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New Eruption Looms Over Iceland

Just months after the eruption of an Icelandic volcano which caused Europe’s largest air shutdown since World War II, comes signs that another volcano is about to burst into life, experts said on Monday.

“The water levels have tripled in (the river) Gigja since last night,” water measurement specialist Gunnar Sigurdsson of the Icelandic Meteorological institute said.

With an eruption unlikely to occur until the water levels in Gigja have reached a maximum, Sigurdsson added: “I don’t know when we can expect the levels to reach their highest point, but I suspect it will be in a few days.”

Due to increased thermal temperatures, the icy lake in the crater of the Grimvoetn volcano and the surrounding glacier area has melted, filling the crater with to a point where it has spilled over and caused a so-called river-run, which in turn could easily spark an eruption.

Thorunn Skaftadottir, a geophysicist with the Icelandic Meteorological Institute said: “When a river-run occurs, the pressure, in this case, in Grimsvotn, decreases, and with less pressure, there is a chance of an eruption from the volcano.”

She did however point out that this is not guaranteed, since an eruption can only happen if the volcano has collected enough magma.

Over the past 48 hours, the Meteorological institute has also registered strong seismic activity in the area, and three moderate earth quakes ranging from 2.7 to 4.0 on the Richter scale.

A similar flood from the Grimsvoetn Lake was closely followed by an eruption, in 2004, from what is considered to be Iceland’s most active volcano.

Travel agents and airlines will undoubtedly be keeping an astute eye on the situation, along with their fingers and toes crossed.

When the Eyjafjoell volcano erupted in April, it dispersed a massive cloud of ash which drifted across Europe, affecting more than 100,000 flights and eight million passengers.

Tourists were stranded abroad as well as in the UK and tempers ran high as the battle commenced to repatriate British tourists while flights remained grounded.

The tourist industry was hit hard and has since struggled to make a comeback, leading many travel firms to cease trading and others fighting to stay afloat.

For the sake of the travel industry’s future and all those holidaymakers looking to catch some winter sun, let’s hope that this new scare is something and nothing and doesn’t come of anything.