Back in 2010, the eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano affected 10 million people and ended up closing most of Europe’s airspace for six days.
Today, another volcano in Iceland is starting to show signs of a possible eruption. Iceland’s meteorological office has raised its risk level to orange in the airspace surrounding the Bardarbunga volcano. Intense seismic activity has been occurring at the volcano with the strongest earthquake since 1996 happening today.
So far, there has been no eruption. But, the big increase in earthquake activity has officials worried enough to prompt a raising of the risk level.
Eurocontrol, the agency responsible for coordinating European airspace is aware of the situation and monitoring it closely.
What kind of risks are we looking at with the Bardarbunga volcano? Disruption of airspace will depend on the size of an eruption, how high the ash is thrown in the air and where the wind will carry it.
Right now, officials are seeing indications of magma movement within the volcano.
“As evidence of magma movement shallower than 10km implies increased potential of a volcanic eruption, the Bardarbunga aviation colour code has been changed to orange,” Iceland’s meteorological office said.
“Presently there are no signs of eruption, but it cannot be excluded that the current activity will result in an explosive subglacial eruption, leading to an outburst flood and ash emission.”
As for Iceland proper, the biggest risk from an eruption is flood waves. The area mainly at risk for potential flooding is largely uninhabited, and roads around the area have been closed.
Hampered airspace is the last thing Europe needs. Many EU countries are still trying to recover economically, and a shutdown of airspace would pressure these economies even more.
Image above: Volcano eruption from 2010 that led to Europe’s airspace closing for six days.