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Sunday 21 September 2014

Small eruption in Iceland signals more ash to come

Niklas Pollard

Published 24/08/2014 | 02:30

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LAST TIME: Iceland's seismic history has not endeared it to the world's airlines. In this photo taken on Saturday, May 21, 2011, smoke plumes from the Grimsvotn volcano, which lies under the Vatnajokull glacier, about 120 miles, (200 kilometers) east of the capital, Rejkjavik, which began erupting Saturday for the first time since 2004. Iceland closed its main international airport and canceled domestic flights Sunday as a powerful volcanic eruption sent a plume of ash, smoke and steam 12 miles (20 kilometers) into the air (AP Photo/Jon Gustafsson)

A small volcanic eruption occurred yesterday under Iceland's Dyngjujokull glacier, prompting authorities to raise the warning code for aviation to red - the highest level.

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The region of the Bardarbunga volcano, in the centre of the North Atlantic island nation, has already been evacuated due to days of heightened seismic activity there.

"It is believed that a small sub-glacial lava eruption has begun under the Dyngjujokull glacier," the Icelandic Met Office said. "The alert has been changed from orange to red."

The red alert is the highest warning on the country's five-point scale and indicates an eruption is imminent or underway with a significant emission of ash likely.

"There has been intense earthquake activity at the volcano. We cannot exclude that this could be a big eruption," said one Met Office scientist.

Ash from the eruption of Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano in 2010 shut down Europe's airspace for six days, affecting more than 10 million people and costing $1.7bn.

As the volcano had erupted, the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre in London would produce a regular forecast about the levels of ash in the atmosphere.

Based on this forecast, civil aviation authorities may issue a notice but it was the responsibility of individual airlines whether they would operate and how they would adapt their flight schedules.

Sunday Independent

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