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Iceland volcano keeps threatening air travel

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More lava than any volcano in Iceland since at least 1947

Far from simply ceasing to erupt, Iceland’s Bardarbunga volcano has continued to spew forth lava and create earthquakes since activity began there in August.

Seismic activity has been on the increase again this week, with around 80 earthquakes up to magnitude 4.4 occurring on October 28 and two of the strongest earthquakes yet recorded there on October 29, at more than magnitude 5. Last weekend there were 200 earthquakes.

Bardarbunga has now emitted more lava than any volcano in Iceland since at least 1947. The molten rock that has come to the surface so far would fill more than 750 Empire State Buildings. The total area of lava on the surface now takes up 64.6 square kilometres.

Its clouds of toxic sulphur dioxide gases – more since August than Europe’s industry produces in an entire year – are consistently blown towards Europe. However, the emission of these gases is less than in previous Icelandic eruptions.

Scientists say there are now several possible scenarios, including a massive glacial flood and an ash-producing eruption that would be very problematic for air travel.

Mashable / Nature / National Geographic / Iceland Review

[pictured: Image from NASA’s Landsat satellite]

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