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Iceland: restless Hekla ‘ready to erupt’? (updated) 6 July 2011

Posted by admin in activity reports, Hekla, Iceland.
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Seismic activity detected beneath Iceland’s Hekla volcano over the past few days appears to be the result of magma movement, according to Páll Einarsson of the University of Iceland, suggesting that the volcano could be heading towards eruption. The news agency AFP reports:

‘The movements around Hekla have been unusual in the last two to three days and have been recorded in five very precise metres placed around Mount Hekla’, University of Iceland expert Pall Einarsson said, adding that while this might not necessarily mean an immediate blast, the volcano is ready to erupt’.

There’s coverage of the situation at Hekla at Jón Frímann’s Iceland Volcano and Earthquake Blog. More news sources are given below, and a webcam view of Hekla can be found at RÚV. More news here if and when comes in.

UPDATE. Many thanks to an Icelandic-speaking reader who has sent me a summary of this article from RÚV, which expands somewhat on the version being given in the English-language press. Páll Einarsson is quoted as saying that it is not possible to conclude on the basis of the seismic data that an eruption is imminent, but that the signs of magma movement beneath the volcano are clear and that the volcano is ‘ready to erupt’. Inflation has been taking place at Hekla for some years, says Einarsson, and the volcano has in fact been building up to a new eruption ever since the last one (which was in 2000) came to an end. My informant adds that the Icelandic public safety authorities have said that there is no need for people living around Hekla to take any action as yet. She lives fairly near Hekla, and is watching developments closely.

FURTHER UPDATE. A new article has been published by the Iceland Review translating more of Páll Einarsson’s comments, under the headline ‘Activity in Hekla not necessarily indication of eruption’: ‘Einarsson told ruv.is that the volcano is certainly ripe for an eruption but the sensors are new and there isn’t enough experience with them to draw any conclusive assumptions. … However, he is not in doubt that Hekla is ready to burst. The volcano has been extending slowly but surely in the past years as magma is accumulating below it. Hekla has been preparing to erupt ever since the last eruption concluded in 2000’. Meanwhile the news of another potential Icelandic eruption is exciting the global media. Full marks to the inimitable New York Post for its low-key headline: ‘Iceland’s “gateway to hell” volcano ready to erupt, experts say’. And is that Hekla in the accompanying photograph? I think not. [More volcano photo confusion idiocy courtesy of Yahoo here – thanks to Boris Behncke for finding that one.]

It has to be pointed out that whatever Hekla’s seismicity may have been like over the last two or three days, things are very quiet around the gateway to hell at the moment, according to the IMO’s seismicity pages.

AND MORE. Describing Hekla as ‘ready to erupt’ might not be the best way to put it, reflects Dr Erik Klemetti as he puts the current Hekla flurry into context at Eruptions: ‘The million dollar question is how we can interpret these volcano monitoring data – is the volcano going to erupt tomorrow, next week, 5 years from now? Unfortunately, we just don’t have the experience yet to know what the changes being seen at Hekla mean in terms of the timing of an eruption’.

News
Unusual activity around Hekla volcanoIceland Review, 5 July 2011
Iceland’s Hekla volcano ‘ready to erupt’ – AFP, 6 July 2011
Iceland Hekla volcano ready to blowThe Times (South Africa), 6 July 2011
Experts say Iceland’s Hekla volcano is ‘ready to erupt’ – Agenzia Giornalistica Italia, 6 July 2011
Óvenjulegar hreyfingar í Heklu – RÚV, 6 July 2011
Activity in Hekla not necessarily indication of eruptionIceland Review, 6 July 2011

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Hekla – summary information for Hekla (1702-07=)

The Volcanism Blog

Comments

1. Bobnormal - 6 July 2011

Hello, I found your place via Erik over at BigThink, and I want to let you know I appreciate the work that your doing, helping debunk the gloom and doom crowd is a good thing when it comes to Volcanoes and other Earthy nastiness (I love the subject Don’t get me wrong)
See ya!
Bob

2. Irpsit - 6 July 2011

Last time I said to myself Grimsvotn was ready to erupt with a force way larger than that of 2004 or 1996, was just 2 weeks before the eruption this year. The inflation was way superior than that before the 2004 eruption, and that week there was a big earthquake swarm at Grimsvotn.

Now, after several minor changes at Hekla, we see this. I am very confident that Hekla will erupt in a few days or weeks. I bet my money for an eruption July or August. Katla showed several peaks of harmonic tremor about 2 weeks ago. I think thus Katla will erupt probably this autumn or next year.

I am not surprise with these 3 volcanoes erupting in 2011. They were “supposed” to erupt in 2011 based in their historical trends. However historical trends never apply very well to volcanoes. So these volcanoes might also not erupt in soon. Though, I think they will.


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