Wednesday, October 23, 2013

It's hard to overlook a volcanic caldera (unless it's under ice)

After a recent jökulhlaup (a flood of meltwater released from a glacier), scientists in Iceland suspected that one of their smaller icecaps might have a volcano or geothermal area under it, one that hadn't been discovered before.   So they decided to find out.

A new cauldron confirmed
This article describes the image from Landsat 8 that indicated the location of the caldera.  I grabbed that image and it is shown below.  The arrow points to the newly-described caldera.

New caldera found on Iceland glacier
According to this article, they sent an expedition to the icecap to confirm that it was indeed a previously unknown, under-ice volcanic caldera.  

Now, it's unlikely that it actually erupted;  more likely, geothermal heat melted enough water to cause the jökulhlaup.  But it's still interesting that a feature like this had lain undiscovered until now.

Here's the icecap, Hofsjökull, from a viewpoint closer than space.

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