After a summer disrupted by smoke from numerous forest fires in northern Quebec, the sky of the province and other parts of North America not completely safe from another smoke episode with the imminent eruption of the Icelandic volcano Fagradalsfjall.
This scenario may seem unreal, as several thousand kilometers separate Quebec from the island state. However, going back to 2010, the eruption of Eyjafjöll – a volcano covered by an ice cap and located approximately 130km east of the Fagradalsfjall volcano – caused disruption on a global scale. More than 100,000 flights had been canceled. Clouds of ash had moved as far as Siberia and North America.
“When (the eruption) happens under a glacier (like the Eyjafjöll volcano), it can be very explosive, because of the contact between the glacier water and the magma. It creates a lot of volcanic ash,” explains Pierre-Simon Ross, professor of volcanology and economic geology at the National Institute of Scientific Research (INRS).
Pierre-Simon Ross, professor of volcanology and economic geology at the National Institute of Scientific Research (INRS). Photo: Josée Lecompte Submitted on November 20, 2023
The present situation is different, as the Fagradalsfjall volcano is located in a “dry zone” and not under a glacier. If its eruption could prove catastrophic for nearby residents with possible lava flows, its potential impact on a global scale would be less harmful than in 2010, according to Mr. Ross.
However, the proximity of the Fagradalsfjall volcano to the sea does not allow us to completely rule out an underwater eruption.
“Maybe it could go underwater in the sea, because we’re close to the coast. It’s unlikely, but it’s still possible. This would then generate a lot of ash and, depending on the direction of the wind, could affect Europe or North America,” continues the professor.
Icelandic authorities are still on alert and the risk of an eruption remains high.
“At present it is not possible to determine whether and when an eruption might occur nor to determine precisely where it might surface in the high-risk area and around the town of Grindavík », We can read on the Icelandic government website.
The approximately 4,000 residents of the town of Grindavík, located 40 km southwest of the capital Reykjavik, were evacuated on the night of November 10.
Dozens of earthquakes and a major crack more than 15 km long ripped apart the roadway in the town of Grindavík.
The volcano’s activity has caused dozens of earthquakes and a major crack more than 15 km long has ripped open the roadway in the city.
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