Iceland’s biggest volcano is ‘ready to erupt, warns expert

An eruption at Iceland's biggest volcano could be brewing, an expert has warned.

The 6,590ft Bardarbunga volcano, which is hidden under the ice cap of the Vatnajökull glacier, has been rocked by a series of quakes in recent days.

Páll Einarsson, a geophysicist at the University of Iceland, says this shows that pressure in the volcanoes magma chamber is increasing.

He warns that the tremors mean Bardarbunga is 'clearly preparing for its next eruption' in the next few years which could create an ash cloud that will cause travel chaos.   

The warning follows the 2010's explosive eruption of Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull, which threw thousands of tonnes of mineral ash into the air. 

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An eruption at Iceland's biggest volcano may be imminent, an expert has warned. The 6,590ft Bardarbunga volcano (pictured), which is hidden under the ice cap of the Vatnajökull glacier, has been rocked by a series of quakes in recent days

An eruption at Iceland's biggest volcano may be imminent, an expert has warned. The 6,590ft Bardarbunga volcano (pictured), which is hidden under the ice cap of the Vatnajökull glacier, has been rocked by a series of quakes in recent days

LINK BETWEEN EARTHQUAKES AND VOLCANOES

According to Oregon State University, most earthquakes directly beneath a volcano are caused by the movement of magma.

The magma places pressure on the rocks until it cracks the rock.

Magma then moves into the crack and begins building pressure again. Every time the rock cracks it makes a small earthquake.

Most of this was fine particles that created an ash cloud. 

This caused travel chaos causing more than 10 million air passengers to be stranded as a result of its ash cloud and cost the European economy an estimated £4 billion ($4.9 billion).

A similar scenario could take place if Bardarbunga were to erupt. 

Bardarbunga is one of the most active of Iceland's 130 volcanoes.

In 2014, a record-breaking volcanic eruption from Bardarbunga spewed lava and ash over Iceland's Highlands for nearly six months, leaving behind the largest caldera formation ever observed. 

This eruption was the strongest of its kind in Europe in more than 240 years, and released two cubic kilometres of volcanic material.

Now, the volcano is showing signs of restlessness once again after being rocked by four huge earthquakes last week.

The earthquakes, measuring 3.9, 3.2, 4.7 and 4.7 on the Richter scale, struck the caldera region last weekend.

This suggests that magma could be building up below the surface, which could lead to another eruption soon. 

According to Oregon State University, most earthquakes directly beneath a volcano are caused by the movement of magma.

The magma places pressure on the rocks until it cracks the rock.

Magma then moves into the crack and begins building pressure again. Every time the rock cracks it makes a small earthquake.

Einarsson told the Daily Star the latest earthquakes were part of a series that has been 'in progress for two years.' 

RECORD-BREAKING BARDARBUNGA ERUPTION 

Iceland's Met Office issued a 'red alert' at the end of August 2014 after the Bardarbunga volcano, which lies underneath the Vatnajökull glacier, experienced a 'small' eruption.

The aviation threat was reduced months later, though scientists at the time warned there was still gas contamination in the area around the eruption site.

Bardarbunga is a large central volcano lying underneath Iceland's Vatnajokull glacier, in the centre of the country.

The researchers say the subsidence was spurred by the intrusion of underground magma, 12 kilometers below the surface

The researchers say the subsidence was spurred by the intrusion of underground magma, 12 kilometers below the surface

It contains a 2,296ft-deep (700 metre) caldera, hidden beneath ice, covered in extensive flank fissures, from where the majority eruptions take place.

The most recent eruption began in August 2014, and lasted until February 2015.

The Veidivötn fissure extends for over 62 miles (100km) to the south west, almost reaching Torfajökull volcano, while the Trollagigar fissure extends 31 (50km) to the north east, towards the Askja volcano.

'The reason for the earthquakes in this place is that the volcano Bardarbunga is inflating, i.e. the pressure of magma in the magma chamber is increasing It has been doing this since the last eruption ended, in February 2015,' he said.

'The volcano is clearly preparing for its next eruption, that may happen in the next few years.'

'The earthquakes last week are just the symptoms of this process, they do not cause the volcano to erupt.' 

Dr Simon Day, of University College London, added that the

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