Join 3,561 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


This has nothing to do with the former Italian prime minister
August 20, 2014 11:23 AM   Subscribe

Bárðarbunga, an Icelandic volcano named after a Norse viking, is maybe going to erupt soon. Webcams are standing by.
posted by slater (121 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
A volcanic eruption in Bárðarbunga could have a great an impact on air travel as the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption did, according to Friðþór Eydal, a spokesperson for ISAVIA, the company which operates airports in Iceland.

So what you're saying is I should immediately fly to Europe and be tragically and insurmountably trapped there for at least a month at the most glorious time of the year?

brb redeeming miles
posted by elizardbits at 11:29 AM on August 20 [48 favorites]


Also, holy shit, 300 earthquakes since midnight last night? Iceland is an astonishing country.
posted by elizardbits at 11:30 AM on August 20 [1 favorite]


(sorry, all that info came from the More News section under the linked FPP article in Iceland Review)
posted by elizardbits at 11:32 AM on August 20


It's okay. Björk is currently dressed as a swan, singing a lullaby to the huldufólk (elves) to calm down the underworld. All is good. All is well. All is peaceful.
posted by Wordshore at 11:34 AM on August 20 [15 favorites]


Iceland is an astonishing country.

In many, many ways.
posted by Huck500 at 11:35 AM on August 20


Also, Slate.
posted by Huck500 at 11:36 AM on August 20


I like to hear about these kinds of eruptions. There is a lot of warning time and it is a pretty remote volcano. Limited safety issues and the chance for some pretty. Especially in this modern day of technology.
posted by Twain Device at 11:39 AM on August 20


Considering that several million tons of toxic gases were released and millions of people died from weather conditions not conducive to human life (including those who died from inhaling those gases) the last time a volcano like this one erupted, travelling to Europe might be unwise.
posted by clockzero at 11:40 AM on August 20


And maybe impossible considering air travel was shut down last time this happened...
posted by Huck500 at 11:41 AM on August 20


Nothing is happened
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:41 AM on August 20 [3 favorites]


Considering that several million tons of toxic gases were released and millions of people died from weather conditions not conducive to human life (including those who died from inhaling those gases) the last time a volcano like this one erupted, travelling to Europe might be unwise.

Well, if you like to dwell on the negative...
posted by jimmythefish at 11:41 AM on August 20 [4 favorites]


About the 1783 eruption of Laki, which is smaller than the volcano which now looks like it may very well erupt.
posted by clockzero at 11:44 AM on August 20


A volcano is also maybe going to erupt soon in a New York sewer.

Cowabunga.
posted by Curious Artificer at 11:45 AM on August 20 [1 favorite]


My "post divorce life is worth living do something crazy" trip to Iceland is scheduled the first week of November. :(
posted by yodelingisfun at 11:45 AM on August 20


I know, sorry to be so humorless. It's just that this has the potential to be the biggest natural disaster in recorded history and it might happen at any moment. That's making me feel vaguely uneasy I guess.
posted by clockzero at 11:46 AM on August 20 [1 favorite]


the last time a volcano like this one erupted

Which one are you talking about? Krakatoa?
posted by smackfu at 11:50 AM on August 20


A friend of mine was scheduled to fly to Reykjavik today for a much-needed holiday. Ever since she booked it, she's been half-joking about volcanoes spoiling her only holiday this year. Come to think of it, she's been curiously quiet this week.
posted by kariebookish at 11:51 AM on August 20


Last time, I just made it home when the announcements came on the airport tannoy. Now I have to fly to Portugal in three weeks.

At least it'll be easier to dramatically curse the name Bárðarbunga.
posted by rollick at 11:51 AM on August 20


also helpful: how to pronounce it
posted by elizardbits at 11:51 AM on August 20 [6 favorites]


Nothing is still happen
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:53 AM on August 20 [3 favorites]


Didn't Silvio Berlusconi use to have Bárðarbunga parties?
posted by Cash4Lead at 11:53 AM on August 20 [2 favorites]


Or would those be Bárðarbunga-bunga parties?
posted by Cash4Lead at 11:55 AM on August 20 [1 favorite]


It's just that this has the potential to be the biggest natural disaster in recorded history and it might happen at any moment. That's making me feel vaguely uneasy I guess.

Ok, but why would you predict this potential eruption to be similar in nature to the Laki eruption instead of similar to the 2010 one which I shall not bother attempting to spell?
posted by elizardbits at 11:55 AM on August 20 [1 favorite]


I mean as far as I can tell, none of the articles I am seeing about it are suggesting dangers other than lava flow, ash cloud, and potential flooding, all of which are bad enough on their own obviously.
posted by elizardbits at 11:57 AM on August 20 [1 favorite]


I should probably read the post title
posted by Cash4Lead at 11:58 AM on August 20 [3 favorites]


Here's an active map of the last couple of days of earthquakes in the area. You may notice a trend in the bouncy rock department.
posted by Devonian at 12:06 PM on August 20


I was traveling to the UK for work in 2010 during the last incident. The only hotel room was an extemely pricey luxury suite in London just off Hyde Park. I had to stay there for a week with all expenses covered by my company.
posted by humanfont at 12:06 PM on August 20 [3 favorites]


Be safe, Íslendingar.
posted by Iridic at 12:15 PM on August 20


smackfu >

Which one are you talking about? Krakatoa?

It could certainly be like Krakatoa if it does erupt, apparently, but the one I was talking about was Laki, which erupted in 1783:

Laki's last major eruption changed the weather so much that there was ice in the Gulf of Mexico and the Nile almost entirely dried up, and emitted so much poisonous gas that tens of thousands died from the direct consequenses of gas inhalation in Scotland. The level of gas emission was over ten times that of Mt. Pinatubo, the largest eruption fo the 20th century. [source]

elizardbits >

Ok, but why would you predict this potential eruption to be similar in nature to the Laki eruption instead of similar to the 2010 one which I shall not bother attempting to spell?

Well...

A large amount of magma is believed to be flowing into the Bárðarbunga caldera with great force, according to scientists. The Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration has declared that the bridges over the Jökulsá river will not hold against a flood on a scale similar to the flood on Skeiðarársandur in 1996. The seismic activity is now being reported worldwide and preparations are being made to ground all flights in the event of any possible ash emissions... Kristín Vogfjörð, seismologist and research director at the Icelandic Meteorological Office, says that the activity is very powerful. "This just keeps going on. This is many times more powerful than what's been going on in recent years." [source]

"There is full reason to expect an eruption"

The intense seismic activity that started on 16 of August at Bárðarbunga persists. Very strong indications of ongoing magma movement, in connection with dyke intrusion, is corroborated by GPS measurements.
[source]

I think your point is a good one, elizardbits. It seems like it would be very difficult to predict if a certain pattern of seismic activity would produce an eruption like that of 1783, since we have no actual data from that time to compare current data to. But we know that catastrophic eruptions have occurred in that geographical area historically, and the volcano which has that "intense seismic activity" is very close to but much bigger than the one that erupted in 1783. So, that's what I was basing my comment upon. I ardently hope that there will either be no eruption or a small one, but we are not ignorant of what is possible here that would be less likely if the magma build-up were in another part of the world.
posted by clockzero at 12:15 PM on August 20


Nothing is still happen

Poke it with a stick.
posted by sexyrobot at 12:17 PM on August 20 [18 favorites]


My in-laws are due to leave for one of their many trips to England (seriously, they go over at least three to four times a year since my SIL had her baby) in less than two weeks. If my MIL's past behaviour is anything to go by, she's going to think the volcano is doing it on purpose.
posted by Kitteh at 12:21 PM on August 20


It seems like it would be very difficult to predict if a certain pattern of seismic activity would produce an eruption like that of 1783, since we have no actual data from that time to compare current data to.

Oh, no, sorry not to have been more specific, I meant is there any reason to think that there will again be a huge release of toxic gas that kills everything in its path?
posted by elizardbits at 12:22 PM on August 20


Sure. Great. Bring it on, world. Just keep piling 'er on.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:22 PM on August 20 [1 favorite]


cue ten minutes of the two adults in this house saying "Bard-dah-bruHgah? Baddahbrooough?"
posted by The Whelk at 12:23 PM on August 20 [6 favorites]


I mean either outcome is not good but the deaths of millions of people is obvsly a lot worse than simply inconveniencing the travel of millions of people.
posted by elizardbits at 12:24 PM on August 20 [3 favorites]


Depends.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:26 PM on August 20


("ð" basically equals the "th" in "then." BOWER-thar-boonnka gets you most of the way there.)
posted by Iridic at 12:28 PM on August 20 [3 favorites]


Nothing is happened.

Fated tempted. Erupted doomed sooned perhapsed.
posted by koebelin at 12:31 PM on August 20 [1 favorite]


Iceland should give the volcano some Zoloft because that stops eruptions regardless of the amount of shaking.
posted by humanfont at 12:32 PM on August 20 [1 favorite]


Dyke intrusion. Heh.
posted by rtha at 12:33 PM on August 20 [3 favorites]


Well on the upside if there is going to be a catastrophic eruption with devastating long term impact then not going to the gym today feels like small potatoes
posted by The Whelk at 12:35 PM on August 20 [4 favorites]


Oh, no, sorry not to have been more specific, I meant is there any reason to think that there will again be a huge release of toxic gas that kills everything in its path?

Sorry to be so pedantic, but that's another really good question!

Here is some scholarship on the subject, which yields this unsettling information:

"The F/Cl ratio of the gas phase, inferred from incrustation mineral equilibria, indicates regional differences in the halogen contents of Icelandic magmas. The rift zone volcanism (tholeiites) is distinguished by low halogen content and very low F/Cl ratios, while the off-rift volcanism (alkaline rocks) is associated with high halogen content and high F/Cl ratios."

So if the eruption does happen, and happens in one of the areas with high halogen content, there could very well be huge releases of toxic gases. Judging by some amateur geography, it looks like Bardabunga is mostly in a rift zone, but is, too.
posted by clockzero at 12:43 PM on August 20


The most interesting position plot is the position sensor station GFUM, near the caldera of the Grimsvötn volcano. First chart is North/South movement, so we're showing nearly a 4cm movement to the south in the last week. The 2nd is E/W, a little westerly, but not much.

The disturbing one is the third, which is change of elevation. GPS is much nosier at altitude determination than position, but the sensor is clearly climbing, which is a sign that magma is filling in underneath the sensor.

Other sensors show movement, all basically away from the volcano (which implies it's inflating with magma) but this is the only one showing direct vertical motion, implying it's near the center of the intrusion.

More interesting is that this may not be Bárðarbunga, it may be a new volcano. This map cleverly maps two variables -- size and time of quakes. The color is "Days since 16-Aug-2014," so a blue one was on the 16th, a red one was today. Notice how the quake swarm has trended away from Bárðarbunga down an apparently unknown fissure line. There are still a few quakes under Bárðarbunga proper, but the vast majority of the activity is both well away from the volcano and moving away from it.
posted by eriko at 12:48 PM on August 20 [3 favorites]


Great, we're about to start two weeks of air travel. That said, being stuck where we're going (Houston/Austin and Vancouver) isn't the worst thing in the world. Stay safe, y'all.
posted by arcticseal at 12:54 PM on August 20


Which one are you talking about? Krakatoa?

Nope.
posted by Huck500 at 1:02 PM on August 20


About the 1783 eruption of Laki, which is smaller than the volcano which now looks like it may very well erupt.

*reads*

FLOURIDE? Why, this volcano is a Masonic plot!
posted by entropicamericana at 1:02 PM on August 20 [2 favorites]


Whelp, I'm going to stop browsing this increasing anxious-making thread now and go off to try to unjam my panic button by catching up on the news about the Saturday's Doctor Who premiere. Please, no further groundbreaking (literally) developments until after that, all right?
posted by Doktor Zed at 1:05 PM on August 20


Does anyone have enough knowledge of both climate science and geology to opine upon what sort of short or long term a huge eruption here would have on climate change?
posted by Caduceus at 1:20 PM on August 20 [1 favorite]


I am in work waiting to catch a livestream of a noxious gas spewing volcano of death, the second American revolution and a fish doing a Hadoken.

William Gibson can fuck right off.
posted by fullerine at 1:21 PM on August 20 [3 favorites]


FLOURIDE? Why, this volcano is a Masonic plot!

Not sodium fluoride, hydrogen fluoride, which in the presence of water is known better as hydrofluoric acid. HF is no bullshit bad stuff. Not only is it corrosive, but it has a particularly nasty trick to kill you -- it's also a contact poison. It will grab the calcium out of your tissues and blood, when you lose enough calcium in your bloodstream, your heart stops.

So, when Laki dumped that on Iceland, it was bad. But that wasn't what messed up the world. Laki also dumped a staggering about of sodium dioxide into the stratosphere, which resulted in dramatic cooling around the world.

The 1783 Laki eruption was a VEI 6 -- which is on the scale of Krakatoa and Mt. Pinatubo, and involved roughly ten times the amount of ejected mass as Mt. St. Helens in 1980, a VEI 5 explosion, did.
posted by eriko at 1:22 PM on August 20 [4 favorites]


This is pretty routine for Iceland, isn't it?
posted by Segundus at 1:23 PM on August 20


Maybe it's not boiling because we're watching it.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 1:41 PM on August 20 [28 favorites]


Maybe it just needs some Mentos.
posted by caddis at 2:01 PM on August 20


Mentos... or Metamucil? ;)

But seriously, I just yesterday had a day long layover in Iceland, and everything seemed so calm and peaceful. I was oblivious to the fact that I could have been stuck there for weeks. The airport seemed calm and normal as well, but today may be a different story....
posted by Sarah_Lena at 2:18 PM on August 20 [1 favorite]


Eriko, I think you mean sulfur dioxide instead of sodium dioxide, but you're definitely right about the cooling effect. The SO2 released in volcanic eruptions oxidizes to sulfate particulates, which scatter light causing cooling [1]. However!
While the effect of volcanic eruptions on the global mean surface temperature is cooling, there are circumstances where the effect is not only smaller than the mean, but warming was observed. For example, in the first winter following a number of different volcanic eruptions, the Northern Hemisphere and Eurasia on average warmed, in contrast to northern Africa and southwestern Asia, which cooled. Robock and Mao propose that the warming is due to changes in the winter circulation pattern, associated with an enhanced polar vortex, which lowers the extent of normal winter cooling. [2]
so don't get your hopes up too much.

Reference

[1] Finlayson-Pitts, B.J.; Pitts, J. N. Chemistry of the Upper and Lower Atmosphere; Academic Press: San Diego, 2000; p 822
[2] ibid.

posted by Small Dollar at 2:20 PM on August 20 [1 favorite]


BRB running to the library to check out a copy of The Twenty-One Balloons.
posted by whenbynowandtreebyleaf at 2:31 PM on August 20 [3 favorites]


Ah, Iceland. In the post-apocalyptic comic Stand Still Stay Silent, a particularly nasty pandemic has left Iceland as the Center of Civilization because its relative isolation caused only an 90% death toll. (And as of 80 years later, 'the known world' doesn't extend past Scandinavia, convenient for Finnish creator Minna Sundberg of "A Redtail's Dream" fame)

I'm sure a lot of Global Warming Denialists are looking forward to a massive volcanically caused cooling, because God will always take care of Humanity, even if we don't take care of ourselves. (sigh)

And if you think that's a big deal volcano, remember we in the USofA have YELLOWSTONE.
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:33 PM on August 20 [1 favorite]


Geologists I've talked to here in Iceland are saying that it's just as likely that an eruption won't happen. If it does happen it's probably going to be coarser ash than the one discharged in the Eyjafjallajökull eruption, so it won't travel as far and therefore won't shut down air traffic over as large an area. I'm moving to Finland on Friday, so I'm hoping there won't be an eruption. I'm also hoping there won't be because it's no fun for anybody downriver of it if there's a flood.

They've evacuated the area immediately north of Vatnajökull (the glacier that Bárðarbunga is under). It's uninhabited, like all of the central highlands of Iceland, so that's relatively easy, just a few hundred tourists that needed to be diverted elsewhere. As it looks now, if there's an eruption, all damage will be mostly to roads, with humans not being in any great danger.
posted by Kattullus at 2:38 PM on August 20 [3 favorites]


will the elves be okay though
posted by elizardbits at 2:44 PM on August 20 [6 favorites]


Well, I am glad we took our trip two months ago and not in late summer.

A glorious country. I hope this doesn't turn into a worst-case scenario.
posted by Windigo at 3:29 PM on August 20


will the elves be okay though

the elves will be fine - the dwarves and hobbits are screwed, though
posted by pyramid termite at 3:49 PM on August 20


There's no such thing as Hobbits, since they come from a book. But depending upon which scholarly tradition you follow, the dark elves (dökkálfar) may be in trouble as well.
posted by Kevin Street at 4:00 PM on August 20 [1 favorite]


Limited safety issues

Other than the already pointed out toxic gas releases, a dip in solar energy hitting cropland which would then result in less crop yield along with all the self-inflicted injuries from people hitting themselves in the head when they read others arguing that the eruption proves there is no reason to worry about global warming.

But otherwise, sure - there are limited safety issues.
posted by rough ashlar at 4:01 PM on August 20 [2 favorites]


will the elves be okay though

the elves will be fine - the dwarves and hobbits are screwed, though


What about the goblins? No-one ever considers them. Think about the goblins.
posted by Wordshore at 4:04 PM on August 20 [2 favorites]


remember we in the USofA have YELLOWSTONE

According to one of the links I read 2(ish?) days ago on the topic of Iceland earth-rumbles for all the "Yellowstone is doom! Look at bison using the road fleeing!" Yellowstone's magma chamber is thought to be only at 1/10 of what is was the last time it went Boom!

Less boom and doom at the moment then?
posted by rough ashlar at 4:12 PM on August 20


Don't worry about the goblins. The Jolasveinar only come around Christmastime, when they steal from farmers and bring their ravenous cat, who eats children who have not received new Christmas clothes, as is exactly the same in every Christmas tradition worldwide.
posted by maxsparber at 4:13 PM on August 20 [6 favorites]


Delightful wife is off to London Saturday to catch the sorta once-in-a-lifetime sold out Kate Bush concert. Imagine her delight at this news.
posted by emmet at 4:29 PM on August 20


Less boom and doom at the moment then?

No boom today, boom tomorrow. There's always a boom tomorrow.
posted by entropicamericana at 4:45 PM on August 20 [1 favorite]


Hah, I got trapped in Europe during the last one, for what was literally supposed to be less than a week that turned into a week and a half... It was the most beautiful, clear Spring week, with no clouds (or contrails) to be seen. Nothing to do but sit outside in the sun. It was quite nice, but extraordinarily surreal. The planeless sky felt like the days after 9/11 but it just went on and on. Very, very odd.

I'm quite glad that this time around I can watch from a different hemisphere. Hopefully it will just cause some geologists and photographers excitement and not ruin anyone's day...
posted by BungaDunga at 5:08 PM on August 20


OH MY GOD IT'S COMPLETELY BLACK WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE IN THE ASH CLO–Oh, it's night.
posted by condour75 at 5:32 PM on August 20 [3 favorites]


BOWER-thar-boonnka

This makes me giggle like a 5 year old. Thanks, Icelandic language!
posted by orrnyereg at 5:42 PM on August 20


also helpful: how to pronounce it

I don't feel like I'm any further along after that.
posted by jimmythefish at 5:49 PM on August 20


Covering this, I've been a bit amused by the contrast between Icelandic reporting on Bárðarbunga and other sources. Icelandic reporting has dealt mostly with logistics: number of quakes, where the magma might be, what roads are closed and the fact that sheep have been rounded up. Reporting elsewhere has been predominantly OH MY GOD WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE. Fact is, volcanoes are wildly unpredictable, and as Kattullus points out, this one is just as likely to peter out as it is to erupt. Fortunately, the volcano could almost not be in a better position to not hurt anyone - almost no one lives in the evacuated area, the volcano is under a glacier (which means more likely flooding than giant plumes of magma) and preparation has been both fast and thorough. I highly recommend following English-language Icelandic news sites and taking it easy.

Also: the volcano's name is literally "Bárður's Bulge". Named after some Viking with serious overcompensation issues.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 5:53 PM on August 20 [3 favorites]


the volcano's name is literally "Bárður's Bulge". Named after some Viking with serious overcompensation issues.

Here we go with the lava balls then
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 6:21 PM on August 20 [2 favorites]


will the elves be okay though

We ask the important questions on Metafilter.
posted by clockzero at 6:36 PM on August 20 [2 favorites]


Elves started this shit in the first place. They can pick through the ash-choked ruins for beer and hot dogs like the rest of us.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 6:55 PM on August 20


remember we in the USofA have YELLOWSTONE

Not to mention Cumbre Vieja, about which we can at least share some sort of anxiety solidarity with the people of West Africa and Europe.
posted by threeants at 7:06 PM on August 20


in the grimdark wastelands of our postvolcanic future there is only brannivin and hakarl sry
posted by elizardbits at 7:17 PM on August 20


Here we go with the lava balls then

Ah yes, the lesser-known icyhot challenge. Try it yourself, or enlist a dear friend instead.

More interesting is that this may not be Bárðarbunga, it may be a new volcano. This map cleverly maps two variables -- size and time of quakes


Ah, that Volcano Cafe blog looks brilliant, technical stuff and discussion-wise.
posted by sebastienbailard at 8:07 PM on August 20


Is hakarl that rotten shark meat thing? I think I had a dream about the protagonist of Family Matters and that comment, and it was weird.
posted by clockzero at 7:28 AM on August 21


YES it is terrifying
posted by elizardbits at 7:49 AM on August 21


And hilarious because if you mention it around my friend Petur when he is drunk he sometimes has to run away and barf because of childhood holiday food trauma.
posted by elizardbits at 7:50 AM on August 21 [1 favorite]


childhood holiday food trauma

When my friends heard about my mom ODing on a particular Norwegian "delicacy" while she was pregnant with me, they promptly decided that my quirky behavior now had a scientific explanation and that I was suffering from Fetal Lutefisk Syndrome.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 7:59 AM on August 21 [3 favorites]


Thank you MetaFilter for letting me pretend I know how to pronounce things.
posted by stoneweaver at 8:46 AM on August 21


Huh. I'm supposed to fly to Reykjavik next Wednesday. Consider me very interested in the ongoing developments in this thread!
posted by Hadroed at 10:24 AM on August 21


In my dream the Winslow family was eating rotten shark meat for what felt like an eternity, and when Carl Winslow came onto the stage he was a shark in a cop uniform

What do you mean, the stress of academic life is getting to me on some subconscious level?
posted by clockzero at 10:38 AM on August 21 [2 favorites]


I cannot tell you how happy I was the day my dad flew over to visit me. Because I was able to finally be the local who takes the hapless visitor to the neighborhood indoor market and offers him a sample of hákarl, watching him taste it for the first time like.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 10:44 AM on August 21 [1 favorite]


3D video of the seismic activity underneath Bardarbunga, made by the Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO).
posted by caddis at 2:04 PM on August 21


Yelllowstone is not likely to have a catestrophic erruption in the next thousand years. Highlighting this fact won't help sell dvds or get ratings for Discovery. Also much more fun to tell Park visitors that they are standing on an active volcano that could errupt at any moment.
posted by humanfont at 3:01 PM on August 21 [1 favorite]


I am actually now far more worried about the eruption spraying the northern hemisphere with hakarl than I am about actual toxic gases, ash, and lava.
posted by elizardbits at 3:03 PM on August 21 [2 favorites]


Yeah yeah brannivin is fish liquor and gross but nothing was as bad as that box of licorish candy I got in Iceland. I bought it cause of the box design and cause it warned me that excessive consumption would cause incontinence. I put one in my mouth and instantly spat it out across the airport waiting area. I'mnot even sure I tasted it, my entire being just rejected it instinctively.
posted by The Whelk at 3:09 PM on August 21 [4 favorites]


That's because licorice is nasty. And they sell varieties that try to up the gross ante, like black pepper licorice or salt licorice. It is vile, vile, vile and I can't tell anyone here I hate it or my citizenship will be revoked.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 3:17 PM on August 21 [2 favorites]


SHARKCANO
posted by clockzero at 6:12 PM on August 21 [4 favorites]


From Icelandic state broadcaster RÚV: Small eruption near Bardarbunga
A small volcanic eruption has started near Bardarbunga volcano, according to the Icelandic Met Office. All air traffic is now prohibited in a large radius around the volcano. The Met Office has upgraded its alert level to red. A 25 km (16 mi) long dike has formed beneath the surface.

Authorities say that an evacuation program has been set in motion, but there are currently not enough information to decide whether Kelduhverfi and Oxarfjordur, on the north coast, will be evacutaed. A number of tourists are in the area.



This story, by the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service (RUV), was updated on 23 August 2014, at 14.59 GMT.

Updates in English will be posted at: ruv.is/volcano
posted by Kattullus at 8:14 AM on August 23


I found hakarl perfectly edible, as did my other half... We couldn't understand what the fuss was about. Took quite a bit home with us too.
posted by edd at 8:17 AM on August 23


Working livestream (nothing happening at the moment)
posted by Lord_Pall at 9:53 AM on August 23


Latest report from RÚV:
The Icelandic Met Office says a small subglacial eruption started today beneath the Dyngjujokull outlet glacier, near the Bardarbunga caldera. Scientists aboard a surveillance airplane above the glacier see no signs of an eruption yet. All flight traffic has however been banned near the volcano.

Kristin Jonsdottir, geophysicist at the Icelandic Met Office says that this morning, increased seismic activity and increased tremor was observed around the Bardarbunga caldera, especially in a 25 km. long dyke intrusion north and east of the caldera, near the edge of the Dyngjujokull outlet glacier.

Shortly after 2 PM GMT, the Met Office declared an aviation alert for a large area around Bardarbunga and said a small eruption was believed to have started under the glacier. No signs of glacial flood has been observed and scientists in a surveillance airplane above the glacier see no sign on the surface of the glacier. Even so, the measurements indicated a small eruption under the glacier and it is now believed that it was small enough, not to cause significant melting of glacial ice. A larger eruption can not be ruled out, according to the Met Office.

The dyke intrusion has been forming over the last few days. It is now believed to be around 25 km. long, and about 0,2 - 0,3 cubic kilometers of magma is thought to have entered the intrusion from a magma chamber beneath the Bardarbunga caldera.

At this stage measurements taken are based on a small event. The Jökulsárgljúfur canyon has been closed and evacuation of tourists in that area and around Dettifoss waterfall has started. The situation at this stage does not call for evacuation of habitants in Kelduhverfi, Öxarfjördur and Núpasveit. People in those areas are encouraged to watch news closely and have their mobiles switched on at all times.
posted by Kattullus at 10:18 AM on August 23 [1 favorite]


I picked the best week to be in Iceland! The biggest music/cultural festival of the year + a volcanic eruption. What could be better?
23rd August 2014 17:08 - status report

Overall assessment from the joint daily status report 230814 of the Icelandic Met Office and the University of Iceland, Institute of Earth Sciences:

The aviation color code has been raised to "red" as the data is currently interpreted as a subglacial eruption. Both the thickness of the ice at the possible contact point (100-400 m) and the volume of lava in possible contact with ice are highly uncertain. It could be 0-20 hours before lava reaches the surface of the ice. It is also possible that the lava will not break through the ice, and the eruption could remain subglacial.
posted by euphorb at 3:09 PM on August 23


A banner on the English version of the Met Office page now says: "Presently there are no signs of ongoing volcanic activity. The aviation color code for the Bárðarbunga volcano remains red as an imminent eruption can not be excluded."

This volcano is toying with us. Man this better at least destroy Kárahnjúkar.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 3:48 PM on August 23 [2 favorites]


If there is a major erruption it could delay the next season of Game of Thrones.
posted by humanfont at 10:42 PM on August 23


Latest from RÚV.

tl;dr
No eruption but 270 million cubic fucktons of magma have moved around down there so far.
posted by Kattullus at 1:10 PM on August 24 [2 favorites]


So what you're saying is I should immediately fly to Europe and be tragically and insurmountably trapped there for at least a month at the most glorious time of the year?

Nah; Europe is boring. A few dull mountains and nothing else. Stick to New Jersey.
posted by Wordshore at 3:28 PM on August 24


We have fissure eruption! We have fissure eruption!

I don't know what that is but I gather its better than a big explosion.
posted by Justinian at 11:36 PM on August 28


Yes, it's not under the glacier and mostly just produces lava. Here's a video taken from a plane flying over the eruption this morning. You can't really see any lava (just steam) and there is speculation that the fissure's already closed. But they'll know better with more data. There were clear images last night of lava shooting in the air from a webcam.
posted by Kattullus at 3:37 AM on August 29


The Icelandic Met Office (which also handles volcanic activity, which is a kind of weather, I suppose) has confirmed that last night's eruption is already over.
posted by Kattullus at 6:30 AM on August 29


Here's a short video showing the first few minutes of the eruption (cut down to about fifty seconds). It's from this webcam.
posted by Kattullus at 6:33 AM on August 29


So, there's another eruption now, bigger and more powerful through a fissure that's over a mile long. There's no danger to people or animals because it's in the highland desert of Iceland. Since there's little ash being released there's also minimal danger to aircraft. If you like video of lava, here's about thirty seconds of the molten stuff.
posted by Kattullus at 8:57 AM on August 31


checked out that webcam - it's still erupting
posted by pyramid termite at 9:45 AM on August 31


It feels a little bit like staring into a campfire, except this fire is fueled by the guts of the Earth itself.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:08 PM on August 31 [1 favorite]


Now night has fallen it's pretty spectacular.
posted by Kattullus at 2:57 PM on August 31


There's an article about the eruption in The New Yorker. Reshaping the Earth by Carolyn Korman. Excerpt:
Meanwhile, the attention on Bárðar’s bulge has prompted a discussion of the relationship between volcanoes, melting glaciers, and climate change. As a glacier recedes, its enormous mass is removed from the land. Relieved of that load, the land rebounds slightly and the air pressure underground is reduced, enabling more magma to accumulate; eventually, some of that magma will rise and erupt through the Earth’s surface. In other words, global warming could alter the shape of the planet. “If you deglaciate Iceland, volcanism in Iceland should increase,” Jerry Mitrovica, a professor of geophysics at Harvard, said. “We’re moving the hand from the door and allowing the door to swing open.”
posted by Kattullus at 11:12 AM on September 2 [1 favorite]


Incidentally, the name Bárðarbunga is translated, but the translation is written in three different ways in the article: Bárður's Bulge, Bárdur's Bulge and Bárðar's Bulge. Only the first is correct. Bárdur's lacks the letter eth (ð) and Bárðar is already the genitive (possessive) so adding a possessive "s" is pointless. Rest assured, I've sent a sternly worded letter to the ðe New Yorker.
posted by Kattullus at 11:30 AM on September 2 [3 favorites]


The New Yorker article has been corrected. We can all now sleep easy.

Meanwhile, fresh aerial video of the eruption.
posted by Kattullus at 1:43 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


Stunning nighttime footage of the eruption (and some daytime footage that struck me as even more impressive, if a lot less live-from-the-bowels-of-hell).
posted by Kattullus at 3:21 PM on September 4


Here's a pretty good overview of what's going on by The Open University's Dave McGarvie. Excerpt:
What is the best-case scenario?

That the dyke intrusion stalls in the crust and cools, and the eruption at its tip ceases.

What is the worst-case scenario?

Unfortunately there is more than one. The first is that an eruption might start at the Bárðarbunga volcano itself, and there is a remote possibility that this could be a large explosive eruption producing an ash cloud. Fortunately because of the ash cloud produced during the Grímsvötn eruption of 2011 we have a fair idea of what this might look like and how best to minimise disruption to air travel. A reassuring fact is that lessons learned and changes made as a result of the Eyjafjallajökull 2010 eruption meant that despite erupting twice as much ash, disruption due to the Grímsvötn 2011 ash cloud was much less.

The second is that the dyke intrusion continues to the north-east and triggers an eruption at the Askja volcano. Askja last erupted in 1961, but its most notorious eruption was in 1875 when an explosive rhyolite eruption produced an ash cloud that spread over northern Europe. Rhyolite is a “sticky” magma type that fragments more easily into ash, hence has a higher potential to produce ash clouds that cause disruption to air travel.

However, we are unlikely to have a repeat of the 1875 eruption because there is probably not much rhyolite magma left, plus there is now a deep crater lake covering the 1875 eruption site. There remains the possibility that some ash could be produced if a dyke intrusion mixed with the remaining rhyolite magma and triggered an explosive eruption.
posted by Kattullus at 2:46 PM on September 5 [1 favorite]


Helicopter video of the eruption (less live-from-the-bowels-of-hell than the-awe-inspiring-majesty-of-nature).
posted by Kattullus at 3:36 AM on September 6 [1 favorite]


Surely the worst case scenario is that Jörmungandr lets go of his tail and the sky will fill with poison. Tommy Lee Jones will face him at Ragnarök with 1000 K-Rails, Anne Heche and mighty Thor.
posted by humanfont at 5:52 PM on September 6 [1 favorite]


Diving into an Active Volcano
posted by homunculus at 7:58 PM on September 6


Volcano Eruption in Papua New Guinea
posted by homunculus at 7:58 PM on September 6


Infrared camera shows a volcanic "dust devil" over the eruption.
posted by Kattullus at 4:23 PM on September 8


Anyone in northern Russia?
posted by slater at 4:18 PM on September 15


« Older Sports and pop culture junkies Bill Simmons and Re...  |  British subtitles... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments