Experts fear that Iceland’s biggest volcano could soon erupt, bringing with it a giant ash cloud that could cause travel and health problems.
The 6,591ft Bardarbunga volcano has been rocked by a series of huge earthquakes over the past few days – the biggest since it last erupted in 2014.
Now experts fear that the tremors signify a new eruption within the the next few years.
Volcanology expert Páll Einarsson, from the University of Iceland, said the latest quakes are part of a series that have been “in progress for two years”.
Einarsson told the Daily Star: “The volcano is clearly preparing for its next eruption, that may happen in the next few years.
“The earthquakes last week are just the symptoms of this process, they do not cause the volcano to erupt.”
Einarsson added that it is “impossible” to predict exactly when the volcano will erupt, but warned authorities in Iceland to take action to prepare for “more disastrous eruptions”.
If the 10,000-year-old volcano does erupt, it could bring with it emissions that would affect air quality in Iceland – and a potential ash cloud that could ground flights across Europe.
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However, Dr Simon Day, from University College London, told MailOnline that activity could “precede a large explosive eruption and consequent widespread ash fall” – but claimed it is “statistically unlikely”.
He said: “It’s not very likely that the current activity will lead to an eruption breaking the ice or erupting along the rift zone.”
Bardarbunga last spewed out huge volumes of sulphur dioxide during a seven-month eruption between August 2014 and February 2015.