Baroabunga volcano, Iceland

(News & Editorial/ Baroabunga volcano, Iceland)

A major eruption of Baroabunga volcano and Scotland seceding (declaring independence) from the United Kingdom could combine into black swan events for Europe, with the global derivatives market; food prices and energy costs rising to drain consumer pocketbooks; and the second leg down of the “Greater Recession” to follow.


A.  Worries Over Bárðarbunga Eruption Rise
10 Sep 2014,, by Nanna Arnadottir and Oddur Sigurðsson/Veðurstofan
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Fears of an eruption at Bárðarbunga continue to rise as the volcano’s caldera sinks further and more seismic activity is recorded in the area, reports RÚV.

According to geologists and Civil Protection and Emergency Management (CPEM) the developments at Bárðarbunga are raising concerns. Representatives of the CPEM will meet with Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson to discuss the matter today.

volcanic alertThree scenarios are likely going forward. The first, that seismic activity around Holuhraun will cease and the eruption there end. Secondly, that the Bárðarbunga caldera will continue to sink but that an eruption will happen elsewhere.

“The third scenario,” said geophysicist Magnús Tumi Guðmundsson. “Is the sinking caldera could signal that Bárðarbunga will erupt, which would melt a lot of ice and produce a lot of ash. It’s possible that the melted water might not make it out of the caldera right away but eventually it would also cause a great deal of glacial flooding.”

This is the scenario which the representatives of the Civil Protection and Emergency Management fear the most.

“If we look back at history, then we can see that this is a big and active volcano and we should take it seriously,” Víðir Reynisson department manager at CPEM told RÚV. “Historically there have been very big eruptions in and around Bárðarbunga and it would be naive of us not to be concerned about, and prepare ourselves for, an eruption event.”

Meanwhile, [1400 miles to the east] Norway’s NRK reports that the smell of brimstone has been plaguing North Norwegian beaches. It is believed that the smell derives from the massive plumes of sulfur dioxide that have emanated from Holuhraun since its eruption. Although sulfur dioxide is toxic, it does not pose any danger to the Norwegians as it is already  thoroughly diluted by the time it reaches their shores.


B.  Holuhraun Largest Lava Eruption in Iceland since 19th Century
9 September 2014, Iceland On Review, By Eygló Svala Arnarsdóttir
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The ongoing volcanic eruption in Holuhraun has already become the largest lava eruption in Iceland since the 19th century, according to volcanologist Ármann Höskuldsson. More lava has been emitted than in the largest lava eruption of the 20th century, Krafla in 1984.

Ármann also pointed out that there is more gas in the magma than in the Krafla eruption, reports.
The lava emitted in the 1973 Eldfell eruption in Heimaey, Vestmannaeyjar, covered a smaller area than the lava already emitted in the Holuhraun eruption, but caused significant damage as it occurred near a town, whereas Holuhraun is in a remote area.

The largest lava eruption in Iceland before Holuhraun was in Askja in 1875.

As reported yesterday, the lava at Holuhraun covers almost 19 square km (7 square miles), which is an area larger than Hafnarfjörður, a town of more than 27,000 inhabitants outside Reykjavík.

Volcanologist Þorvaldur Þórðarson stated that the lava flow is not slowing down, progressing at a speed of 100 meters (328 feet) per hour. He predicts that it won’t progress further than 20 km but spread out after that.

C.  Bardarbunga eruption could trigger Britain’s coldest winter ever this year
24 Aug 2014,, by Nathan Rao
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Britain could freeze in years of super-cold winters and miserable summers if the Bardarbunga volcano erupts, experts have warned.

A fissure on mighty Bardarbunga volcano smoking and about to erupt. Photo taken from a a weather observer plane. Note the glacial field collapsing along the  currently active fissure. Another observer aircraft is seen in much closer to the smoke plume.

Depending on the force of the explosion, minute particles thrust beyond the earth’s atmosphere can trigger decades of chaotic weather patterns.
Tiny pieces of debris act as billions of shields reflecting the sun’s light away from earth meaning winter temperatures could plunge lower than ever before while summer will be devoid of sunshine. The first effect could be a bitterly cold winter to arrive in weeks with thermometers plunging into minus figures and not rising long before next summer.

The Icelandic Met Office has this week warned of “strong indications of ongoing magma movement” around the volcano prompting them to raise the aviation warning to orange, the second highest and sparking fears the crater could blow at any moment. The region has also this week been hit by a magnitude-four earthquake – the strongest for almost 20 years, officials said. The British Met Office said the effects of an explosion on Britain’s weather depends on the wind direction in the upper atmosphere. Spokeswoman Laura Young said: “If the upper winds are north-westerly it will have an effect on our weather.”If the upper winds are westerly then it won’t.”

Historic volcanic eruptions have had devastating effects on the weather in surrounding areas which have lasted for years. In 1783 eastern regions of the United States recorded the lowest ever temperature after Iceland’s Laki volcano erupted that year. As well as huge volumes of ash, the furious mountain also spat out large volumes of sulphur dioxide gas which added to the cooling effect.

In Indonesia, the eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815 led to an unusually cold spring and summer the following year. The bizarre effect on the weather also ruined corn crops devastating farmers and leading to a food crisis. Parts of Europe and America saw snow in June due to the eruption which also led to a shifting of the Atlantic sea ice. After Krakatau erupted in Indonesia in 1883 the world was hit by colder than average conditions for months although it is reported airborne particulate matter led to brilliant sunsets which were the subject of several late 19th-century paintings.

Experts put the phenomenon down to suspended dust and ash in the upper atmosphere and stratosphere blocking out the sunlight – the so called ‘haze effect’. They also say sulphur released from the volcano mix with water vapour in the stratosphere to form clouds of sulphuric acid droplets, which take years to dissipate, lead to a reduction in global temperatures.

The 1980 eruption of Mount St Helens in Skamania County, Washington, United States, led to global temperatures dropping by 0.1C. Two years later the El Chichon volcano in Mexico spat much less debris into the sky but a greater amount of sulphurous gasses is thought to have triggered a global temperature drop of up to five times the St Helens effect.

Weathermen say the effect in the UK could be nothing short of catastrophic if an explosion is strong enough. Jonathan Powell, of Vantage Weather Services, said: “There is a definite potential knock-on effect and with an eruption looking imminent, this is fairly worrying. “Particles can also be picked up by the jet stream and spread globally, a large amount can have a significant effect on the weather, the first could be an exceptionally cold winter this year.”But the effects can last for many years, even decades.”

However David Rothery, professor of planetary geosciences at the Open University, sought to allay fears over the threat posed by Bardarbunga. He said: “We would need to see a very big explosion to get enough ash to affect the temperature on the ground, we are talking about climate more than anything, what happens is it gets cooler because the sunlight doesn’t get through.”We don’t even know if the eruption will be explosive, it might just be lava and a little bit of ash thrown into the sky.”You can also see gasses like sulphur dioxide which can cause respiratory problems, but it is almost certain we are not looking at anything of that magnitude.”

Dr Dave McGarvie, senior lecturer in volcanology at the Open University, added: “We’ve known for some time that Bardarbunga was going to do something – we just didn’t know what. “Now she has stirred, she is giving us clues about what she is going to do.”The clues from the pattern of earthquakes show that seismic energy is being expended in two main clusters – one to the North East on the glacier margin, and one to the East under the ice. Adding in the clues from the pattern of earth movements indicates that magma is moving towards the surface, and if it gets there it will erupt.”Current indications are that if an eruption happens it will produce modest amounts of denser ash and only cause local disruption to air travel. “But we know so little about this volcano that she could surprise us.”

Dr Nicolas Bellouin, an expert on atmospheric dust clouds at the University of Reading, said: “The current cold snap many of us are experiencing in the UK is due to the fact that at the moment the wind is coming from the north – putting Britain directly in the firing line of any volcanic eruption from Iceland, if it happens in the next few days. “Volcanic ash is made of tiny pieces of sand and minerals, blasted out from an erupting volcano, which are then suspended in the atmosphere and transported by winds. “Where the ash goes is dependent on the direction of the wind. If winds continue to blow from Iceland to the UK, as they are at the moment, ash from an eruption will be transported to the UK and northern Europe.”


D.  Craters have appeared on two glaciers in Iceland
9 Sep 2014, by Ben Orlove
This article is republished from a brand new and cool website GlacierHub,  check and follow them at:
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Glacier subsidence in Iceland. (source: Marco Nescher/

The recent volcano eruptions in Iceland have created enormous circular depressions in two of the country’s glaciers. These dramatic features, which differ from each other in their origins and shape, are visible from the air.

A reconnaissance flight over Bárðar­bunga, the volcano where the first earthquakes were detected last month, shows that the ice over the caldera has fallen nearly 20 meters across an area about 7 kilometers long and 5 kilometers wide. This is a change in volume of 250 million cubic meters. The scientists at the University of Iceland attribute this shift to a movement of the base of the glacier rather than to melting. Magma has drained from a chamber under the glacier as it moves to the northeast and erupts onto the surface. As the chamber has emptied, the rock above it has shifted downward, carrying the glacier ice downward as well. This is the largest subsidence that has been observed in Iceland since measurements of the surface were begun over fifty years ago. This movement does not seem to be associated with geothermal activity at Bárðar­bunga, or of a higher likelihood of an eruption there. A recent photo from a helicopter flight shows the large extent and relative shallowness of this cauldron (the technical term for these craters).

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Photo credit: Almannavarnir

Another flight travelled over Dyngjujokull Glacier, to the northeast of Bárðar­bunga. It showed two separate depressions, somewhat smaller in extent, but almost twice as deep, reaching down 35 meters. These are probably associated with small eruptions of lava below the surface of the ice. Such eruptions can cause the formation of cauldrons like these, without unleashing outburst floods. There is some risk of continued eruptions, including larger ones, at this site.

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Bardarbunga glacier crater. Image credit: University of Iceland Institute of Earth Sciences

In recent days, the lava eruptions from the main fissure have been moving in two directions. The main flow from the eruptions is traveling to the northeast. It has recently reached the Jökulsá á Fjöl­lum River, releasing large quantities of steam. As this intrusion of lava into the river continues, explosive releases of gasses could occur, or a dam could be formed by the cooled lava, creating a lake and subsequent floods. A smaller branch of the fissure has opened close to Dyngjujokull. Should another branch open up a few kilometers to the south, under the glacier itself, there might be a flood or an explosive release of large quantities of ash. For the time being, though, the threat level remains at orange.

barabun1 lava field

The eruption and steam have created hazy skies over the area. The Icelandic Civil Protection Authority has issued alerts to people downwind of the eruption with respiratory conditions, since there are elevated concentrations of sulfur dioxide. They continue to monitor the entire region carefully.


Additional posts regarding the effects of major volcanic eruptions on human activity:


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