By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer
Iceland, a country that’s located between the North Atlantic and Arctic Ocean, is filled with sand, lava fields, mountains, and glaciers. The curious mix of frosty temperatures and warm ocean currents creates a unique environment in the country, but its especially known for geological activity like steaming geysers and volcanoes. Now, Iceland has raised its Bardarbunga volcano ash alert level to red, after eruptions began blasting through the ground to spew lava 100 feet high.
Aviation officials are worried because the 2010 explosion of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano created an ash cloud that totally threw the European airspace out of whack. The massive amounts of ash belched out from the fiery discharge covered much of northern Europe, causing about 20 countries to shut down commercial jet traffic in their airspace. This disrupted the flight plans of more than 10 million travelers and cost $1.7 billion.
Since August 16, Bardarbunga has been showing higher levels of seismic (earthquake-like) activity and ongoing magma movement. When the pressure beneath Earth’s crust builds, volcanic explosions can occur, shooting fiery molten rock, ashes, and gases into the atmosphere and causing major damage to the surrounding areas. That’s because Earth’s crust is split up into 17 huge “tectonic plates” that float on a hotter and softer layer in the planet’s mantle, and when these plates come together or pull apart, mega quakes and volcanoes often result.
Iceland’s meteorological (atmosphere science) office measured an earthquake in mid-August that was the strongest shakeup in the region since 1996. Then, last Friday, lava spewed from a crack north of the Bardarbunga volcano, followed by an even bigger eruption on Sunday. Hundreds of earthquakes have torn through the ground, with 300 recorded in the span of 12 hours on Tuesday! Some of the lava has soared as high as 100 feet, painting the skies with blazing orange splashes.
Featured image courtesy of Boaworm on Wikipedia. Image of volcanic lavenders courtesy of TJBlackwell on Wikipedia.