Iceland Puts Coast Guard on Alert as Volcano Activity Increases
Iceland put the Coast Guard on alert after the Met Office warned that one of the country’s biggest volcanoes is showing increased levels of unrest.
“The rate of earthquakes has increased such that they are happening so quickly that it is difficult for the seismologist to discern individual events,” the Reykjavik-based agency said in a statement on its website. “The activity continues and an eruption can therefore not be ruled out.”
The Bardarbunga volcano is 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) wide and rises about 1,900 meters (6,234 feet) above sea level. It last erupted in 1996 and can spew both ash and molten lava. The volcano lies beneath Vatnajokull, Europe’s largest glacier. Roads to and from the area have been closed and the Coast Guard was today scheduled to fly over the area with scientists from the University of Iceland and people from the Civil Protection Agency.
Ash from Iceland’s Grimsvotn volcano forced flight cancellations in Scotland, northern England and Germany in May 2011. An eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in April 2010 forced more than 100,000 flights to be canceled on concern glass-like particles formed from lava could melt in aircraft engines and clog turbines.
Iceland’s Met Office on Aug. 18 raised the aviation color code to “orange,” indicating “heightened or escalating unrest with increased potential of eruption” from Bardarbunga. The agency continues to note that there are still no visible indications of an eruption.
The closest town to the volcano is Husavik in the island’s north, with about 2,200 inhabitants, according to the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration.
To contact the reporter on this story: Omar R. Valdimarsson in Reykjavik at firstname.lastname@example.org