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expert reaction to seismic activity in Bárðarbunga volcano

Seismic activity was detected in Bárðarbunga, a large sub-glacial volcano in Iceland.


Dr Dave McGarvie, Senior Lecturer in Volcanology at the Open University, said:

“We’ve known for some time that Bárðarbunga was going to do something – we just didn’t know what.  Now she has stirred, she is giving us clues about what she is going to do. The clues from the pattern of earthquakes show that seismic energy is being expended in two main clusters – one to the North East on the glacier margin, and one to the East under the ice.  Adding in the clues from the pattern of earth movements indicates that magma is moving towards the surface, and if it gets there it will erupt.

“The good news for air travel is that both these clusters are away from the heart of the main volcano, as it’s in the heart that the kind of magma is produced which leads to highly explosive eruptions that produce the abundant fine ash capable of being transported long distances through the atmosphere.  Current indications are that if an eruption happens it will produce modest amounts of denser ash and only cause local disruption to air travel.  But we know so little about this volcano that she could surprise us.”


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