BREAKING: Iceland's Bardarbunga Volcano Erupts Overnight, Travel Red Alert Issued
August 29, 2014 at 11:25 AM
We opened this week by warning you that Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano - backgrounder from the Icelandic Met Office here, pronunciation tutorial embedded at bottom - had very pointedly begun to rumble. Let this be your official update that as of last night the volcano did indeed erupt, that an aviation red alert has been issued by Iceland's authorities, and that an air traffic ban is now in place around the entire Bardarbunga system. Happy Friday.
Technically there are no big ash problems yet, because the eruption doesn't seem to have kicked up any actual ash. Nonetheless Agence France-Presse is already throwing around phrases like "global travel chaos" in articles about what the next few days might bring. You guys did take our advice on Monday and purchase travel insurance, right?
In the meantime everyone is in wait-and-see mode. Eruptions don't have to come with ash-spewing explosions, remember. They can be just plain old fissures in the rock where lava comes out of the ground. It seems that last night's eruption was relatively quiet. The earthquake it generated - which is a quick way to check how much force was involved - wasn't the kind of shaking you get with violent explosions. The official description of the event was instead "effusive eruption without significant explosive activity."
The fear now is that at some point Bardarbunga actually will go ahead and explode, throwing up clouds of engine-destroying ash and triggering a massive earthquake in the process. That of course is when the travel fun begins.
[Photo: john smith / YouTube]