Experts are worried as Grímsvötn, the largest volcano in Iceland could erupt in the near future. The last eruption took place nearly a decade ago, forcing the Keflavik Airport to shut down, leading to hundreds of canceled flights. At the start of October, local authorities decided to boost the alert level from Green to Yellow. While green means that the volcano is calm and there are no risks, Yellow signals that some activity can be detected, and it is above the average background levels.
Grímsvötn is a relatively active volcano, as it erupts every five to ten years, with a minimum of 65 eruptions taking place in the last week. The eruption might not pose dangers for the population, but it could disrupt commercial airlines again. Due to its geographical position, Iceland is a major air traffic node.
During periods of peace, the top of the volcano is covered by a thick layer of ice. Since a large amount of heat would be generated by a potential eruption, a significant amount of ice could become meltwater, flooding the areas around the volcano.
Once the ice starts to melt, it can travel across the ice top and emerge at the corners, causing floods that have damaged roads and bridges in the past. However, the ice does play an essential role, as it absorbs a large amount of the pressure released by the eruption.
The ice will prevent ash from rising too high into the air, as air currents will disperse quickly. If the pattern that was followed by the volcano in the past remains valid, it is likely that the upcoming eruption will be a tame one, without any long-term consequences in the long run.
Since volcanoes rely on complex mechanisms, some changes can appear without warning, but researchers are keeping an eye on Grímsvötn.