A story has been making the rounds in the British press and elsewhere that an eruption is imminent in Bárdarbunga in Vatnajökull. The news seems to be based on a misunderstanding of a TV interview with a specialist at the Icelandic Met Office earlier this week.
Vatnajökull. Photo: Páll Stefánsson/Iceland Review
This has made the Met issue a “Specialist remark” on its web. The remark is as follows:
“Presently, there are no signs of an imminent volcanic eruption in Iceland. The Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO) did not issue a warning last weekend in connection with increased seismicity beneath the Vatnajökull ice-cap. If signs of an eruption were apparent, IMO would issue a warning immediately.
Written by a specialist at 09 Feb 15:39 GMT.”
According to the chairman of Promote Iceland, Fridrik Pálsson, the whole story seems to be based on a series of misunderstandings, perhaps stemming from fears from the Eyjafjallajökull eruption in the spring of 2010.
The origin was an interview with a professor of geology on RÚV state radio. Páll Einarsson discussed a round of earthquakes in the northwestern part of Vatnajökull, close to Bárdarbunga. Foreign media reported on the statement.
“It seems that media frenzy has started because of this innocent comment on Bárdarbunga,” professor Einarsson said. “Maybe a typical frenzy, where one news bureau echoes another, magnifying the story at each instant.”
Einarsson continued in an interview with RÚV on Wednesday: “The story has gone far away from what I said in the interview on Sunday night.”
He also pointed out that eruptions are common in Iceland and that most of them are very small and localized.