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Bárðarbunga Status Update: Still going

If you’re confused about the name of this blessed eruption, you’re not the only one. To clarify, the Volcano Bárðarbunga, which started making noise in late summer 2014, opened a magma corridor to its north where the current eruption is going on, in a place called “Holuhraun” or “Hole-Lava”. The currently active part of this place is now being dubbed “Nornahraun” or “Witches’ Lava”, after the amount of ‘Pele’s hair’, (Icelandic: “witches’ hair”) it has produced, to distinguish it from older lava fields in the area. Point being, if you hear anyone using any of those words outside a geology lecture, they’re talking about the current eruption, and we will be calling it the “Bárðarbunga eruption” for simplicity’s sake.

A couple that came into the office the other day were surprised to hear that the volcanic eruption at Bárðarbunga was still going – they hadn’t heard about it on the news for so long. Which makes sense, I guess, since after it’s been going for a while, the fact that it’s still going isn’t really “news” anymore.

So this is just to let you know it’s still going, it’s now the largest Icelandic eruption in 150 years, measured by amount of lava output. In fact it’s the largest lava flow on earth since the massive 1783 eruption of Laki, which is only 50 kilometers to the north and probably belongs to the same volcanic system.

It’s still extremely dangerous to go near it, and also illegal, but you can still fly over it in a helicopter or an airplane. Sometimes the pollution from the volcano reaches all the way to Reykjavík, and though it’s not dangerous, it’s uncomfortable for people with asthma and such. You can now see a forecast for where the pollution is likely to be on the weather authority’s website.

The volcanic output shows no sign of letting up any time soon, but seems to follow a generally downward trend. The point being: We’ll let you know when it stops.

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