Nature & Environment Sep 23, 2014

Ongoing Eruption at Iceland’s Bardarbunga Volcano

Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano remains relatively harmless and visually stunning.

If you’ve been tuned into Iceland news lately, you’ve probably heard about the volcanic activity at Bardarbunga (pronounced B-au-r-th-a-r b-oo-ng-a), located in the Holuhraun lava field. A small subglacial eruption was recorded on August 23, with a fissure opening up and spewing lava on August 29. Since then, the eruption has continued at a steady pace, with lava fountains reaching nearly 200 feet in height, and lava flows streaming down from the fissure.

Luckily, the closed zone is an unpopulated area north of Vatnajokull glacier that consists of sands and lava fields where there is no vital infrastructure. As a result, daily life in Iceland has not been disrupted and all airports are open. Popular tourist destinations along Ring Road and around Reykjavik are also a safe 70-187 miles away from the eruption site. Aside from air pollution, the volcano hasn’t caused much damage, but it has certainly attracted attention from the media, scientists and photographers around the globe.

NPR recently reported that the eruption is being caused by the spreading of the Eurasian and North American plates, which are moving apart from each other. “As the plates spread, the magma from Bardarbunga has started flowing into the gap – literally making Iceland expand.”

Mashable wrote that although we can’t truly predict the future of the volcano, right now “the eruption is relatively benign, and absolutely beautiful,” and posted several incredible photos. NASA offered its own unique perspective of the volcano and shared some pictures of Bardarbunga taken from space.

If looking at those incredible photos has you craving a volcano visit of your own, then Iceland is the place for you. Although it’s not safe right now to get close enough to Bardarbunga to really experience it, Iceland is home to over one hundred volcanoes, most of which are dormant or extinct and open to tourists. In fact, Iceland is the only place in the world where you can stand inside the magma chamber of a dormant volcano.

Watch live streams from Bardarbunga here and here and don’t forget to check, and for updates on the volcanic eruption.