Iceland volcano: Powerful quakes, but no eruption
Sunday, August 24, 2014, 12:06 PM -
Two powerful quakes were felt near Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano on Sunday, but the country's meteorological agency says there is no eruption.
The Icelandic Met Organization said Saturday that a lava eruption was taking place beneath the Vatnajokull glacier that covers it, but took it back on Sunday.
"Observations show that a sub-glacial eruption did not occur yesterday," the office said in a Sunday morning update. "The intense low-frequency seismic signal observed yesterday has therefore other explanations."
In the meantime, earthquakes have been ongoing, with hundreds observed overnight, which the Met Organization says were noticeably larger. Two were rated more than Magnitude 5.0
"There are no indications that activity is slowing down, and therefore an eruption can not be excluded," officials warn.
In the meantime, the country's aviation alert has been downgraded from red back to orange, and a no-fly zone around the volcano has been cancelled. The warning scale was raised to red, its highest level, on Saturday, for fear that the lava flow would break through the glacial ice covering and spew steam and ash into the atmosphere.
Authorities are keeping an eye on the new activity in Iceland, keeping in mind the 2010 eruption that forced 100,000 flight cancellations.
But the Associated Press reports an eruption this year would likely not cause as much travel chaos. In the wake of the 2010 eruption, aviation authorities revised their policies on ash clouds to include more detailed information, and putting more flight decisions in the hands of individual airlines and national regulating bodies.
"Even if there were to be a major eruption, it would not necessarily produce a high ash column, so the likelihood of interruption of trans-Atlantic and European air travel remains low," Open University geoscientist David Rothery told the Associated Press on Sunday.