Livestream a Gigantic Volcanic Eruption

Iceland's Bardarbunga is set to erupt

Aug 19, 2014
Outside Magazine
Eyjafjallajokull eruption

The Eyjafjallajökull eruption of 2010 resulted in 100,000 flights being cancelled and a great deal of other disruptions; the Bárðarbunga volcano is part of a different volcanic system that's Iceland's largest.    Johann Helgason/Thinkstock

It's debatable whether Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano is more difficult to pronounce than Eyjafjallajokull, which caught the world's attention when it erupted in 2010. But Bardarbunga is certainly bigger—it's part of Iceland's largest volcanic system—and it's getting very close to erupting.

Volcanic eruptions have five alert levels, and Bardarbunga is currently at the fourth, or orange, stage, which according to the Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO) means that the volcano "is exhibiting heightened or escalating unrest with increased potential of eruption." The next step, red, would indicate that an eruption is either imminent or currently happening.

The threat level went up Monday after the area experienced the biggest earthquake Iceland has seen since 1996. Since the first earthquakes in the area were detected Sunday morning, IMO says about 2,600 earthquakes have occured in the area. There's also evidence of increased magma movement.

When Eyjafjallajokull erupted, it affected 10 million travelers, as European airspace became disrupted for six days—volcanic ash can seriously damage aircraft engines. If Bardarbunga does erupt, it could look like "an explosive glacial eruption, leading to an outburst flood and ash emission," according to the IMO. Seismologist Martin Hensch told RTE News that it's still unclear how the ash cloud would measure up to Eyjafjallajokull's, but the biggest risk would probably be flood waves because Bardarbunga is located under the ice cap of the Vatnajokull glacier.

As we wait to see what happens, you can keep track of Bardarbunga with this livestream of the area that updates every 10 minutes.