November 1, 2010

Glacier Melt In Iceland Hints At Volcanic Activity

Scientists said Monday that torrents of water are pouring from a glacier that sits on Iceland's most active volcano, which indicates that the mountain is growing hotter and may be erupting soon.

University of Iceland geophysicist Pall Einarsson told the Associated Press (AP) on Monday that the flood which started Thursday at the Grimsvotn volcano is similar to the one in 2004 that lasted five days and ended with an eruption that disrupted European air traffic.

Millions of air travelers around the world were grounded in April when ash from Iceland's Eyjafjalljokul volcano led most northern European countries to close airspace for five days.

Icelandic Meteorological Office geophysicist Gunnar Gudmundsson told AP that there are no signs yet of the underground tremors, which typically signal there will be eruption at Grimsvotn.

Grimsvotn lies under 650 feet of ice on the Vatnajokull glacier in southeast Iceland.  The volcano also erupted in 1998 and 1996, which caused flooding to a largely uninhabited plain around it.

The flooding triggered by magma from the volcano has been expanding a lake underneath the glacier, building pressure strong enough to send water pouring from under the ice cap.

Iceland is one of the world's most volcanically active countries.


Image Caption: Ash from Grímsvötn volcano across Vatnajökull ice cap, November 7, 2004. Credit: NASA/MODIS Rapid Response System


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