Friday, Sep 19, 2014

Iceland raises volcano aviation alert again

In this file picture taken from video of a column of ash rising from Iceland's Eyjafjallajokul volcano on 8 May 2010. Iceland has raised its aviation alert level for the risk of a possible volcanic eruption to orange _ the second-most severe level. (AP Photo) In this file picture taken from video of a column of ash rising from Iceland's Eyjafjallajokul volcano on 8 May 2010. Iceland has raised its aviation alert level for the risk of a possible volcanic eruption to orange _ the second-most severe level.  (AP Photo)
Associated Press | Reykjavik (iceland) | Posted: August 31, 2014 5:32 pm

Iceland’s authorities on Sunday raised the aviation warning code to red for a region close to the subglacial Bardarbunga volcano after a small fissure eruption in the area.

The country’s meteorological agency described the eruption in the Holuhraun lava field, about five kilometres north of the Dyngjujoekull glacier, as a “very calm lava eruption and can hardly be seen on seismometers.”

Icelandic aviation authorities closed the airspace around the eruption area up to 1,823 metres. Most commercial flights won’t be affected because they fly much higher than that.

No volcanic ash has been detected, and the Civil Protection Department said all Icelandic airports remained open.

Today morning’s eruption, which took place about 0500 GMT,was the third one in the area since Aug. 23. On Friday, a smaller fissure eruption in the same site also prompted authorities to briefly raise the aviation warning code to restrict flights around the eruption site.

Authorities said today’s eruptive fissure was longer than the previous one, and was extending north and south.

“Visual observation confirms it is calm, but continuous,” the weather agency said on its website.

The Bardarbunga volcano lies under the Vatnajokull glacier, which dominates the eastern corner of Iceland. Though remote and sparsely populated, the area is popular with hikers in the summer. Officials earlier evacuated all tourists in the region in response to intense seismic activity there.

In 2010, an eruption at the Eyjafjallajokul volcano caused a week of aviation chaos and wreaked havoc on millions of travellers. More than 100,000 flights were cancelled after officials closed Europe’s air space for five days out of fear that volcanic ash could damage jet engines.

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