If the Holuhraun volcanic eruption continues as it has done, then both the sinking of Bárðarbunga and the eruption itself can be expected to continue for at least several more months.
The longer the current eruption continues, the less likely it becomes that Bárðarbunga will erupt, as had been feared. “Things could develop differently and scenarios involving an eruption under the glacier and in Bárðarbunga are still possibilities,” according to the scientific committee of the Civil Protection Agency, as reported by mbl.is.
The scientists pored over data from the way the eruption and seismological events have developed since the beginning of the episode this summer. The earthquake swarm at Bárðarbunga is one of the biggest ever recorded in a mountain anywhere in the world—although the sinking of Bárðarbunga and the intensity of the Holuhraun eruption have both slowed of late.
“Seismic activity and lava production are though still large-scale in comparison to eruptions in Iceland over the last hundred years,” the committee explained.
Several days after the eruption started, the craters of Bárðarbunga began to sink by up to 80 centimeters a day. That rate has slowed gradually and now stands at about 25 cm per day.
The new lava spewed out from Holuhraun represents the biggest lava flow in Iceland since the Skaftáreldar eruptions (1783-1784) and is likely the world’s third-biggest lava flow since that time.