Iceland volcano to erupt as caldera sinks fast

Caldera has sunk by more than 20 metres since last week



Iceland’s unstable Bárðarbunga volcano could be about to erupt, scientists are warning. They say the surface of the glacier on top of the volcano’s caldera, or crater, has sunk by more than 20 metres since last week. It is sinking at a rate of one metre a day, according to some estimates.

Earthquakes are again shaking the area, with large quakes of up to magnitude 5.5 being registered every 12 hours or so. The size of an eruption would depend on how much magma is bubbling in the chamber, but may be huge. Violent clouds of steam could throw up clouds of ash high into the atmosphere.

The caldera spreads over 80 square kilometres and is covered by an ice cap up to 800 metres thick. An eruption could melt large amounts of ice, resulting in flooding.

But so far there has been little ash, though lava continues to pour from fissures in the ground. Scientists say it is also possible the caldera could stop sinking, seismic activity cease and flow of lava decline.

IBT / Vox /

[pictured: View of the lava flow from space, with the ice shown bottom-left; photo courtesy NASA]


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