Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Rude Awakening


One cannot always be gracious and correct. Sometimes bad thoughts make their way through the mental barriers erected in order to maintain a civilized persona.
 
Main volcanoes in Iceland - including Bárðarbunga
Here in Iceland we are now at the edge of our seats due to an impending volcanic eruption that has all the makings of a disaster of Eyjafjallajöll proportions. This time around the volcano is Bárðarbunga and since last week hundreds of earthquakes per day in its vicinity imply that magma is on the move. If it blows it will mark the 49th eruption in Iceland in the last 100 years.
A screen shot of the earthquake web site - a cluster of quakes can be seen in the vicinity of Bárðarbunga. The largest so far has been around 4 on the Richter scale.
The country is now on alert and in preparation the highlands north of Dyngjukjökull have been evacuated. No one lives in the highlands but the area is very popular in the summertime for those that enjoy the harsh Icelandic nature, both locals and tourists. The Icelandic surveillance plane equipped with eruption monitoring equipment has been called home from the Mediterranean where it was temporarily leased out for border patrol and the National Crisis Coordination Centre has been fully activated. Everyone here constantly check for updates and I am would not be surprised to read that the earthquake web page has jumped to the top of the most popular internet sites.
The worry is that the eruption will do either of two things. A) cause a sub-glacial flood from Vatnajökull or B) result in an ash cloud into the atmosphere akin to or worse than the one from Eyjafjallajökull. Both scenarios could be quite catastrophic.   

 
Which brings me to my bad thoughts. On Monday I had guests over for dinner. This did not give cause for any bad thoughts – far from it. These related to a job related meeting that was scheduled after the dinner party was decided and was to take place at Þeistareykir in the north of Iceland, the day after the party. This required taking a flight that departed at seven in the morning and to wake up at six. I am not an A person – or maybe I am. I never remember if it is A or B that don’t like to wake up early. Anyway. Enter bad thoughts. All during the dinner party I kept wishing that the eruption would just go ahead and start. That way there would have been no flight and no meeting.
The touristic eruption at Fimmvörðuháls - oen of the cute ones
But my prayers were not answered and the volcano is still considering its options. Having taken my flight and while in the north I did worry that because I had been so selfish the eruption was sure to start while I was still there, grounding me on the opposite side of the country from where I wanted to be, namely at home. However, the gods decided to be merciful and I got there as planned.
Unless this mercy was a temporary reprieve. Next Wednesday I am supposed to by flying to New Zealand for WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival and then on to Australia to participate in the Brisbane Writers Festival. To get there I have to fly through Europe. So now I am doing the exact opposite of what I did during the dinner party. I am now praying for the volcano to stuff itself.
The wretched ash cloud no one ones to be reminded of
I cannot leave this topic without presenting you with some facts about the Bárðarbunga volcano. For one it is responsible for producing the world’s largest lava field in modern times when it spouted the Þjórsárhraun lava field 8500 years ago. It is around 950 square kilometers or 370 square miles. Bárðarbunga is contained within the Vatnajökull glacier so its impressive 10 km (6 miles) wide and 700 m (0.5 miles) deep caldera (crater) is not visible to the naked eye. The Icelandic volcano site lists Bárðabunga as being one of the most powerful and dangerous Icelandic volcanoes.
With regards to the meeting at Þeistareykir, it went as well as could be expected. Aside from the part when I fell asleep in the middle of it. I have seen project owners more impressed than when I was shaken back into consciousness.
Yrsa - Wednesday

 

16 comments:

  1. Blog's like Yrsa's make me very happy all our volcanoes fell asleep may years ago. Or so we are told....

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    1. Caro - one of the things we are taught here in school is that there is no such thing as a dead volcano. Just ones that are dormant for longer periods than others. They can all awaken apparently. Come to think of it, maybe there are A and B types.

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  2. Yrsa, my prayers are that it keeps its lid on too! So many of us are traveling these days. Once we are all in the same place, I would NOT mind being trapped for several weeks!!!

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  3. PS Those conferences look tres cool - prestigious literati - congrats Yrsa..

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  4. Does this mean we should plan on wearing gray to Reykjavik in November?

    Enjoy your travels, big congratulations on the conferences, and our prayers are with you and your unique, wonderful countrymen.

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    1. Hi Jeff - if there is ash coming from the sky you can wear any color you like. You will end up wearing grey anyway :-)

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  5. I saw mention of the rumbling earthquakes on the news in the past couple of days, and that made me think of you. You're the only Icelander I know, so any time something relating to Iceland enters my little brain, I think of you. Aren't you lucky? :-) Safe and comfortable travels!

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    1. Hi Everett - thanks! My prospects are diminishing, a small eruption has begun and is considered likely to result in a huge "springigos" which directly translated means "bomb eruption". Can't be good :-(

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  6. Be safe in travels and in dealing with an unpredictable volcano. We hope it does not erupt and cause either scenario.
    It's good that you explained that volcanoes can erupt; they are dormant, not dead.
    Also, Crimepieces ran a good review of "The Silence of the Sea." I have to get my hands on that one. Thora, an ocean, a ship and terror: sounds like a good summer read.

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    1. Hi Kathy - thanks for letting me know about Crimepieces - I very much liked the review :-) I hope you like it when you get it, it is a bit grim but I seem to be getting more evil as time goes by.

      The volcano has begun to erupt and the area is now code red. At present it is a very small eruption but likely to become a whole lot larger, ash cloud and all. I hope I can get out on Wednesday though.

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