richter scale have occurred in the last two days. Freysteinn Sigmundsson, a geophysicist at the University of Iceland’s Earth Sciences Center, stated that magma appears to be streaming into a dyke deep below the glacier. This is consistent with previous reports from the Icelandic Met Office. The later (English) update notes thatin case of an eruption, a major flood (jokulhlaup) is expected to the north, in the Jökulsá á Fjöllum glacial river, fed by melting ice from the glacier.”

Other volcano-watch resources:

  • The Bárðarbunga live-cam, updated with a new image every few minutes. Per RÚV, the camera “was set up at the mountain Grimsfjall, 30 km (19 mi) from Bárðarbunga.”
  • The Icelandic Met Office’s English-language volcanic eruption page shows the current aviation color map for all of the country’s active volcanoes. Check out their earthquake page, too.
  • RÚV is archiving a selection of Bárðarbunga-related news in English on its website, here, although the updates there are relatively infrequent.

Be safe out there:

See more Eruption Iceland stories.

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