In 2010, Iceland witnessed a volcanic event that suspended air travel across parts of Europe for almost a week. Now, a separate volcano may be close to erupting, according to a University of Iceland geologist.
Hekla volcano located in southern Iceland has been showing signs that it may erupt soon. The magma chamber under the volcano is reportedly full. This has caused the surface to swell on the volcano’s northern side, suggesting an eruption is imminent, Páll Einarsson, professor in geophysics at University of Iceland told the Icelandic news outlet, Morgunblaðið on Monday.
According to GPS monitoring of the volcano, there is more magma underneath Hekla than before its last eruption in 2000. But this does not necessarily mean the eruption will be larger than the last.
In the past, Hekla has given little forewarning before an eruption. In 2000, there was just 79 minutes between the first warning earthquake and an eruption – one of the longest intervals than previous Hekla eruptions, Einarsson said.
Thanks to technological advances, the country is prepared to warn of an impending eruption. Those close to the volcano will receive a text message warning to evacuate the area, Iceland Review reports.
Hekla has been giving eruption warning signs since 2006 with small earthquakes and surface swelling taking place. In 2011 and 2013, similar reports of surface swelling were given without an eruption. Some of Hekla’s past eruptions have been short and small without producing much damage. Others have lasted for months and have pumped enough ash into the atmosphere that had the capacity to alter global temperatures.
Hekla is one the country’s most active volcanoes with at least 20 eruptions in the last 1,200 years, which has led to the nickname “The Gateway To Hell.” According to surface deformation studies after an eruption in 1980, scientists found the volcano’s magma chamber is located 5 miles below the summit. During Hekla’s large explosive eruptions, it has deposited tephra, volcanic rock fragments, throughout the country which has acted as time markers to date past eruptions.