Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Iceland's Hekla Volcano Could Erupt Soon

While Iceland has enjoyed a couple years now of near silence from its restive volcanoes, that may soon come to an end with the awakening of it's most active and dangerous volcano, Hekla. While there is no indication seismically that the volcano is due for imminent eruption, scientists say that the magma chamber is full, and primed for eruption at any time. Hekla volcano is not known to give much advanced warning when it erupts, like some of its neighbors. Indeed, most eruptions from Hekla have been quite sudden when it decides to blow. Its last eruption occurred a mere 79 minutes after initial quake activity.

The magma chamber is now more inflated than its last eruptions in 1991, and 2000, which means if it erupts soon, the eruption will likely be larger than recent ones. Given that the volcano doesn't give a lot of notice, geologists advise against any trips to hike around on Hekla. You simply wouldn't have enough time to get away from the mountain should an eruption start.

The 2000 eruption of Hekla was well-documented and monitored. Ash plumes rising up to 11km were produced. Unlike the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull, this eruption did not cause aircraft delays on such a massive scale, however local ash fall did affect Icelanders.

If Hekla erupted today, it is anyone's guess as to where the ash will fall, and for how long. If the magma chamber is indeed primed beyond the levels of the last two eruptions, we could be in for quite a show. Hekla does have some decent webcams aimed at the mountain, so those that can't make the trip can still check it out once it happens.

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