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Iceland warns of possible volcanic eruption, raises alert level

Volcano at Barðarbunga is registering ‘intense earthquake swarm’ activity but there are no signs of magma coming to the surface.

Iceland volcano warning

ICELAND HAS RAISED its alert level for the risk of a possible volcanic eruption to orange – the second-most severe level.

The Icelandic Met Office’s orange code denotes that a “volcano shows heightened or escalating unrest with increased potential of eruption”.

The office said in a notice posted on its website that “intense eathquake swarm continues at Barðarbunga. Presently there are no signs of magma moving to the surface.”

The warning comes amid swarms of earthquakes that have taken place since Saturday in Barðarbunga (Bardarbunga) - a subglacial stratovolcano located under Iceland’s largest glacier.

Roads nearby have been closed amid fears an eruption could lead to massive flooding.

Scientists said yesterday there are two scenarios: one is an explosion outside the Vatnajokull glacier, leading to minor ash emissions and troubles locally.

The second possibility is an eruption occurring inside the glacier. Seismologist Martin Hensch says the latter could lead to ash being sent high into the atmosphere.

In 2010 the ash from a volcanic eruption in Iceland caused major air traffic disruptions that stranded 10 million travellers around the world.

- Additional reporting by Susan Ryan

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