Science and Exploration

Iceland As Seen By Terra

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
September 23, 2014
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Iceland As Seen By Terra

On August 22, 2014 the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Terra satellite captured a true-color image of a sunny summer day in Iceland.
While most of the winter snow has melted to reveal green vegetation, the rugged northern peaks retain a snow cap. Further south bright white marks the location of glaciers. Situated in the southeast is Vatnajoekull – the largest glacier in Europe and the site of Iceland’s highest mountain, Hvannadalshnjukur.

On August 20, scientists from the Icelandic Met Office closed all roads into the north of Vatnajoekull Glacier due to increase seismic activity from the Bardarbunga volcano which lies under the ice cap in this area. On August 23, a small eruption was detected in Bardarbunga and the airspace near the activity was closed as a precautionary measure. Further study of the data suggested that no eruption had in fact occurred and airspace was opened under a code orange alert. Seismic activity remained high.

On August 29, an eruption occurred north of Vatnajoekull Glacier when a fissure, close to 1 km in length, opened up, and emitted lava at a slow pace. The eruption was short-lived, but on August 31 an eruption was confirmed in the same remote, uninhabited area. The Icelandic Meteorological Office reported that as of September 11 that eruption continued unabated. There has been no significant explosive activity, but lava flow has been the primary feature. High concentrations of sulfuric gases from the volcanic activity accompany the eruption, and are the primary health concern.

Credit: NASA/GSFC/Jeff Schmaltz/MODIS Land Rapid Response Team Larger image

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