The eruption of Grímsvötn on May 20, 2011 has produced a cloud of volcanic ash that shot up over 50,000 ft and has drifted over parts of Europe closing a number of major airports and creating air traffic havoc.
Now the online Der Spiegel reports today that another volcano, Hekla, is on the verge of exploding as well. Satellite altimetry measurements show that the mountain has swollen – more than it did right before it exploded the last time in 2000. Der Spiegel writes what scientists have found:
On the Hekla volcano they have discovered a 20 km wide swelling. Magma has risen up under the ground and is pushing the ground up, reports a group around Benedikt Ofeigsson of the University of Iceland in Reykjavik in the magazine ‘Journal of Geophysical Research‘. An eruption soon is ‘very likely,’ confirms vulcanologist Birger-Gottfried Lühr of the PotsdamGeosciences Research Centre.”
Hekla is right now under extreme pressure.
Is Hekla next? ‘If it keeps its rhythm of the last decades, then it is now due,’ says Lühr.
Instruments on the mountain show that Hekla has swollen up more than it’s last eruptions in 2000 and 1991.”
According to Wikipedia, during the Middle Ages, Icelanders called the volcano the “Gateway to Hell.” In January 2010 there were reports of patches near to the summit not covered with snow. Hekla had massive eruptions in 5050 BC, 3900 BC, 2310 BC and 950 BC, which threw about 7.3 km of volcanic rock into the atmosphere, placing its Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) at 5. This would have cooled temperatures in the northern parts of the globe for a few years afterwards.
After being dormant for 250 years, Hekla erupted again in 1104 AD with os VEI of 5. Hekla has also erupted every 10 years since 1970. Some eruptions had a VEI of 3, which sent ash 15 km into the atmosphere. If the scientists today are right, it could be a disruptive year for European air travellers.