In DepthIceland

As volcano rumbles, scientists plan for aviation alerts

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Science  29 Aug 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6200, pp. 990
DOI: 10.1126/science.345.6200.990

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Iceland's Bárðarbunga volcano, buried under the giant Vatnajökull glacier, has been holding scientists in suspense over the last 2 weeks, producing frequent seismic rumbles but no signs yet of an actual eruption. But scientists at the Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO) in Reykjavík are now seasoned by back-to-back eruptions at Eyjafjallajökull in 2010 and Grímsvötn in 2011 that produced large ash clouds and caused costly air traffic snarls. IMO is leading a European Union–funded effort called FUTUREVOLC to build a comprehensive database of local volcanic data and develop new tools—including new seismic stations, water chemistry samplers, and ground- and airplane-based ash detectors. Meanwhile, Bárðarbunga continues to rumble, and scientists are standing by.