Ice caps the volcano, which complicates the efforts at prediction, says Gudmundsson. If the magma erupts beneath the ice, the result would be sudden floods and a buildup of water vapor and pressure under the ice cap that could lead to a tremendous explosion, sending ash as high as the stratosphere. That's what happened in 2010.
Whether the eruption would exactly mimic the one in 2010 is hard to say, because the basaltic magma beneath Bárđarbunga is of a different variety, and the grain size of ash depends on complex interactions with water vapor. Smaller grains travel higher and pose more of a threat to jet engines.
- Mars Curiosity has taken pics of a lot of cool and unexpected objects laying on the dusty, frozen surface. But I'd be willing to bet that that's not a Martian's thigh-bone!
- In an encouraging sign for the possibility of life on worlds ranging from Mars to the water-rich moons of Jupiter and Saturn, scientists boring into an ancient Antarctic lake sealed under hundreds of meters of ancient ice find almost 4,000 species of tiny, exotic creatures:
Antarctica, the coldest place on Earth, teems with microscopic life. Tiny organisms dwell on the ice and live inside glaciers, and now, researchers confirm, a rich microbial ecosystem persists underneath the thick ice sheet, where no sunlight has been felt for millions of years.
- Tucked quietly in the night 20,000 light-years away lurks the biggest stellar nursery in the Milky Way, where massive stars are born.
- Kids using less sunscreen? Bad Idea: