Iceland’s Grimsvotn volcano could erupt soon. Is Europe ready to bring down the planes again?
I’m sure you remember Eyjafjallajökull, the volcano that erupted in Iceland last April. Well, I sure do. I was in the middle of my wedding preparations when a big part of Europe’s air traffic was shut down for days in a row, including the Belgian airport of Zaventem near Brussels.
Anyway, to make a long story short, I had to wait anxiously for my future husband’s tailor-made suit to arrive from Italy, and it was a very close call. Still, the whole time waiting, I was at ease with it. First, because I knew any suit would eventually do (I’m not a bridezilla) and second, because the thought of having all those planes not leave the ground filled my green heart with some kind of childlike joy. And secretly maybe, although my wedding was pretty green, I felt some guilt come of my shoulders for having ordered a suit all the way in Italy… But so, as with everything, the suit arrived just in time, I got married, and air traffic in Europe returned to normal.
During the April eruption in Iceland, scientists already warned for a potential second volcano erupting short after Eyjafjallajökull went active. Today, all eyes are turned to the Grimsvotn lakes, beneath which lays the magma chamber of what is considered to be Iceland’s most active volcano.
Cause for alarm is the rising water levels of the river Gigja, flooding through the Vatnajökull glacier in eastern Iceland. The water from the Gigja comes from the lake, located in the crater of the Grimsvotn volcano. Usually the lake is more ice than water, but these past few days, due to increased temperatures within the crater, the lake and Vatnajökull glacier have been melting, filling the crater up entirely and causing it to spill over. The loss of pressure due to the spill could set of an eruption.
Currently nobody knows what Grimsvotn will do, nor if an eruption will cause as much chaos to European air traffic as Eyjafjallajökull did last April. It all depends on what the volcano has in store for us; lava or ash, and at what force the volcano spews it out. But if it does, maybe we’ll have the opportunity again to pause for a moment, to slow down and think about our way of life and our mobility concerns just as I did last April, waiting for a suit that in the end made no difference at all.