Fears of a potential Bardarbunga eruption grow, and so does the seismic activity beneath it. Overnight, a magnitude 5.7 earthquake jolted Iceland’s volcano. But, there’s still no sign of an eruption according to Iceland’s Meteorological Office.

An increase in seismic activity has raised fears an eruption like the one from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano is coming. That eruption led to the shutdown of most of Europe’s airspace for six days in 2011.

Late last week, officials raised the warning code for possible disruption to the air industry to red, but lowered it back to orange on Sunday. The lower alert came after officials concluded the recent flurry of seismic activity did not lead to an eruption under the glacier.

Scientists believe the increase in earthquakes is due to the shifting magma flows beneath the crater of the volcano. This movement is leading to changes in pressure.

Scientists aren’t sure exactly what’s going to happen. But, here’s a few scenarios they have offered.

Should the magma reach the surface under the glacier, a massive eruption and ash production is possible. This would have the biggest impact on airlines. The magma could also keep traveling along a 21 mile dyke. If it reaches the surface away from the volcano, an eruption is likely but, would not generate as much as ash.

An eruption inside the Bardarbunga caldera could also happen, but scientists believe that is the least likely of the scenarios.

When it comes to volcanoes, scientists are guessing. Palni Erlendsson, a geologist at Iceland’s Meteorological Office said it best to Reuters, “We still can’t say whether it will cease, continue like this for a while or erupt. It’s impossible to say.”

Scientists have put out their alerts. Everyone just has to wait to see what Bardarbunga does. At least this time we have a volcano we can pronounce.

Image: Earthquakes in Iceland over the past day. Credit: Icelandic Meteorological Office


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