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Chances of eruption increase as seismic activity drags on

By Kristján Már Unnarsson
Magnús Tumi Gudmundsson.
Magnús Tumi Gudmundsson. Vísir/Baldur Hrafnkell
The longer that the seismic activity under Bárðarbunga goes on, the greater the risk of an eruption, according to Magnús Tumi Guðmundsson, geophysicist and Professor at the University of Iceland. The authorities are acting on two key phrases: There are no signs of the magma reaching the surface, and that the seismic activity is still very powerful.

Scientists differ on how to interpret several large quakes from Thursday that originated in the center of the Bárðarbunga caldera. While some scientists claim that this means that the pressure is lowering, others claim the exact opposite.

Scientists met today at the Institution of Earth Sciences in Iceland to compare notes and try to determine the chances of an eruption.

Kristín Vogfjörð, seismologist and research director at the Icelandic Meteorological Office.Vísir/Baldur Hrafnkell
"It's still likely to end in an eruption, and those odds haven't lowered in any way," states Magnús Tumi. "The longer that this takes place, the greater the chances of something happening. But I don't think that the odds are favoring an eruption, but then again it's all guesswork," he adds.

Scientists believe they have a rough idea about what's been happening under Vatnajökull glacier for the past week, that magma is flowing from under the Bárðarbunga caldera to the northeast towards Dyngjujökull glacier, where the magma is forming a 25 kilometer long underground cavern at a depth of 5 to 10 kilometers. Looking at the 3D model that the The Icelandic Meteorological Office has constructed of the seismic events, one can see the cavern's location.

Ingi Þorleifur Bjarnason seismologist and geophysicist at the Institution of Earth Sciences.Vísir/Baldur Hrafnkell
Scientists disagree on how to interpret large quakes that took place in the Bárðarbunga caldera last night and this morning.

Kristín Vogfjörð, research director for the Icelandic Meteorological Office, claims that according to GPS data the pressure in the caldera is lowering.

But Ingi Þorleifur Bjarnason, seismologist and geophysicist at the Institution of Earth Sciences, interprets the quakes differently: That the pressure is increasing and the mountain is rising, more magma is entering the caldera.


Tengdar fréttir

Composed music from the Bárðarbunga quakes

"All music is just data, in a way. You can interpret Beethoven's Fifth Symphony as data, which is just notes of variable pitches at variable times. In that way, earthquakes are no different."

Activity in Bárðarbunga volcano

Over the last seven years seismic activity has been gradually increasing in Bardarbunga and the fissure swarm north of the volcano.

Magma flowing into Bárðarbunga caldera with great force

All highland roads north of Vatnajökull glacier have been closed and all traffic banned, whether by vehicle or on foot. The Bárðarbunga situation is now attracting worldwide attention on a scale similar to the Eyjafjallajökull eruption in 2010.

2800 earthquakes in three days

Of these around 950 have occured since midnight today. Several of these events were larger than magnitude 3.

Icelandair stocks shake in quake scare

Icelandair stocks have dropped sharply since Monday morning. Market analysts agree that the situation at Bárðarbunga is a large factor.

"There is full reason to expect an eruption"

The seismic activity in Bardarbunga on the Vatnajokull glacier is very powerful and therefore full reason to expect a volcanic eruption according to a specialist at The Icelandic Meteorological Office. A live webcam has been placed in the vicinity of Bardarbunga.




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