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Warning issued for Iceland’s Hekla volcano

Seismic activity near the Hekla volcano in southern Iceland has prompted the authorities on the island to issue the lowest level of civil warning.


At 11 am local time today the civil protection department under the leadership of Vidir Reynisson, declared an “uncertainty phase” in the wake of unusual seismic activity in the region. The department manager emphasised that the warning does not necessarily mean a eruption is pending, but responses can be initiated should Hekla erupt within the next few days.

Local geologists reported up to seven tremors and earthquakes ‘of reasonable size’ , at a depth of 5 km. Whilst the tremors are not thought to suggest magmatic activity, geologists have substantially increased surveillance in the area. Reports suggest there is no observable signs than an eruption is imminent.

These small earthquakes around the area could be the beginning of an eruption, that could begin anytime soon. But they could also be unrelated to the magma movements. It is not possible to tell, but because they originate close to Hekla it can be assumed that they are somewhat related. – Mr. Magnus Tumi Gudmundsson of the University of Iceland

The Icelandic Met Office has put in place a yellow warning alert for air traffic around Hekla and local police have advised people against traveling to the region or walking along many of its hiking trails in the foreseeable future, although a ban is not yet in place.

If the mountain is going to act like it has since 1970 then it is time for Hekla to erupt. The measurements that have been made on the uplift of the stratum show that the mountain is at a similar position as it was when it last erupted. So Hekla is ready. – Mr. Magnus Tumi Gudmundsson of the University of Iceland

The volcano last erupted with little warning 13 years ago in February 2000. Scientists widely believe Hekla erupts every 9-11 years, so the volcano is slightly overdue a period of activity. The last major eruption in Iceland was that of Eyjafjallajökull in April 2010, which brought widespread disruption to air traffic across Europe.

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LIVE webcam from Helka:

Earthquakes recorded across Iceland:

About James Cosgrove (27 Articles)
22 • Welsh • BSc Geography & Geology • MSc Applied Meteorology graduate - University of Reading

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