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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Thar She Blows

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Wednesday, August 20, 2014/Categories: natural history, environment

Another one of Iceland's unpronounceable volcanoes is preparing to erupt. Bardarbunga caldera is ~6 miles wide and lies under the massive Vatnajokull icecap, the largest glacier in Europe. It is rumbling for the first time in many years.

The last time a volcano exploded in Iceland, air travel in most of Europe was suspended because of volcanic ash, a kind of pulverized glass, that could destroy jet engine turbines. The Icelandic meteorological office has raised the threat level to 4 on a 5 point scale. According to Volcano Cafe, a volcano tracking group,

"Bárdarbunga volcano is poorly studied as little was known until satellite imagery revealed the true scale of the caldera. The reason was both remoteness and benign eruptions for the last 537 years. Bárdarbunga is the most seismically active of the volcanoes on Iceland, however."

Bárdarbunga Volcano, Glacier Cap, & Steam Vent, Iceland   (credit:

Besides potential air travel disruptions, if the volcano were to explode and melt a good portion of its covering ice cap, the floods could be of epic dimensions. The old sailor's admonition about siting a whale breaching the surface, Thar She Blows, may be appropriate here.


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