Iceland's Bardabunga Volcano Might Erupt, and That Could Cripple Air Travel

By Sean Breslin
Published: August 20, 2014

A recent swarm of earthquakes near Iceland's Bardabunga volcano has seismologists fearing an eruption could happen soon, and if it blows, major air travel problems could occur.

As a result, European airlines have been warned of the dangers, according to Sky News. In 2010, the ash from a volcanic eruption in Iceland caused major air traffic disruptions that stranded 10 million travelers around the world.

The warnings come after Iceland's Met Office raised the risk level of eruption to orange for Bardabunga, meaning an eruption was possible but not imminent, Live Science reports. It is the fourth on the five-level scale, the report added.

(MORE: Here's Why Evacuation Orders Have Been Issued in California)

The earthquake swarms began suddenly Saturday and have been occurring in rapid succession since then, according to Live Science. The quakes are small – in the 3- to 4-magnitude range – but they're persistent enough to concern scientists about a possible eruption.

Bardabunga is a subglacial stratovolcano located under Iceland's largest glacier, known as Vatnajokull, which adds another layer of intrigue to the situation, the Associated Press reports. If the eruption occurs outside the glacier, scientists expect minor ash emissions and only local problems. However, if the volcano blows inside the glacier, it would trigger ash sent high into the atmosphere and a bad scenario for air travel, seismologist Martin Hensch told the Associated Press.

Either type of eruption could also lead to massive flooding due to glacial melting, and roads in the area have been closed as a precaution, the AP adds.

When a volcano sends ash thousands of feet into the air, it isn't visibility concerns that ground planes, Time.com reports. It's actually the chemicals in the ash that can damage a plane's delicate engines, while the ventilation holes can become clogged and stall the aircraft.

Ad Blocker Enabled

Featured Blogs

A Gallery of Tropical Influences: MJO, CCKW, TIW, and La Niña

By Dr. Jeff Masters
June 28, 2016

Given the quick start we’ve seen to the 2016 hurricane season--with Tropical Storms Danielle and Colin becoming the third and fourth named storms on record--the Atlantic may not need much help working its way well through the alphabet. Even so, now is a good time to look at some oceanic and atmospheric factors that could help move the process along.

Half of Thailand's Weather Sites Break All-time Heat Records in 42 Days

By Christopher C. Burt
May 30, 2016

All-time national heat records have been set this past April and May in India, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and the Republic of Maldives. The unprecedented heat has killed hundreds in India and dozens in Thailand so far. But nothing in the record books can compare to what has recently occurred in Thailand: a large country with over 120 meteorological sites that has seen half of its official weather stations break their all-time heat records. Here are the details.

An extraordinary meteorological event; was one of its results a 1000-year flood?

By Stu Ostro
October 5, 2015

The confluence of meteorological ingredients the first weekend in October 2015 resulted in an extraordinary weather event with severe impacts. Was one of them a 1000-year flood?

Why the Arrest of a Science-Loving 14-year-old Matters

By Shaun Tanner
September 16, 2015

By now, many of you have heard or read about the arrest of Ahmed Mohamed, a 14-year-old high school student from Irving, Texas. Ahmed was arrested because school officials called the police after he showed one of his teachers his homemade clock. Mistaken for a bomb, Ahmed was taken into custody, interrogated, shamed, suspended (still on suspension today, Wednesday), and reprimanded. All of this after it has been found that the "device" he brought to school was indeed, a homemade clock.