Iceland's Bardabunga Volcano Update: Tourists Evacuated

August 20, 2014

As concern increases over a possible eruption of Iceland's Bardabunga volcano, authorities have evacuated tourists from area.

A recent swarm of earthquakes near the volcano has seismologists fearing an eruption could happen soon. 

Iceland's Civil Protection Department says 300-500 people, mostly visitors, have been evacuated from the highlands north of the Vatnajokull glacier, which is popular with hikers.

Officials said Wednesday the measure was taken as a safety precaution, the Associated Press reports. Roads in the area have been closed that an eruption would lead to flooding.

Air travel experts are also watching the situation closely. The volcano sits in a major flight path from the U.K. to North America, and an eruption would cause chaos.

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.

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.

The Associated Press has contributed to this report

Ad Blocker Enabled

Featured Blogs

97L Sweeps Toward Lesser Antilles; Nida Approaching Philippines

By Dr. Jeff Masters
July 30, 2016

A flash flood watch is in effect for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as Invest 97L sweeps westward toward the Lesser Antilles. 97L will have an increasing chance of development as it moves toward the western Caribbean next week. Meanwhile, Invest 96L is struggling in the eastern Atlantic; Invest 91E could become Tropical Storm Howard in the Eastern Pacific over the next several days; and Tropical Storm Nida will sweep through the northern Philippines this weekend en route to a landfall in southeast China, perhaps near Hong Kong, early next week.

Hottest Reliably Measured Air Temperatures on Earth

By Christopher C. Burt
July 22, 2016

As Jeff Masters mentioned in his recent blog, a temperature of 54.0°C (129.2°F) was observed at Mitribah, Kuwait on July 21st. According to the Kuwait Meteorological Department this was the hottest temperature ever measured in the country (a reading of 54.4°C/129.9°F observed at the same site on July 16, 2010 has been disallowed as a result of a faulty sensor). The 54.0°C reading also is a new record for Asia and ties a similar reading at Death Valley (on June 30, 2013) as the hottest reliably measured temperature on Earth. The key word here is ‘reliably’. Many hotter temperatures have been reported from around the world in years past. However, all of these have credibility issues. In that vein I am going to revisit a blog I first posted on WU in October 2010 listing all the various claims to temperature readings at or above 54°C (129.2°F). In the years since I made that post I’ve learned more about some of these claims and have thus updated my entries and ‘validity’ scores as a result.

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.