Updated: 12/13/2017 2:33:52 AM
Concerns are mounting that Iceland's most dangerous volcano is waking up.
A 72-foot depression in the snow at the summit of Oraefajokull volcano, which has been dormant since a 1727-1728 eruption, is an alarming development.
The depression coupled with the volcano's recent increase in seismic activity and geothermal water leakage has scientists worried. With the snow hole on Iceland's highest peak deepening 18 inches each day, authorities have raised the volcano's alert safety code to yellow.
Experts at Iceland's Meteorological Office have detected 160 earthquakes in the region in the past week alone as they step up their monitoring of the volcano. The earthquakes are mostly small but their sheer number is exceptionally high.
Updated: 12/12/2017 1:53:39 AM
The cauldron in the main crater of Öræfajökull has grown wider, as well as crevasses becoming clearer in the ice-covered volcano, the Volcanology and Natural Disasters Group of the University of Iceland reports. This turn of events in the glacier became clear after comparing images taken of Öræfajökull on the 17th of November and 10th of December.
There has been increased activity around Öræfajökull in 2017, such as small tremors in the area which started last August. The Aviation Colour Code of the United States had previously been raised to yellow on the 17th of November after the ice-cauldron in the main crater had appeared. The Icelandic Meteorological Office had previously raised its safety code to yellow.
Updated: 12/12/2017 1:48:29 AM
A series of earthquakes have hit the area around Skjaldbreið mountain, Vísir reports. The earthquakes have numbered a hundred since yesterday evening, with the focal point revolving around Skjaldbreið mountain.
The first earthquake measured was 3,5 on the Richter scale at 19:20 yesterday evening. There were two other large earthquakes later that evening, measuring 3,2 at 19:50 and 3,7 at 21:25. Experts from the Icelandic Meteorological Office believe that these are not signs of an imminent eruption.
There have not been earthquakes as large as these in the area around Skjaldbreið since 1992, according to information from the Icelandic Meteorological Office. Experts are examining the area around Skjaldbreið closely.
Updated: 12/5/2017 3:26:10 AM
Two of the most powerful volcanoes of Iceland, Bárðarbunga and Öræfajökull have continued to show elevated levels of activity in the past couple of weeks. Bárðarbunga trembled on Sunday when a sharp 3.2 magnitude quake was detected in the eastern edge of the caldera. A swarm of few dozen smaller and deep quakes have been detected in Öræfajökull over the weekend.
In recent months all major volcanoes of Iceland have been showing significant and growing levels of activity. Geologists have determined that lava chambers of these major volcanoes and volcanic systems are quickly filling as magma is thrust up from the earth's core into the crust. In addition to Öræfajökull and Bárðarbunga the third major volcanic system of Vatnajökull, Grímsvötn has been showing signs of activity.
Published Tuesday, November 28, 2017
An evacuation plan for the Öræfajökull volcano has been published by the Department of Civil Protection in Iceland in light of increased activity in recent days.
When evacuation orders are issued due to imminent eruption in the volcano, people in the area have to immediately gather at three assembly points, whichever is closest: Svínafell 1, Hof 1, or Hnappavellir 2 (see map) and wait in their vehicles for further instructions.
If volcanic ash or volcanic tepra starts falling, people are instructed to seek shelter in the nearest building and follow further instructions when they are issued.
The volcano has erupted twice since Iceland was settled, in 1362 and 1727. Öræfajökull volcano has shown some signs of unrest recently, increased seismic activity, and earlier this month a new ice-cauldron measuring one kilometer in diameter formed in the glacial ice-cap over the volcano’s caldera.
Instructions for people who are within the evacuation area in the case of an evacuation:
- Taket he quickest route to: Svínafell 1, Hof 1, or Hnappavellir 2
- Wait in your car for further instructions
- If volcanic ash / volcanic tephra starts falling you should seek shelter in the nearest building
- Follow further instructions when they are issued.
Iceland Volcano Facts
Affected Area: 20 km.
Alert Level: Yellow