Monday, 01 September 2014 06:35

Icelandic volcano - an update

Icelandic volcano - an update Benedikt Gunnar Ófeigsson: Icelandic Met Office

The volcano Bardarbunga briefly erupted yesterday, temporarily raising the aviation warning state to Red.

We wrote previously of the danger of a new Icelandic volcano eruption and observed that an eruption was considered likely. The structure has now erupted.

At the on-set of the eruption, the Aviation warning was immediately raised to Red, however once the eruption was determined to be lava only, with no explosive ash ejection, the warning level was returned to Orange.

The current eruption fissure, while measured at over 1.5km in length, is not under ice and thus is of significantly less concern. Ice cover could either melt, creating a flood danger for downstream hydro-electric facilities or could inhibit volcanic mass ejection, leading to explosive activity.

Earthquake activity still exceeds 1000 events per day, with most in the range of 2.5 - 3.0, although larger earthquakes are still regularly detected. The fissure is currently ejecting lava at an estimated rate of 1000 m3/sec.

Following a meeting of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Icelandic Civil Protection, the following information has been made available, summarising the past 24 hours of activity:

Conclusions of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Icelandic Civil Protection:

  • A lava eruption started in Holuhraun shortly after 04 AM, on the same volcanic fissure, which erupted earlier this week. The fissure is estimated to be 1,5 km long. It was detected on Míla´s web-camera at 05:51 AM. Fewer earthquakes seem to follow the event than in the previous eruption, but more lava is being extruded.
  • At 07 AM the lava flow was around 1 km wide and 3 km long towards northeast. The thickness was estimated a few meters, the flow about 1000 m3 pr second.
  • Approximately 500 earthquakes were detected in the area and smaller than before. The strongest earthquake, M3.8 was in the Bárðarbunga caldera. Poor weather conditions prevail in the area, which makes detection of smaller earthquakes difficult.
  • GPS measurements show continued movements north of Dyngjujökull.
  • Gas emissions rise to a few hundred meters above the fissure.
  • Weather conditions make it difficult to follow the progression of the eruption, but scientists are in the area, using every opportunity to acquire information on gas and lava outflow.
  • Weather conditions do not allow overflight at this time. The opportunity to fly over the area will be assessed later today.

Although lava release through the fissure is a good sign; indicating that pressure is being released, it does not necessarily mean that the threat of an ash eruption has passed.

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David Heath

David Heath has had a long and varied career in the IT industry having worked as a Pre-sales Network Engineer (remember Novell NetWare?), General Manager of IT&T for the TV Shopping Network, as a Technical manager in the Biometrics industry, and as a Technical Trainer and Instructional Designer in the industrial control sector. In all aspects, security has been a driving focus. Throughout his career, David has sought to inform and educate people and has done that through his writings and in more formal educational environments.

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