Alert code raised to yellow.
The ice-covered Öræfajökull volcano, Iceland’s largest volcano, has lain dormant since 1727.
However, geothermal activity has increased so much since a major earthquake on October 3 that it has has melted enough ice to form lakes around the volcano. The area also reeks of sulfur, another indication of increasing activity.
“Even in the last few days, there have been tremors, albeit smaller ones. Something is going on there which has not happened before, and therefore the observations about the volcano are increasing,” said seismologist Reynir Bödvarsson of Uppsala University.
“There may be an explosive outbreak of ash, similar to what happened in Eyjafjallajokull, which could affect air traffic,” warned Bödvarsson, adding that such an outbreak could last a lot longer than the Eyjafjallajokull eruption.
An explosive eruption at Öræfajökull in 1362 is considered to have been the second most deadly eruption in Icelandic history.
The 1362 eruption was so big that its ash has been found in Greenland and Western Europe.
Although authorities say there is no sign of imminent eruption (they think a swarm of earthquakes would precede an eruption), Iceland’s Department of Civil Protection has published an evacuation plan just in case.
Thanks to Stephen Bird, Alessandro Decet and Gordon Broussard for these links