An Icelandic stratovolcano, one the country’s most active, could erupt at any time according to a leading geophysicist.
University of Iceland geophysicist Pall Einarsson said Wednesday that measurement instruments have shown “unusual” magma movements around the Hekla volcano in recent days. He added, however, that it could not be stated with any certainty that the activity picked up by sensors at the volcano in south Iceland is a signal of an imminent eruption
According to Ríkisútvarpið RUV – The Icelandic National Broadcasting Service - the GPS movements around Hekla in the past few days are real. Civil disaster authorities and local emergency authorities in the country also were notified Wednesday of the possibility of an eruption.
Hekla is situated about 110 kilometres (70 miles) east of the Icelandic capital, Reykjavik. It is located in close proximity to the Eyjafjallajokull volcano, which erupted in April and May 2010 causing widespread disruption to European airspace and grounding thousands of flights.
“No eruption has started in Hekla volcano. But it might start without any warning”, explained Icelandic volcano expert Jón Frímann.
“Nobody seems to know what is going on with this magma moments for the moment. But they can be tracked with the GPS network to some extent. What is more interesting is that this does not seems to have started until a few days ago. But first signals of this happening did take place in April and May, but at a much lesser smaller scale. What is interesting is that fact that no earthquakes appear during this magma movements, there is also no harmonic tremor when the magma is moving around in the crust close to Hekla volcano. But if there are any earthquakes, noise or whatever coming from Hekla volcano it is going to appear on my geophone that is located about 16 km away from peak of Hekla volcano. The distance is even less from the actual edge of the Hekla volcano system itself.”
“Normally, there are no changes in the GPS network before an eruption in Hekla volcano. So this is a highly unusual event in Hekla volcano since instrumental monitoring started few decades ago. The question is whether this means a fissure style of eruption is going to take place in Hekla volcano. But that does sometimes happen, as with any volcano in Iceland. For the moment, however, the only thing that we can do is wait and speculate (within reason)”, Mr. Frímann added.
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