Thursday, April 1, 2010

Land of Fire and Ice Erupts Again

By Tara Lafemina

For the first time in 200 years, southern Iceland had to evacuate due to a volcano. The eruption has brought about concerns that an even more dangerous volcano may erupt in the future, according to The New York Times.

The Eyjafjallajokull (AYA-feeyapla-yurkel) volcano erupted March 20th at approximately 8 p.m. It put on a show of ash and molten shooting into the air. Scientist called the volcano safe due to the eruption happening on a slope instead of the summit.

There is no apparent danger of a nearby glacier being affected. After an aerial survey, scientists concluded the eruption hit an area of the glacier that was not icy.

Even with danger unexpected, nearby towns evacuated.

450 residents of nearby fishing and farming towns were told by officials to quickly leave the area. Officials issued a state of emergency.

Evacuation centers were set up in southern town such as Hella. Most people were able to return home in less than 24 hours. Livestock were the most affected due to the release of caustic gases.

The people that live 100 miles south of the capitol, Reykjavik, do not know what to expect next. An estimate of when a volcano will erupt is hard to predict.

''It could stop tomorrow, it could last for weeks or months. We cannot say at this stage,'' said Tumi Gudmundsson, a geologist at the University of Iceland.

Icelandic scientists have been measuring the volcano activity with seismometers and global positioning instruments. There have been thousands of small earthquakes in the past month, but the Eyjafjallajokull eruption went by unnoticed.

''The volcano has been inflating since the beginning of the year, both rising and swelling,'' said Pall Einarsson, a geophysicist at the University of Iceland's Institute of Earth Science. ''Even though we were seeing increased seismic activity, it could have been months or years before we saw an eruption like this ... we couldn't say that there was an imminent risk for the area.''

The Karla volcano is the next concern for Iceland. With its close proximity to Eyjafjallajokull and being under a large ice cap it could prove hazardous. If the Karla volcano erupts there will be massive flooding and explosives.

Volcanoes are not uncommon in Iceland. It is situated on a large volcanic hotspot. The volcanos are a result of magma pushing itself from the sea and shifts in Earth’s plates.

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