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Volcanic Eruption Blasts Icelandic Glacier with Lava, Another in Papua New Guinea Creates Spectacular Ash Cloud

29 Aug 2014, 3:43 pm

RUV-Omar Ragnarsson

Photo credit: RUV/Omar Ragnarsson


The Bárðarbunga Volcano began erupting in Iceland early Friday morning local time, sending lava pouring out of a fissure — associated with the Holuhraun lavafield — and setting off a series of small earthquakes. A number of fissure lie in the Holuhraun lava field, which is situated in between the Bárðarbunga and Askja Volcanoes. According to a timeline from the Iceland Met Office, initial signs of an eruption started around 10 p.m. local time and lava was seen pouring out of the fissure around 2 a.m. local time on Friday. Scientists estimate the peak of the eruption, based on analysis of the seismic data, happened around midnight local time. The met office said that after the release of pressure, the earthquake swarm associated with magma moving below the surface began to drop off every so slightly. that said, by Friday afternoon more than 1,200 earthquakes recorded in a 24-hour period, with the largest being a 4.1 magnitude. Much uncertainty remains in what will happen next and Icelandic scientists say one of three things may happen: • The magma could stop moving and the earthquake activity would slowly drop off. • The magma roiling beneath the surface could break the surface north of the Dyngjujöku glacier and erupt at another fissure. • Magma could reach the surface — partly or completely — underneath the glacier. Much remains to be seen and scientists are constantly monitoring the progression of the eruption. iceland_aviation Photo credit: Iceland Met Office Originally authorities were concerned that there might be a repeat of the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull, the threat level of the volcano was raised to “red”. It’s now at orange. The 2010 eruption sent towering plumes of soot and ash thousands of feet into the air, wreaking havoc on trans-Atlantic air travel for more than two weeks. Prevailing winds sent the ash plume sailing over Europe, grounding thousands of planes and stranding millions of passengers. The whole ordeal cost the European airline industry more than $2 billion.

Papua New Guinea

png_twitter Another, more spectacular eruption occurred on the eastern side of New Britain Island. The island is located just east of the island of Papua. The volcano, Mount Tavurvur, is quite active and last erupted in 2013. The ash plume sent skyward prompted the diversion of two Qantas flights — one on a Sydney to Tokyo route and another from Sydney to Shanghai — after Australia’s Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre issued an alert for the area. According to ABC News, eruption was disruptive to at least one community, as authorities evacuated some local residents and advised others to stay indoors to avoid breathing the ash fallout. Meteorologist Alan Raymond

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