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Volcanic Activity in Iceland

21st August 014

Seismic Activity in Iceland

Information regarding possible volcanic activity in Iceland

Yesterday, police authorities in Iceland decided to close and evacuate an area North of Vatnajökull Glacier following the seismic activity in Bárðarbunga. 

This decision is made for safety reasons. Scientists from the Icelandic Met Office have measured growing seismic activity in the volcano Bárðarbunga in Vatnajökull since August 16. This activity is an indication of ongoing magma movement and possibly an impending volcanic eruption. However, experience shows that seismic activity can be ongoing for a long time without an eruption going off, and at this time, there are no changes in measurement to indicate an increased danger of an eruption compared to previous days. 

This is first and foremost a precautionary action. The closed area is in the interior highlands of Iceland. It is unpopulated and in difficult terrain. Evacuation of the area on short notice in case of an sudden eruption would be very difficult, and as a result, it would be impossible to ensure the safety of travellers in the area. 

In accordance with procedure, the National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police has raised the Civil Protection level to Alert Phase. All roads leading into the area are now closed and the police authorities in Húsavík and Seyðisfjörður are evacuating the area North of Vatnajökull.

At present there is nothing to indicate possible disturbances to flight schedules as a result of this development, but as a precaution, the Bárðarbunga aviation colour code has been changed to orange, indicating that the “volcano is exhibiting heightened unrest with increased likelihood of eruption.“ No further action has been taken. 

The situation is being monitored closely and relevant authorities are on high alert. Any changes to the situation will be reported promptly. Daily updates will be posted on www.iceland.is for those who want to follow the development.


Previous Activity 2011

URGENT: News on Vocanic Eruption of Grimsvotn at Vatnajokull late 21st May 2011

Grimsvotn Volcanic Eruption

A volcanic eruption started around 7:30 PM on 21 May 2011 in Grímsvötn underneath the Vatnajökull glacier in Iceland. Grímsvötn is a very active volcanic area and has erupted five times since 1983. The last eruption was in 2004. These eruptions have in the past not resulted in wide-ranging flight disturbances.

Keflavík International Airport will be closed until noon on May 23rd due to the volcanic ash concentration being above operable levels.

Icelandair continues to monitor the situation along with aviation safety guidelines and will not operate flights unless cleared by the Air Traffic Authorities.

Many questions have come up following the recent eruption of Eyjafjallajökull volcano: How does it affect Iceland and air travel? Are tourists safe in Iceland? We hope to answer most of your questions here in this document, but if you seek further information please visit these websites:
www.iceland.is or www.visiticeland.com.

Iceland and Volcanoes
Icelanders are resilient people who have learned to live in harmony with the forces of nature. The fact is that Iceland is a volcanic island and would be much less fascinating if it didn’t have the natural hot pools, geysers, and a landscape unlike any other country in the world!
The civil protection and emergency management authorities in Iceland are always prepared, alert, and effective and have the situation at the eruption site well under control. Preparedness is the key to safety in the face of any hazard. This includes understanding the hazard, its consequences, and having a plan of action.

Eyjafjallajökull  Eruption March / April 2010

The Icelandic language has many long and strange words like Eyjafjallajökull.
Pronounced “AY-uh-fyat-luh-YOE-kuutl-uh” it translates as “Island mountain glacier”. It is one of the smaller ice caps of Iceland, situated to the north of Skógar and to the west of Mýrdalsjökull, the summit of the volcano being 1,666 metres above sea level.

Latest news on the eruption (23rd June 2010)
There is currently very little activity at Eyjafjallajökull volcano. Small ash clouds are seen occasionally, they disappear again in some minutes.  The main eruption has now halted for the forseeable future.

What effect does it have?
Apart from the plume of ash, the effects of the volcano were only felt in the closest vicinity of the eruption – a scarcely populated area to the South of Iceland. The lava from the eruption flows safely to the North, an area uninhabited by people. Day-to-day life continues as usual in Iceland, businesses are open and society functions normally. As before, there is plenty to see and do while in Iceland!

Is it safe?
Injuries or fatalities due to volcanic eruptions in Iceland are extremely rare, and there have been no such cases due to the volcanic eruption. The Eyjafjallajökull volcano is located to the south of Iceland, and only covers a tiny part of the large island. It poses no safety threat to people.

Can I fly?
During the first few days of the Eyjafjallajökull eruption, quite a lot of volcanic ash was cascated into the air, causing serious problems in air traffic throughout the continent. As the eruption is now only a fraction of its original size, the risk of air traffic disturbances is much diminished.
All international airports are open in Iceland. As a precaution, passengers are asked to monitor flight schedules closely on travel industry web sites. Even though volcanic ash might still affect air travel, there are four international airports in Iceland, and if one were to close down, air traffic would be directed to one of the others.

Katla who?
Since there has been some discussion regarding the neighbouring volcano of Katla, it is important to note that there is currently no indication of an eruption there. Historical accounts detail a series of earthquakes or tremors
which are distinctively felt in the inhabited areas to the west, south and east of the Katla Volcano.
Seismic activity in the area around Katla is monitored closely as well as rise in river levels. In addition a network of continuously recording GPS stations is used to monitor ground movement whichis also used as an indicator of an imminent eruption. Seismic monitoring as well as other monitoring should give warnings of an eruption well in advance.

Clean and safe!
Iceland ranks as the cleanest country in the world, according to Forbes magazine. Natives are used to the geothermal wonders of the island and have learned to make the most of them. As a result Iceland is one of the world’s leaders in green energy and sustainable development. It is also the only Western country that
produces all its electricity from emission-free and sustainable natural resources in the form of geothermal and hydro power.
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