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Earth Transportation Science

Eruption Of Iceland's Bardarbunga Raises Travel Alert to Red 38

Posted by timothy
from the melting-iceland dept.
The eruption of the Bardarbunga volcano in central Iceland, which appeared a strong possibility after a series of earthquakes, is currently underway, beneath the ice of the Dyngjujokull glacier. The BBC reports that Iceland has raised its air travel alert to red, its higest level, but that for now all of Iceland's airports remain open. CNN notes that "the underground activity did not immediately result in changes to volcanic activity on the surface ... Because of a pressure from the glacier cap it is uncertain whether the eruption will stay sub-glacial or not, Iceland 2 TV said."
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Eruption Of Iceland's Bardarbunga Raises Travel Alert to Red

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  • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Saturday August 23, 2014 @01:54PM (#47737567)

    They really should not name things by letting a cat walk on a keyboard.

    "Bardabunga" sounds like it was named by Bart Simpson.

    I once flew in a helicopter over Mauna Loa [wikipedia.org]. It looked nothing like the Iceland volcanoes in the news. There was very little smoke, an no ash. Just red hot lava flowing down the mountain. So when I got back home I did some research. It turns out there are different types of volcanoes. Mauna Loa is a shield volcano [wikipedia.org], while Iceland has stratovolcanoes [wikipedia.org]. Shield volcanoes erupt continuously over long periods, produce relatively little ash, and have heavy low viscosity lava that flows quickly and spreads out. Stratovolcanoes erupt in explosive bursts, producing lots of smoke and ash, and have lighter, high viscosity lava, containing high levels of silicates, which tends to ooze like honey rather than flowing like water.

    Btw, the helicopter ride over Mauna Loa cost about $200/person and was definitely worth it. It was the high point of our vacation. If you are on the Big Island, you should go.

  • Re:How is it (Score:5, Informative)

    by theVarangian (1948970) on Saturday August 23, 2014 @03:17PM (#47737995)

    Why is it that when a thing like this happens (supposedly), we're directed to the misguided BBC, and to cowardous CNN? Doesn't Iceland have some kind of geologic society or meteorlogic society that issues reports based on adequate, current, hot-off-the-volcano scientific data?

    The icelandic met office has a site that tracks seismic activity (read: earthquakes), they have an english website: http://en.vedur.is/#tab=skjalf... [vedur.is]

    The University of Iceland's institute of earth sciences has a news page in english: http://earthice.hi.is/bardarbu... [earthice.hi.is]

    They have also set up a number of webcams:
    http://www.livefromiceland.is/... [livefromiceland.is] (Vaðalda, north of Vatnajökull, towards Bárðabunga)
    http://vedur2.mogt.is/grimsfja... [vedur2.mogt.is] (Grímsfjall)
    http://vedur2.mogt.is/kverkfjo... [vedur2.mogt.is] (Kverkfjöll)

    Not very spectacular sites but the content is a bit better than most of the bullshit you are likely to get from the corporate media.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 23, 2014 @05:26PM (#47738793)

    What you're seeing on the news is likely a previous eruption of another volcano, since the present events do not (yet) produce any striking images - it's all under the ice. What will happen with BÃrÃarbunga (if anything) is uncertain since it's a very large system with potential for eruptions both under the glacier and outside the glacier. Right now it looks like it will stay subglacial, which means much of the ash would be contained by the ice - so no shutdown of all flights in Europe in that case. The biggest effects will instead be more local, in the form of flooding due to melting of the glacier.

    It can be noted that BÃrÃarbunga is the world record holder for the biggest lava field produced in a single eruption during the holocene (last 11700 years), and for one of the greatest instantaneous discharges of water known to man - a flow greater than the Amazon river and the Zanclean flood that filled the Mediterranean Sea, combined. However, to reach such a flow the eruption needs to happen deeper inside the edge of the glacier, creating a large amount of melt water which is then set free ketchup-style when it finally breaks through. There is no indication that the current activity is a beginning of the big one. It is too close to the edge of the glacier and any water will escape more gradually, with a much less dramatic peak flow. The current estimates are something like 20000 m^3/s max, which is comparable to e.g. the Potomac suddenly growing to the size of Saint Lawrence River. And even that is only if the eruption grows a lot bigger than what have been seen so far.

  • by Rei (128717) on Saturday August 23, 2014 @08:16PM (#47739707) Homepage

    You probably only think you're pronouncing "Bardarbunga" (you mean Bárðarbunga") right. It's "BOWR-thar-BOON-ka". The R is an alveolar tap (unless you say it slowly), the th is voiced and further foward on the teeth, the N is devoiced, and the "g" (which I rendered as "k") is unvoiced but also unaspirated.

  • by Rei (128717) on Saturday August 23, 2014 @08:21PM (#47739735) Homepage

    It means Bárður's Bulge“.

    Eyjafjallajökull means "Glacier of the Mountains of the Islands" (Eyja = Of islands; fjalla = of mountains; jökull = glacier). ("The Islands" = Vestmannaeyjar, a small island chain close off Iceland's southern shore; Eyjafjall and his big sister Katla form a mountain range near Vestmannaeyjar.)

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